What is a GTIN?

Posted by Philip Huthwaite on June 27, 2023
Philip Huthwaite
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A GTIN is a Global Trade Item Number. It is unique to every product and is an internationally recognised product identifier.


Are there different types of GTIN?

There are different types of GTINs dependent on your geographic location or product type. The most common types include:

  • Universal Product Code (UPC) – is most common for North American products, and is a 12-digit code.


  • European Article Number (EAN) – is for products from you guessed it, Europe, and is a 13-digit code.


  • International Standard Book Number (ISBN) - is recognised across the world to identify books, and is another 13-digit code.



GTIN Data Structure

GTIN Data Structure Legacy Terminology
GTIN-14 EAN, UCC-14, ITF-14, SCC-14, UPC Case Code


Where can I find a GTIN?

There are multiple places where a GTIN can be found. It will typically appear on a product label, product packaging, product booklets, and/or instruction manuals that accompany a product.

If you do not have ready access to a product, GTINs can be requested from the manufacturer as it is typically the manufacturer that registers the product with the appropriate trade body to obtain a GTIN in the first place.

If it is not possible to contact the manufacturer, the next port of call should be your product supplier who will likely maintain a record of product codes.

For new products that you have created yourself, you can register them and in return receive a unique GTIN from trade bodies in your particular geographic location. GS1 for example is available for UK-based eCommerce businesses.


Why is having a GTIN important?

It is likely if you are an eCommerce company that you’re spending money on Google Ads. Having an up-to-date inventory of GTINs in your Google Merchant Centre account, helps Google to classify your products. If Google can classify your products, you will be given a higher relevancy score in the Google algorithm, and then quite simply, it will not cost you as much to bid on specific advertising terms.

Conversely, a higher relevancy score will also serve you well in organic search results. Your products will appear in a higher organic position both in search and shopping results.


How can I tell if I have the correct GTIN?

Create an account with your trade body such as GS1 in the UK and complete their GTIN validation service for bulk checking. There is likely a paid cost for this service.

Alternatively, if you wish to do ad hoc checking or check a small number of products, you can simply enter your GTIN directly into Google Shopping. If your product is returned in the search results and/or your product is grouped with other competitors also selling the same product in Google Shopping when you click “Compare prices from X shops”, then you have the correct GTIN.

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