Global bar-code standard

The verdict is in. The global bar-code standard will adopt the 13-digit European Article Numbering (EAN) code rather than the 12-digit Uniform Code Council bar code used in the United States and Canada.

The UCC, North America’s standard setter of bar codes, informed U.S. retailers that their bar-code scanners will need to be able to read 13 digits by January 1, 2005. That change means retooling software programs. When the Europeans established their bar-code standard in 1977, three years after the UCC, they added another digit. Over time, the 13-digit code came to be used by most nations. As a further sign of globalization, in 2005 the two standard-setting bodies, EAN International and UCC, will combine to form GS1, headquartered in Brussels. More than 5 billion bar-coded products are scanned daily.

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