International Article Number
The International Article Number (also known as European Article Number or EAN) is a standard describing a
The most commonly used EAN standard is the thirteen-digit EAN-13, a superset of the original 12-digit
The less commonly used 8-digit
The 13-digit EAN-13 number consists of four components:
The first three digits of the EAN-13 (GS1 Prefix) usually identify the GS1 Member Organization which the manufacturer has joined (not necessarily where the product is actually made). Note that EAN-13 codes beginning with 0 are actually 12-digit UPC codes with prepended 0 digit. In the last few years, more products sold by retailers outside United States and Canada have been using EAN-13 codes beginning with 0, since they were generated by GS1-US.
The 020-029 GS1 Prefixes are worth a special mention. GS1 defines this as being available for retailer internal use (or internal use by other types of business). Some retailers use this for proprietary (own brand or unbranded) products, although many retailers obtain their own manufacturer's code for their own brands. Other retailers use at least part of this prefix for products which are packaged in store, for example, items weighed and served over a counter for a customer. In these cases, the barcode may encode a price, quantity or weight along with a product identifier - in a retailer defined way. The product identifier may be one assigned by the Produce Electronic Identification Board (PEIB) or may be retailer assigned. Retailers who have historically used UPC barcodes tend to use GS1 prefixes starting with "02" for store-packaged products.[
The EAN "country code" 978 (and later 979) has been allocated since the 1980s to reserve a Unique Country Code (UCC) prefix for EAN identifiers of published books, regardless of country of origin, so that the EAN space can catalog books by
The manufacturer code is a unique code assigned to each manufacturer by the numbering authority indicated by the GS1 Prefix. All products produced by a given company will use the same manufacturer code. EAN-13 uses what is called "variable-length manufacturer codes." Assigning fixed-length 5-digit manufacturer codes, as the UCC has done until recently, means that each manufacturer can have up to 99,999 product codes--and many manufacturers don't have that many products, which means hundreds or even thousands of potential product codes are being wasted on manufacturers that only have a few products. Thus if a potential manufacturer knows that it is only going to produce a few products, EAN-13 may issue it a longer manufacturer code, leaving less space for the product code. This results in more efficient use of the available manufacturer and product codes.
In ISBN and ISSN, this component is used to identify the language in which the publication was issued and managed by a transnational agency covering several countries, or to identify the country where the legal deposits are made by a publisher registered with a national agency, and it is further subdivided any allocating subblocks for publishers; many countries have several prefixes allocated in the ISSN and ISBN registries.
The product code is assigned by the manufacturer. The product code immediately follows manufacturer code. The total length of manufacturer code plus product code should be 9 or 10 digits depending on the length of country code (2-3 digits).
In ISBN, ISMN and ISSN, it uniquely identifies the publication from the same publisher; it should be used and allocated by the registered publisher in order to avoid creating gaps; however it happens that a registered book or serial never gets published and sold.
The check digit is an additional digit, used to verify that a barcode has been scanned correctly. It is computed modulo 10, where the weights in the checksum calculation alternate 3 and 1. In particular, since the weights are relatively prime to 10, the EAN-13 system will detect all single digit errors. It also recognizes 90% of transposition errors (all cases, where the difference between adjacent digits is not 5).