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Although not required by the government, most resellers require products to have universal product codes (UPC) or ISBNs for published items. These are displayed on packages in number and barcode form.

UPC Universal product codes (UPC) are issued by the Uniform Code Council (UCC). Manufacturers receive a company code and a series of numbers (Item Reference Numbers) that are placed at the end of their company code. Each distinct product is assigned a number and it is registered on the UCC system. The company code and product number are placed on the product in number and bar code format. This allows resellers to order products using these codes and scan the products when they are purchased for price accuracy and inventory control.

Becoming a member of the Council is expensive ($750 initial with annual renewals). Fortunately, there are companies online that will sell a few numbers to you (10,100,1000) for lower cost. YOu will need a code for each product that you make, plus any combinations of products (i.e. one code for 1 wigit; another code for a package of 6 wigits). If you want, you can also joint the Council directly by visiting
Publishing books, audio or videos? ISBN and ISSN  ISBN numbers were developed to create "Books in Print," a tool for book resellers to use to order publications. ISBN numbers are placed on books, audio tapes, videos, and bibles. ISSNs are similar numbers, but are for recurring publications (serials) that have years, months, or a sequence on their cover or title. Each publisher applies for their own ISBN prefix and a series of ending numbers. The fee is based on the number of ISBN ending numbers that you want. The minimum is 10, for $225.

Before you obtain an ISBN number, talk to your publisher (if any) to determine whether they will get the ISBN number or you will. To obtain an ISBN number, visit or call (877) 310-7333. Please note that ISBN numbers are maintained by the Bowker agencies, so you may see that name on the website or emails. They are the official, and only issuer of ISBN numbers.

If you are acting as your own publisher (who will accept orders and ship to resellers), you will also need an SAN number so that resellers know your address and contact information. The SAN number can be obtained at the same website or phone number.

Finally, if you expect your book to be purchased by libraries, you or your publisher need to obtain a Library of Congress Number (LCCN). Not all published books can obtain an LCCN number; the application must be approved. This can be done before a book is printed through the Library's Pre-Assigned Control Number Program. For information, visit or call (202) 707-5000.
Bar codes  Bar codes are just a specialized font that converts numbers into lines. Once you get a UPC or ISBN number, you can get a bar code made for a small price ($10-25 is common). There are many bar code providers available through a web search. Some contact numbers are: