Identifying medicines uniquely - Steps plan

Follow our step-by-step plan to allocate medicines a worldwide unique identification number. In this unique product code you also code the other mandatory traceability elements such as expiry date, batch number and serial number.

Geneesmiddelenverpakking met GS1 barcode

Step 1: become a GS1 member

To uniquely identify your products worldwide, you need a GS1 company prefix. You obtain this prefix when you join a GS1 organisation and it is always part of a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). The length of your prefix determines the number of items that you can uniquely identify.

More about the GS1 company prefix

Become a member

Product ID

Step 2: Assign a GTIN

Each product and each of its hierarchical levels of packaging must be assigned a separate Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) in order to distinguish them from each other in the supply chain. 

Adding application identifiers

Depending on the requirements of the legislation, you add one or more of the following data by means of Application Identifiers (AIs)

  • Batch/lot number (alphanumeric, maximum 20 positions)
  • Expiry date (YYMMDD, 6 digits)
  • Serial number (alphanumeric, up to 20 positions)
2D barcode

Step 3: Convert the identification key to a suitable barcode

You must place both the human-readable identification number and the machine-readable barcode on the packaging. The choice of which type of barcode depends on what information you have encoded. If you only want to encode the GTIN, you can choose an EAN-13 or EAN-14 type barcode. But often legislation requires additional information such as lot number and expiry date to be recorded. In that case, a GS1 DataMatrix is the most suitable. An additional advantage of the GS1 DataMatrix is that you can encode a lot of information in a very compact barcode. You therefore save space on the medicine's packaging.

Consult the manual

Barcode controle

Step 4: Have the barcode checked

GS1 Belgilux members can have their labels checked free of charge by our barcode checking service. You will then receive an audit report with possible recommendations for corrections.
This way, you can be sure that you are printing a compliant barcode on your packaging.
You can send us a physical sample, but we also accept digital samples.

More info about the barcode verification service


Step 5: For Belgium, connect GTIN and CNK (national code number)

The CNK no longer needs to be indicated on the packaging. However, the following steps must be followed:

Steps plan medicines