Global Trade Item Number

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The Global Trade Item Number ( GTIN ) is an identification number from the GS1 system (formerly EAN system) that can be used to mark trade items. GS1 provides a globally unique identification system and is widely used in business to identify goods, services, locations, transport units, etc. GTIN is the current name for the European Article Number (EAN), which was used until 2005 . In practice, the GTIN is usually equated with the barcode in which the number is encoded. It is correct that the GTIN is a globally unique identification number (regardless of the data carrier = barcode or RFID tag).

A GTIN can be an eight, twelve, thirteen or fourteen-digit string. These digit strings are globally unique as they contain a GS1 basic number or a GS1-8 prefix and are always read as a whole string of digits (including the check digit). The check digit ensures that the string of digits is put together correctly.

Every company or organization can license a so-called GS1 basic number from a GS1 member organization and use it to issue GTINs for its products and trading units, etc.

The GS1 basic number is a unique sequence of four to twelve digits that is required to assign GS1 identification keys. The GS1 base numbers are assigned by GS1 member organizations. For Germany this is GS1 Germany, for Austria GS1 Austria, for Switzerland GS1 Switzerland.

Overview of GTIN formats

        GS1 base number

          ───────────────── ›

Article reference


Check digit
(GTIN-13) N 1 N 2 N 3 N 4 N 5 N 6 N 7 N 8 N 9 N 10 N 11 N 12 N 13
(GTIN-14) N 1 N 2 N 3 N 4 N 5 N 6 N 7 N 8 N 9 N 10 N 11 N 12 N 13 N 14
(GTIN-12) N 1 N 2 N 3 N 4 N 5 N 6 N 7 N 8 N 9 N 10 N 11 N 12
GS1-8 prefix article reference

───────── ›‹ ──────────────

Check digit
(GTIN-8) N 1 N 2 N 3 N 4 N 5 N 6 N 7 N 8

There are four different GTIN formats. For applications that require a uniform 14-digit format, leading zeros must be added. The leading zeros serve purely as fill fields and do not change the GTIN concerned.

Use of the GTIN

The GTIN can be used to identify all types of trade items at each different packaging level (e.g. end-user unit, overpack, box, pallet). Groupings of trade items with similar production and usage characteristics such as a production batch can also be distinguished from one another even better with the aid of the batch / lot number, best-before date and other similar data elements. Individual trade items can be clearly identified using the GTIN plus serial number.

If the company has assigned a GTIN to a trade item, this is unambiguous worldwide and the associated information can be easily exchanged between the partners involved along the value chain.

The GTIN can be encoded in a barcode or an RFID / EPC tag. By reading the barcode or the RFID / EPC tag, companies can process products and related information efficiently and correctly; for example when taking over goods in a warehouse, when selling at the cash register or when administering the right medication in a hospital.

GTINs can be used for the unique identification of trade items, be it in catalogs, electronic messages such as purchase orders or invoices. Embedded in websites, GTINs can optimize the functionality of search engines and provide consumer information more effectively.

In the music industry , GTINs are used for music products (for example albums or singles ), while ISRC codes, on the other hand, are used to identify individual audio and video recordings (titles or "tracks").

GS1 idents

According to GS1 Germany, the following 11 GS1 idents exist , identification terms for different types of objects (GS1 Key / GS1 Key Code / GS1 Key Value):

GS1 idents Abbr. annotation Explanation
Global Trade Item Number GTIN 8/12/13/14 digits, formerly EAN Products and services (individual objects can be customized with a serial number SN)
Global Location Number GLN 13 digits Locations (companies but also, for example, delivery addresses such as warehouse locations, storage locations, branches)
Serial Shipping Container Code SSCC Shipping unit number (NVE) Shipping units
Global Returnable Asset Identifier GRAI Reusable transport packaging, e.g. B. beer kegs, pallets or crates
Global Individual Asset Identifier GIAI Assets and assets
Global Service Relation Number GSRN Service provider-recipient relationships
Global Document Type Identifier GDTI Documents
Global Shipment Identification Number GSIN Shipments of goods from one or more transport units (for one recipient)
Global Identification Number for Consignment GINC Load or delivery from one or more transport units (for potentially different shipments) that are transported together for part of the route
Global Coupon Number GCN Coupons, since 2015 also for paper coupons
Component / Part Identifier CPID Parts and components

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. GS1 Idente: Unique and unmistakable, accessed May 27, 2020.