Disclaimer: This article was written after an honest and detailed investigation of our team on this topic. We do not have any affiliations with the companies mentioned in this post. We are also not responsible for the accuracy of any claims here. Any purchase of UPC codes is done at your own risk. Provided below is data only for informational purposes, and should not be considered as 100% accurate.
This article was updated with new information on January 2021.
GS1 US updated pricing for UPCs and now offers more than just the Company Prefix option. You can now get a single GTIN (also referred to as a UPC) for just $30 with no renewal fee. See the press release for full details.
If you want to sell your products on Amazon, Walmart, or any other marketplace, you first need UPC codes. This makes having valid UPC codes more crucial than ever.
On Amazon, you don’t need it if you know ASIN of a product, but if you don’t have these, then you do need a UPC. Walmart, on the other hand, accepts only UPC and GTIN-14 as identification numbers. This means you need to have one of them list a product on Walmart.com. This makes having valid UPC codes more important than ever.
What is a UPC? The Universal Product Code (UPC) is a barcode symbology widely used in the United States and in other countries for tracking trade items in stores.
Where do I get a UPC code?
If you google for options, you will find two types of deals: websites selling UPC codes for less than 10 cents each and companies selling a single UPC for more than $20.
After contacting support of several marketplaces, talking to multiple merchants, and GS1 support (firstname.lastname@example.org and 937.435.3870), we concluded that any place selling UPC other than GS1 is just a reseller of numbers, and it will not list your name as the manufacturer. Many places online sell cheap UPC codes, but this can be hit or miss, and you most likely will end up buying invalid codes or codes used by other merchants. There are many complaints about that online and on the BBB website.
For example, we have a client who purchased UPC codes from speedybarcodes.com, and none of them are working with Walmart. However, we have multiple clients who use UPCs from speedybarcodes.com, and they have no issue with using them on places like Amazon and Walmart – it is truly hit or miss.
Major retail stores and online marketplaces require you to purchase through GS1.
|Number of UPC codes
|Annual renewal fee
|NDC/NHTIC Company Prefix
There are two ways you can get UPC codes the correct way:
Option 1: If you want the UPC numbers to be listed in your name, then you are required to purchase from GS1. Go to www.gs1us.info and apply for a GS1 Company Prefix. Pricing can be found here (to buy codes and pay an annual fee)
You will want to double-check with stores that will be selling your product(s) and ask whether they want you to have your own company prefix. That will also determine where you should go. It looks like Amazon and other online retailers require you to go with the expensive version (option 1).
What if you are a small merchant who does not want to spend thousands of dollars for few UPC codes?
This is what we usually suggest:
If you run a medium or large business, you can afford the UPC pricing and planning to sell on many online marketplaces, and to resellers, go with GS1 and get your own company prefix
If you are on a tight budget, try services like speedybarcodes.com and get a small quantity of UPC codes. See if they validate with the marketplaces you need it for. In the worse case scenario, you will just purchase 1000 useless random numbers for $170. It seems worth the risk, but it should be considered a short-term strategy. As your business grows, you will most likely need to use GS1 in one point anyway.