Everything you need to know about Amazon UPC codes in 2022
Updated: Feb 3
There’s one vital step you need to take before listing a new product on Amazon - purchasing a Universal Product Code (UPC).
It needs to be one that is compliant with Amazon’s Terms of Service, and while that may sound daunting to a new Sellers, it’s a relatively straight forward process if you follow a few simple guidelines.
Here Thompson and Holt senior case handler Laura Monk answers the key questions that will take you through the process of buying a UPC.
What is a Universal Product Code (UPC)?
Thompson and Holt’s Laura Monk: “It is the barcode used to identify your product, which has a unique 12-digit number underneath. When either the barcode is scanned, or the number inputted into a search engine like Amazon, your product will then appear. It’s crucial in identifying exactly what you are selling and Amazon places significant importance on it.”
Do you need a UPC on Amazon?
Thompson and Holt’s Laura Monk: “The short, straight-forward answer is yes. There are some circumstances where Amazon allows Sellers to list new products without a UPC or other product identifier (others include Global Trade Item Numbers, GTINs). To do this you have to apply for a GTIN Exemption. You can find more information on these at https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/external/G200426310?language=en_GB.
“But generally products do need a UPC that is linked to the GS1 database, a global standard for product barcodes and the company that Amazon verifies your UPC with. If the UPC does not match the information provided by GS1, Amazon considers your UPC to be invalid and won’t let you list your product.”
Do I need a UPC barcode printed on my packaging?
Thompson and Holt’s Laura Monk: “Technically, no. But if you are using FBA, you are required to to label each product with an FNSKU barcode, which tells Amazon that your item is linked to your account.”
Where do I buy a UPC for Amazon?
Thompson and Holt’s Laura Monk: “This is the important part. At Thompson and Holt we recommend that you always buy through GS1, a non-profit global organisation that manages authentic product barcodes for over two million companies worldwide. In the past Amazon Sellers would often purchase cheaper UPCs from third party websites, but in doing so, you are effectively buying one connected to a different brand. If Amazon finds your UPC is inauthentic, they could remove your listing and even suspend you. It simply isn’t worth the risk.
“Go on onto the GS1 website and click on ‘Apply for a Barcode’ top right. Scroll down to the ‘Start Small with a GS1 US GTIN’ section and click on ‘Get a GTIN’. The good news is that now you can buy a single UPC for $30, whereas in the past you had to buy 10 for an initial fee of $250 and $50 a year membership. Now there’s no annual fee and you can buy one at time, cutting down costs for new Sellers significantly.”
How do I now start selling?
Thompson and Holt’s Laura Monk: “Once you have your UPC you can finalise your Amazon listing through ‘Add a Product’ in Seller Central. Allow 24-48 hours for your UPC to become active on GS1 - if you attempt to list your product on Amazon straight away, there’s a chance it could come up as invalid. Finally, when listing your Amazon product, ensure that the Brand Name section matches the brand name exactly as it is in the GS1 database.”
If you have found yourself suspended while selling on Amazon, contact Thompson and Holt for a free LiveChat to get your Seller business back online as quickly as possible.