Proof of barcode legitimacy

EAN or UPC barcodes are numbers that serve as unique product identifiers in retail. From time to time, a vendor asks for proof of barcode legitimacy of our customer’s numbers. Recently these requests have come from Amazon, which has begun to require EAN / UPC barcodes for product listings. How can you prove to Amazon  that the codes you obtained from the International Barcode Network are legitimate?

Proof of barcode legitimacy The barcode number system

Let me first share some basic information about how the barcode system works. All legitimate EAN bar codes (including their 12-digit UPC subset, mainly used in North America) come from one original database. Some people wrongly assume that EAN and UPC numbers are created ad-hoc by joining a so-called ‘country code’ with a pre-assigned ‘company code’. This is not the case. Barcode number suppliers take barcode numbers out of a database of available unused numbers and assign or sell them to individual users.

Globally, the largest barcode provider is GS1. To obtain codes from your local GS1 branch, you must first register, pay the registration fee etc., and then ‘rent’ your bar codes for an annual fee. Happily, In addition to GS1, there are also independent providers like the International Barcodes Network, who sell barcodes at a one-off price at no additional fees. These codes also come from the original GS1 database, but are not under the control of GS1.

Now we are getting to the root of the problem of confirming the legitimacy of our codes. Since our codes no longer fall under GS1 control, GS1 does not update them in their database anymore. A search of one of our numbers on the GS1 database returns the information about the last license owner for that number under the GS1 number ‘rental’ system. If a vendor (for example Amazon) considers the GS1 database to be the only legitimate barcode database, it may wrongly assume that someone else then you owns the codes. This is, of course, not the case. Rather it is the case of outdated information in the GS1 database.

But how do I prove the legitimacy of my barcode?

We guarantee that our barcode numbers are previously unused. The certificate that our customers receive along with the purchased barcodes confirms the ownership of the barcode number. It also guarantees that our company will not issue the same number to anyone else. You should show this certificate to the vendor. The next step is registering your barcodes on the International Barcode Database. Registration is free of charge when you purchase one of our barcode packages and can be done at You can search for the registered barcode in the database almost immediately. Within a few hours, or at max a few days, Google will index the page with your number as well. When this process is complete, anyone can search and find the registered number by searching for it on Google. If the vendor still has doubts about the legitimacy of your code, we will be happy to assist you and negotiate the situation with the seller.

Our guarantee

The barcode guarantee is available here. Over the course of our work, IBN has provided over a million of barcode numbers to customers in more than 120 countries. The vast majority of our customers do not experience any problems using our barcodes. In rare cases, for example, if the vendor decides to accept only barcodes assigned by GS1, our customers can use the refund option described here. In case you have problems with sales on Amazon, the refund procedure is described on our Amazon barcodes page.