International Article Numbers, formerly EAN (European Article Numbers) comprise 13-digits. They are used worldwide on all retail products excluding books and magazines. They are the most widely used barcodes globally with the exception of in the USA and Canada where UPC-A (Universal Product Codes) barcodes are more common. In Malta and Europe, the EAN-13 is probably the barcode you need if you have products you wish to stock at a retail store.
Each EAN-13 is product-specific and encoded into a barcode image. This means that when the barcode is scanned into store systems, price and inventory data related to your product is recorded by the retailer. A different EAN-13 number, therefore, is required for each unique product.
12-digit UPC Barcodes are used predominantly in the USA and Canada on all retail products, with the exception of books and magazines. If you are primarily selling in the US or Canada, you likely want to use a UPC-A code rather than an EAN-13 code.
A smaller globally unique barcode intended for VERY SMALL products – difficult to obtain and only available from GS1. GS1 is a membership organisation. EAN8 barcodes are only 8 digits long – this means that there is a limited number of them, and hence GS1 guard them carefully. So to obtain these, you need to submit proof that your product is very small, and wait to see if GS1 approve this.
ITF-14 Carton Codes are created from EAN-13 and UPC-A barcodes. They are only used in warehouses on cartons containing a specific quantity of the item that the product barcode represents.
These codes are not for products that are sold individually at a retail level. For example, a case of wine which is sold as a single unit would need a retail barcode. You may need an ITF-14 code if you have a shipping carton full of wine bottles which will be taken out and sold individually after they arrive at the shop.
International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) are barcodes for both hard copy and e-books. ISBNs usually start with 978 and are distributed by ISBN agencies in each country (see isbn-international.org/agency). They can also be obtained through independent publishing agencies such as bookisbn.org.uk, used for self-publishing authors. Note: Crossword, puzzle and colouring books are not published books so do not use ISBN barcodes, they use standard retail barcodes instead (EAN or UPC).
It is important to note that we cannot provide you with an ISBN number, only your national ISBN issuer can give you that. In Malta, the National Book Council controls ISBN issuing. What we can offer is a barcode image once you have applied for and received your ISBN number.
An International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is a unique 8-digit number used to identify periodical publications such as magazines and journals. They can be applied for at issn.org/services/requesting-an-issn.
Only apply for an ISSN if your publications meet the following criteria:
• They are serials (journals, newspapers, magazines, monographic series etc.)
• They are ongoing integrating resources (websites, databases etc.)
QR Codes are square barcodes that look a bit like a maze. They can be used to link to a website URL or to contain information, and are often used on posters, pamphlets and advertising material. You can also use them on retail products, for example to take a customer to your website. However, the product will also need a retail barcode on it, which is scanned by the retailer for pricing etc at the checkout. We offer Custom QR Codes to help your code stand out.
For more information on non-retail barcodes please click here.