EAN-13 and UPC-A Barcodes – Deciding which Format to Use

Included in our standard packages are two barcode formats, EAN-13 and UPC-A.

EAN-13International Article Number (previously European Article Number) is 13 digits in length.

UPC-AUniversal Product Code is 12 digits in length.

All numbers we supply originate with the Uniform Code Council (UCC now known as GS1-US) and are prefixed with either a “07” or “06”.  Our barcodes can be read as either a 13 digit EAN-13 when padded with a leading zero or as a 12 digit UPC-A when the leading zero is “dropped”.

E.g.

EAN-13 with the leading zero included – 0747599700743 (13 digits)
UPC-A with leading zero dropped – 747599700743 (12 digits)

Deciding which Format to use on your Product

The EAN-13 (13 digits) is a superset of UPC-A (12 digits).  The barcode symbology and vertical bars are identical between these two standards.  They both contain the same numerical information and are recognised by scanners globally.   Historically the EAN-13 mostly used by companies in Australia/Oceania, Asia, Europe, the UK etc while the UPC-A is predominantly used by US & Canadian companies.  If your intended primary market is Australia and its Territories we suggest using the EAN-13 version.  Regardless of which format you decide to use both are valid barcode numbers that can be scanned globally and are not limited by any country or region.

Scanning note – Sometimes a retailer’s scanner will be programmed to either include or drop the leading zero.  If your product displays an EAN-13 and a store’s scanner drops the leading zero the retailer can simply record the 12 digit code into their system.  Conversely if your product diplays the UPC-A and a retailer’s scanner is configured to include a leading zero they can input the code into the system as an EAN-13 by padding the entry with a leading zero. Either way your product will be scanned at point of sale and identified easily using the globally unique barcode number.

Excel note – An Excel column formatted to 13 consecutive zeros will display your barcode number as an EAN-13 e.g. 0747599700743 .
Conversely if the Excel column is formatted to 12 consecutive zeros it will be displayed as a UPC-A e.g. 747599700743.