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EAN codes

The EAN code (EAN means European Article Numbering) is a further development of the American UPC code and was introduced on July 1st, 1977, in Germany. The EAN system covers durable and consumer goods in the wholesale and retail trade. More than 10,000 companies from trade and industry have joined this system in Germany alone. One differentiates between 13-digit and 8-digit codes. The EAN 13 code can be extended with a 2- or 5-digit additional information (add-on). Common to all EAN codes is a fixed number of digits, a numeric character-set (the numerals 0 to 9 only) and a check number. The input of the check number is optional, but recommended. If you enter the code without a check number, it will be generated and added by the module. To avoid input errors, we recommend you always enter the check number, when available. Thus the module can check if your input was correct. Due to its high information density the EAN code is not suitable for all printing methods. In practice this means that if you want to print on an output device with low resolution (like old laser and inkjet printers), you should ensure that you do not fall below an empirically derived minimum size so that the readablility of the codes is retained.


The EAN 8 code, which has been developed for small-sized articles, is a shortened version of the EAN 13 and contains seven digits for code information data and a check number, so eight digits in total.

EAN 13

The most frequently used EAN code has 13 digits in total. The first two places from the left carry the country prefix. Germany uses the prefix codes 40 to 43. The following five digits define the barcode owner, in most cases a manufacturer or merchant. The individual article number is coded in the next five digits. The final digit is the check number.

EAN 13 Press 2

This code is used for newspapers and magazines. It is an EAN 13 code with two additional digits that contain the relevant issue number. It aids press wholesalers to calculate retailer's discounts. Please note that the check number has to be the 13th digit here too.

EAN 13 Press 5

The EAN 13 Press 5 code is used to mark books. It allows the publisher to control returned copies. Therefore the content of the additional 5 digits can be defined very freely by each publisher. Please note that here too the check number has to be the 13th digit.

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Last updated on June 24, 2015

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