What is a upc code

UPC — short for Universal Product Code — is a barcode retail symbology used mainly in the US and Canada, but also in the UK and Oceania. The most known form of UPC code is UPC-A, and is made by 12 digits; each trade item has one and one code only that identifies it univocally. The relative UPC barcode is a normal scannable optical strip composed by black bars and white spaces, plus the twelve numerical digits below:

UPC-A Barcode

It’s important to underline that there’s an accurate and unique correspondence between each digit and bar of the code; that is, there’s one machine-readable representation and one only of the barcode number, and vice versa. Clearly, that’s essential to avoid any mix-ups among different products. To help categorization, all items sold by the same vendor have the same first six digits in common (Number system + Manufacturer code); the next five ones are the unique reference number of a single item (Product Code). The last digit is, like for many other codes, a check digit to verify the correctness of the number.

UPC-A Number System

Number System



Regular UPC codes




Weight items marked at the store


National Drug/Health-related code


No format restrictions, in-store use on non-food items






Regular UPC codes





UPC codes don’t carry price information, so that it can be changed by the vendor any time he wants.
Technicalities apart, you can print UPC barcodes at various densities according to the dimension of your own product: just be sure to follow the guidelines to find the perfect ratio and avoid scanning problems. (More info about it can be found on Wikipedia).

To get a UPC code number you must pay a fee determined by the number of unique products that you must label univocally, and your gross sales revenue. To ask for a UPC number please consult the GS1 website.

Create and print UPC code

And now a last word about how to create and print a UPC barcode.
Obviously, once you have got your UPC numbers and started identifying your products, it’ll be necessary to produce the relative barcodes and print them. There’s plenty of good programs to do that, but we personally suggest to use LabelJoy, a simple and effective professional label and barcode creator.

UPC Code Generator Software