Identifying Information

Used to uniquely distinguish all products (trade items), logistic units, locations, and assets across the supply chain from manufacturer to consumer.

Unique GS1 numbers are used to uniquely identify all products, logistic units, locations and assets. We have different GS1 Identification Keys that you need to use, depending on what you want to identify.

1 GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)

Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) can be used by a company to uniquely identify all of its trade items. GS1 defines trade items as products or services that are priced, ordered or invoiced at any point in the supply chain.

The GTIN can be used to identify types of products at any packaging level (e.g., consumer unit, inner pack, case, pallet). Groups of trade items with similar production and usage characteristics such as production batches can be further identified with the help of the batch / lot number, expiry date, and similar data elements. Individual trade items can be uniquely identified using a GTIN plus serial number.

Once a company has assigned a GTIN to a trade item, it provides a common language for all of its entities and trading partners worldwide to uniquely identify the item and easily communicate information about the item.

The GTIN can be encoded in a bar code or an EPC/ RFID tag. By scanning the bar code or EPC/RFID tag, companies can efficiently and accurately process products and related information; for example, at check out in a store, when receiving goods in a warehouse, and when administering medication in a hospital.

GTINs can be used to unambiguously identify trade items online, for example in catalogues, in electronic messages such as purchase orders and invoices, and embedded in web pages to optimize use by search engines and other information consumers.

2 Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC)

The Serial Shipping Container Code can be used by companies to identify a logistic unit, which can be any combination of trade items packaged together for storage and/ or transport purposes; for example a case, pallet or parcel.

The SSCC enables companies to track each logistic unit for efficient order and transport management and automated delivery and receipt of goods.

The SSCC can be encoded in a bar code or EPC/RFID tag, ensuring the logistic unit can be accurately and easily identified as it travels between trading partners, anywhere in the world.

When SSCC data is exchanged electronically, this enables companies to share information about the status of logistic units in transit, and reliably link it to related transport information such as shipment details.

Since the SSCC provides a unique number for the logistic unit, companies can provide detailed information about the unit’s contents, which can then be communicated via an Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN) or Despatch Advice prior to the unit’s arrival Upon receipt, the logistic unit’s SSCC can be scanned, automatically linking the actual contents received to the contents communicated via the ASN or Despatch Advice. This can significantly speed up the receipt of goods as well as the subsequent invoicing process.

3 Global Location Number (GLN)

The Global Location Number can be used by companies to identify their locations, giving them complete flexibility to identify any type or level of location required.

The GLN can identify a company’s physical locations, for example a store, a warehouse, or a berth in a port.

The GLN can be used to identify an organization as a corporate entity.The GLN can also identify a company’s legal and functional entities engaging as parties in a particular business transaction, for example as buyer, seller, or carrier.

The GLN extension component can be added to a GLN to provide more precise recording and sharing of supply chain events. For example, an extension component may identify sub-locations such as storage bins, dock doors, scan and read points. Note that master data such as address and contact details can only be associated with the GLN, and not the extension component.

The GLN is encoded in either a bar code or EPC/RFID tag to automatically identify locations like storage places in a warehouse, the destination of a pallet, or the origin of a product.

The GLN can be used in electronic messages and registries to inform trading partners about companies and their corresponding GLNs and associated GLN information.

The GLN is also used by organizations in the public sector. In fact, various applications exist where governments use GLNs, either to identify their own agencies or to identify companies using central government databases.

4 Global Individual Asset Identifier (GIAI)

The Global Individual Asset Identifier is one of the two GS1 Keys for asset identification. Companies can apply a GIAI on any asset to uniquely identify and manage that asset. This could be a computer, desk, vehicle, piece of transport equipment, or spare part, as just a few examples.

Companies assigning the GIAI can be either the asset owner or a leasing or rental company.

The GIAI can be encoded in a bar code or EPC/RFID tag connected to the asset. Companies can quickly identify the individual asset, and register relevant data such as its location as well as repair and maintenance activities. Applied electronically, the GIAI enables a company to record individual assets in asset management and accounting systems across company boundaries.

5 Global Returnable Asset Identifier (GRAI)

The Global Returnable Asset Identifier is one of two GS1 Keys for asset identification. This GS1 Key is especially suitable for the management of reusable transport items, transport equipment, and tools and can identify these returnable assets by type and if needed also individually for tracking and sorting purposes.

In distribution processes, returnable assets are used by companies to package, protect and transport physical products, and are reused for multiple deliveries. Examples include crates, bread trays, pallets and even beer kegs. Returnable assets can be owned by either trading partner, or can be rented via a system where companies collaborate on the use of these assets.

The GRAI can be encoded in a bar code or EPC/RFID tag that can be scanned to automatically register the returnable asset’s movements, for example, when used to ship goods or when returned empty.

The GRAI (with serial number) can also be used to manage regular maintenance and record repairs.

When used electronically, the GRAI helps companies more easily track and manage their valuable returnable assets. The GRAI also provides companies with greater supply chain visibility; when a company knows which goods are contained in a particular returnable asset, it can track the asset and, at the same time, track the goods it contains.

6 Global Document Type Identifier (GDTI)

The Global Document Type Identifier can be used by companies to identify documents, including the class or type of each document.

In cases where companies require identification of individual documents, an optional alphanumeric serial number can be included in the GDTI.
The term “document” is applied broadly to cover any official or private paper that infers a right (a proof of ownership) or obligation (notification or call for military service) upon the bearer, or a diploma or certificate.

Such documents typically require recording of the appropriate information contained on the document. Examples of the kind of documents that could benefit from a GDTI are physical documents such as certificates, invoices, driving licenses, and electronic documents such as digital images, EDI messages.

The GDTI can be encoded in a bar code or printed directly on the document. Companies can use the GDTI as a method of identification and registration of documents and related events.They can also use the GDTI for information retrieval, document tracking, and electronic archiving.

One specific application is the prevention of fraud and document falsification; for example, assigning a GDTI to each diploma or certificate that is then linked to a central registry.

7 GINC (Global Identification Number for Consignment)

The Global Identification Number for Consignment can be used by companies to identify a consignment comprised of one or more logistic units that are intended to be transported together.

Logistic units in a particular shipment may be associated with different GINCs during various transport stages; for example, when the shipment gets consolidated with other shipments during its journey, and deconsolidated again before it reaches the consignee. The GINC allows freight forwarders and transport providers to keep track of the logistic units being transported together.

The GINC is typically used by freight forwarders to instruct transport providers; for example, on a Master Airway Bill (MAWB) or a Master Bill of Lading (MBL).

The GINC can be encoded in a bar code or as text on a MAWB / MBL, or in addition to the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC), on a logistics label.
The GINC can be electronically used in transport instruction and transport status messages between freight forwarder and transport provider.

8 Global Shipment Identification Number (GSIN)

The Global Shipment Identification Number (GSIN) is a number assigned by a seller and shipper of goods to identify a shipment comprised of one or more logistic units that are intended to be delivered together.

The logistic units keep the same GSIN during all transport stages, from origin to final destination. The GSIN identifies the logical grouping of one or several logistic units, each identified with a separate Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC).

The GSIN can be encoded by the shipper in a bar code or as text on a House Way Bill, or in addition to the SSCC, on a logistics label.

The GSIN can be electronically used by a company in transport instruction and transport status messages between freight forwarder and transport provider, and also as a reference in the Despatch Advice.

Note: The GSIN is fully compatible with ISO/IEC 15459 – part 8: Grouping of transport units. The GSIN also meets the requirements for a unique consignment reference (UCR) according to the world customs organization.

9 Global Coupon Number (GCN)

The Global Coupon Number enables companies to identify digital coupons – a ticket, document or electronic presentation that can be exchanged for a financial discount or for loyalty points when making a purchase.

The GCN provides companies with an identifier that can be used to retrieve information held in a database associated with the coupon; for example, used to check the validity of the coupon offer, retrieve the conditions related to the coupon offer, and in some cases, to confirm that the coupon has not been used.

The GCN always identifies the specific coupon offer. If there is a need to identify the individually issued coupons for the offer (the instances), an optional serial component can be used.

The GCN may be presented as a bar code to enable automated processing at the Point-of-Sale (POS). The GCN can also be presented in digital form. At the POS, the coupon offer can be accessed via a consumer loyalty account, or be presented on a mobile phone as a bar code or via near-field communication (NFC). GCNs can also be used to process coupons in web shops.

Many companies may be involved in managing a coupon offer; for example, a manufacturer, retailer, clearing house, and mobile application provider. The GCN enables them to share information electronically, ensuring all parties have timely and accurate information on coupon offer conditions, coupon publication, redemption of coupons, and the financial settlement between companies.

10 Global Service Relation Number (GSRN)

The Global Service Relation Number can be used by services organizations to identify their relationships with individual service providers (such as doctors who work for a hospital) and individual service clients (such as the metering points of an electricity company, or the loyalty account members of a retailer).

Service providers and service clients can be individuals or businesses. The GSRN can identify either a recipient or a provider of the organization’s services, and often both of these roles need to be captured or recorded simultaneously. Therefore, the GS1 System allows users to distinguish between the two roles.

If there is a need to further identify service encounters of a particular service recipient or provider, the Service Relation Instance Number (SRIN) may be added to the GSRN; for example, to identify the phase of a medical treatment for a patient.

The GSRN only identifies a business or individual in the context of the service relation, and in this way limits privacy concerns.

The GSRN can be encoded in a bar code or EPC/ RFID tag; for example, in a badge or wristband or on a metering point.

The GSRN can be electronically used as a “key” in service registers, dossiers, medical files, invoices, and others.

Capturing Information

A barcode simply represents numbers or letters in a machine-readable format that can be decoded, recorded and processed by a computer system when read by a barcode scanner. It’s easy really.

GS1 barcodes carry information, including GS1 Identification keys, about physical things like products and trade items, assets, logistic units and shipments, or people and locations at any point in the supply chai.

They can also include extended identifiers such as batch/lot information and expiry dates.

An RFID tag uses radio waves to transmit this information so the tag doesn’t have to be visible and many tags can be read at the same time. GS1 develops and publishes RFID standards to help make industry more efficient.


Are specified for retail Point-of-Sale (POS) because they are designed for the high volume scanning environment.

Used at POS and in logistics must be printed larger than the “target” size to accommodate logistics scanning.

Limited to carrying GS1 Keys and special identifiers for restricted applications like variable measure trade items and internal numbering.

2 GS1-128

GS1-128 (UCC/EAN-128) bar codes can carry all GS1 Keys and attributes but cannot be used to identify items crossing POS.

3 ITF-14

ITF-14 bar codes can only carry GTINs, can be printed directly on corrugated cartons, but cannot be used to identify items crossing POS.

4 GS1 DataBar

A family of symbols that can be scanned at retail point-of-sale (POS), are smaller than EAN/UPC and can carry additional information such as serial numbers, lot numbers of expiry dates.

A subset of GS1 DataBar bar codes designed for use at POS are being considered by a GS1 Board Task Force for future adoption because GS1 DataBar can carry all GS1 Keys and attributes and do so in a smaller space than EAN/UPC.

5 GS1 DataMatrix

GS1 DataMatrix is a “2D Matrix” symbol and is becoming increasingly the symbol of choice for many in healthcare.

Because GS1 DataMatrix requires camera based scanners it is currently specified for healthcare items not crossing POS and direct part marking.

6 GS1 QR Code

GS1 QR Code is a “2D Matrix” symbol.

Because GS1 QR Code requires camera based scanners it is currently restricted for use with applications that will involve imaging scanners within mobile devices and not for Point Of Sale (POS) processing.

7 Composite Component

Composite Component is the only “2D linear” symbol specified by GS1.

It is called a component because it is only used with a linear bar code like GS1-128 or RSS.

GS1 Barcodes and EPC/RFID are data carriers for GS1 identifiers, but can also accommodate different needs such as batch/lot information and expiry dates.

Sharing Information

Interoperability, made possible by identification standards, data capture standards, and interface standards for electronic communication, allows product information to flow through the supply chain.

Use Streamlining business processes

Data Quality
Digital Coupon Management


Healthcare traceability and GS1 standards

Tracking products across the healthcare supply chain eliminates counterfeit healthcare products, increases patient safety and complies with regulations.

What is traceability

Traceability in healthcare enables you to see the movement of prescription drugs or medical devices across the supply chain. You can trace backwards to identify the history of the transfers and locations of a product, from the point of manufacture onwards. And you can track forwards to see the intended route of the product towards the point of care.

Adoption and implementation of GS1 traceability standards

The Global Traceability Standard for Healthcare (GTSH), a process standard, provides a foundational framework which describes the traceability process and defines the minimum requirements for all stakeholders, independent from technologies, organization size or operational sophistication.

Healthcare supply chain integrity

EPCIS is a GS1 standard which enables trading partners to share information about the movements and whereabouts of products and assets through the supply chain based on four types of events:

• WHAT – products are impacted?

• WHEN – did this time-stamped event occur?

• WHERE – was the product, where is it now?

• WHY – was this observed, which process step?

Traceability in Retail

The retail supply chain is getting more complex, whereby there are not only interphases by businesses with other businesses but with the consumer. With this added complexity, whether working as a manager for a multinational corporation or running your own business, the ability to track & trace the source of raw materials as well as the destination of finished products is vital. Traceability enables products to be made visible across the supply chain, building fundamental blocks within quality, risk and other related management systems.

Traceability in retail standards

Our standards offer globally unique identification of trade items, assets, logistic units, parties and locations. In addition, our standards enable transactions and other events to be recorded so that there is accurate exchange of information between trading partners.

Data Quality

Businesses are increasingly only as good as their data. High quality data is essential for capturing the interest of consumers and driving online sales.

Our standards give you the tools to build a firm foundation for improving data quality and collaborative commerce. They will make sure your organisation’s data is complete, consistent and compliant with regulations.

Business benefits

• Increases customer satisfaction by ensuring the accuracy of product information – ingredients, prices, nutritional information

• Strengthens trust and collaboration between trading partners

• Increases supply chain efficiencies and cuts costs by reducing errors

• Cuts delays at point-of-sale as a result of reduced measurement errors

• Increases the reliability and efficiency of product transportation and delivery to stores and warehouses

• Ensures better compliance with industry standards and regulations

Data quality and EU 1169

If you’re in the packaged food sector, then you need to comply with EU Food Information Regulation (FIR) 1169/2011. Our standards can help you comply.

We can help you get started with data quality
Contact your local GS1 office
Buisness benefits

• Enables targeted and effective recall of dangerous products from the market

• Helps consumers be informed on the presence or absence of allergenic product ingredients or other attributes

• Helps fight counterfeiting and protects brand integrity

• A key component in regulations and safety standards

Digital Coupon Management

With the growth of digital retailing, coupons can now be placed in more channels to reach consumers. To keep things simple, our GS1 Digital Coupons Management standard provides a common secure and reliable process for managing digital coupons.


Our Digital Coupon Management standard can help you at every stage in the lifecycle of a digital coupon, including set-up and communication, discovery and acquisition, validation and redemption, presentation, reporting and financial settlement.

Any questions?
We can help you get started with digital coupons
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