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Barcode Company Prefix

Some manufacturers wish to have a unique company prefix for their barcodes.

There are only two sure ways to get a company prefix like this – you can join GS1 (& pay their expensive joining fee and annual fees for the rest of your product life) or purchase barcodes from us in blocks of 10, 100, 1000 or 10,000. We are the ONLY barcode seller that we know of that provides unique company prefixes like this.

If you purchase one barcode number, you will not be supplied with a company prefix (no barcode company supplies this).

However, if you purchase barcodes in lots of 10, 100, 1000 etc., from us, then they will have a unique company prefix.
The length of the company prefix will depend on how many variations are required to make a total of 13 digits.
For example, if you purchase ten barcode numbers, then of the 13 digits, the first 11 will be your company prefix. The 12th digit will vary from 0-9 (giving you ten different barcode numbers), and the last digit is a calculated checksum.
Similarly, if you purchase 20 barcode numbers, you will get two company prefixes (giving ten barcodes for each).
If you purchase 100 barcode numbers, then of the 13 digits, the first ten will be your company prefix. The 11th & 12th digits will vary from 00-99 (giving you 100 different barcode numbers), and the last digit is a calculated checksum.

Barcodes can be purchased here.


Manufacturer Code – Myth

There is a common myth that a barcode number is split into four parts. e.g. this from Wikipedia

The 13-digit EAN-13 number consists of four components:

  • Prefix – 3 digits (often called a country code)
  • Manufacturer Code – variable length
  • Product Code – variable length
  • Check digit


This concept was true-ish for many years. Originally GS1 issued blocks of 100,000 numbers to manufacturers – these were numbered 00000 to 99999 and were digits 8-12 of the 13-digit numbers. When combined with a 3-digit country code at the start of the number, this left digits 4 to 7 for the ‘manufacturer code’.
However, GS1 realised that issuing blocks of 100,000 numbers to companies that might only need a few barcode numbers was very wasteful. With a limited quantity of EAN13 numbers available (a million are available worldwide at the most), they needed to change their system. So in various countries, the starting block of numbers issued was reduced to 10,000 or 1,000 or 100 or 10 or even 1.

So – considering the number above – if it was issued as a block of 100,000 numbers, then it could be broken down as –
070 = country code      5632 = manufacturer code           44194 = product code          7 = check digit
This can be written as  cccmmmmpppppc (ccc = country code, mmmm = manufacturer code, ppppp= product code, c = check digit)

However, if only 10,000 numbers are issued to the manufacturer, then the breakdown is cccmmmmmppppc

1,000 numbers, it is cccmmmmmmpppc
100 numbers, it is    cccmmmmmmmppc
10 numbers, it is      cccmmmmmmmmpc
With this pattern, you will see that the ccc and mmm parts would be expected to stay the same for a manufacturer, and the part of the number would denote their product variations.

But what would happen if GS1 issued a single number? How could a single number have a common ‘manufacturer code’ and then a part that varies (the product code)?
Following this pattern, the code (for a single number) should be cccmmmmmmmmmc – but this is meaningless as there is no “product code”.  So, in reality, a number like this should be expressed as cccpppppppppc – where the full sequence of ‘p’ is the product code, and there is no manufacturer code.  (or even as pppppppppppc)
Obviously, this is logical – if a single number is issued, then that full number is the product code, and there is no common ‘manufacturer code’.

If GS1 issued single barcode numbers to manufacturers, they would be effectively demonstrating that this breakdown of barcode numbers into country code/manufacturer code/product code/check digit is a myth, as they would be issuing numbers that had no identifiable manufacturer code and product code.
This is what GS1 has done in New Zealand & Australia, at least. They now issue single numbers to manufacturers. They clearly demonstrate that this ‘manufacturer code’ concept is not always true and is definitely not important or essential.