UPC Glossary

Site Glossary


Every technology develops a set of terms that seem appropriate to its developers and implementors but may not be familiar to those with less than daily involvement.  It is our intent here to explain what some of those terms mean and where they are appropriately applied:

Country CodeThe first one to three digits in a U.P.C.number used to identify the country that issued the U.P.C. Number.  The first digit of the Country Code, “0” for Canada and the United States, is not printed in the Version A format. It is printed in the EAN-13 format.
DCIDistribution Codes Incorporated
DNBDistribution Number Bank
EANEuropean Article Number
EAN-13A barcode symbol of the EAN/UPC symbology. All 13 digits are printed in human readable form.
See EAN-13 & Version A
Even Parity character setThe UPC bar code representation of a digit value with an even number of dark modules, 2 or 4.
Related Word: Odd Parity character set
See Construct a U.P.C.
GS1GS1 is based in Brussels, Belgium and is comprised of GS1 Member Organizations such as the United States organization, GS1us.
GS1 USGS1 US is a not-for-profit standards organization that administers the Universal Product Code (U.P.C.)
Manufacturer’s numberThe part of the prefix that follows the country flag and the system number. This ranges from 5 to 8 digits.
Related Words: Manufacturer’s number field, prefix
Number SystemNumber system numbers were originally used to designate which category a 10 digit UPC number belonged to. Examples would be “0” for groceries and “3” for health & beauty aids.
Odd Parity character setThe UPC bar code representation of a digit value with an odd number of dark modules, 1 or 3
Related Word: Even Parity character set
See Construct a U.P.C.
ParityThe property of an integer with respect to being odd or even
PrefixPrefix refers to the U.P.C. digits assigned by GS1. In the beginning, when GS1 was called UCC, the prefix was 6 digits long and consisted of the system number and the 5 digit manufacturer’s number. The country flag “0”, was implied. Now the prefix can range up to 10 digits. The prefix assigned by GS1 can consist of the country flag, the system number, and from 5 to 8 digits of the manufacturer’s number. The prefix is followed by the item numbers assigned by the owner of the prefix. They fill out the number to the full 12 digits (13 digits when the country flag is sown) of the U.P.C. number.
Related Words: country flag, system number, manufacturer’s number
UCCThe Uniform Code Council (UCC)Related Words: UGPCC, UGPIC
U.P.C. or UPCUniversal Product Code. Sometimes referred to as the Uniform Product Code.
U.P.C. NumberThe complete product identification number. It comprises 12 or 13 numbers depending on whether or not the Country Flag is implied or printed.
U.P.C. SymbolThe machine readable barcode representation of the UPC number.
UCCUniform Code Council
UGPCCUniform Grocery Product Code Council.
Related Words: UGPIC, UCC
UGPICUniform Grocery Product Identification Code. First meeting of the UGPIC Board of Governors was January 19, 1972. UGPIC often is often used to refer to the code itself, and UGPCC used when referring to administration of the U.P.C.
Related Words: UGPCC,UGPCC, UCC
Version AA UPC barcode symbol of the EAN/UPC symbology. Although originally 11 digits were printed in human readable form, most Version A symbols now have 12 digits of the 13 digits printed in human readable form. The first digit of the country flag “0” is implied.
Related Words: EAN-13, Version E
Convert Ver A to Ver E
Version EA UPC symbol of the barcode symbol of the EAN/UPC symbology. It suppresses zeros resulting in a symbol that is smaller than Version A.
Related Words: Ean-13, Version A
Convert Ver A to Ver E

This Glossary is a living document.  We have intended to include in the future any term that may be confusing to you.  If we have missed some term that you would like to see included you can tell us by sending an e-mail to  [email protected]