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UPC Barcodes

Why they're useful and how to get them

If you're a local manufacturer, inventor of a new product or a creative designer and want to sell your products to stores, wholesalers, distributors, grocery store chains, etc., you'll want to purchase UPC barcodes for your products.

Universal Product Codes, or UPCs for short, are serial numbers that represent unique codes for most products sold in North America. The barcode is broken into two sets of numbers, one for the unique business ID, and the other for the specific product's assigned ID number.

Purchasing a UPC code can be accomplished through a non-profit organization that administers the UPC code database, GS1 US, but the bar for entry isn't exactly low. For the initial unique business ID, the cost is at a minimum of $750 a year, varied based on your business' annual sales revenue, and the number of barcodes you'll require. As well, annual renewal fees are required to continue using your business ID (also called company prefix).

We recommend that you get your own UPC business ID from GS1 US if you are able to afford it, but if you are only going to be using a small number of codes, purchasing through a reseller might be a better option. When you purchase through a reseller, you are purchasing a code or set of codes with the reseller's business ID and they are merely selling you their available product ID numbers (the second set of numbers in the code). We can't recommend enough that you research a reseller before purchasing codes through them.

Below we've provided links to the official UPC organization, as well as some resellers that we found to have solid reputations in our research:

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-The VibrantUSA Team

Fictional UPC Example


Looking to sell a book? Learn more about book-specific barcodes.

Register for your ISBN #

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