Barcodes, International Articles Numbers, UPC, EAN & GTIN
There are various barcode standards around the world which allow the unique identification of products. Here's an overview of the most common types of barcodes.
Global Trade Item Number - GTIN
Global Trade Item Numbers cover a wide range of international formats developed by the Global Standards Organisation (GS1). Nowadays, most of the barcode types such as ISBN, ISSN, ISMN, IAN and UPC are subsets of the GTIN standard.
GTINs can have various sizes, ranging from 8 digits to 14 digits yet all these barcode standards are structured in a similar fashion. They start with a short country or company prefix and end with a check digit. The check digit allows to mathematically validate if the barcode is correct.
International Article Number - IAN
The International Article Numbers serves for the identification of specific retail products and packaging configurations from manufacturers. They are also known as European Article Numbers. International Article Numbers are part of the GTIN standard and can therefore be encoded in the standard barcode symbology defined by GS1. The most commonly used IAN is the EAN-13 which has 13 digits and is a superset of the UPC standard.
IAN-13 Numbers include a 3 digit GS1 Prefix indicating the country of registration of the product manufacturer or a special type of product. An EAN-13 Number starting with "0" indicates that a 12-digit UPC-A code is following. The prefixes "45" and "49" indicate that a Japanese Article Number (JAN) follows
Universal Product Code - UPC
The acronym UPC stands for Universal Product Code and is a barcode symbology that is mainly used in North America. It is now a subset of the GS1 GTIN standard. Most UPC codes can be converted to a GTIN code by prefixing it with "0".
International Standard Book Number - ISBN
This barcode standard is specifically designed to help retailers and libraries to track books. Every edition and variation of a publication is assigned a unique ISBN.
Until 2007, ISBNs were ten digits long. After that, they have been integrated into the GTIN Standard by prefixing the barcodes with "978". As most modern ISBNs start with "978", it is sometimes referenced as the country prefix for "Bookland".