Ultimate Guide to Amazon Barcodes: UPC, GTIN, EAN, ASIN, FNSKU

If you are new to selling on Amazon, then you might be confused about when to use the different Amazon UPC Codes, FNKSU Codes, ASINS, EANs, and GTINS.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! All these different Amazon barcodes can even trip up experienced FBA sellers with Amazon constantly changing the rules.

Keep reading to learn about the latest Amazon barcode requirements. This will ensure you use the right type of code in the right place. We will also show you how to get GTIN exemption and where to buy UPC codes.

Ultimate Guide To Amazon Barcodes: UPC, GTIN, EAN, ASIN, FNSKU

Different Types of Amazon Barcodes

First, let’s be clear about the different types of barcodes you will have to deal with.

What is a GTIN

A GTIN is the ‘Global Trade Item Number’ and is also referred to as a ‘Barcode’. It is the umbrella term for UPCs and EANs and is usually a numerical code between 12 and 14 digits. Each unique product should have its own unique GTIN.

What is a UPC Code

A UPC barcode number is a 12 digit Universal Product Code predominantly used in North America. When you register for a UPC number, you typically receive a scannable barcode.

You need a UPC barcode number so you can list a product on Amazon! This is mandatory. Amazon will not let you list an item without a valid Amazon UPC code (unless you successfully apply for GTIN exemption – please see below)!

UPC Code Example
UPC Code Example

What is an EAN Code

The EAN code is a 12 or 13 digit European Article Number. It’s basically the European equivalent of the UPC code. We strongly recommend you only obtain an EAN through the official GS1 authority for issuing EAN codes – GS1 UK website: www.gs1uk.org

EAN Code Example
EAN Code Example

What is an ISBN Code

The ISBN Code is the ‘International Standard Book Number’ and is either 10 or 13 digits in length, depending on when the book was published. All books published after January 1, 2007, have 13 digit ISBN codes.

ISBN Code Example
ISBN Code Example

What is an Amazon FNSKU Code

This is AMAZON’s own “UPC barcode” – the ‘Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit’. They are Amazon’s way of tracking your product inside their warehouses, and this is what they scan and match to your listing ID.

FNSKUs are what you will print out on labels and apply to each product unit. If your product also has a scannable UPC barcode, you will need to affix the FNSKU barcode label OVER the UPC barcode so that it is covered entirely.

The FNSKU is unique to you as a seller and will always remain the same for a particular ASIN. So you can print excess FNSKU labels for inventory not yet sent to Amazon and they will remain valid until you delete the SKU from your inventory.

Amazon FNSKU Barcode Example
Amazon FNSKU Barcode Example

What is an Amazon ASIN Code

This is Amazon’s internal catalog number. Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs) are unique blocks of 10 letters and/or numbers that identify items. You can find the ASIN on the item’s product information page on Amazon and in the URL.

For books, the ASIN is the same as the ISBN number, but for all other products, a new ASIN is created when the item is uploaded to the Amazon catalog.

You will find an item’s ASIN on the product detail page alongside further details relating to the item, which may include information such as size, number of pages (if it’s a book), or number of discs (if it’s a CD).

For example, the ASIN for Hasbro’s “Monopoly” game is B01MU9K3XU.

Amazon ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) Example
Amazon ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) Example

Where to Buy UPC Codes for Amazon

With the changes made to the Amazon Terms of Service and the introduction of Brand Registry 2.0, we strongly recommend that you only use an official GS1 UPC code.

You need to purchase directly from the US GS1 authority website here: www.gs1us.org or the UK GS1 site here: www.gs1uk.org

This will ensure that your brand name and company are directly associated with the UPC code purchased for your product.

Gs1 Barcode Pricing Chart to Purchase UPC Codes
GS1 Barcode Pricing

Registering a GS1 code through GS1 is a cost of doing business. If you are not prepared to purchase a valid GS1 code for your branded products, consider NOT selling FBA Private Label until you are.

Can I Buy Cheap UPC Codes?

There are resellers of valid GS1 codes that are, in effect, “recycled” codes. These include companies such as ‘Nationwide Barcode‘ or ‘Speedy Barcodes‘.

“…invalid UPCs…may result in your selling privileges being permanently removed.”

Many Amazon sellers and (even those teaching courses about how to sell on Amazon!) make the mistake of buying these cheap UPC codes which have been recycled.

This is what Amazon themselves say:

“We verify the authenticity of product UPCs by checking the GS1 database. UPCs that do not match the information provided by GS1 will be considered invalid. We recommend obtaining your UPCs directly from GS1 (and not from other third parties selling UPC licenses) to ensure the appropriate information is reflected in the GS1 database.”


Important: All invalid product UPC listings will be removed and may result in your ASIN creation or selling privileges being temporarily or permanently removed. For more information on licensing UPCs from GS1, see the GSI standard website.”

Amazon

These UPC codes, from resellers such as Speedy Barcodes, are GS1 registered, but the problem is that they are NOT linked to your brand or company.

When you apply for Brand Registry for your FBA product, you will probably be rejected due to the fact that the code owner does not match your seller name.

This could also create problems with Amazon. They might close your listing down because of invalid GS1 codes, which is why we do not recommend doing it this way.

Warning Proceed with caution and understand the risks involved in your business if you decide to purchase a cheap resold or recycled GS1 code from a third party!

Make Sure You Are the Registered Owner of the Barcode

You can check ownership of barcodes here – http://gepir.gs1.org

Here is an example of the Barcode for ASIN B003BFU4TI, the ‘HP CE285A 85A Black Original LaserJet Toner Cartridge’

Amazon GS1 Barcode Check for HP Toner
HP Toner Amazon GS1 Barcode Check

This shows that the barcode for this product (0884420588689) is correctly registered to the owner – Hewlett Packard. They would have no problems getting brand registered as it is directly linked to their company.

We have tested many private label products and the registered owner in the GS1 database is usually completely different from the owner of the private label product.

These barcodes are most likely purchased on eBay and could lead to problems with Amazon in the future.

GTIN Exemption on Amazon for Bundles or Private Label

Yes, Amazon will allow you to list without a GTIN/UPC if you successfully apply for GTIN exemption.

If the product is not already in the Amazon catalog and does not already have a GTIN, you can apply. This can be a handmade product, wholesale product, your own private label, or a new bundle you have created.

If granted, the exemption will apply to a particular Amazon category and be open for between 30 – 90 days. If this lapses before you list your product, you will simply need to reapply.

The Amazon Categories Eligible for GTIN Exemption
Amazon Categories Eligible for GTIN Exemption

Amazon Will Require the Following Information for GTIN Exemption

✅ A letter from the brand owner or manufacturer to confirm that the products do not have a GTIN. Or supply a list of sample products Amazon can review.

✅ Either a link to a website showing the products or you can upload a photo of the product.

Reasons Not to Apply for GTIN Exemption on Amazon?

If you are ever planning on selling outside of the Amazon platform, then we recommend you get a GS1 barcode.

Even if you start on Amazon, if your product is successful, then you may want to sell on eBay or other platforms, different websites, or even in retail stores.

If you only have an FNSKU, you are locked into Amazon. Also, not all categories are eligible for exemption.

Barcode Options for Amazon FBA Arbitrage and Wholesale Sellers

If you are doing arbitrage or wholesale, the products you are selling will most likely already have a barcode on the packaging. You have to use this barcode when listing the product on Amazon and most products will already exist in the Amazon catalog.

You simply have to match against the existing ASIN. If the product is definitely not in the catalog, then you will need to create a new listing with the barcode on the packaging.

If there is no barcode, then you should contact the wholesaler or manufacturer to get one.

Remember, you need to print the FNSKU label and stick it over the Barcode before sending your products to Amazon FBA. You can pay Amazon to attach the FNSKU labels.

Amazon FNSKU Label covering the Barcode
Amazon FNSKU Label covering the Barcode

Amazon Barcode Printing and Shipping Guide

Labeling Guidelines for Amazon FBA

For Private Label, you don’t actually need to print the UPC barcode on your packaging. But we recommend you do, so you can provide further protection against listing hijacking and counterfeiting.

You will need the FNSKU on your product packaging. We recommend you get your supplier to print it onto the packaging, which will save time and money labeling.

If this is not an option, then you need to print a label and attach it. If there is a UPC barcode, then this will need to be covered. You can pay Amazon to label them using their labeling service: FBA Label Service.

The FNSKU is automatically generated by Amazon and is DIFFERENT from the product SKU. The seller can either let Amazon create the product SKU automatically, or enter a custom SKU code.

Your product SKU is used purely for your own internal tracking and inventory management.

Be sure that your FNSKU labels are printed using the guidelines outlined by Amazon – they have rules! Read them here: Use an Amazon barcode to track inventory.

Amazon FBA Shipping Guidelines

The absolute BEST resource for this is Amazon themselves! They will tell you all you need to know. You can watch a series of useful videos here: FBA packing video tutorials.

You can also download the FBA shipping and labeling guidelines document here: Packaging and Shipping Inventory to Amazon.

There is also more great information on starting with Amazon FBA here – How To Sell On Amazon: A Beginners Guide.

Amazon Barcodes FAQS

“…barcodes from eBay… will definitely get rejected by Amazon,”

How Many Amazon Barcodes Will I Need
How many barcodes do I need?

Do you have any more questions about Amazon Barcodes?

Please be sure to join our Amazon Facebook Groups and get help from our friendly community of Amazon Sellers!

Amazon Selling for Beginners – for those starting their Amazon selling journey.

Amazon FBA Masters – for the more experienced sellers and those looking at starting in Private Label selling.

Confused about selling on Amazon? Then read this guide –  How To Sell On Amazon for Beginners: Ultimate Guide.


Author Kindra Martinenko Active Action Brands

Article By Kindra Martinenko

CEO of Active Action Brands

Kindra created her own successful Private Label brand and is now a 6-Figure seller on Amazon and other platforms. She is the CEO of Active Action Brands, LLC – a Digital Marketing company specializing in eCommerce marketing, Amazon listing management, and Business Coaching.

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