Selling on Amazon

Barcodes for Amazon Explained

Barcodes for Amazon Explained

If you are new to selling on Amazon, then no doubt you are scratching your head about UPC Codes, FNKSU Codes, and ASINs.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! All these codes can even trip up those who have already been selling successfully on Amazon (but maybe have been doing things the old way and need a refresher).

This article will help you navigate the waters of product codes for Amazon selling.

What does it all mean?

-Do I need a UPC code to sell an item on Amazon?

-What is an FNSKU code and what’s the difference between FNSKU and a regular SKU?

-What does the ASIN mean?

-Do I need the UPC code printed on my product package?

This short guide is going to break it all down for you so you will feel empowered to move forward with selling on Amazon without all the confusion!

Types of Codes Used in Selling on Amazon

There are several types of codes used for selling products on Amazon.  Some of these are required for listing your products only, while others are generated by Amazon for internal tracking and shipping.  Here is a breakdown of what each type of code means:

The GTIN (Global Trade Identification Number):

It is the umbrella term for UPCs and EANs and is usually a numerical code between 12 and 14 digits. Each unique product should have its own unique GTIN.

A UPC barcode number is a 12 digit Universal Product Code

When you register for a UPC number, you typically receive a scannable barcode that looks like this:

UPC Barcode Example


You need a UPC barcode number so you can list a product within!  This is mandatory.  Amazon will not let you list an item without a valid UPC code.  

For some categories, you may apply for an exemption. Amazon will assign your products a Global Catalog Identifier (GCID), which can be used in place of a UPC. You can find the requirement for applying for an exemption here (Seller Central login required).

IF YOU ARE AN FBA PRIVATE LABEL SELLER:  With changes made to the Amazon Terms of Service and the introduction of Brand Registry 2.0, we highly recommend that you obtain an official GS1 code directly from the US GS1 authority website here:  

This will ensure that your brand name and company are directly associated with the UPC code created for your product.  Not using a GS1 sourced code will likely result in your brand registry application being rejected. 

An EAN barcode number is a 12 or 13 digit European Article Number

EAN-13 example

It’s basically the European equivalent of the UPC code.  Similarly, with the UPC codes, we recommend you obtain an EAN through the official GS1 authority for issuing EAN codes through the GS1 UK website:

ISBN Codes

The ISBN Code is the International Standard Book Number and is either 10 or 13 digits in length depending on when the book was published.  All books published after January 1, 2007 have 13 digit ISBN codes.

ISBN barcode example


This is AMAZON’s “UPC barcode” – it is their way of tracking your products inside their warehouses and this is what they scan and match to your listing ID.  

FNSKU barcode example

This is what you will ultimately print out on labels and will want to apply to each product unit.  

If your product also has a scannable UPC barcode, you will need to affix the FNSKU barcode label OVER the UPC barcode so that it is covered entirely.

ASIN codes

This is AMAZON’s internal catalog number.   Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs) are unique blocks of 10 letters and/or numbers that identify items. You can find the ASIN on the item's product information page at

For books, the ASIN is the same as the ISBN number, but for all other products, a new ASIN is created when the item is uploaded to the Amazon catalog.

You will find an item's ASIN on the product detail page alongside further details relating to the item, which may include information such as size, number of pages (if it's a book) or number of discs (if it's a CD).

For example, the ASIN for Hasbro's “Monopoly” game is B00005N5PF.ASIN example

Barcodes “Frequently Asked Questions”

Question -I have seen cheap UPCs on eBay – can I use these?

Answer –No. Never purchase barcodes from eBay as they will definitely get rejected by Amazon. You also risk getting your Amazon account closed. They will show a totally different company as the registered owner. Why spend thousands of dollars on launching a Private Label product and then only be willing to spend $10 on a UPC?

Question -Do I need a UPC to list in the Handmade category?

Answer -No – you can apply for GTIN exemption for handmade products.

Question -The product I am selling already has a barcode – do I need to purchase my own?

Answer -No. If this is an existing product you have not manufactured yourself then you need to check the Amazon catalog to see if the product already exists. Simply go to Inventory> Add a Product and enter the barcode. It should find a match. If it does not then you will have to create a new listing using the existing barcode.

Question -If I am creating a bundle do I need to buy a UPC?

Answer -Yes, you will need a UPC just like with a private label product or apply for an exemption.

Question -I already have Private Label products launched using barcodes purchased on eBay. What should I do?

Answer -Eventually, Amazon might get around to investigating existing listings. Although it will be painful you should probably create a new listing with a legitimate UPC purchased from GS1.

Question -If I am brand registered do I need to apply for GTIN exemption or purchase a UPC?

Answer -No. If you are brand registered you can use a unique identifier instead.

Question -Do I need to use a different barcode for each color or size variation?

Answer -Yes. Every unique product will need a unique barcode.