GLN vs GTIN: Understanding Differences & Uses in Supply Chain


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Challenges in tracking and logistics are widespread issues in global trade. Efficiently managing these aspects is essential for maintaining the flow and integrity of supply chains. 

Introducing barcode identifiers like the Global Location Number (GLN) and the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) provides clear solutions. These tools are key in improving accuracy and efficiency in accurately identifying products and their locations. 

This article delves into how GLN and GTIN operate, demonstrating their importance and individual contributions to facilitating international commerce.

What is GLN?

Meaning of GLN code

GLN, or Global Location Number, is a unique identifier crucial for accurately specifying locations and parties in supply chains. This 13-digit number is instrumental in identifying entities like businesses, warehouses, and retail locations. 

GLNs are used extensively in supply chain management for various purposes.

  • Identifying shipping and receiving points.
  • Tracking movement and origin of goods. 
  • Facilitating electronic data interchange (EDI) for efficient business transactions.
  • Enhancing the accuracy of supply chain management systems.

The structure of a GLN includes a GS1 Company Prefix, a Location Reference, and a Check Digit. This format ensures each number is globally unique, preventing duplication and promoting data integrity.

Types of GLNs

GLNs are specifically designated for various operational roles within supply chain management. The types outlined provide clear examples of how these identifiers are applied to different functional and logistical aspects.

  • Trading-Partner-GLN: This identifies the primary GLN for NSW Health, used in all transactions where NSW Health is the recipient of goods or information. It plays a central role in electronic trading and price information exchanges.
  • Ship-to-GLN: This type of GLN is assigned to physical sites to which products are directly delivered. It ensures accurate delivery of goods to designated locations such as hospitals or warehouses.
  • Bill-to-GLN: This GLN is used for business addresses where invoices are sent for processing. It streamlines the billing process and ensures invoices are sent to the correct financial departments or entities.
  • Price-GLN Designates legal entities to which specific commodity prices are assigned. This GLN is crucial for managing contractual and list prices within the healthcare system, influencing procurement and budgeting decisions.

What is a GTIN?

Definition of GTIN code

GTIN, or Global Trade Item Number, is a unique identifier essential for tracking products and services across the supply chain. This identifier is critical in retail and supply chain operations, allowing for the universal identification of items at various points of sale or distribution.

GTINs vary in length—comprising 8, 12, 13, or 14 digits—depending on the type of product and the system requirements in which they are used. 

The use of GTINs facilitates numerous functions within the supply chain.

  • Ordering and Inventory: Automates ordering processes and maintains accurate inventory levels.
  • Point of Sale: Supports efficient checkout and pricing accuracy in retail environments.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Meets global standards for traceability, safety, and reporting.
  • Promotions and Recalls: Manages promotions effectively and executes product recalls when necessary.

Types of GTINs

GTINs come in various forms, each tailored to different product requirements and market needs. The types of GTINs ensure that products are appropriately identified across diverse global markets and industries.

  • GTIN-8: This compact form of the GTIN is used primarily for smaller items that do not have enough space for a larger barcode. It is commonly used in environments where packaging size is limited, such as small consumer goods.
  • GTIN-12: Primarily used in North America, GTIN-12 is embedded in UPC (Universal Product Code) barcodes. It is prevalent in retail settings for scanning at the point of sale and is suited to general consumer products.
  • GTIN-13: Widespread in global markets outside of North America, GTIN-13 is found in the EAN (European Article Number) barcode. It is essential for products in international trade, ensuring compatibility and recognition in global supply chains.
  • GTIN-14: Also known as an ITF-14, this type of GTIN is used for items shipped in larger quantities or bulk, such as cases or cartons. It is designed to assist with logistics and tracking larger units containing multiple saleable units or smaller packaged products.

Similarities Between GLN and GTIN

Three similarities between a GLN and GTIN

While serving distinct purposes within the supply chain, GLN and GTIN share several key similarities. 

  • Global Standardisation: GLN and GTIN are integral components of the GS1 system of standards adopted worldwide. This global standardisation ensures consistency and interoperability in international trade and supply chain management.
  • Supply Chain Efficiency: Both identifiers are critical for enhancing the efficiency of supply chain operations. GLN facilitates precise location and party identification, while GTIN allows for accurate product identification across different markets and points in the supply chain.
  • Validation through Check Digits: GLN and GTIN use similar methodologies for including a check digit. This check digit is a crucial part of each code, calculated using a standardised formula to validate the integrity of the other identifier. This helps prevent errors in data entry and processing, ensuring the information is accurate and reliable.

GTIN vs GLN - What's the Difference?

Table of difference between GLN and GTIN

GLN and GTIN are fundamental tools in the GS1 system but differ significantly in their application and use. Below is a concise table that outlines these key differences:

GLN (Global Location Number)
GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)
Identifies locations and parties.
Identifies products and services.
Company prefix, location reference, check digit.
Company prefix, item reference, check digit.
Use Case
Used in transactions like purchase orders and invoices to identify parties and locations.
Used on consumer goods and packaging to track and manage products globally.
Physical Marking
Often used in administrative and logistics documentation.
Commonly printed on product packaging and scanned at retail points of sale.
Data Structure
13-digit numeric code.
Varies in length (8, 12, 13, or 14 digits) based on the product and geographical requirements.
Scope of Application
Primarily used within logistical and administrative systems of an organization to streamline operations and communications.
Extensively used in consumer-facing environments and e-commerce, enabling easy identification and scanning of products globally.


GLNs are designated to uniquely identify locations and parties involved in supply chains. This identification helps streamline processes like shipping, billing, and inventory management. They ensure that every transactional point and legal entity within the supply network is precisely tagged and traceable.

In contrast, GTINs are crucial for the identification of products and services. They provide a universal standard that ensures products are trackable across different markets and retail environments. 


The components of a GLN include a company prefix, a location reference, and a check digit. This combination helps ensure each location or party in the supply chain is distinctly identified with a unique number that avoids duplication and errors. 

Conversely, a GTIN consists of a company prefix, an item reference, and a check digit. The item reference differentiates individual products under a company’s umbrella, allowing for detailed tracking and identification at the item level. This structure supports detailed product management and facilitates scanning and inventory processes for retail and distribution channels.

Use Case

GLNs are primarily utilised in transactions such as purchase orders and invoices to identify parties and locations within the supply chain. This makes them essential for logistics management, ensuring that the flow of goods and services can be tracked and authenticated from origin to destination. 

GTINs, on the other hand, are used extensively on consumer goods and their packaging to manage and track products globally. They enable businesses to identify products accurately and facilitate a wide range of activities, from stock management in warehouses to purchasing at retail points of sale.

Physical Marking

GLNs are often employed in administrative and logistics documentation rather than on consumer-facing materials. They appear on legal documents, shipping labels, and internal records to aid in the tracking and management of entities and locations. This use underscores GLNs’ role in facilitating back-end operations, ensuring that all parts of the supply chain are clearly and correctly identified for management and compliance purposes.

In contrast, GTINs are commonly printed directly on product packaging and are integral to the consumer shopping experience. They are scanned at retail points of sale to facilitate easy, accurate transactions and inventory control. This visibility also supports marketing and sales strategies, allowing for effective tracking of product movements and consumer purchasing patterns across various retail channels.

Data Structure

The GLN consists of a 13-digit numeric code, providing a standardised format that ensures uniformity and simplicity in identifying various entities within a supply chain. 

GTINs, however, vary in length, accommodating different needs across products and geographical regions. They can be 8, 12, 13, or 14 digits long, depending on the type of product and the specific requirements of the retail or supply system in which they are used. This size flexibility allows GTINs to be applied more broadly, from small consumer goods to large trade items, enhancing their utility in global commerce. 

Scope of Application

GLNs are primarily used within organisations’ logistical and administrative systems to facilitate operations and enhance communications. They are vital for managing information related to entities and locations that are integral parts of the supply chain. 

GTINs, on the other hand, are extensively used in consumer-facing environments and e-commerce platforms. They enable consumers and retailers to easily identify and scan products, making them essential for global retail operations. 


In conclusion, both GLN and GTIN play indispensable roles in the global supply chain, albeit serving distinct functions that cater to different aspects of commerce and logistics. By employing these identifiers, businesses can achieve greater operational efficiency, reduce errors, and support seamless interactions in the supply chain. 

Understanding the specific applications and benefits of each helps companies leverage these tools to their full potential, reinforcing the integrity and effectiveness of global trade practices.

We hope this article was useful. 

Thanks for reading! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Single Company Use Both a GLN and GTIN?

Yes, it is common for a single company to utilise both GLN and GTINs.

Are GLN and GTINs Compatible With All Scanning Systems?

GLN and GTINs are designed to be compatible with a wide range of barcode scanning systems used globally. Both identifiers conform to GS1 standards, which are internationally recognised and adopted by various industries for barcode and scanning technologies. 

What Steps Should a Company Take to Start Using GLN or GTINs?

To start using GLN or GTINs, a company must first register with GS1. 

Upon registration, the company will receive a GS1 Company Prefix, which is a unique number that forms the base of all GLN and GTIN codes assigned by the company. 

The next steps involve assigning GLNs to identify locations and parties relevant to the company’s operations, as well as GTINs for each product the company manufactures or sells.

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