Universal Product Number

The Universal Product Number (UPN) is a term the Department of Defense (DOD) created in the early 1990's for the data structures associated with primary product identification of medical/surgical products. The Universal Product Number is assigned by the manufacturer/labeler and represented in both human readable and bar code formats on the product. The Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) of the GS1 System is a UPN. Implementing UPN is an important business decision not a technical decision. Gather the facts and make an educated business decision. To obtain specific information, please contact John Roberts at +1 609.620.4563 or by e-mail at jroberts@gs1us.org.

Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) of the GS1 System

The product identification structure in GS1 system is the GTIN. The structure is a fixed length 14-digit numeric data structure. This structure can be represented in five different bar code symbologies (languages). The five bar code symbologies are EAN/UPC, ITF-14, GS1-128, GS1 DataBar (RSS), and GS1 DataMatrix. EAN/UPC is used for products scanned at the retail point of sale, ITF-14 for shipping units of corrugated packaging, and GS1-128 or GS1 DataMatrix for applications requiring secondary attribute related data such as an alphanumeric product catalog number, lot/batch number, serial number, and expiration date.

GTIN construction - 14-digit fixed length numeric

bullet_black_8.gif Indicator digit
bullet_black_8.gif GS1 Company Prefix
bullet_black_8.gif Item reference
bullet_black_8.gif Check digit

The Food and Drug Administration's National Drug Code (NDC) for pharmaceutical products and the National Health Related Item Code (NHRIC) for medical/surgical devices are directly incorporated into the GTIN.

Examples of the NHRIC in GS1 Bar Codes

The examples below show an NHRIC, 91234-67890, expressed as a GTIN encoded in each of the four bar code symbologies.

NHRIC in EAN/UPC Symbology
GTIN = 00391234678906

NHRIC in ITF-14 Symbology
GTIN = 00391234678906

NHRIC in GS1-128 Symbology
GTIN = 00391234678906

Note: GS1 DataBar is a family of symbols. Two are shown below.

NHRIC in GS1 DataBar (RSS) Stacked Symbology
GTIN = (01) 003912345678906

NHRIC in GS1 DataBar (RSS) Limited Symbology
GTIN = (01) 003912345678906

NHRIC in GS1 DataMatrix Symbology
GTIN = (01) 003912345678906


Note: Symbols are not shown to scale.

The GTIN is always stored in databases as a 14-digit number. When the GTIN is represented in EAN/UPC symbology (UPC-A, UPC-E, EAN-8, and EAN-13 symbols) as 8, 12, or 13 digits, it is stored as a 14-digit number by right justifying and zero filling left.