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All About GTIN Number: A Comprehensive Seller’s Guide


Vijay Kumar

Senior Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

January 19, 2024

9 min read

Have you ever wondered how products are tracked and identified across the global supply chain? How can trading partners differentiate one product from another? It’s been made possible with a unique identification number – global trade item numbers (GTINs). 

Brands are issued these identification numbers to trade items. Moreover, GTIN is globally accepted and used by trading partners to identify products across the supply chain.

Let’s dive into what GTIN is, its types and functions, how these GTINs are structured, and more.

GTIN Number

What is a GTIN Number?

GTIN, or Global Trade Item Number, is a unique identification number a company uses to distinguish its products. It is an internationally recognized product identification method developed by GS1, a global system of standards. GS1 allots GTIN to business owners or exporters.

The key features of GTIN include the following:

●      GTIN is a globally recognized product identifier

●   It can be used by all businesses regardless of the sector they operate in

You can also use GTIN to identify products at different packaging levels. Once you have assigned a GTIN to trade items, you and your trading partners can use that number to identify and communicate information about a particular product worldwide. There are currently four types of GTINs used by businesses globally. These include GTIN 8, GTIN 12, GTIN 13, and GTIN 14. 

Now, let’s take a look at the functions of GTIN.

Functions of GTIN Number

Here are the primary functions of GTIN:

●  Identification of physical products

GTIN gives your physical products a unique identity. It can help you identify and track your items across the supply chain. You can do so by encoding GTIN into barcodes, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and serial numbers affixed to your products.

●  Identification of online products

You can also use GTIN to identify trade items online. This includes recognizing products from electronic messages (purchase orders and invoices) and catalogs. Moreover, GTIN also enables you to identify products embedded in web pages, optimizing these web pages for search engines.

●  Business transactions

If you run an eCommerce business, you can use GTIN to process different transactions. It enables you to streamline processes and reduce manual errors. GTIN is essential to most Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) transactions. It facilitates seamless processing from one machine to another. In eCommerce businesses, GTIN supports the complete steps of getting customer orders to receiving payments.

●  Online applications

You can present GTIN as a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) via the GS1 direct link. It supports data sharing and applications functioning on the internet. With GTIN, you can keep your customers engaged by translating new and existing barcodes into web content. It includes promotional content and other useful information about the product. 

●  Logistics integration

GTIN is a unique identification number that helps you establish a seamless connection across different logistics systems. These include purchasing, inventory management, warehousing, analytics and reporting, and more. Eventually, it will enhance the quality and quantity of data you collect from these systems. 

●  Visibility requirements

The Electronic Product Code (EPC) can increase visibility into trade items using GTIN representation. For instance, combining GTIN with a product’s serial number creates a unique identifier that facilitates authenticity verification. GTIN can facilitate recall and withdrawal processes when combined with batch or lot numbers.

Different Types of GTINs in Use

Listed below are the commonly used types of GTIN:

●  GTIN 8

This is the only GTIN that is used in the EAN-8 barcode. The components of GTIN 8 include seven digits containing an item reference and a GS1-8 prefix. Another part of GTIN 8 is the check digit.

●  GTIN 12

This is only used in UPC-A barcodes. GTIN 12 also has two components. First, eleven digits that include your UPC company’s prefix and item reference. The second component is the check digit.

●  GTIN 13

This GTIN is also called the EAN-13 barcode. In addition to the check digit, the other component of GTIN 13 is the twelve digits containing your GS1 company prefix and item reference. Here, one point to keep in mind is that your GS1 company prefix used in the creation of GTIN 13 will begin with 1-9.

●  GTIN 14

GTIN 14 is used when the quantity of goods is variable. Its components include the indicator digit, twelve digits that contain your GS1 company prefix and item reference, and the check digit. Remember, the indicator digit will either indicate the product’s packaging level (1- 8) or its variable measure (9).

You can use GTIN 14 to identify packaging levels of trade items. Moreover, more products can be identified from a single GS1 company prefix when GTIN 14 is used.

Structure of GTIN Number

As discussed above, different GTINs represent product constraints and applications. Each GTIN comprises a string of numbers and other parts. Let’s explore the key components of GTIN:

●  Item reference

It’s a no-logic number assigned by the user to identify and track trade items. The length of item reference will vary depending on the length of your GS1 company prefix.

●  Check digit

Check digit is the final digit calculated from the GTIN’s previous digits. This is used to confirm whether the data has been composed correctly. The check digit is included to promote data integrity in the GTIN system.

●  GS1 company prefix

Another component of GTIN is your GS1 company prefix. A GS1 member organization licenses it to a company. It’s a globally unique number that serves as the foundation for generating GS1 identification keys. Based on your company’s requirements, the length of the GS1 company prefix will vary.

●  Indicator digit

Lastly, indicator digits range from 1 to 8. These numbers are used to identify packaging levels and reveal the packaging hierarchy of products. However, the digit 9 is solely used with variable measure products. GTIN 14 is the only GTIN with an indicator digit.

How to Procure a GTIN Number for Your Product?

You are responsible for assigning GTIN to your products. You own the specifications of your trade items regardless of the manufacturer and the place of manufacturing. GS1 has established clear standards, data structures, and management rules. It enables GTIN allocations that are both unique and globally accepted.

You have to follow three steps to allocate GTIN to trade items:

●      First, you must get a GS1 company prefix, a single GS1 US GTIN. You can also get individual GTINs if you only have a few products. You can create your GTINs in compliance with GS1 standards if you have a GS1 company prefix.

●      When allocating a GTIN to a trade item, you must specify other product details. These include its brand, price, size, color, etc. This information will remain the same for all instances of the product.

●  Save the GTIN and other product details in a database. You can share this information with your trading partners in the supply chain to help them with successful product identification.

Requesting a GTIN Exemption with Amazon: The Complete Process

GTIN exemption with Amazon is a short-term strategy that enables you to list your non-barcoded products on Amazon. The eCommerce giant offers a GTIN exemption policy for FBA fulfillment warehouses. It involves defined types of companies and product categories.

Here’s how you can apply for GTIN exemption with Amazon:

●  Step 1

Go to the ‘apply for GTIN exemption’ page. Click the ‘select’ button and choose the applicable product category from the list.

●  Step 2

Under the brand/publisher category, select the type of products you are going to sell. Enter the name of the brand if it’s a branded product. Select generic for un-branded ones.

●  Step 3

Next, click the ‘check for eligibility’ button. From the eligibility summary that appears, check the status column to see if you are eligible for the GTIN exemption. You will not be able to continue if you aren’t.

●  Step 4

Click the ‘submit proof’ button for the GTIN exemption.

●  Step 5

Upload your image once you are on the ‘provide proof’ page. You must also enter the name of the product and upload product images. The product image must show all sides of the product. You must repeat this process for all items requesting a GTIN exemption.

●  Step 6

Click on the ‘submit request’ button.

You will receive an email within 48 hours once you have completed the exemption process. The email will inform you about the status of your request. Alternatively, you can also check the status in the case log.

Export Procedures from India

Here’s the complete process to sell globally on Amazon:

● Firstly, you must register your business on Seller Central

● You can choose any or all of the 18 Amazon international marketplaces where you can or want to export your goods.

● Once you have created your account, you can link it to several regions and start selling.

● If you are already selling your products on Amazon India, you just have to select ‘sell globally’ on your dashboard.

● Lastly, you’ll need to set up your Amazon Global Selling account for the online marketplace where you want to sell your products.


The concept of GTIN number goes beyond mere identification. GTN number is assigned to the products so that the product can be ordered, invoiced, or priced at any point in the supply chain. It serves as a key for businesses, facilitating systematic inventory management and seamless order fulfillment. Moreover, GTIN ensures you sell your products efficiently in the global marketplace.

How to pick the right GTIN for your product?

The right GTIN for your product depends on a lot of factors. These include the type of product you are selling, the packaging material you have used, and where the product will be scanned.

Can GTIN replace the UPC?

No, GTIN cannot replace the UPC. If you place a GTIN-12 (UPC) on your products, you can continue to do so. GTIN is the unique identification number for identifying trade items, while the UPC is a barcode that encodes GTIN 12.

Are there any benefits of GTIN for businesses?

Yes, there are several benefits of GTIN for businesses. These include increased compatibility, enhanced flow of trade items and information, better data accuracy across different levels of the supply chain, improved supply chain management, and more.

Do I need a unique GTIN for all levels of packaging?

Yes, you’ll need a unique GTIN for all levels of packaging. You’ll need a different GTIN to identify individual units, inner packaging, multi-packs, pallets, etc. It will enable your trading partners to access information about the products they need immediately. 

What is the difference between GTIN and UPC?

The UPC is a barcode symbol with black lines, whereas the GTIN is the identification number of a product.

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