Barcodes for different levels of packaging

Barcode Producer generates perfect barcodes. Download a free demo.

For logistics and packaging, Barcode Producer lets you create ITF-14 barcodes, the most common data carrier used for the GTIN-14 data structure and used to mark cartons, cases, or pallets that contain products marked with UPC or EAN identification numbers.

The 14-digit barcodes go on the outer shipping cartons or delivery boxes that contain a set number of retail products. ITF-14 barcodes also go by the names “Shipping Container Codes (SCC-14)”, “Carton Codes”, or “GTIN-14” barcodes. The ITF acronym stands for “Interleaved 2 of 5”, which is the type of barcode used. This barcode symbology is not very sensitive to poor print quality. It is therefore suitable when a barcode needs to be printed directly on corrugated board.

For more information, see here:

The benefit of an ITF-14 code is that it will tell receivers how many units of a product are contained in each shipping carton. This information can then easily be recorded in the receiver’s logistics or tally system, allowing them to keep track of stock in their warehouse. ITF-14 barcodes are usually created from the barcode number which is on the retail product within the box, which is the EAN-13 or UPC-A number, while a single EAN or UPC number can be used to generate up to 10 different ITF-14 barcodes.

If the ITF-14 is printed directly on a corrugated carton it must be surrounded by bearer bars. For ITF-14 bar code symbols printed on a label, only horizontal bearer bars along the top and bottom are necessary.

Anatomy of an ITF-14 code

The Indicator digit describes the level of packaging.

The GS1 Company Prefix is a 7-10 digit number assigned by GS1 to uniquely identify ownership of a particular brand. Depending on the number of items a company needs to identify, a GS1 Company Prefix may be 7 to 10 digits in length.

The Item Reference is the same as that used for the item level GTIN (which can be a GTIN-8, GTIN-12 aka UPC-A or GTIN-13 aka EAN-13) for cartons that contain the same item. For logistic cartons that contain an assortment of items a new item referenced is assigned. The Last Digit of this GTIN-14 is a calculated check digit. Using a MOD10 check digit algorithm, the calculated check digit prevents substitution errors.

A carton containing the same items that normally have the same UPC or EAN number. It has an Indicator Digit with a possible value of 0 to 8. It is used to indicate groupings of packages carrying the same UPC/EAN number. A zero represents a package with mixed units. For products with the units (those that are inside and meant to be sold) always produced in the same pre-defined version but having a different weight, size or volume, the indicator digit should be set to 9. Values 1 through 8 have no specific standard meaning and may indicate any value. They can mean an inner pack, a case, a pallet or anything else. Each company is free to choose one of these values to indicate any grouping they wish.

The Company Prefix and Item Reference — the first 11 digits of the ITF-14 barcode — are the same as those of the EAN/UPC code on the items in the carton.

A carton containing items which are marked with different barcode numbers — unrelated item references — use a zero for the Indicator digit followed by the Company Prefix, but with a different, newly assigned, Item Reference Number.

While you need to know the indiciator digit, your company prefix and item reference before you can create a compliant ITF-14 barcode, Barcode Producer takes care of the check digit and the bearer bars for optimized scanning and readability.

Converting a UPC number to an EAN code

Sometimes it's convenient to convert a UPC number to an EAN code.

The UPC-A code is the standard version of the UPC code and has 12 digits. It is also called UCC-12 and is very similar to the EAN code, which is its European counterpart.

To convert a UPC-A number to the EAN-13 code, start by stripping the UPC check digit. Then add zeros in front until the code reaches 13 digits and recalculate the check digit (Barcode Producer does this automatically).

If you're converting a UPC number to ITF-14, you add a leading 0 to the UPC value to bring it up to an EAN-13. Then add an indicator digit as described above depending on the packaging level. The check digit is recalculated for you by BCP.

If you're converting an EAN-13 to ITF-14, you simply add an indicator digit (0-8) and BCP will recalculate the check digit.

Converting an EAN-13 number to UPC-A will work with by stripping the zero in front — that is if the code starts with a zero. However, many companies outside the USA have EAN-13 numbers that use a different start digit and those cannot be converted to UPC-A.

Barcode Producer for Mac/PC creates perfect barcodes for retail packages, labels, books, packages, and everything else.

Related Articles