Healthcare Supply Chain Data Standards FAQs

Health Care Supply Chain Data Standards Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Global Location Number (GLN)?

The Global Location Number (GLN) is a 13-digit number for supply chain parties and/or locations. The associated name, address, and class of trade are “tied” to each unique number and is specific to only one exact and very precise location within the world. The GLN is a unique number that identifies any legal, functional, or physical location within a business or organizational entity, such as:

  • Legal entities: Whole companies, subsidiaries or divisions such as Integrated Delivery Network (IDN), hospitals, suppliers, distributors, banks, freight carriers, etc.
  • Functional entities: Purchasing departments within legal entities, accounting departments, returns departments, nursing stations, wards, etc.
  • Physical entities: Warehouses, loading docks, delivery points, hospital wings, particular rooms in a hospital, cabinets, cabinet shelves, etc.

Why should my organization adopt GLNs now?

The adoption of GLNs will:

  • improve your pricing accuracy and revenue stream
  • eliminate the maintenance of thousands of single purpose proprietary supplier numbers
  • improve the accuracy of your GPO sales reports

Is the GLN (Global Location Number) an intelligent number? Is it one than can be parsed into its component attributes?

The GLN is not intended to be an intelligent number. It cannot be parsed into its component part. It should only be used as a pointer to a database file.

What are the advantages of GLNs?

The use of GS1 Global Location Numbers (GLNs) provides companies with a method of identifying locations, within and outside their company, that is:

  • Simple: An easily defined data structure with integrity checking that facilitates processing and transmission of data.
  • Unique: GLNs are globally unique if used according to the GS1 GLN Allocation Rules.
  • Multi-sectoral: The GLN allows any location to be identified for any company, regardless of its activity anywhere in the world. This allows for the GLN to be used across many industry sectors.
  • Global: Implemented around the world and supported by GS1 US and the international network of other GS1 Member Organizations covering more than 100 countries.

Why use standardized location identification numbers, such as GLNs, instead of custom identifiers?

Any company can design its own internal system and code structure to identify all the locations covering its operating requirements. Although an internal solution might seem to be the easiest and fastest way forward, when information is exchanged between Information Systems of distinct companies this may present several problems, such as

  • Duplication: Two or more trading partners may use the exact same location number to identify an internal location in their company - no guarantee of uniqueness.
  • Complexity: Internal identifiers will have a variety of structures and formats, making application programming more complex and application changes costly.
  • Significance: Location identifiers that contain information related to the location in the code structure itself will become difficult to handle, as the coding structure evolves to incorporate new meanings.

How and when do I use my Global Location Numbers (GLNs)?

Customers use their GLNs whenever they communicate business transactions with suppliers and other trading partners outside of their organization. The GLN is an identification number for business communications because it uniquely identifies your organization across the entire supply chain with all suppliers, group purchasing organizations (GPOs), etc. Here are some more specific examples of when it is used:

  • Ordering products
  • Processing supply related order and invoicing inquiries
  • Claiming manufacturer rebates
  • Corresponding with suppliers
  • For all other standard business transactions with manufacturers, distributors, group purchasing

I am moving my office from place (Main Street) to place (Fifth Street). Do I need a new GLN?

Yes, if a location identified by a Global Location Number (GLN) changes, the party responsible for the GLN should change the details associated with the GLN on the related Information Systems file record. A GLN that has stopped being used will remain so for several years before being reallocated; this is a specific requirement for health care provider facilities. The delay must allow time for all references of the old location number to be removed from trading partners' files. When the location number is re-used, the details relating to the location must be retransmitted. See the GS1 GLN Allocation Rules.

What is meant by location?

The GLN is a 13-digit unique data structure that identifies any legal or physical location within a business or organizational entity, such as:

  • Legal entities: Whole companies, subsidiaries or divisions such as supplier, customer, bank, forwarder, etc.
  • Functional entities: A purchasing department within a legal entity, an accounting department, a returns department, a nursing station, a ward, a customer number within a legal entity, etc.
  • Physical entities: A particular room in a building, warehouse, warehouse gate, loading dock, delivery point, cabinet, cabinet shelf housing circuit boards, room within a building, hospital wing, etc.

What are examples of locations that can be assigned GLNs?

GLNs are reference keys for retrieving information from databases about hospital systems, hospital departments, stores, manufacturing centers, warehouses, broker’s offices, sales offices, corporate headquarters, distribution centers, vending machines, postal addresses, dock doors, customers, regions, merchant marine ships, buildings on military bases, and many others.

What is the GLN Registry for Healthcare®?

  • The GLN Registry for Healthcare is a registry of health care and health care-related facilities in the United States. Each location has been assigned a unique 13-digit number called a Global Location Number (GLN). The Registry includes the name, address, class of trade, and organizational hierarchy information about each health care provider. Additionally, it maintains the same information for the suppliers. It is online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it is the only place that stores all present and past GLN information. The GLN Registry for Healthcare, developed at the request of its health care members, is operated by GS1 US.
  • It is a database that solves the health care industry challenge of inaccurate location identification by providing a comprehensive and accurate list of health care facilities with matching GLNs to increase patient safety and reduce costs for everyone from manufacturer to distributor to provider by improving the accuracy of supply chain activities.
  • Single Source of Truth for GLN and related information.

What is Global Supply Chain Identification?

Global Supply Chain Identification is the process of assigning one globally unique number to each location that receives products from suppliers. Both customers and suppliers have these numbers assigned. You, as a health care provider, will have a number if a supplier is going to deliver products to your specific location. If suppliers only deliver products to your receiving dock, only that location will have a Global Location Number (GLN). Alternatively, if suppliers deliver to more locations, additional numbers are assigned.

Can my GPO help with the acquisition of GLNs for my organization?

Group purchasing organizations may each provide slightly different services, but here are some of the ways that each may help:

  • Helping member organizations get GLNs assigned
  • Standardizing all supplier sales reporting business processes around the use of the GLN
  • Education and promotion programs/materials

Please contact your GPO representative for more information.

What is the role GPOs, distributors, and manufacturers play in Global Supply Chain Identification?

The goal is to have everyone use the same number.

  • If GPOs tell the manufacturers that a member is using a GLN, the manufacturer is more likely to associate an organization's entities with the right GPO contract price.
  • Next, if distributors use the GLNs with manufacturers to learn the price that the manufacturer assigned, the facility is more likely to get the right price when ordering products from the distributors.
  • Finally, by using the GLNs to order products from distributors or manufacturers, all of the ambiguity is removed from the supply chain. By everyone using one number and one database, it increases the likelihood that the price charged was the price that was originally communicated between the GPO, manufacturer, distributor, and provider.
  • The long-term goal is that the use of GLN will be as commonplace between health care GPOs, distributors, manufacturers, and providers as it is in other industries.

What is the first step for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to identify themselves with a GLN?

If a company does not have an assigned GS1 Company Prefix, contact the GS1 Member Organization in your country to obtain a membership application. If a company already has a GS1 Company Prefix, the company can begin assignment now!

Why do facilities need a GLN?

Do you buy products from the same pharmaceutical companies that sell to retailers? How about food companies that also sell to restaurants and grocery stores? How about linen and textile companies that also sell to retailers? Do you ever buy anything from Wal-Mart?

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of companies that do business with your organization also sell to customers in other industries. If so, they are already using the GLN with these customers like Wal-Mart, Kroger, and TrueValue.

For this reason, we believe that it does not make sense for U.S. health care to adopt a customer identification standard that is different from the number being used by the suppliers in these other industries. AHRMM recommends use of the GLN. Because healthcare is a key component of the global economy, it simply does not make sense for U.S. health care to be its own island and have its own health care-only customer identification standard.

Why should this be a priority?

Today's provider organizations will continue to have competing priorities based on the many challenges facing the health care industry. By embracing the GLN process now, the expected outcomes include:

  • improved pricing accuracy
  • no more maintenance of thousands of single-purpose proprietary supplier numbers
  • improve the accuracy of GPO sales reports

Do manufacturers, distributors, and other supplies also have GLNs?

They do. In fact, many of the suppliers that you do business with already have GLNs, albeit for use outside of the U.S. health care field. This will now bring the U.S. health care field into compliance with this common and proven business practice.

What is the relationship between a GLN, GTIN® (e.g., U.P.C.) and GDSN®?

GLNs (Global Location Numbers) are GS1 standards-based identifiers used to identify locations, and GTINs (Global Trade Item Numbers) are GS1 standards-based identifiers used to identify trade items (products and services). Both are assigned/generated by companies based on their GS1 Company Prefix and the GS1 Standards and Allocation Rules.

GS1 Identification Numbers provide the link between an object and the information pertaining to it. When users assign a GS1 Identification Number, they define a set of standardized information (known as attributes) about the object to which that identifier relates (e.g., size, weight, location). The GS1 System specifies the list of attributes that must be defined for each GS1 Identifier and provides a precise definition, as well as acceptable values and data formats for each attribute. Standardized attributes about products include core data-like selling units, item dimensions, and product classification. Once defined by the user, those attributes are then stored in a GDSN-certified Data Pool and shared with supply chain partners using the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network® (GDSN®). The GDSN serves as an authoritative source of standardized health care product information and provides an automated and efficient way of sharing this information to ensure that all supply chain partners are using identical, up-to-date, reliable product data. Through this process, GS1 Identification Numbers not only identify an object, but also provide a link to information about that object.

Who communicates GLNs?

Normally, it is the responsibility of the company/health care organization assigning GLNs to keep business partners informed of GLNs issued and their associated information. Special care is needed if the ownership of the company/organization changes. However, in health care, the GLN Registry for Healthcare® will be the single reference for all GLNs. The GLN Registry for Healthcare provides a comprehensive list of health care and health care related facilities in the United States enabling subscribers to access up-to-date, reliable health care location information. The GLN Registry for Healthcare has an automated notification process for subscribers to alert of location changes as they occur.

Will there be constant changes of health care provider GLNs in the GLN Registry?

GLNs change because of business needs. There is a flow to the change to provider GLNs. The GPO enumerates the provider hierarchy initially. The provider begins to assume control and revises heavily, adds, and deletes. The hierarchies remain fairly constant after the initial update, unless a new hospital location is merged/purchased/acquired/built or a new location is added or there is a change in the business model, (i.e., from central stock to just in time).

Why did AHRMM select the GLN instead of the DUNs or some other number?

AHRMM was part of a broad and diverse group of leading health care supply chain companies and organizations (with representatives from many providers, manufacturers, and distributors) that studied this issue very closely for several years. The group considered the DUNs + 4 numbering scheme, the HIN (Health Industry Number), the DEA, and others. After an intensely collaborative process, AHRMM and the other members of the cross-sectional group selected the GLN for the following reasons:

  • The GLN is the most widely used standard for customer identification.
  • It is already in use in most major industries within the U.S. and because suppliers in these other industries also sell to health care providers.
  • Companies like Wal-Mart, Kroger, Home Depot, Office Max, and many others require the use of the GLN for all supply chain activities.
  • Health care companies like Pfizer, Merck, Abbott, 3M, McKesson, and Johnson & Johnson support the use of the GLN as they do business in many other industries (i.e. over-the-counter drugs).
  • Software companies like Infor and PeopleSoft already support GLN in their MMIS products.
  • Health care is not an island onto itself. It is part of the global business community, so a separate standard did not seem warranted.
  • U.S. health care is better positioned to adopt the best practices of other industries where there is standardization around global standards. There are extensive benefits from better supply chain practices including those that other industries have successfully used for several years.

Can I use a supplier's GLNs within my systems to uniquely identify them?

Yes, using the supplier's GLNs as the standard supplier identification number within your purchasing, accounts payable, and in other systems where exact supplier information must be used is recommended.

What other industries use the GLN?

Other industries using GLNs include: Apparel and Fashion Accessories, Building Supplies, Chemicals, Food and Beverage, Foodservice, Furniture, Baby Products, Office Supplies, Domestics/Linens, Healthcare - Over the Counter, Pharmaceuticals, Medical/Surgical, Maintenance, Repair and Operation (MRO), Computer Hardware/Software/Electronics, Lawn & Garden, Photographic Equipment, Publishing, Telecommunications, and Utilities-Power Transmission.

Are there other location coding methods?

There are 196 different location coding methods recognized by international EDI standards ANSI X12, and 212 different location coding methods recognized by UN/EDIFACT. Some industries use proprietary seller generated location codes. Some use location codes assigned by accepted third party organizations. Some healthcare organizations have used DUNS +4 numbers to identify specific physical locations within their organization. (The use of DUNS +4 is primarily limited to North America.) This is a 13-digit number made up of two different pieces: A 9-digit number assigned by Dun & Bradstreet to identify an organization or a subset of an organization (DUNS) and a 4-digit number assigned by the organization or subset to uniquely identify a location within their own domain.

How do we assign GLNs?

GLNs should be allocated sequentially and not contain "classifying" elements. For detailed information on assigning GLNs, see the GS1 GLN Allocation Rules.

What are the benefits of GLNs?

There are many benefits of GLN, including:

  • Can be used throughout the world with no need for trading partner(s) to assign proprietary numbers to ensure uniqueness.
  • Saves time and money as the number can be moved quickly and confidently through the supply chain.
  • May be assigned to any location ensuring ultimate flexibility of the Global Location Number (GLN) to meet the needs/requirements of all businesses anywhere in the world - from loading docks to aircraft carriers to circuit boards in a router.
  • Enables users/customers to leverage the full functionality of the GS1 System.
  • GLNs can be encoded in GS1-128 barcodes and physically marked onto:
    • Trade units to identify the parties involved in the transaction (buyer, supplier).
    • Transport units (consignor and consignee).
    • Physical locations (place of delivery, place of departure, and point of storage).

What problem does the GLN Registry for Healthcare solve for the healthcare industry?

There was no recognized central location identification standard for health care providers and health care related entities in the United States. The GLN provides a globally unique standardized location identification number for providers, manufacturers, and distributors. The GLN Registry for Healthcare is a database that identifies health care locations and promotes efficiency by accelerating the use of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Extensible Markup Language (XML).

Why would you use the GLN Registry for Healthcare?

The GLN Registry for Healthcare provides a central database that enables subscribers to look up any provider’s and supplier’s location information at any time. This provider information can be downloaded. Then, by simply cutting and pasting, you can easily update any provider information without having to re-key it. Alternatively, your Information Systems department could write a simple interface program to keep it completely synchronized with the industry database if you have many providers.

Who is responsible for maintaining my hierarchy?

The entity that owns the GLN is responsible for maintaining their hierarchy within the GLN Registry for Healthcare.

What is the mechanism to share this GLN information?

The GLN or GLN Registry for Healthcare is the mechanism used to share GLN information.

How do I find out if I have a GLN in the GLN Registry?

To find out if you have a GLN in the GLN Registry, contact GS1 US Customer Service at +1 937.610.4222.

What is the cost for a manufacturer or distributor to subscribe to the GLN Registry for Healthcare?

Please click on the “Fees” tab on the GS1 US Data Hub | Company page for current pricing.

I still have question, who can I call?

Contact GS1 US at:

GS1 US Customer Service

7887 Washington Village Drive, Suite 300
Dayton, OH 45459
T: +1 937.610.4222
Monday - Friday 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM ET


What is the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN)?

The Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) is a network of interoperable data pools and a Global Registry, the GS1 Global Registry, that allows the timely and “auditable” distribution of certified standardized master data (Trade Item and Party) from a data source to a final data recipient of this information.

Trading partners do not have direct access to the GS1 Global Registry, unless they act as their own data pool.

Within the GDSN, catalogue items are identified by a combination of GTIN, GLN of the data source, and target market (a geographic area where the product is intended to be sold) while parties are identified using a GLN.

What is data synchronization?

Data synchronization is an electronic business process that ensures trading partners’ product databases are kept the same as each other, thus creating a greater opportunity for business efficiency and growth.

Why should my company consider implementing the GDSN?

GDSN provides standardized, reliable data for effective business transactions in both local and global markets, driving down the costs of the supply chain.

One of the key advantages of the GDSN is that trading partners have a single point of entry to the GDSN through the certified data pool of their choice therefore avoiding having to pay subscriptions to several data pools.

What are the elements of the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN)?

There are three key elements that together make up the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN)

  • GS1 (GDSN) standards – the common language of electronic identification and communication
  • GDSN certified data pools – the services that hold and process trading partner data
  • The GS1 Global Registry – a neutral, standards-based directory that facilitates the ongoing synchronization relationships between trading partners

What is a data pool?

Data pools are GDSN-certified electronic catalogues of standardized item data. They serve both as a source and/or recipient of master data and can be run by a GS1 Member Organization, supplier, customer, exchange, or service provider.

To be a GS1 GDSN data pool it is necessary to be GS1 GDSN-certified. This is achieved by passing the GS1 GDSN Interoperability Certification. View the latest list of GDSN-certified data pools.

What is a GPC?

The Global Product Classification (GPC) is a set of common categories to group products globally, developed, owned, and used by the GS1 user community. GPC indicates what kind of product the trade item is and to which group of products it belongs. In the GDSN, every GTIN must be classified using a GPC code.

What is the connection between the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) and the Electronic Product Code™ (EPC)?

The GDSN uses GS1 System standards to validate the data using GDSN standards, global attributes, and business validation rules and provides integrity of data in the network and assures it is genuine if validated against the brand owner information. The Electronic Product Code (EPC) uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and provides the information about the exact location of a product in the system. Both systems allow for the use of the GS1 Company Prefix as a primary identification through the use of GTIN, GLN, and EPC. For more information, visit GDSN or EPCglobal.

Where can I find additional information regarding GDSN?

Additional information is available at GS1 Share Data GDSN.

What are the benefits of implementing the GDSN?

There are many benefits of implementing the GDSN for users of all sizes. For complete list of benefits visit the GS1 GDSN website.

How does the GDSN work?

The GDSN works via a network of interoperable data pools and the GS1 Global Registry to exchange data between trading partners. Refer to the GS1's How GDSN works page for the most current information on implementing the GDSN.

What entity operates the GS1 Global Registry?

The GS1 Global Registry is managed and operated by GDSN, Inc. with direction of the GDSN, Inc. Board of Directors.

Why synchronize data?

Synchronized data eliminates errors in data alignment between trading partners, which creates supply chain information efficiencies and ensures accurate data in transactions.

Trading partners risk high, unnecessary costs due to master data problems. Invoices with errors are responsible for a large part of these costs.

In addition, globalization of trade has generated an accelerated need for smooth inter-company flow of goods and better control of supply chain processes, which can be achieved via synchronized communication among trading partners.

By continuously synchronizing/harmonizing the master data between your system and your trading partners systems, you will ensure that master data is the same in all systems. This will allow you to trade globally, increase data accuracy between you and your trading partners, and drive costs out of your supply chain.

What is global data synchronization?

Global data synchronization is, “The continuous harmonization of data attribute values between two or more different systems with the end result being the data attribute values are the same in all of the systems.”

What is the GS1 Global Registry?

The GS1 Global Registry is the central directory for providing catalogue item uniqueness by the registration of items and parties, facilitating subscription sharing, and helping to establish data pool interoperability.

Why is the GS1 Global Registry useful?

The GS1 Global Registry serves as the single point of truth by serving as the central repository for catalogue items and parties and for facilitating the publication and subscription of product and location information. Broad scale interoperability is not achievable without a Global Registry.

What entities are providing the GS1 Global Registry subscription services?

In order to participate in the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) and register or subscribe to items in the GS1 Global Registry®, trading partners must make use of a GDSN-certified data pool. A certified data pool is a solution built to comply with GS1 standards which has been tested to have interoperability within GDSN. Only trading partners using a certified data pool will be able to synchronize data through GDSN. View a list of organizations (PDF) that offer certified data pool services.

Where can I find more information on the GS1 Global Registry?

Here are current statistics for the global registry.

Is there more than one Global Registry for GDSN?

No, there is only one Global Registry for the GDSN -the GS1 Global Registry.

Who can access the GS1 Global Registry?

Access to the GS1 Global Registry is limited to data pools that are certified as being compliant with the GS1 GDSN standards, are identified by a Global Location Number (GLN), and have executed a GS1 Global Registry Service Level Agreement.

How do Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) join the GDSN?

All companies are expected to join the GDSN in the same way. Most data pools provide appropriate support to SMEs’ needs. If you have a limited number of item and party data to share with your trading partners, you will, most likely, access your third party data pool using a Graphic User Interface (GUI). This interface (i.e. web-based) will allow you to enter data directly into the GDSN-certified data pool of your choice and to synchronize automatically with your trading partners should you add, change or delete your item or party data.

Catalogue Item Uniqueness:

The GS1 Global Registry efficiently guarantees the uniqueness of the catalogue item (GTIN + GLN + target market) for a particular data source. If this functionality is not available via the GS1 Global Registry service it has the following implications:

  • GTIN, GLN, target market uniqueness cannot be guaranteed.
  • To achieve a global uniqueness check, the source data pool would have to check with all the other data pools in the network (assuming that it knows who they are). This would be grossly inefficient.

Reference to the Source of the Data:

  • The GS1 Global Registry service holds the information on the source data pool where the details of the GTIN reside. This data is only held once in the network.
  • If this functionality is not available via the GS1 Global Registry service, it has the following implications:
    • Each local data pool would need to hold this source reference data for each GTIN, GLN, and target market combination, and ensure that the data is kept accurate. This creates added complexity and added cost to all the data pools in the network.
    • Should suppliers of data change their home data pool, every data pool in the network would have to be made aware of this.
    • The one-to-many efficiencies that the GS1 Global Registry enables would be lost.

Data Quality:

  • The GS1 Global Registry will only register data from GDSN-certified data pools. This ensures that all the data pools in the network are complying with a basic set of validation rules that support data integrity in the system. The GS1 Global Registry service will be the central distributor of the validation requirements developed within the GS1 Global Standards Management Process (GSMP), thus ensuring that all data pools authorized to participate in the network are in receipt of the same rules.
  • If this functionality is not available via the GS1 Global Registry subscription service, it has the following implications:
    • Each data pool would have to keep a record of GDSN-certified data pools and would have to have a mechanism for keeping this data accurate and timely based on information that would need to be maintained at GDSN Inc. This would add complexity and cost to GDSN Inc., data pools, and the certification service.

Subscription Data Router:

  • The GS1 Global Registry stores information about who has subscribed to catalogue item or party data. This data is only held for the purpose of acting as a facilitator of the synchronization process. Data pools receive subscriptions based on a match of the catalogue item or party data registered with the GS1 Global Registry.
  • If this functionality is not available via the GS1 Global Registry subscription service, it has the following implications:
    • Any time a data pool enters or leaves the network, all subscriptions held locally would have to be re-directed by the local data pool. This would add complexity and cost to all data pools and their users.
    • The publication/subscription model used by the GDSN would become much more complex.

How should I implement GDSN in my company?

This section is based on the assumption that your company wishes to move to the full implementation vision of the GDSN.

  • Get commitment from Senior Management for your GDSN strategy. Communicate this commitment internally and to your trading partners and get “buy-in” across the company structure.
  • Build your company-specific business case on the basis of the rationale and link it to key performance indicators. This can be achieved by assessing your current business processes to define the benefits and your current IT landscape to define the implementation costs. The specified ambition level will allow you to spread the investments over time. Build your roadmap or project plan for the coming years and use the business case to identify the key performance indicators to track the benefits (business and technical) and maintain visibility of the overall progress.
  • Ensure that your company and your trading partners have adopted the GS1 System: GTIN, GLN, Global Data Dictionary (GDD), and Global Product Classification (GPC) code standards. This is indeed a key pre-requisite to start the GDSN.
  • Clean up internal data catalogues and ensure that you are able to send/receive all data attributes (Master Data) to/from your trading partners in a Global Data Dictionary (GDD) compliant structure. This step is critical and should not be underestimated as several studies have shown that this process could take longer than originally assumed or anticipated.
  • Subscribe to a GDSN-certified data pool. A list of the currently certified data pools is available on the GDSN website.
  • Subscribe to the GS1 Global Registry through a GDSN-certified data pool.
  • Start working with a few key items and attributes and with a small, selected number of trading partners that are strategically important and committed to develop the capabilities required to exchange clean and GS1 System standards compliant data.
  • Engage in pilots with these selected partners, monitor results, and make necessary workflow, process, and technical adjustments before moving to full production.
  • Support the drive towards industry-wide participation by encouraging other trading partners and companies to join the GDSN by sharing your results and publishing case studies.

What is the GDD?

The Global Data Dictionary (GDD) is a repository for all data attributes. It allows users to store, reuse, and share precise entry names and business definitions and their equivalent representations for GS1 System standards such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Extensible Markup Language (XML), and Automated Identification and Data Capture Codes (AIDC).


GTINs are for product identification, so the FAQs are not provider-specific.

Does GTIN replace the U.P.C.?

No. The U.P.C. symbol encodes a 12-digit GTIN. The U.P.C. does not go away; companies that place a GTIN-12 (U.P.C.) on products now should continue to do so.

Is a unique GTIN required for every level of packaging?

Yes. There should be a unique GTIN identifying the consumer unit, an inner pack, multi-pack, case, or pallet where applicable.

What is GTIN Compliance?

Because of history and technical changes, barcodes can be 8,12,13 or 14 digits. A company that is able to process, store, and communicate information about their products with trading partners using all GTINs, whether 8, 12, 13, or 14 digits, is considered to be GTIN compliant. To be current, a GTIN should be stored in a data base as 14 digits. Companies can become GTIN compliant by expanding the appropriate systems and applications to 14-digits. This will support the GTIN on products at all levels of packaging (consumer, inner packs, multi-packs, cases, and pallets, etc.) It is necessary to become GTIN compliant to take advantage of the benefits of data synchronization using the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN).

Does my company need a new GS1 Company Prefix to create GTINs?

No. Continue to use the one you have.

If a change is made to the product does the GTIN need to change?

A separate unique GTIN is required whenever any of the pre-defined characteristics of a trade item are different in any way that is relevant to the trading process. The guiding principle is if the consumer is expected to distinguish a new trade item from an old trade item and purchase accordingly, a new GTIN should be assigned to the new trade item (product package and shelf edge label declarations should appear the same to the consumer). For complete information, refer to the GTIN Allocation Rules or refer to the Bar Codes and Identification Numbers section.

What can be identified using the GS1 Identification Numbers?

Trade items: Products and services upon which there is a need to retrieve pre-defined information at any point in the supply chain (Global Trade Item Number®/GTIN®).

  • Logistic units: Physical units established for transport and storage of products of any kind that need to be tracked and traced individually in a supply chain (Serial Shipping Container Code/SSCC).
  • Assets: Fixed or returnable assets (Global Individual Asset Identifier/GIAI, Global Returnable Asset Identifier/GRAI).
  • Locations: Physical, functional, or legal entities requiring a permanent identification, such as a company, department, or warehouse (Global Location Number/GLN).
  • Service Relations: Public or private service provider to track any entity’s service requirements and needs over a continuing relationship (Global Service Relation Number/GSRN).

Note: All GS1 identifiers use the same GS1 Company Prefix assigned to the company or organization.


Why is the UNSPSC important?

The UNSPSC initiative is important in providing free and open standards that can be used across many industries. It provides a standard set of guidelines and parameters. When utilized and managed properly, an organization can group like products. This can prove useful for analysis, organizing and finding items, and ordering products.

Who defines what the categories should be?

Since the UNSPSC was released as an open standard, all changes have been user-driven. Each segment has a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) that votes on the adoption of all changes. TAG membership is open. Procedures are well documented and transparent.

How does UNSPSC relate to the UPN?

Whereas the UPN is designed to uniquely identify individual products at each level of packaging, the UNSPSC is designed to group similar products together into categories. Thus the UPN will have a one-to-many relationship with the UNSPSC; each category will contain many products while each product will reside in only one category.

Have other industries adopted a similar approach?

Yes, the UNSPSC has been adopted by the information technology, electronic components and semiconductor manufacturing industries. Other industries adopting this standard include retail, energy, automotive, and office supplies. The UNSPSC is supported by leading e-commerce platform vendors including Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Ariba, Commerce One, and i2, as well as by electronic catalog services/software vendors such as CardoNet, Cohera, Poet, Requisite Technology, RightWorks, SAQQARA Systems, and Softface.