The UPC-A (Universal Product Code, invented in 1973) is a 12 digit, numeric symbology used in retail applications and is by far the most common and well-known barcode symbology in the United States. It is designed to uniquely identify a product and its manufacturer. You will find UPC-A barcode on virtually every consumer good at your local supermarket, as well as on books, magazines, and newspapers.

The UPC-A barcode is widely used on products sold on retail shelves.

UPC-A is a well-established standard widely accepted all across the US.

UPC-A is not adopted universally and can only be used to encode UPC data, not just any numeric data.

Technical Specifications
UPC-A is a numeric, continuous and fixed-length code.

Components of UPC-A
UPC-A encodes 11 digits of numeric (0 through 9) message data along with a trailing check digit, for a total of 12 digits of barcode data. The barcode is divided into four areas:

Number System: The number system is a single digit that identifies the product type that the subsequent symbol represents.

Manufacturer Code: The manufacturer code is a unique code assigned by the UCC Council to each manufacturer or company that distributes goods. All products produced by a given company will use the same manufacturer code assigned by UCC. A company does not have the option of choosing a manufacturing code of its own.

Product Code: The product code is a unique code assigned by the manufacturer. Unlike the manufacturer code, which must be assigned by the UCC, the manufacturer is free to assign product codes to each of their products without consulting any other organization.

Check Digit : The check digit is an additional digit used to verify that a barcode has been scanned correctly. Since a scan can produce incorrect data due to inconsistent scanning speed, print imperfections, or a host of other problems, it is useful to verify that the rest of the data in the barcode has been correctly interpreted.

UPC-A is a subset of EAN-13. A UPC-A barcode is an EAN-13 barcode with the first EAN-13 number system digit set to "0". This means that any hardware or software capable of reading EAN-13 is automatically capable of reading UPC-A.

Additional Information
Both UPC-A and UPC-E allow appending a two or five digit supplement number to the main bar code symbol. This supplemental message was designed for use on publications and periodicals.

Uniform Code Council located in Dayton, Ohio controls the code and the assignment of manufacturer ID numbers in the U.S.A.

In Canada, Electronic Commerce Council of Canada is responsible for assigning 5-digit manufacturer code. ECCC can be contacted via http://www.eccc.org.

One can use Label Flow™ barcode software for printing UPC-A product labels.

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