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About 100 types of barcodes are available in the world. The following is an introduction to EAN barcodes.

EAN Code and POS System

EAN Code

EAN is a standardized barcode and marked on most commercialized products currently available at the stores.
EAN is used in POS system that is widespread through the convenience stores.
EAN is compatible with UPC of U.S.A. and Canada and JAN of Japan. It is a universal code throughout the world.

  • ※ EAN=European Article Number
    UPC=Universal Product Code
    JAN=Japan Article Number

EAN Code


POS System

This is a system used to manage sale, stock and purchase of commercial products by reading the EAN code of the products to be bought at supermarkets and convenience stores. As this system also provides accurate data of consumer trend, it contributes to deciding management strategies.

POS System

Sales management

Use of a barcode allows everybody to work on a cash register without any difficulty. The system supports workers who are not skilful with cash register operation, so that customers may not be forced to wait for a long time.
Counting the daily sales amount can be done instantly.

Stock and purchase management

As the system provides information on real time basis on:
Who bought the product?
What time the product was bought?
Which product was bought?

It is now possible to purchase the required product at the required time.
Since it is difficult for stores with limited spaces such as convenience stores to keep enough stock, it is very important for them to purchase the salable products in salable quantities. For the foods with expiration dates like box lunches, it is not allowed to display them for a long period of time. The system allows the arrangement to purchase at the required time in the required quantities.

Understanding consumer trend

Any information can be collected on real time basis on:
What is the most salable product?
What customers are to be targeted?
What is the least salable product on the other hand?
What campaign brought the successful sale?

The information is very useful for deciding management strategies.


EAN Data Composition

Data Composition

EAN has the following data composition.

POS System

(1) Country code

Represents the country name.

(2) Manufacturer code

Represents the original seller's name.
Manufacturer code shall be applied for registration at the code center of each country in order to obtain it.
EAN code can be used only after the manufacturer code is obtained.

(3) Product item code

Identify the product. The manufacturer who obtained the product item code can make its own setting. The different product of the same manufacturer has the different product item code.

Country code list

The number of member countries is 94 (92 code centers). (Note 1)

Country code Country name Country code Country name Country code Country name
0~9 U.S.A., Canada (Note 2) 609 Mauritius 869  
20~29 In-store marking for retailers (Note 3) 611 Morocco 87  
30~37 France 613 Algeria 880  
380 Bulgaria 619 Tunisia 885  
383 Slovenia 621 Syria 888  
385 Croatia 622 Egypt 890  
387 Bosnia and Herzegovina 625 Jordan 893  
400~440 Germany 626 Iran 899  
45 + 49 Japan 628 Saudi Arabia (Note 4) 90~91  
460~469 Russia and others 64 Finland 93  
471 Taiwan 690~693   94  
474 Estonia 70   955  
475 Latvia 729   977  
476 Azerbaidjan (Note 4) 73   978~979  
477 Lithuania 740   980  
478 Uzbekistan 741   981~982  
479 Sri Lanka 742   99  
480 Philippine 743   N/A (Note 5)  
481 Belarus 744  
482 Ukraine 745  
484 Moldova 746  
485 Armenia 750  
486 Georgia 759  
487 Kazakhstan 76  
489 Hong Kong 770  
50 U.K. 773  
520 Greece 775  
528 Lebanon 777  
529 Cyprus 779  
531 Macedonia 780  
535 Malta 784  
539 Ireland 786  
54 Belgium, Luxembourg 789  
560 Portuguese 80~83  
569 Iceland 84  
57 Denmark 850  
590 Poland 858  
594 Romania 859  
599 Hungary 860  
600~601 The Republic of South Africa 867  

(Note 1) EAN member countries do not include U.S.A. and Canada. The country code of U.S.A. and Canada will be changed from 00 to 13 in 2005.
(Note 2) UPC, unified product code of U.S.A. and Canada, is established in 1973. Other 94 countries (92 organizations) are the member countries of International EAN Association. The country code of U.S.A. and Canada will be changed from 00 to 13 in 2005.
(Note 3) The code center of each country defines its own usage. Used mainly for in-store marking of retailers.
(Note 4) New member country in 1999
(Note 5) New member country in 1999 (country code to be determined)

TOPICEAN manufacturer code will be changed to 7 digits.

Manufacturer code will be changed to 7 digits (9 digits including country code) applicable for new registration from January, 2001 onwards, in order to meet the increasing applications for manufacturer code.

One Point

For the companies who already obtained the manufacturer code with 5 digits, the conventional manufacturer code with 5 digits can be used as they are, and no change of the coding system is required.
The number of total digits (13 digits) remains unchanged.

The manufacturer codes with 5 digits and 7 digits will be used in parallel from January, 2001 onwards.
However, the following numbers will be assigned, so that the EAN code with the same number will never appear. (Table below is applicable only in Japan.)

As can be seen above, the first three digits make it possible to find whether the manufacturer code has 5 digits or 7 digits.

Manufacturer code with 5 digits 4900000~4999999
Manufacturer code with 7 digits 456000000~459999999


Source Marking and In-store Marking

Source marking

Source marking means that manufacturers or sellers print EAN codes on the product packages or containers during the production or packaging process. Most foods and daily necessities in supermarkets have source-marked EAN codes. As mentioned earlier, product item code registration is required to put source marking on the product.

In-store Marking

In-store marking

Fresh foods (vegetables, meats, etc.) carry the labels where marking is arranged specifically by the individual supermarket, because the price depends on the weight of the individual product. This operation is called in-store marking, as it is available only in the store.
Since goods carrying in-store marking (e.g. vegetables) are sold only at that store, no manufacturer code is required and thus, any data composition is for the store's disposal. The price can also be included in the barcode. For the first two digits corresponding to EAN country code, however, it is ruled to use 20 to 29 to avoid any confusion.

store marking


Applications in Other Industries

Source-marked barcodes for books and magazines adopt EAN barcode system, but have own data composition to meet the individual industry requirement. Information including prices is included in the barcode.

EAN Code of Books

Books have ISBN (International Standard Book Number) to classify each book.

The barcode is formed with the classification code (classified by subject for sale, publishing source, content) and the price code (without tax) being combined with ISBN.


EAN Composition

EAN Composition (Details)

JEAN codes include the following components:

Standard type
Standard type
Short type
Short type

EAN does not use start/stop character, while it has a left guard bar on the left, a right guard bar on the right, and a center bar in the center of the barcode.

Other numbers are arranged in order.
As can be seen from the arrangement of the barcode above, the standard type has only 12 digits including the check digit. However, it actually represents 13 digits of data.For this, see page here


EAN Character Composition

EAN is composed of the following characters. At the right and left sides of the center bar, different bar patterns are used to represent numbers.
The bar patterns on the left side of the center bar have "odd parity" and "even parity".

Character Left odd parity Left even parity Right even parity
Bar pattern Bar pattern Bar pattern
Left guard bar    
Center bar
Right guard bar

For the leftmost character (the first digit) in the standard type, it is determined by any combination of the odd and even parities of the 6 characters on the left side of the center bar.
The combination is as follows:

O…Odd parity,E…Even parity

First character Combination of O and E First character Combination of O and E

In the short type (8 digits), all characters (4 digits) on the left side of the center bar are represented by odd parities.


Standard Size and Magnification

EAN defines specification for barcode size as below.

The narrow bar width of the standard barcode is 0.33 mm.
The standard barcode can be enlarged or reduced within the range of magnification ratio from 0.8 to 2.0.(The range for narrow bar width is from 0.26 to 0.66 mm.)

The following table shows the size of the barcode for each magnification.(For standard type [13 digits] barcode)

Magnification 0.8 1.0 1.2 2.0
Narrow bar width 0.264mm 0.33mm 0.396mm 0.66mm
Barcode length 29.83mm 37.29mm 44.75mm 74.58mm
Barcode height 18.29mm 22.86mm 27.43mm 45.72mm

Standard Size and Magnification


Features of EAN Bar Composition

The EAN barcode composition has the following features:
・The EAN code uses 4 different bar widths, and high print quality is required. If the printers with low print quality, such as ink jet printers for FA and dot matrix printers, are used, the barcode reader cannot perform stable reading.
・The number of digits is fixed and users are not allowed to make their own data composition at their option.



What Is UPC?

UPC is a unified product code used in U.S.A and Canada. EAN of Europe and JAN of Japan are based on UPC.
UPC uses mainly UPC-A and UPC-E. UPC-A has 12 digits, while UPC-E has 8 digits.

One Point

For the goods exported to U.S.A. and Canada, it is necessary to obtain the UPC manufacturer code and to implement the source marking of UPC, because there are many


Number System Character and Data Composition of UPC-A

UPC-A is used only in U.S.A. and Canada, and it has no country code. Instead, the first digit, called number system character (NS), defines the contents of information.
The following is a summary of the typical data composition according to NS values:

NS Applications Data composition
0,6,7 For source marking
(same system as for EAN)
For source marking(Until March 19, 2000)
1,8,9 For source marking(From March 20, 2000 onwards)
2 For in-store marking
(weighing commodities)
For in-store marking(weighing commodities)
5 For coupons For coupons
  • ※C/D = Check digit
One Point

The manufacturer codes applied after March 20, 2000 are changed to 7 digits, the same as for EAN.


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