EAN-13 Barcode - A barcode of the EAN/UPC symbology that encodes EAN•UCC-13 identification numbers.
Symbology - The term symbology (the study or interpretation of symbols) refers to the structural characteristics of barcode symbols.
EAN•UCC-13 identification number - The EAN•UCC identification number comprising 13 digits used to identify trade items, locations and special applications.
The EAN-13 barcode symbol is most commonly seen outside the North American continent. It is a numeric only barcode system used for identification of retail products around the world. Unique EAN numbers are allocated to each separate retail product, not just by product brand but by variation (eg. size, style, weight, colour, flavour, model, finish, and so on). Also separate numbers are required when the same product is packaged in a different language. A separate number is not necessary solely because of a price change, whether temporary or permanent, to an unchanged item.
The EAN symbology is intended as a world wide standard, therefore, no two retail products may have the same EAN number. To ease administration of number allocation, each country using EAN has a Country Identifier at the start of the barcode. For Australia, the digits '93' identify Australian manufacture. Other countries may have 2 or 3 digit prefixes, (eg. '94' for New Zealand and '955' for Malaysia, etc.). The rest of the EAN-13 code is divided into the Manufacturer Number, the Item Reference Number and the Check Digit.
In Australia, the Company Prefix (Country Identifier and Manufacturer Number) can either be 9 digits or 7 digits. How a company allocates the EAN•UCC-13 identification number will first depend on whether it has been assigned a nine-digit or a seven-digit company prefix.
The nine-digit prefix was first issued by EAN Australia in May 1996, to reduce the range of product numbers allocated to each company and to conserve the total pool of numbers.
Nine-Digit prefix:
EAN Australia allocates the first nine digits (the EAN•UCC company prefix) to member company.
Member company then allocates the next three digits (the item reference). It is recommended that these items are numbered sequentially starting from 000 through to 999.
The last digit is a mathematically calculated check digit that ensures the whole number is correct.
Seven-Digit prefix:
EAN Australia allocates the first seven digits (the EAN•UCC company prefix) to member company.
Member company then allocates the next five digits (the item reference). It is recommended that these items are numbered sequentially starting from 00000 through to 99999.
The last digit is a mathematically calculated check digit that ensures the whole number is correct.
The EAN-13 check digit is calculated according to the Modulo 10 algorithm. (See Check Digit Calculation below).
The Human Readable Characters (HRC) are positioned at the base of the barcode. A recommended font is the OCR-B.
The EAN-13 symbol allows for supplementary codes to be added to the main barcode. These add-ons may be 2 or 5 digits. They do not include a check character and have no bearing on the check digit calculation of the main code. Although not often used in practice, these add-on codes are available for encoding supplementary information.
EAN-13 + 2 and EAN-13 + 5:
Magnification Factor
The EAN-13 symbol is described by the Magnification Factor. The allowable limits being 80% to 200%. For each magnification there is a recommended (or nominal) height. This height is recommended to ensure symbol readability when read by a multi-directional scanner, therefore any reduction in height (or truncation) should only be attempted if absolutely necessary. Refer EAN•UCC-13 barcode size charts.
EAN-13 has a set of allowed tolerances for the quality of the printed code. These measurements relate to the maximum variation in the width of a single bar or space and vary according to magnification factor:
Magnification |
Tolerance µ(micron) |
80% |
+/-35µ |
85% |
+/-53µ |
90% |
+/-68µ |
95% |
+/-86µ |
100% |
+/-101µ |
105% |
+/-109µ |
110% |
+/-116µ |
115% |
+/-124µ |
120% |
+/-132µ |
125% |
+/-139µ |
130% |
+/-147µ |
135% |
+/-154µ |
140% |
+/-162µ |
150% |
+/-177µ |
160% |
+/-193µ |
170% |
+/-208µ |
180% |
+/-223µ |
190% |
+/-238µ |
200% |
+/- 256µ |
As the above table shows, the tolerances allowed reduce rapidly for magnification factors below 100%. For this reason, the final print method should be considered carefully when choosing a magnification factor. For example, some printing presses are too variable to consistently print small (eg. 80%) EAN-13 codes.
Check Digit Calculation
In common with most other barcode implementations, EAN-13 symbols also have a check digit which is the last number on the right. It is used to check for an error in scanning or data entry. The most common error found with the transcribing or keying of data is that of transposition (reversing the order of two digits). Therefore, the following mathematical formula (Modulo 10) is used:
Modulo-10 algorithm
EAN-13 digit number without check digit: 9 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
Step 1
Starting with the first number on the right, add all the alternate numbers. Multiply the result by three.
0 + 8 + 6 + 4 + 2 + 3 = 23 x 3 = 69
Step 2
Starting with the second number on the right, add all the alternate numbers.
9 + 7 + 5 + 3 + 1 + 9 = 34
Step 3
Add the results of steps 1 and 2.
Total = 103
Step 4
The check digit is the smallest number which when added to the total in Step 3, produces an exact multiple of ten.
In this example, 103 + 7 = 110, therefore the check digit is 7.
EAN-13 digit number with check digit: 9 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 7
Note: If the result of Step 3 is an exact multiple of 10, then the check digit is 0 (not 10).
Light Margins
All barcode types require a certain amount of light space (or quiet zone) to the left and right of the code. This enables the scanner to differentiate between the barcode and surrounding graphics. Should the wrong type of graphic image or colour intrude on the light margin, there is a risk that the barcode will not decode, or worse, will decode incorrectly.
Minimum Light Margins (EAN-13):
Left Light Margin (minimum) |
Maginification Factor |
Right Light Margin (minimum) |
2.91mm | 80% | 1.85mm |
3.09mm | 85% | 1.97mm |
3.27mm | 90% | 2.08mm |
3.45mm | 95% | 2.20mm |
3.63mm | 100% | 2.31mm |
3.82mm | 105% | 2.43mm |
4.00mm | 110% | 2.55mm |
4.18mm | 115% | 2.66mm |
4.36mm | 120% | 2.78mm |
4.54mm | 125% | 2.89mm |
4.72mm | 130% | 3.01mm |
4.91mm | 135% | 3.12mm |
5.09mm | 140% | 3.24mm |
5.45mm | 150% | 3.47mm |
5.81mm | 160% | 3.70mm |
6.18mm | 170% | 3.93mm |
6.54mm | 180% | 4.16mm |
6.90mm | 190% | 4.39mm |
7.26mm | 200% | 4.62mm |
UCC & EAN•UCC compatibility
At present, the EAN•UCC system has one way compatibility with the UCC system. This means that items numbered and coded under EAN•UCC system rules cannot be scanned by all retailers in North America and Canada. However, trade items carrying UCC-12 (UPC-A and UPC-E) numbers are capable of being scanned in all countries in the EAN•UCC community.
Retailers in the USA are gradually upgrading their system, and full compatibility can be expected in the future. In the mean time, companies exporting to the USA are advised to ask their distributors if EAN-13 and EAN-8 barcodes are acceptable to their retail customers.
Companies in Australia wishing to export to the USA need to barcode under the UCC system, it is necessary for them to obtain dual membership of both EAN Australia and UCC.
EAN Australia Customer Service
National Number 1300 366 033
Internet http://www.ean.com.au
Melbourne Axxess Corporate Park Unit 100/45 Gilby Road Mt Waverley VIC 3149 Australia |
Sydney Lake Business Park Building 4B, 2-4 Lord Street Botany NSW 2019 Australia |
UCC Customer Service
Uniform Code Council, Inc.
7887 Washington Village Drive, Suite 300
Dayton, OH 45459, U.S.A.
Telephone +1-937-435-3870
Fax 937-435-7317
E-mail info@uc-council.org
Internet http://www.uc-council.org
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