What is GTIN: A detailed guide for sellers

A Global Trade Item Number is a unique and internationally recognized ID for a product. In this blog, learn about the types of GTIN and how to obtain a number for your export products.
what are gtin numbers
With the growing import-export between countries and increasing number of products being sold across the world, a list of universal product codes was introduced to ensure smooth trade. Irrespective of language barriers or country-specific regulations, these codes have made the process of identifying and organizing product categories simpler. This standard process for identifying each product uniquely is the GS1 (Global Standards 1)1. These GS1 standards enable organizations and businesses to store and identify information efficiently in a common language that is acceptable all over the world.

What is GTIN?

To increase transparency in product identification and simplify exports, GTIN (Global Trade Identification Number) was introduced by GS1. GS1 is a neutral, not-for-profit, global organization that develops and maintains the most widely-used supply chain standards system in the world to create digital information of all products and services. This helps in maintaining transparency and a smooth trading process. With growing export trade, GTIN has become the global language for businesses. To provide unique GTINs to exporters and Indian businesses, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, set up GS1 India, which is affiliated with GS1 global2.

Types of GTIN used

There are a range of GS1 codes covered under GTIN. Here are some of the commonly used types of GTIN:

• Universal Product Code (UPCs): This is a standard product ID that helps you sell your product.
• International Standard Book Number (ISBN): This is a product ID used specifically for books.
European Article Number(EAN): It is a product code used in Europe and European marketplaces.
• Japanese Article Marketplace (JAN): It is a product identity used for products in Japan.

Structure of GTIN

A data structure comprising a string of digits, GTINs can be 8, 12, 13, or 14 digits in length to accommodate different application and product constraints. Depending on the length, these structures are known as GTIN-8, GTIN-12, GTIN-13, and GTIN-14 respectively. The GTIN usually comprises the following elements3:

Indicator digit:

Numbers from 1-8 help in identifying the packaging level information of the product. The 9th digit is exclusively used for variable measure products (like a box containing similar products). These indicator digits are used in GTIN-14 only.

Item reference:

This is a unique number assigned to the trade item. This varies in length depending on the company prefix. For example, if the company prefix is 8-digit long, then item reference number will be 4-digit long.

GS1 company prefix:

This is a unique number licensed to a company by the GS1 member organization, which exists in over 110 countries. These prefixes are assigned as per a business or brand’s need.

Check digit:

This is the final digit that is calculated from the preceding digits in the GTIN. This digit verifies that the data is correctly composed in the preceding GTIN code.
For example, in GTIN-14, this is how these components are arranged:
GTIN number
On the basis of number of digits and purpose it is used for, GTIN can be classified in 4 formats4:

GTIN-8 includes seven digits containing a GS1-8 Prefix and the Item Reference and Check digit. This is a smaller barcode usually used on small retail trade items. For more information, refer to section 4.3.7 of GS1 General Specifications.

This code is encoded in UPC-A barcodes, which are mostly used in USA and Canada. GTIN-12 components include eleven digits containing your U.P.C. Company Prefix and the Item Reference and Check digit.

This code is also referred to as EAN-13 barcode. This is the most popular GTIN format that is globally utilized for the retail sector. It contains Twelve digits containing your GS1 Company Prefix and the Item Reference, and Check digit. A GS1 Company Prefix used to create a GTIN-13 will begin with a 1-9.

This barcode is used when the number of goods is of variable measure. It contains the Indicator Digit to indicate packaging level (1-8) or that the product is variable measure, twelve digits containing your GS1 Company Prefix and the Item Reference and Check digit.

Among these four types, GTIN-13 (European Article Number/EAN13) is widely used in India.

How to obtain GTIN for your product?

GS1 India assigns GTINs to brand owners and businesses in India for identification of their trade items and products. These GTINs are generated through Datakart – a single repository for data of all the products in India, enabling online generation of GTINs and management of products information. If you are selling your products on an e-commerce sites like Amazon, then you will have to request GS1 India for the allocation of GTINs.

How to request GTIN exemption with Amazon?

Although GTIN is recommended for exports and online selling, if your products do not have a GTIN, you can request an exemption on Amazon.

• Click here to apply for GTIN exemption. You will have to keep the following product information ready:
o Product title and product images taken from all sides.
o Brand name should be entered correctly in the application.
o Images should be real and packaging must be held in hand or kept on a table while clicking the picture.
• If the products you are selling are not branded or are in bundle/parts, then enter “generic” in the brand name field.
• Click on Request Approval to submit the application. The application will be reviewed within 48 hours.
• Once your GTIN exemption application gets approved, then your exemption validity is unlimited. You will not have to re-apply GTIN exemption again for that same brand.

How to export from India

Sellers from India have indefinite opportunities to export products and grow their business globally. In recent years, many sellers are increasingly opting for e-commerce exports – an easy and seamless way to sell internationally online. Amazon Global Selling is an e-commerce exports program that assists leather exporters to sell on 18+ international marketplaces like the USA, the UK, Italy, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Japan, France and more. From simple registration to attractive listings and hassle-free shipping, Amazon Global Selling offers international tools and solutions, enabling sellers to reach over 300 million customers.
Amazon global selling

Frequently Asked Questions

Is GTIN the same as barcode?
GTIN is a commonly used barcode that contains information about a product.
Is it possible to sell on Amazon without any GTIN/product ID?
If your products do not have a GTIN, for e.g. in the case of handmade products, then you can file a request to Amazon for GTIN exemption. You may check the process here.
Do we need to change GTIN if any changes are made to the product?
Yes, a new GTIN is required whenever any defined product details are changed4. A new GTIN is assigned to the trade item if:
- The new products look changed from the current product.
- There is a substantial impact on the supply chain, i.e. storage, shipment, etc.
Published on January 24, 2022.

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*Map not to scale. The map has been used for design and representational purpose only, it does not depict the geographical boundaries of the country. These do not conform to the external boundaries of India recognized by the Survey of India.

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