To get a UPC bar code number for your retail product
packaging you first need to become a member of the UCC.
order to get a UPC bar code prefix (necessary to create a bar code), a supplier (manufacturer, distributor, seller) must first go to the
Uniform Code Council, Inc. web Site and fill out the
Uniform Code Council, Inc. member application form (or contact the UCC and
have the UCC postal mail the form).
The Uniform Code Council (or UCC). is where every U.S. supplier must start
in order to get a UPC bar code since the only licensor of the UPC bar code
prefix for the U.S. manufacturer or distributor is the UCC (Uniform Code
get the bar code prefix (in order to create a UPC bar code), a supplier
needs to get the UPC bar code prefix. To get the UPC bar code prefix, the
supplier must become a member of the Uniform Code Council.
supplier (or a UPC coordinator employed by the supplier) assigns the
unique product number that follows the UPC Company Code prefix assigned by
Once the complete UPC bar code number has been created and assigned (using
the UPC bar code prefix plus the product identification numbers the
supplier assigns), a packaging designer or packaging printer can take the
UPC bar code number, enter the UPC bar code number into special software,
and generate the UPC bar code symbol artwork automatically.
The designer or printer can then incorporate the UPC
bar code symbol graphic onto the retail packaging in the proper format,
insuring that the UPC bar code is the right size and format.
cases where the UPC bar code is not available when the retail packaging is
printed, a good retail product packaging designer will have left a space
for a UPC bar code label to be adhered or printed.
the Uniform Code Council membership arrangement works:
wishing to use a UPC bar code becomes a licensee of the Uniform Code
The supplier is not
actually buying a UPC barcode number or UPC bar code prefix.
Instead, as a supplier, in order to get the UPC bar code prefix, a
supplier must become a member of the Uniform Code Council. As part of the membership,
the supplier is licensing
the UPC bar code prefix number (on an annually renewable basis) from the
Uniform Code Council. The actual UPC bar code number prefix (the company
prefix) remains the property of the Uniform Code Council.
The supplier must renew annually to continue using the UPC bar code
According to the UCC agreement at the time of this writing, the UCC may terminate
its license for the UPC bar code prefix at any time by
notifying the Licensee (UCC member) in writing and refunding the pro rata portion of the applicable, initial, or renewal fee paid by Licensee.
The license for the UPC bar code prefix terminates after one year unless
the Licensee renews the license by paying the annual renewal fee to the Uniform
Code Council (UCC).
is the initial membership fee?
Since it is currently based on $750 plus a charge based on a companies'
existing or projected gross annual revenues, it varies.
The fee is
determined by the number of unique products the supplier needs to identify
and the company's gross sales revenue.
The UCC web
Site suggests applicants for membership complete the membership
application to obtain the membership fee. It goes on to say that, once
you have completed the application, you then have the choice to continue
with payment at that time or use your user ID and password to continue at
a later date.
You will not receive any UPC bar code prefix until you pay the membership
How much is the annual renewal fee?
Currently, a minimum of $150 plus a charge based on the member's gross
How much do most companies pay?
A supplier's estimate of the number of products requiring a
unique code and a supplier's estimate of gross annual revenues, or
existing annual revenues, (along with other factors asked about in the
membership form) determines how much a supplier pays the UCC initially (as well as
The UCC does
not make clear (at least in the research this writer did), exactly what
the fee schedule is.
When must a supplier pay the initial membership fee?
In order to complete the membership process (online or by mail) and to get your
certificate, you will need to pay at least $750 after you answer the form
questions and agree to the terms of the UCC membership. This may be by
credit card or check.
The initial membership fee for a company expecting to
identify up to 100 products with a unique bar code is $750 initially and
then $150 per year to renew, plus a fee based on annual sales for renewal.
To get the $750 rate, a very low gross annual revenue of only $3000 was
submitted on the form.
supplier's gross (not net) sales increase, the supplier needs to
pay more annually to renew its annual membership and maintain its UPC bar
What if a supplier continues to use its UPC Bar Code Prefix after its
membership is terminated?
Use of the UPC
Bar Code Prefixes after termination is not authorized by the UCC and use of the UPC
Bar Code Prefixes shall be considered
by the UCC to be an infringement of the UCC’s intellectual property rights, in addition to any rights that may accrue to the UCC by such
use. The UCC cautions that, upon termination of the license, the UCC may reissue the UPC
Bar Code Prefixes to other
The UCC is licensing the supplier to use the bar code prefix.
The UCC retains ownership of the member's unique identifying number and
allows the member to use it as long as the membership remains paid and in
is due when the form is submitted.
fill out the Uniform Code Council, Inc. form online, (which may take some
time), you will need
to make payment immediately afterwards to complete the process, or you can
print out the information you have entered and mail the form in to the UCC
along with payment. You need to make payment to receive the certificate
with your bar code prefix that you use to create your product UPC.
begin to fill out the form, you should know how many unique bar code
numbers and locations you require, and be able to estimate your annual
gross revenue, since these factor into the membership fee and need to be
included in your answers on the form.
membership fee that must be paid to the UCC.
Shortly before the end of your first year, an annual membership renewal fee will be invoiced to your
company from the UCC for the continued use of your bar code.
'start-up' example above, the
annual renewal fee would be $150 (though the renewal fee depends on your
gross revenue). Payment of the annual membership renewal fee is required to continue your UCC
membership and to continue to use your UPC bar code(s).
future of the bar code, GTIN, RFID - and more.
If you're interested in finding out more about the latest in bar code
technology and the newly announced RFID, please see the links to articles
Today on the GTIN and RFID
on the GTIN and RFID
You also may
be interested in knowing more about 2005 Sunrise:
All U.S. and Canadian companies must be capable of scanning and processing EAN-8 and EAN-13 symbols, in addition to 12-digit U.P.C. symbols, at point-of-sale.
Sunrise from the UCC web Site
will be added to this page. If any of the links do not work, please contact
membership includes (at the time of this writing):
Continued use of your current UCC Company
Automatic listing of your UCC Company Prefix(es) in the UCC Membership directory, a business resource provided to retailers and distributors.
Free access (with the user ID and password) to the latest bar coding and electronic commerce standards and guidelines through the online UCC Solutions Center® to help you conduct business more efficiently and productively ($1,000 value for non-members).
Unlimited access to supply chain support through the UCC Customer Service team, to address any bar coding or electronic commerce questions.
Free webinars on supply chain solutions.
Up to a 50% discount on UCC products and services including guidelines, standards, books, the annual U Connect Conference®, regional Supply Chain U® seminars, and online
Extensible Mark-up Language (XML) education.
A quarterly newsletter, providing you and your company the latest information, trends and best practices in today's supply chain standards world.
Eligibility for voting privileges in standards development and maintenance through the Global Standards Management Process (GSMP) to ensure that the needs of industry are represented.
Under its auspices, the UCC operates three subsidiaries, UCCnet, RosettaNet, and EPCglobal US and it co-manages the global EAN•UCC System with EAN International.
The UCC also manages the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC®) for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The newly formed EPCglobal, Inc. is a joint venture of the Uniform Code Council and EAN International.
UCC-based solutions, including business processes, XML standards, EDI transaction sets, and the bar code identification standards of the EAN•UCC System are currently used by more than one million member companies worldwide.
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This article is of an editorial nature. All trademarks and copyrights are
owned by their respective owners. If you see errors or omissions, please contact
me so that I may make necessary corrections. I feel the history of the
bar code (as well as the future) is important and created this page since
I found little about this elsewhere. I am doing my best to cross-check and
verify information presented. Thanks - Rob Cummings.
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