How to get a UPC code?

My company is going to be publishing a set of vocabulary flashcards, and we know how to get an ISBN, but how do you get a UPC barcode? Are they really unique to every product? Or do they describe the product in some way that can be generated “in house” without going through a standardizing organization?


UPCs originate with a company called the Uniform Code Council (UCC). A manufacturer applies to the UCC
for permission to enter the UPC system. The manufacturer pays an annual fee for the privilege. In return, the
UCC issues the manufacturer a 6-digit manufacturer identification number and provides guidelines on
how to use it.
Check out the page for everything else you’d ever want to know about bar codes. It’s really pretty interesting. BTW, the URL of the Uniform Code Council is is a really great page too. I learned a lot from it.

Good luck with your flashcards.


Since 1975,every magazine and probably every thing must have a bar code, Some think it’s the mark of the beast.

If you can read this,youre too close.

I’ve always thought getting a bar code tattoo on the bottom of my foot would be funny. Just haven’t decided what to be worth.

The UPC doesn’t specify how much something is worth, it tells what it IS. It’s up to individual stores (or chains) to set prices.

So, you could get a random UPC code, and then go to places like WalMart (where they have those scan-it-yourself price check machines scattered throughout the store) and see how much THEY thought you were worth.

The UPC for products and the ISBN are two different animals. Just as a guess, I might think the Library of Congress has something to do with ISBN’s. Here in Canada we got a series of ISBN’s from the government, and one of the requirements was that we had to provide a copy of everything we published so the national library could have it.

For books, you might need two zebra codes. Most bookstores will like you to have an EAN (can’t remember what it stands for), and the corresponding EAN zebra code. If you are selling in lowbrow places like pharmacies, you’ll probably need a UPC as well. The two are based on different formulas, and have different fees. (EAN is, IIRC, much cheaper.)