How to Setup a UPC

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Most of us encounter UPCs everyday without giving them a second thought. More commonly known as barcodes, Universal Product Codes allow manufacturers and retailers to electronically regulate the sale and purchase of goods. All UPCs are controlled by GS1 US, a nonprofit organization. To begin making UPCs for your own products, you will need to set up an account with GS1 US. Though this is an expensive undertaking, products without a UPC don't stand much of a chance of ever finding retailers.

Visit the GS1 US website. Apply online for your own company code. This code will be the prefix for all of your UPCs. The cost of signing up for an account with GS1 US is a minimum of $750, plus an annual maintenance fee of $150 or more, as of 2010. This cost will depend on the size of your business and the number of products you need UPCs for.

Create custom UPC numbers for each of your products. The easiest way to do this is via the Data Driver tool on the GS1 US website. This tool is accessible to members, and provides an easy way to define and organize your UPC numbers online.

Invest in a barcode printer. This device will interface directly with the Data Driver tool to print properly formatted UPC labels for your products. It is best to use printers that are certified by GS1 US to ensure that your labels are printed correctly.


  • Some online services offer UPC creation without requiring GS1 US membership. Using one of these services means that you will be using their company prefix instead of your own. While this may seem like an affordable solution, most major retailers will not accept products that use borrowed prefixes.