How to Obtain a UPC Code to Sell in Retail Stores

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A bar code is 12 digits long.
A bar code is 12 digits long. (Image: Maria Toutoudaki/Photodisc/Getty Images)

If you manufacture a product and your business grows large enough to sell your product in a retail store, you will usually need to obtain a Universal Product Code (UPC). According to GS1 US, a UPC is a bar code identifiying your company and product by bars and numbers that a scanner can read. Having a bar code gives your company an advantage in doing business with those who use it as a standard in their industry.

Gather information to complete the application for obtaining a bar code. You will need paperwork stating your annual sales, your products and product variations and contact information. You'll also need to provide credit card information or pay by check.

Visit the GS1 US website online. (See Resources.) Navigate to the Partner Connections membership application so you can get a GS1 Company Prefix.

Begin your application by creating a login and password for your business. Once you have a login, you will be able to save and come back to continue the application at any time. Submit your final application and wait for approval.

Assign numbers to your products once you receive your GS1 identification numbers. Each separate product variation will need a different UPC to identify it.

Determine a method for printing your labels. Labels can be printed and affixed on your products, or printed directly onto the products themselves, such as with boxes or bags. You can print the labels yourself or hire an outside vendor for this task. You can also choose the size, font and color of the code, as well as where it will be placed on the product.

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