amazon barcodes

Barcodes 101: Everything You Need To Know About Amazon Barcodes

By Harriet
Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you’re confused about barcodes when you’re sending in your stock to Amazon… you are not alone! Barcodes might seem like the final piece of the puzzle when you’re sending in your stock as its one of the last things you need to do… But it’s also one of the most confusing parts too!

So in this article, we’ll explain the difference between the types of Amazon barcodes, what you need and how you can do it right.

Before we get started, it’s important to note that you need to read this article and implement these steps BEFORE you create your listing. Otherwise, you will have to delete your listing, wait 24hrs and then start again.

First things first – what types of barcodes are there?

Amazon has two options for the Fulfillment-By-Amazon (FBA) product barcodes:

  1. Manufacturer barcodes: i.e. EAN or UPC
  2. Amazon specific ones: i.e. FNSKU or MSKU
Now, in order to sell on Amazon, you need both.

First, you need to get your own EAN or UPC code. Then, you convert this into an FNSKU for the Amazon directory (the steps to do this are at the end of this article!). And it’s the FNSKU which you apply to your product.

Let’s dive into this in more detail…

We’ll explain the EAN (European Article Number) or UPC (Universal Product Code) first.

This type of barcode has been around since well before Amazon, and almost every manufacturer in the world has its own EAN or UPC barcode. Next time you’re in your local store – check out the barcodes on the products on offer. They will all have their own UPC code which the cashier will scan when you check-out.

The EAN or UPC is basically like a unique name or DNA code for each product. So if you make 100 units of one product, all 100 units will have the same EAN or UPC code.

If you think about it in human terms – if I was to have a UPC barcode, I would have my own unique UPC barcode. No one else in the world has my DNA so I would have my own UPC barcode. If I cloned myself a million times, all my clones would have the same DNA as me… and therefore, they would have the same UPC code. Everyone else in the world has different DNA, and would, therefore, have different UPC barcodes.

Now, let’s apply this to a product.

Let’s take the iPhone, for example. Every iPhone line will have its own UPC barcode. A black 16GB iPhone X on O2 will have a different UPC code as a black 16GB iPhone X on T-Mobile. Why? Because although they may look the same, one is O2 branded and one is T-Mobile branded.

And if you’ve got the same product but in a different color or size, they would have a different UPC code for this variation. The black 16GB iPhone X on O2 will have a different UPC code to a rose gold 16GB iPhone X on O2. A little bit like how my DNA is different from my brothers’ or sisters’… We might be similar but we have a different set of DNA, so we’d both have different UPC codes.

In short, any product that is the exact same as another will have the same UPC code. Any slight variation will mean that there will be a different UPC code.

  • So if you’re selling one item in one color and one size – you’ll need just one EAN or UPC code.
  • If you’re selling one item in 2 colors – you’ll need 2 EAN or UPC codes.
  • If you’re selling one item in 2 colors and 2 sizes, there are effectively 4 variations. So you would need 4 EAN or UPC codes.

And so on…

So what does this mean for YOU if you’re selling on Amazon?

When you create a product listing on Amazon, Amazon will require you to add your Product ID (i.e. the EAN / UPC code).

Amazon barcodes Product ID

You can buy an EAN or UPC code from websites like Speedy Barcodes or eBay… However, we recommend you to get your barcode either from the main GS1 directory or from an authorized reseller site like Nationwide Barcode or Barcodes Mania. The reason for this is because if you buy a second-hand barcode, you don’t know if the code has been used by someone else.

Amazon verifies the EAN/UPC code against the main GS1 directory to check its valid so if another product is using the same code, it can lead to Amazon putting your product in the wrong category.

Having your own EAN or UPC code also protects your listing from another seller hijacking your listing and claiming to sell the same product. If you brand your product with your logo or package in your own custom packaging, no one else will be able to sell the same product as you.

And if you are selling one product in multiple colors or sizes…

When you create a listing with multiple variations, you not only need a separate EAN/UPC code for each variation… But you also need an EAN/UPC code for the parent variation.

You will create the parent listing first and then you’ll tell Amazon the different variations that will be available.

For example, if you create a listing for a 16GB iPhone X and you sell it in two colors (black and gold), you will need the following 3 EAN/UPC codes:

  1. 16GB iPhone X – Parent Listing (this is the general listing that all the variations sit under)
  2. 16GB iPhone X – Black
  3. 16GB iPhone X – Gold

All 3 of the above need it’s own EAN or UPC code for Amazon’s directory.

So how do I apply my barcode to my product?

Once you’ve got your UPC code, you then need to convert it into an FNSKU.

The FNSKU is the number or code which you need to place on every one of your products. This is Amazon’s internal barcode system which helps them keep track of every individual product within the Amazon marketplace. Every product within Amazon should have it’s own UPC code as well as its own FNSKU.

And this is how you create your FNSKU barcode…

The first thing you need to do is to change your settings in your Amazon seller account.

The default settings are that your barcode is a Manufacturer Barcode, instead of an Amazon barcode.

If you don’t change the setting here, then your stock can be commingled with other sellers’ stock which also has the same barcode. It also means that another seller can jump onto your listing and sell the same product. If they sell the same product for less, then their products will be sold – and you’ll find your sales will dramatically decline.

So here’s how you can change your barcode settings so you can keep control of your stock and protect your listing.

Step 1: Go to Seller Central
  • Click Settings
  • Click Fulfilment by Amazon

amazon barcodes FBA

Step 2
  • Scroll down until you find FBA Product Barcode Preference
  • Click Edit on the right-hand side
  • Change the settings to Amazon
  • Hit save

amazon barcodes Preference settings

Then when you create your product listing, you will get the option of who ‘preps’ the barcode: Amazon or Merchant (i.e. you):

Amazon barcodes merchant

Seeing as Amazon charge per barcode, we’d recommend you choose ‘Merchant’ and either do it yourself or ask your supplier to do it.

Then, download the barcodes, print them on sticky paper, and apply to each unit.


And that’s all!

If you follow the above steps, your products should all be labeled correctly with their unique FNSKU barcodes and should be ready to ship into the FBA warehouse.

Don’t forget – if you’ve got any questions, just reach out to us via the live chat of the ImportXperts dashboard, or in the comments below. Good luck!

  • Jeff James Freedom45 Ltd says:

    Thank you for this I had the same question a few days ago on Facebook IX page, I could’ve done with this! It answers everything.

  • Haha glad it’s helpful 🙂

  • Jantien Aerts says:

    What do I need to put as a barcode on the carton box in which the products arrive?

    • Hey Jantien, the outside of your carton needs its own shipping label – you’ll get to that bit when you create your shipment in the Amazon dashboard!

  • Louisa Gordon says:

    Brilliant blog, thank you so much! This was just what I needed to get our products under way in China!


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