EAN Code

1D Symbologies

Symbology EAN code

The EAN barcode is the one of the most commonly used barcodes. EAN-13 (which means it has 13 numerical digits) is the barcode you commonly see printed on product packaging in Europe and worldwide. However, U.S. and Canadian retailers generally use UPC barcodes.

The shorter EAN-8 barcode is used where space is at a premium.

EAN-13 or EAN-8 barcodes always encode the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) of a product. This is a globally recognized product identification number, which includes a company code (or prefix), together with product codes and a check digit.

EAN originally stood for European Article Number. However, it’s now known as the International Article Number.


Historically, EAN barcode scanners have been dedicated devices such as laser scanners. However today, any smart device with a camera can be used as an EAN code scanner. Barcode scanning software turns smartphones or tablets into efficient EAN code readers.

EAN Code Characteristics

  • Used to encode Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN).
  • Contains 8 (EAN-8) or 13 (EAN-13) numerical digits.
  • Last digit serves as a mod10 checksum.
  • Additional data can be stored in an EAN-2 or EAN-5 add-on code.
  • Standardized under ISO/IEC 15420.

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EAN code FAQs

How do I create an EAN barcode?

You can create an EAN-13 or EAN-8 barcode using our free barcode generator tool.

To generate a barcode suitable for use in retail, you’ll need to input the GTIN number of your product.

Where is an EAN code used?

EAN barcodes are used worldwide by retailers to identify products. You’ll usually find EAN-13 barcodes printed on the back of product packaging. EAN code readers can then be used to scan the barcode to track products throughout the supply chain.

The main exception is the U.S. and Canada, where retailers generally use UPC barcodes instead.

What is an EAN barcode used for?

EAN-13 or EAN-8 barcodes encode the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) of a product. When combined with EAN barcode scanners, they are used for product identification by European and worldwide retailers.

Today, any smart device with a camera can be used as an EAN code scanner, with the right software. It’s no longer necessary to invest in specialist dedicated EAN code readers such as laser scanners.

In the U.S. and Canada, UPC barcodes are commonly used instead of EAN barcodes.

What is an EAN 13/8 barcode?

An EAN 13/8 barcode is a type of barcode used for product identification in retail. It usually has 13 digits, but can be reduced to 8 digits if there is limited space on product packaging.

Is an EAN code a 1D or 2D barcode?

EAN codes are 1D barcodes, also known as linear codes. There are many different types of 1D and 2D barcodes. Find out more here about choosing the right barcode.

EAN Code Variations:

  • Symbology ISSN ISSN Used to identify periodicals around the world
  • Symbology ISBN ISBN Used to identify books around the world
  • Symbology EAN8 EAN-8 Used on products at the point of sale
  • Symbology EAN 13 JAN-13 Used on products at the point of sale
  • Symbology EAN 13 EAN-13 Used on products at the point of sale