Barcodes are symbols that can be scanned electronically using laser or image-based technology.

They are used to encode information such as key identifiers (product, shipment, location, etc.) and key attributes (serial numbers, batch/lot numbers, dates, etc.) via GS1 syntaxes (plain, GS1 element string and GS1 Digital Link URI).

Barcodes play a key role in supply chains, enabling parties like retailers, manufacturers, transport providers and hospitals to automatically identify and track products as they move through the supply chain.

GS1 utilises several types of barcodes to satisfy different business requirements.

Linear barcodes

Linear barcodes, like the U.P.C. code commonly found on consumer goods, use a series of variable-width lines and spaces to encode data, including the GTIN for product identification.


Instantly recognisable 1D barcodes used in retail all over the world

GS1 DataBar

Can hold additional product attributes such as the weight of fresh foods

GS1-128 and ITF-14

Versatile barcodes often used in a distribution environment

GS1 General Specifications

The GS1 General Specifications is the core standards document of the GS1 system describing how GS1 barcodes and identification keys should be used.

View the standard

Any questions?

We can help you get started using GS1 standards.

Contact local office

Two-dimensional (2D) barcodes

2D barcodes use patterns of squares, hexagons, dots and other shapes to encode data. Because the data is encoded in a two-dimensional pattern, 2D barcodes can hold more data than 1D barcodes while still appearing physically smaller.

See details

Data matrix types

Data matrix encoded with GS1 Digital Link URI syntax

GS1 DataMatrix encoded with GS1 element string syntax

QR code types

QR Code encoded with GS1 Digital Link URI syntax

GS1 QR Code encoded with GS1 element string syntax


GS1 DotCode (exclusively for EU Tobacco reg 2018/574)

The future of product identification is two-dimensional

GS1 is partnering with industry on the journey into the future of data carriers.

Read The Barcode (r)Evolution position paper

Join the Solution Provider 2D Focus Group

The Solution Provider 2D Focus Group is a group of experts that work together to help industry users migrate towards data rich barcodes. This group is designed for solution providers and other stakeholders (e.g., retailers) across all markets that support on-pack coding solutions.

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