GS1 Standards

A common language to identify, capture, and share information globally

GS1 Standards provide unique identification of items and products that provide the link between the item and the information pertaining to it. Think of GS1 Standards as the DNA of an item or product moving through the supply chain.

It all starts with the GS1 Company Prefix. The GS1 Company Prefix is at the heart of the GS1 System of identifiers. It forms the base for a family of identifiers that are globally unique and can be used for a host of different applications. It may be a little string of numbers, but it’s a huge investment in the future of your business. Learn More >

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These are the numbers behind the barcodes. Used in both the physical and digital worlds, GS1 Identification Numbers uniquely distinguish products, logistic units, locations, assets, documents, shipments, consignments, and service relationships in the supply chain—from manufacturer to consumers. Below are the 9 GS1 identifiers that are predominantly used in the United States.


Global Trade Item Number (GTIN): These are the most widely used identifiers in the world. They identify products and services that are either sold, delivered or invoiced at any point in the supply chain. GTINs are typically found at point of sale (encoded in the U.P.C. barcode) and on cases and pallets of products in a distribution or warehouse environment. They can be encoded into various types of GS1 barcodes and Electronic Product Codes (EPC), which are programmed into Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.

Global Location Number (GLN): They identify physical locations as well as legal and functional entities. GLNs are typically used in eCommerce transactions and may be applied to shipping labels and physical locations, such as dock doors. They can be encoded into the GS1-128 barcode and Electronic Product Codes (EPC), which are programmed into Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. GLNs facilitate tracking and identification at each step in the supply chain. Some location examples are Used to identify stores, manufacturing centers, warehouses, broker’s offices, sales offices, corporate headquarters, distribution centers, vending machines, postal addresses, dock doors, customers, regions, merchant marine ships, buildings on military bases, and more.

Logistics Units (SSCC)
Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC): Used to identify logistics units, such as cases, cartons, pallets, or air cargo containers of trade items as they travel through shipping and receiving. A logistic unit can be any combination of units configured for transport or storage such as case, pallet or truck where the configured unit needs to be managed in the supply chain. The SSCC enables this unit to be tracked individually, which brings benefits for order and delivery tracking and automated goods receiving. Because the SSCC provides a unique number for the delivery, it can be used as a lookup number to provide not only detailed information regarding the contents of the load, but also as part of an Advance Ship Notice (ASN) process.


Global Document Type Identifier (GDTI): GDTIs identify documents and are used when it is important to maintain a record or “master copy” of a document. In addition to identifying incomplete documents, GDTIs also enable companies to identify a specific instance of a completed document. A GDTI barcode can be printed on a document giving the ability to retrieve or track key data.



Service Relationships
Global Service Relation Number (GSRN): GSRNs identify the recipient of services in relationships such as hospital admissions, membership in frequent flyer and loyalty programs, and warranties for computers and other items. For example, a GSRN can link hospital records to specific medical tests administered to a patient or awards awarded in a loyalty program.



Global Individual Asset Identifier (GIAI): GIAIs identify , manage and track a company’s fixed assets/property, such as office equipment, furniture, computers and manufacturing equipment. GIAIs establish product ownership history from creation to current ownership, and can link to asset information such as depreciation, in-service history, performance analysis, repair history, and warranty data.



Global Returnable Asset Identifier (GRAI): GRAIs identify a reusable package or transport equipment, such as pallets, barrels, gas cylinders, beer kegs, rail cars, and trailers. The serial component of a GRAI also enables companies to identify specific instances of an asset.


Global Shipment Identification Number (GSIN):The GSIN is the GS1 Identification Key used to identify a grouping of logistics units that comprise a shipment from one consignor (seller) to one consignee (buyer) referencing a despatch advice and/or BOL. The GS1 Identification Key is comprised of a GS1 Company Prefix, Shipper Reference and Check Digit using the Application Identifier (402).

Global Identification Number for Consignment (GINC): The GINC is the GS1 Identification Key used to identify a logical grouping of logistics units that are assembled to be transported together under one transport document.


GS1 Barcodes are capable of holding varying amounts of data to accommodate different needs, such as expiration date or a batch and lot number. Generally, certain barcodes are used for shipping the products and others are used at checkout.

Barcodes Scanned at Checkout
Universal product code (U.P.C.): The majority of our members will use the UPC-A barcode for their products. It is the most common barcode required by retailers in the United States and Canada. Today, barcodes that use EAN/U.P.C. symbology (including the UPC-A, UPC-E, EAN-13 and EAN-8 barcodes) are the only the most typical of barcodes allowed for products scanned at retail point of sale. EAN/U.P.C. barcodes ensure that all products are can be properly identified at any retail point of sale. The EAN/U.P.C. symbology speed up data collection and enables rapid product scanning, resulting in more accurate data that can be used by trading partners.

GS1 DataBar: Describes a family of seven barcodes that can be used for various purposes. Each of the seven GS1 DataBar symbols have a specific application for its use. For example, the GS1 DataBar Stacked Omnidirectional carries the GTIN just like the UPC-A and can address barcode sizing issues and requirements for additional data, which makes it ideal for loose produce. Other GS1 DataBar barcodes carry more information sometimes in less space than U.P.C. barcodes. The GS1 DataBar was created to identify small and hard-to-mark products such as loose produce, jewelry, and cosmetics. The GS1 DataBar Expanded and Expanded Stacked can also carry serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiration dates to support product authentication and traceability, product quality and effectiveness, and couponing.


Barcodes for a Case
ITF-14: This barcode only encodes Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), which are used to identify units such as cartons, cases and pallets and help manage fast and accurate tracking of inventory. Items marked with ITF-14 symbols are not intended to pass through retail point-of-sale.

GS1-128: This barcode encodes the Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), which are commonly used to identify units such as cartons, cases and pallets and help manage fast and accurate tracking of inventory. Specific information can also be encoded in GS1-128 barcodes to add security and sustainability to your supply chain, such as Best Before Date, Batch/Lot Number, Serial Number, and the GS1 System’s Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC). Items marked with GS1-128 symbols are not intended to pass through retail point of sale.


Additional Barcodes
GS1 Data Matrix: GS1 DataMatrix is a two-dimensional (2D) barcode that holds large amounts of data in a relatively small space. These barcodes are used primarily in aerospace, pharmaceuticals, medical device manufacturing, and by the U.S. Department of Defense. Key advantages include the ability to encode a variety of information, such as date or lot number. Furthermore, the barcode is readable in a 360-degree orientation. The GS1 DataMatrix barcodes also have a sophisticated error correction algorithm, which compensates for lost or missing data, extraneous marks, or code damage. This means that print quality and contrast are much less critical than with traditional linear or stacked barcodes. With error correction, GS1 DataMatrix barcodes can reconstruct up to 20% of damaged characters. Items marked with GS1 DataMatrix symbols are not intended to pass through retail point-of-sale.


GS1 QR Code: The GS1 QR Code symbol is a two-dimensional barcode within the GS1 System. The QR Code has gained wide acceptance in such diverse industries as manufacturing, warehousing and logistics, retailing, transportation, and most recently mobile applications.


GS1 has worked with the user and solution provider communities to define radio frequency identification (RFID) technical standards for how RFID tags and readers communicate and exchange information.

This is the information behind the barcodes. Used in both the physical and digital worlds, GS1 Identification Numbers uniquely distinguish products, trade items, logistic units, locations, assets, and relationships in the supply chain. It is through the use of these numbers that information can be shared—from manufacturer to customers and consumers.

Data Synchronization
Global Data Synchronization Network™ (GDSN®): The GDSN is the electronic transfer of standardized product information between trading partners and the continuous synchronization of that information over time. The GDSN ensures all partners have access to the same, accurate information. Trading Partners only need one connection to send and/or receive product information. By being continuous, Trading Partners can share accurate and up-to-date product information. For example, once a product is synchronized, any changes made to it are automatically and immediately provided to downstream Trading Partners utilizing the network.
  • 5 Steps to Synchronize Data for a Trade Item
  • Graphic: Data Flow via GDSN
  • GDSN Package Measurement Standard
  • GDSN Foodservice Attributes Interactive Spreadsheet Tool (GDSN v3.1)
  • GS1 US Foodservice GDSN Attribute Guide R1.0 (GDSN v3.1)
  • GDSN Retail Grocery Attributes Interactive Spreadsheet Tool (GDSN v3.1)
  • Attribute Mapping for FDA GUDID Population in GDSN Interactive Spreadsheet Tool (GDSN v3.1)
  • Leveraging GDSN for the FDA Global Unique Device Identification Database (GUDID) Implementation Guide

    Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): EDI enables the computer-to-computer exchange of business documents between companies using a standard format, regardless of the kind of computer or software each company is using. EDI “bridges the gap” between companies and systems, and uses standardized business messages to enable trading partners to communicate in a common language. EDI helps companies conduct electronic commerce efficiently and accurately. As an example, with EDI, a company’s computer system can generate and transmit a purchase order to a supplier and receive a computer-generated confirmation of receipt from the supplier’s system in a matter of minutes – not days. EDI has helped thousands of companies achieve significant operational savings through process improvements to normal business operations, such as order, delivery, invoice, payment, warehouse and inventory processes.

    GS1 US manages the X12 Requirements Group, a community of business and technology experts who focus on the use and adoption of X12 EDI in their day-to-day operations. The group is responsible for processing change requests and supports the continued development of GS1 US implementation guidelines that support our core industries, including:

    • Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions® (VICS®) EDI, used by the general merchandise and apparel industries
    • Uniform Communication Standard (UCS), used by the food and beverage, grocery and foodservice industries
    • Industrial/Commercial (IC), used by upstream trading partners of raw material, packaging materials and maintenance repair operations (MRO) products.
    • Video: This 9-minute video provides an overview of how Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) works. Access the video through our Learning Management System. First time users will have to create a free account.
    • GS1 US EDI Document Downloads
       Members-only, technical documents. Learn more about GS1 US Membership.
      Whether your company uses Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) or Extensible Markup Language (XML), we have the resources to help you use electronic commerce correctly to maximize efficiency and productivity.
    • Summary of Changes:X12 EDI GS1-US-Version 7020 Implementation Guidelines
       Members-only, technical documents. Learn more about GS1 US Membership.

    Extensible Markup Language (XML)
    Extensible Markup Language (XML): GS1 XML represents publication of global voluntary standards for the exchange of electronic business documents using XML, or Extensible Markup Language (XML). XML allows for the electronic transmission of business documents in a format that is readable by both machines and by people. XML is vital to ecommerce because it enables communication of business information through electronic messages that are understood by different program applications.

    RosettaNet Standards
    RosettaNet Standards: RosettaNet is an XML based b2b standard used globally in the high technology and electronics industry. The use of RosettaNet and GS1 Standards can help ensure perfect order fulfillment, shorten customer wait time, reduce total supply chain costs, and help attain true product visibility. GS1 US supports the ongoing maintenance and implementation of the RosettaNet Standards through GS1 US Membership.

    EPC Information Services
    EPC Information Services (EPCIS): The Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) is a GS1 Standard for capturing and sharing information about the movement and status of goods in the physical world. EPCIS enables the capture of event data about objects moving through the supply chain (e.g., products; logistics units; returnable assets; etc.), and the sharing of event data with internal systems and trading partners.

    With EPCIS, companies identify strategic points in their operations and/or supply chain at which they want to capture “EPCIS events” to record data as objects pass through that point. The data recorded for EPCIS events provides visibility into the movement and status of those objects. For example, an EPCIS event captured at a shipping point may record the product identifier, time, date, location, status and the purchase order number to which the shipment corresponds.

    EPCIS event information can be used for both internal business applications and/or shared with trading partners for collaborative supply chain applications. For example, companies that handle physical goods, such as manufacturers, distributors, resellers or logistics providers, can capture EPCIS events and use them internally to gain visibility of handling operations (e.g., shipping; receiving; etc.) and share them externally with trading partners to support traceability. Visibility data in the form of EPCIS events may be used to automate and enhance a variety of business processes.