Carton GTIN

Print compliant shipper barcodes on your cartons and cases. Our carton barcodes factsheet has everything you need to know about using carton GTINs.

What is a Carton GTIN?

An ITF-14 barcode, also known as a Carton GTIN, is a 14-digit barcode that goes on the outer shipping carton or case of your retail products. An ITF-14 barcode only encodes a GTIN and is not intended to be scanned at retail POS. Each carton should contain a set number of your retail products (e.g. 120 bags of chips).

  • Contains 14 digits
  • Can encode a GTIN-12, GTIN-13 or GTIN-14
  • Used for product groupings, such as cases and cartons
  • Typically printed onto cardboard
  • Does not encode additional information about the product
  • Generally not used for retail POS


  • Robust and reliable barcode
  • Simple design and bearer bars make it easy to read
  • Prints clearly onto corrugated cardboard
  • Helps retailers keep track of stock
  • Can also be used at wholesale POS

Breaking it down

  • Encodes GTIN only
  • Minimum bar height is 32mm
  • Carton barcodes must be in upright, picket fence orientation
  • Major retailers require magnification between 80% and 100% when printed directly onto corrugated cardboard. Magnification of less than 80% should NOT be printed directly onto corrugate. Instead use a print and apply label with magnification between 50% and 100%.
  • Target bar width ratio is 2.5:1, meaning wide bars are 2.5 times the width of narrow bars. The acceptable range is from 2.25:1 to 3.0:1.
  • The heavy bars around the symbol is the Bearer Box. It enhances scanning reliability by preventing short scans. The Bearer Box label must be included when pre-printing directly on to fibreboard. If using on-demand printing, only the top and bottom bearer bars are required. They should have a width of at least 1mm.
  • Human Readable Information should be placed directly below the barcode and show all digits encoded in the barcode.
  • Clear Quiet Zone are mandatory on each sides of the symbol

Common scenario examples

  • Retailer Distribution Centres
  • Wholesale Point of Sale
Retailer Distribution Centres

Retailers scan the ITF-14 barcode on each carton when it arrives at their warehouse or distribution centre. The ITF-14 barcode tells them how many units are contained in each shipping carton (e.g. 120 bags of chips). This information is recorded in their inventory management system so that they can keep track of stock.

Retailer Distribution Centres

Carton Barcode Retailer Distribution Centre

Wholesale Point of Sale

If you’re selling the whole carton directly to consumers at the wholesale point of sale, you need to add the EAN-13 barcode to the outer carton as well as the ITF-14 barcode to your carton label.

Wholesale Point of Sale

Carton Barcode Whole Sale POS

GTIN Standards Checklist

  • Assign a unique GTIN
    • When encoding a GTIN-13 or GTIN-12 in an ITF-14 barcode, one or two filler zeros must be added in front to make up 14 digits
  • Select the right printing method
    • Print directly onto cardboard if space is available for the required magnification.
    • If not, use print and apply labels.
    • Inkjet barcodes are NOT acceptable to many retailers.
  • Ensure the right barcode placement
    • Target placement for the bottom of the barcode is 32mm from the carton base.
    • Barcodes (including Quiet Zones) should be at least 19mm from any vertical carton edge to avoid damage.
    • Barcodes must not be obscured by packaging.
  • Check barcodes
    • Carton barcodes must be upright, so that bars are vertical.
    • Barcodes on consumer units inside the outer case must not be scannable through outer packaging.
    • Bearer box must be included when pre-printing directly onto fibreboard.
    • Check that barcodes can be scanned. Depending on the retailer, carton barcodes need a barcode verification report, e.g. Woolworths requires a report before stocking your products and then every 12 months, to ensure correct symbology and scanning ability

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know which GTIN to use in my carton barcode?

To work out which number to use, consider if the inner or outer carton will be sold at retail point-of-sale. If yes, assign a GTIN-13 or GTIN-12 (if selling in North America). If not, assign a GTIN-13 or GTIN-14.

The GTIN-14 is only for groupings of the same items. In other words, all products contained in the carton/case are identical.

What’s the difference between an ITF-14 and a GS1-128 barcode?

The ITF-14 only encodes the GTIN and is better suited for printing onto corrugated cardboard for trade items.

A GS1-128 barcode must be used if you’re encoding the GTIN along with additional information, such as use-by dates and batch numbers.

What barcodes are used for the carton barcode?

Either an ITF-14 barcode or a GS1-128 barcode. These barcodes are not intended for point-of-sale scanning. For point-of-sale scanning a EAN-13 can be used.

What is the height of a carton barcode?

For scanning in a General Distribution (automated) Scanning environment, the minimum bar height for both the ITF-14 and the GS1-128 barcode is 32mm. For all other scanning environments, the bar height should be printed as high as possible. In no cases shall the bar height be less than 13mm. While 13mm is the minimum height for GS1-128 barcodes not being scanned in an automated scanning environment, every effort should be made to increase the bar height to as close to 32mm as possible.

What is the size of a GS1-128 barcode?

The size of the GS1-128 barcode depends on: • the X-dimension (module width) chosen • the number of characters encoded • the number of non-numeric characters in the data For GS1-128 barcodes that are to be scanned in a General Distribution (automated) Scanning environment, the X-dimension range is 0.495mm to 1.02mm (magnifications between 48.7% and 100%). For other scanning environments, the X-dimension range is 0.25mm to 0.495mm (magnifications between 25% and 48.7%).

What is the size of an ITF-14 barcode?

The specified magnification (X-dimension) range for ITF-14 barcodes that are to be scanned in a General Distribution (automated) Scanning environment is between 48.7% and 100% (X-dimension 0.495mm – 1.02mm). For other scanning environments the allowable magnification range is between 25% and 48.7% (X-dimension 0.250mm and 0.495mm). For all scanning environments printing at the higher end of the magnification range is recommended. Regardless of the scanning environment, ITF-14 barcodes with a magnification less than 62.5% (X-dimension 0.64mm) should not be printed directly onto corrugate fibreboard.

What size label should a GTIN barcode be printed on?

The sizing of a label depends on the size of the barcode, the amount of data required to be displayed on the label and the regulatory standards of the supply chain. As such the label size will vary with different GTIN applications.

What is the maximum length of a GS1-128 barcode?

The length of the GS1-128 barcode must never exceed 165mm in length, including the Quiet Zones. When concatenating data strings, the maximum number of characters in the GS1-128 barcode must not exceed 48 characters. This includes Function 1 Symbol Character (FNC1) when used as a field separator, but excludes auxiliary characters (see table below) and the Symbol Check Character (Modulo 103).

How many carton barcodes need to be applied to each trade item?

It depends how you are printing the carton barcode. For ITF-14 barcodes printed on label, GS1 Australia requires at least 1 barcode per trade unit and the Australian grocery industry requires at least 2.

For ITF-14 barcodes printed directly onto board, GS1 Australia requires at least 2 per trade unit. The Australian grocery industry prefers 6 per trade unit as a minimum.

What are the location requirements for the barcodes on a carton barcode?

Whilst the absolute minimum requirement for non-retail trade items is one barcode, for efficiency of scanning it is highly recommended that a minimum of two symbols be printed/applied to the sides of the carton.

The lower edge of the vertical bars (not the bottom of the surrounding horizontal bearer bar of an ITF-14 barcode) are exactly 32mm from the lower edge of the base of the carton. No part of the barcode (including the bearer bars on an ITF-14 barcode, and Quiet Zones is closer than 19mm to any vertical edge. (Please check with your Trading Partners as some Australian Retailers require 4 barcodes on each carton).

Real-Life Case Study

How do you ensure reliable, high quality carton labelling? Australian wine packaging company Ozpak uses a label print & apply machine for consistent positioning onto cartons. Learn Ozpak is benefitting from better consistency and quality of carton labels.

Read more


Whilst we attempt to update this page as changes occur we do not guarantee its accuracy and recommend that you contact GS1 Australia for the most up to date advice.