author of post - Brian Connolly
The short answer is no. The long answer is it depends on the brand you want to sell or the category you want to sell in. If you sell a private-label or handmade product, you may be eligible for what’s called a GTIN exemption.
Amazon now requires all products that are listed with a barcode, to have a GS1 registered barcode. GS1 stands for Global Standards 1 and is a not-for-profit organization that develops and maintains global standards for business communication.
In simpler terms, GS1 is the only legitimate place to purchase a UPC code to use on Amazon.
That means you can no longer purchase cheap barcodes from eBay and other barcode reseller websites. Other sellers may tell you otherwise, but we recommend staying on Amazon’s good side.
The reason Amazon did this is because there are hundreds of thousands of duplicate listings on Amazon as well as products listed that do not match the original owner of the UPC.
Ex. You are selling a sports & outdoors product and the UPC you bought matches a toy brand. That will not fly with Amazon.
Purchasing barcodes through GS1 can be pretty expensive: $250 for 1-10 barcodes with a $50 annual renewal fee. The price per barcode gets cheaper as you purchase more, but for someone just starting out, this can be a big expense.
GS1 now offers a single UPC barcode for just $30 but if your product does not have one or need one, you can apply for the GTIN exemption.
Fortunately, there are ways around purchasing a UPC for certain brands and categories. Amazon also has a list of brands that require a GTIN. You can find that list here.
If you are selling a branded product, that is not your brand, then DO NOT attempt to add your own UPC or do a GTIN exemption. In that case, always use the barcode supplied by the manufacturer — unless they don’t have one. Then, you can do a GTIN exemption.
Applying for a GTIN exemption is a good short-term solution to get your products that do not have a barcode listed on Amazon. If you want to build a long-term brand in the future, such as list on other marketplaces or sell to a physical store, it is recommended you purchase a GS1 barcode down the line.