GS1 Barcodes are symbols that can be scanned using laser or image-based technology. They are used to encode information, including GS1 Identification keys such as GTINs or SSCCS, and variable information such as batch or lot numbers, expiry date and serial numbers.

Barcodes play a key role in supply chains, enabling parties like retailers, manufacturers, transport providers and hospitals to automatically identify and track products as they move through the supply chain. GS1 utilizes several types of barcodes to satisfy different business processes.

Barcode Types

Different GS1 barcodes have different purposes depending on where they will be scanned and what types of data they need to hold. Some barcodes can even carry additional information called application identifiers, that can add extra information like expiry dates, serial numbers and batch numbers to the information captured within a barcode.

GS1 Barcode Chart

Linear Barcodes

Linear barcode symbols, such as the Universal Product Code (UPC) commonly found on consumer goods, use a series of variable-width lines and spaces to encode data, including the GTIN for product identification.

  • GS1 DataBar
  • GS1-128 and ITF-14


This is a "one-dimensional" (1D) barcode symbology used in retail all over the world.

The EAN/UPC family of symbols consists of the first and most widely deployed GS1 barcodes. EAN/UPC barcodes are suitable for retail point-of-sale (POS) because they are designed for high-volume scanning environments. Applications are limited to GTIN, coupons, and in-store codes.

These barcodes are also applied in general distribution and logistics environments. EAN/UPC minimal sizes are increased when they must be scanned at both retail POS and in general distribution.

View EAN/UPC Chart

GS1 DataBar

This 1D barcode can accommodate additional product attributes such as fresh food weight.

The GS1 DataBar family consists of seven types of barcodes. Four of these barcodes can be scanned at retail, two of which are able to carry additional information such as a serial number, lot number or expiry date. GS1 DataBar is also applied in general distribution and logistics environments.

View GS1 DataBar Chart

GS1-128 and ITF-14

GS1-128 and ITF-14 (Legacy term: Interleaved 2 of 5) barcode symbols are only applied in general distribution and logistics environments, and NOT applied in retail. GS1-128 barcodes can carry all GS1 Identification keys and attributes, while ITF-14 barcodes can only carry the GTIN.

If a barcode containing only the GTIN needs to be printed directly on a corrugated box, then the ITF-14 barcode symbology is often used as it is easier to print, and the required barcode quality grade is less strict.

View GS1-128 and ITF-14 Chart

Two-dimensional (2D) Barcodes

2D barcodes use patterns of squares, hexagons, dots, and other shapes to encode data. Because the data is encoded in a two-dimensional pattern, 2D barcodes can hold more data than 1D barcodes while still appearing physically smaller.

  • GS1 DataMatrix
  • QR Code
  • Data Matrix

For 2D Barcode Technical Details

GS1 DataMatrix

QR Code

With GS1 Digital Link URI

Data Matrix

With GS1 Digital Link URI


These resources help explain how to take full advantage of barcodes:

GS1 2D Barcode Introduction
GS1 DataMatrix Guideline ATTENTION!
Since 2018 changes have occurred with the GS1 DataMatrix, see current version of GS1 General Specifications for details (Page 307, Section 5.6).
GS1 2D Barcode Chart
GS1 Barcode Chart
GS1 DataMatrix Barcodes on Pharmaceuticals in Canada