EAN or UPC codes?

August 7, 2012

Retail bar codes generally come in either one of two formats – the European EAN format and the American UPC format. Regardless of whether you are selling your merchandise in your home country or exporting your product overseas it is a good idea to know the difference between these two types of codes. This article explains the difference between these two types of barcode.

Barcodes were invented in about 1972 by Mr. Laurer, an engineer working for IBM in the United States. Mr. Laurer invented the 12-digit UPC-A barcode. Over the next couple of decades, the UPC-A became widely used on retail products in the United States and Canada. Soon after inventing the UPC-A code, Mr. Laurer developed an international version of the code – the 13-digit EAN barcode. EAN barcodes became widely used in Europe & worldwide.

Today, the 12-digit UPC-A barcodes are used mainly in the United States and Canada. The 13 digit EAN barcodes are preferred throughout the rest of the world. Thankfully, almost all barcode scanners are capable of reading either type of code – so in practice, it doesn’t matter whether a product uses an EAN or UPC barcode (the barcode can still be decoded by scanners anywhere in the world).

To get an EAN or UPC barcode from Barcodes Limited, please click on one of the following links:

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