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How to Read a Barcode: Can it Tell You a Product's Country of Origin?

Mar 10, 2022
TOPIC: Data Capture
4 min read
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Several times in years past, this question was the subject of memes that made the social media rounds instructing consumers to read barcode numbers to identify the country of origin of products they wanted to buy.

As with a lot of unvetted information circulating online, the meme in question may have begun with a kernel truth. But it’s a misrepresentation of the information associated with a product’s barcode.

Let’s set the record straight about the numbers assigned to companies by GS1, the nonprofit member organization that develops, establishes, and communicates barcoding standards in use around the world.

What Types of Information Can You Find in a Barcode?

Various types of barcodes were developed for use in many different industries and applications, and barcodes can contain widely varying types and amounts of information. Some basic information associated with a barcode can include the product identity, size, weight, manufacturer identity, and yes—information about the facility where the product was manufactured, among other data.

But, as the memes suggest, do the first three digits show the country of origin? The short answer is no.

Barcode Prefixes & Country of Origin

As you can see in the list below, the first three digits of a GS1 company prefix are, in fact, associated with the country where the manufacturer’s business is based. When a company registers with the GS1 member organization, it is assigned a unique identifier that starts with the GS1 prefix of the GS1 member country.

So—is it a country code? Yes, it is. But it’s easy to understand that a company’s headquarters or office location and production facilities are often in different countries (sometimes several countries). So while there isn’t a barcode country of origin list, there is a list of countries in which manufacturers’ businesses are based.

When a company applies for a GS1 prefix, they provide their location to the organization, and that determines their country prefix—and the items they manufacture can be produced anywhere in the world.

That said, following is the list of GS1 prefixes and their corresponding countries:

Barcode Prefix

Description

0000000

Used to issue Restricted Circulation Numbers within a company

0000001 – 0000099

Unused to avoid collision with GTIN-8

001 – 019

GS1 US

020 – 029

Used to issue Restricted Circulation Numbers within a geographic region (MO defined)

030 – 039

GS1 US

040 – 049

Used to issue GS1 Restricted Circulation Numbers within a company

050 –059

GS1 US reserved for future use

060 – 139

GS1 US

200 – 299

Used to issue GS1 Restricted Circulation Numbers within a geographic region (MO defined)

300 – 379

GS1 France

380

GS1 Bulgaria

383

GS1 Slovenija

385

GS1 Croatia

387

GS1 BIH (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

389

GS1 Montenegro

400 – 440

GS1 Germany

450 – 459 and

490 – 499

GS1 Japan

460 – 469

GS1 Russia

470

GS1 Kyrgyzstan

471

GS1 Chinese Taipei

474

GS1 Estonia

475

GS1 Latvia

476

GS1 Azerbaijan

477

GS1 Lithuania

478

GS1 Uzbekistan

479

GS1 Sri Lanka

480

GS1 Philippines

481

GS1 Belarus

482

GS1 Ukraine

483

GS1 Turkmenistan

484

GS1 Moldova

485

GS1 Armenia

486

GS1 Georgia

487

GS1 Kazakhstan

488

GS1 Tajikistan

489

GS1 Hong Kong, China

500 – 509

GS1 UK

520 – 521

Association Greece

528

GS1 Lebanon

529

GS1 Cyprus

530

GS1 Albania

531

GS1 Macedonia

535

GS1 Malta

539

GS1 Ireland

540 – 549

GS1 Belgium & Luxembourg

560

GS1 Portugal

569

GS1 Iceland

570 – 579

GS1 Denmark

590

GS1 Poland

594

GS1 Romania

599

GS1 Hungary

600 – 601

GS1 South Africa

603

GS1 Ghana

604

GS1 Senegal

605

Managed by GS1 Global Office for future MO

606

Managed by GS1 Global Office for future MO

607

Managed by GS1 Global Office for future MO

608

GS1 Bahrain

609

GS1 Mauritius

610

Managed by GS1 Global Office for future MO

611

GS1 Morocco

613

GS1 Algeria

614

Managed by GS1 Global Office for future MO

615

GS1 Nigeria

616

GS1 Kenya

617

GS1 Cameroon

618

GS1 Côte d’Ivoire

619

GS1 Tunisia

620

GS1 Tanzania

621

GS1 Syria

622

GS1 Egypt

623

GS1 Brunei

624

GS1 Libya

625

GS1 Jordan

626

GS1 Iran

627

GS1 Kuwait

628

GS1 Saudi Arabia

629

GS1 Emirates

630

GS1 Qatar

631

GS1 Namibia

640 – 649

GS1 Finland

690 – 699

GS1 China

700 – 709

GS1 Norway

729

GS1 Israel

730 – 739

GS1 Sweden

740

GS1 Guatemala

741

GS1 El Salvador

742

GS1 Honduras

743

GS1 Nicaragua

744

GS1 Costa Rica

745

GS1 Panama

746

GS1 Republica Dominicana

750

GS1 Mexico

754 – 755

GS1 Canada

758

Managed by GS1 Global Office for future MO

759

GS1 Venezuela

760 – 769

GS1 Schweiz, Suisse, Svizzera

770 – 771

GS1 Colombia

773

GS1 Uruguay

775

GS1 Peru

777

GS1 Bolivia

778 – 779

GS1 Argentina

780

GS1 Chile

784

GS1 Paraguay

786

GS1 Ecuador

789 – 790

GS1 Brasil

800 – 839

GS1 Italy

840 – 849

GS1 Spain

850

GS1 Cuba

858

GS1 Slovakia

859

GS1 Czech

860

GS1 Serbia

865

GS1 Mongolia

867

GS1 North Korea

868 – 869

GS1 Turkey

870 – 879

GS1 Netherlands

880

GS1 South Korea

883

GS1 Myanmar

884

GS1 Cambodia

885

GS1 Thailand

888

GS1 Singapore

890

GS1 India

893

GS1 Vietnam

894

Managed by GS1 Global Office for future MO

896

GS1 Pakistan

899

GS1 Indonesia

900 – 919

GS1 Austria

930 – 939

GS1 Australia

940 – 949

GS1 New Zealand

950

GS1 Global Office

951

Global Office – General Manager Number: used to issue General Manager Numbers for the EPC General Identifier (GID) scheme as defined by the EPC Tag Data Standard

952

Used for demonstrations and examples of the GS1 system

955

GS1

958

GS1 Macao, China

960 – 969

Global Office – GTIN-8: 960, 961 & 9620 – 9624 have been assigned to GS1 UK for GTIN-8 allocations

977

Serial publications (ISSN)

978 – 979

Bookland (ISBN)

980

Refund receipts

981 – 984

GS1 coupon identification for common currency areas

99

GS1 coupon identification


Need a Barcode for Your Product?

Before your company can begin using GS1 identification keys and barcodes, you need your own unique GS1 company prefix, which you can request from GS1 US.

You can quickly and easily create a barcode graphic by providing your barcode symbology and data to our free online Barcode Generator tool.

Putting barcodes to work enhances product tracking, traceability, and operational efficiency. But to maximize the benefits of implementing a barcoding and warehouse management system, it’s vitally important to start right. Download our guide, Warehouse Barcode Systems: How to Label New Facility, to get a clear understanding of the critical factors to consider in a new facility. Just click below and in moments, you can have a copy in your own hands.

Warehouse Barcode Systems: How To Label A New Facility. Claim your guide.
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