GS1-128 Barcode

The GS1-128 barcode (data carrier) was developed to provide a global standard for exchanging data between different companies. GS1-128 not only encodes the data, but it also provides a method of defining the meaning of the data by defining a list of “Application Identifiers” (AI’s).   It is a GS1 Standard that defines both the kind of data and the data format. In essence, GS1-128 (also formerly known as UCC/EAN-128) is a derivative language of the Code 128 symbology, utilizing a flagging character (Function Code 1 (FNC1)) and application identifiers.



A GS1-128 barcode consists of;

  • Code 128 start character (START-A, START-B or START-C)
  • Code 128 FNC1 character
  • Application Identifier (AI)
  • Encoded Data
  • Symbol Check character
  • Stop Character

The GS1-128 shipping label is used for carton visibility throughout the shipping chain and is used by most major retailers. To learn more information about the GS1-128 shipping label, please see GS1-128 Shipping Label.


Application Identifier (AI)

GS1-128 symbol encode one or more AI to indicate what type, format and length of data encoded after the AI.

Table of Application Identifier (AI) Values

Application Identifier Values_1.1

Application Identifier Values_1.2

GTIN-14 Data Structure formatted using the GS1-128 Data Carrier

GTIN describes a family of GS1 global data structures that employs 14 digits in various data carriers. A GTIN-14 is a 14 digit number used to identify trade items at various packaging levels. Using a GTIN-14 for unique identification in food is handy for encoding Best Before dates, Batch / Lot numbers, and case weight.

GTIN-14 with additional fields (Expiration, Lot)


  • Application Identifier – The AI (01) is used when the data field contains a GTIN.
  •  Indicator Digit – The indicator digit denotes the level of packaging for a particular carton. A number 0 – 8 should be used as the indicator digit. *This is a general practice please call if additional assistance is needed.
  • GS1 Company Prefix – The GS1 Company Prefix is a 7-10 digit number assigned by GS1 to uniquely identify ownership of a particular brand. Click here to validate your GS1 Company Prefix.
  • Item Reference – For cartons that contain the same item the item reference is the same as that used for the item level GTIN (GTIN-8, GTIN-12, GTIN-13).  For cartons that contain an assortment of items a new item referenced is assigned.
  • Check Digit – The last digit of the GTIN-14 is a calculated check digit. Using a MOD10 check digit algorithm, the calculated check digit prevents substitution errors.
  • Optional Data – Additional data along with the appropriate GS1 Application Identifier may also be encoded.


  • UPC (GTIN-12)

  • ISBN/Books

  • Medical/UDI

  • Supply Chain

  • Assets/Inventory

  • Coupon

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There are a variety of different types of barcodes. However, the UPC (Universal Product Number) symbol is the most recognized barcode in the United States, since it appears on almost every retail product. The UPC symbol is the barcode representation of the GTIN-12 which consists of twelve numeric characters that uniquely identify a company’s individual product. The GTIN-12 number is part of the family of GS1 global data structures that employ 14 digits and can be encoded into various types of data carriers.

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A requirement for selling a book through booksellers, wholesalers, and distributors is the assignment of unique ISBN numbers for each title and for each book to be marked with a Bookland EAN barcode.

The Bookland symbol allows for encodation of ISBNs (the numbers publishers use to identify their products). Since an ISBN is unique to one particular title (or product), the corresponding Bookland EAN symbol is a title-specific marking which is unique for that title. For example, if a title is available in hard cover, soft cover and as an e-book, three unique ISBN Bookland EAN bar codes are required.

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The FDA UDI Mandate is part of a comprehensive healthcare traceability initiative to improve patient safety.  The Unique Device Identifier (UDI) requirement is rooted in holding each member of the supply chain responsible for ensuring each medical device is marked with a UDI barcode with data maintained on the FDA’s GUDID universal database.

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Supply Chain

Logistic barcodes such as the GS1-128 Shipping Label are used to track movement of a shipment within a supply chain.  Since suppliers are making shipments to a variety of trading partners it is essential to integrate the relevant standards and current technology.  The use of EDI and 2D barcodes which can encode much more data has transformed many supply chains.

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The first step in designing an asset tracking system is to determine whether you are working with assets or inventory.  Assets are any items a company uses internally such as tools, equipment, furniture etc.  Inventory are items which are sold, distributed or used by a company.  The distinction between Assets and Inventory is essential in regards to how the items will be marked, scanned and stored.

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The successful integration of GS1 DataBar Coupons has dramatically improved many promotions.  The interhent features including; value codes and automatic expiration date checking for retailers, has enabled more efficient redemption, much better security and better metrics to measure the performance of a campaign.

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Bar Code Graphics

Bar Code Graphics