How do EAN-13 and UPC-A barcodes scan?


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  • Be aware of the potential scanning issue with EAN-13 and UPC-A barcodes, relating to what the scanner or software system is expecting to see when it reads only the bars and lacks a point of reference for what format the barcode is (EAN-13 or UPC-A).


Because the actual bars are the only part of the barcode that is scanned (i.e. the scanner isn’t reading the digits below the barcode), an EAN-13 barcode with a ‘0’ on the front can sometimes be confused by scanners as a UPC barcode without the ‘0’ and vice-versa.

This is largely to do with what the scanner or software system is expecting to see.

Often this occurs when a barcode that is not linked to the system is scanned – the software has no point of reference for what format the barcode should be, and, hence, assumes that it is UPC format.

When the number is first added to the system in the 13-digit format and linked to the product in the system (this is generally how stores add the barcodes based on the information provided on their buyer form), it tends to scan appropriately as an EAN-13 format barcode.

Very few stores have had issues with this in the past, and when issues occur, they are generally resolved easily.

If you want to demonstrate to someone that our barcodes (starting with 0) can scan as an EAN13, use our Zebra PWA scanning app – it is at – if you access this from your phone, you can add it to your home screen so it works like an App. It scans our numbers and shows them as EAN13.

If you are going to the Musgraves in Ireland, they prefer that you fill out your barcode in its UPC format on their buyer form (without the leading ‘0’) and state that the format is UPC – if this is done, they have no problems using our barcodes.