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What is the difference between a GTIN/UPC/EAN and a Bar code?

A GTIN/UPC/EAN is the number assigned to a product sold in a retail store as explained above. A bar code is simply a graphical translation of a GTIN/UPC/EAN number into bars and spaces of varying widths. A bar code is designed to be scanned by an optical reader that interprets the bar and space widths and translates that into the number represented by the bars because reading straight lines is easier than numerical digits. You can have a GTIN/UPC/EAN but not have a bar code. You cannot have a bar code that is not based on a GTIN/UPC/EAN. You need a bar code in order to have your GTIN/UPC/EAN be scannable by bar code readers in retail stores. You do not need a scannable bar code for online sales—your GTIN/UPC/EAN is sufficient. The bar codes generated by a GTIN-13 (EAN) is exactly the same as its GTIN-12 (UPC) counterpart. The only difference is in the numbers along the bottom of the bars and spaces. There is NO difference in the actual bar code of a UPC and an EAN and bar code scanners do not know the difference between a GTIN-13/EAN and a GTIN-12/UPC. If you have a UPC you do not need an EAN. If you live outside the US you may use an EAN or a UPC. Ask your retailer if they want a 12-digit or 13-digit bar code. We provide you with both.

This is a sample GTIN-12/UPC


And this is a sample GTIN-13/EAN of the same number

You can see that the bars are exactly the same

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