How can I obtain a Universal Product Code (UPC) symbol?

A barcode symbol, such as the U.P.C., consists of patterns of black vertical bars with white spaces and numbers at the bottom of the symbol. Together these bars make up the symbology of the code. The thickness of the bars and the distance between them define the numbers contained in the barcode. A set of two black bars appear at the beginning, middle and end of the symbology and are called guard patterns. These patterns provide start and stop signals to tell a scanner where it is reading within the code.
The first step to obtain a UPC symbol is to become a member of the Uniform Code Council. The Uniform Code Council, a nonprofit organization, assigns all UPC manufacturer identification numbers. Membership in the Uniform Code Council, although voluntary, is required to obtain a UPC identification number. The application for membership is only available online at
You will need to collect the following information about your company before filling out the online application:
• current or projected sales revenue of your company
• the number of products you plan to identify with a UPC symbol
• the number of locations that you might identify with a Global Location Number*
While you fill out the online application, you will be provided a user name and password. At the end of the application, you will be quoted your membership fee. You can then choose to pay the membership fee or use your user name and password to return to the application and pay it at a later time.
The membership fee depends on the number of different products or locations a company needs to code as well as sales information.
The membership fee is a one-time fee good for the life of your company. With membership, the Uniform Code Council will issue your company a unique six-digit identification number (called the UCC prefix) for use on any of your company’s products. Your company may then assign an additional five-digit number to each of its products. The five-digit assignment to different company products will allow for up to 100,000 different products to be coded by any one company. A full set of technical specifications, guidelines, and a list of suppliers that can produce camera-ready bar code symbols will be provided with your membership and UCC prefix.
After you receive your UCC prefix, you are then able to assign the individual five-digit product code to your business’s products. The number assigned to each product your company produces must be unique. For example, if you have two different sizes of the same product, each must be assigned a different number. When you assign the numbers, you should communicate them to all of your trading partners. This will help create an efficient tracking system for your products from manufacture through distribution to your customer.
For an application and additional information about obtaining a UPC Symbol contact: Uniform Code Council Inc., 7887 Washington Village Drive, Suite 300, Dayton, OH 45459. Phone: (937) 435-3870, fax: (937) 435-7317 Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. E-mail: Web:
*The Global Location Number is the identification number for legal entities, functional entities, and physical locations. For example, supplier/wholesaler locations generally include corporate headquarters, regional offices, warehouses, plants, and distribution centers, whereas retailer locations generally include corporate headquarters, divisional offices, stores, and distribution centers.