Amazon warned Seller Central merchants starting in 2016 that it would be validating UPC barcodes against the global database maintained by GS1 (Global Standard 1), and that UPC listings not found while cross-checking GS1 would be removed.
As of early 2019, Amazon has not provided explicit guidance to Vendor Central merchants regarding requirements for UPCs and GTINs. However, requirements have been posted in Seller Central:
Despite no clear guidance from Amazon for Vendor Central merchants, the emphasis on validating UPC codes on the GS1 database for Seller Central merchants suggests those requirements may move to Vendor Central. Amazon is already moving in that direction and requesting that you submit UPCs during any new item setup process to check if they already exist on the site.
Lean Channel Management (LCM) advises clients to acquire UPC/GTIN barcodes directly from GS1.
Third Party UPCs. If you purchase barcodes from a 3P reseller, be careful ensure that UPC/GTIN barcodes are approved for use on Amazon and can be verified on GS1. If the barcode can’t be verified, your product listing is in danger of potentially being delisted from Amazon or your account could be suspended.
Purchasing UPCs from GS1
GS1 issues Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), including UPCs (Universal Product Codes), EANs (European Article Numbers), and JANs (Japanese Article Numbers).
UPCs purchased from GS1 include a numerical prefix that is unique to the company registering the UPC and will not change in order to identify all UPCs registered by the company.
As of early 2019, setting up UPCs with GS1 can cost from $250 (for 10 UPCs) to $6,500 (for up to 10,000 barcodes) and beyond. Additionally, you’ll be charged an annual renewal fee (ranging from $50 to $2100 a year) to maintain your company’s prefix identifier.
UPCs purchased from a third-party reseller come with another company’s prefix identifier, and are hopefully unused. These third-party UPCs will be less expensive than purchasing from GS1 and don’t include the added cost of annual renewal fees). However, this can be risky should Amazon not be able to match a 3P-purchased UPC with the GS1 database.