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Amazon GTIN exemption: warehouse worker scanning box (ID 49299028 © Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime.com)

How to List Products on Amazon Without a GTIN or UPC

Ecommerce underwent an incredible surge in 2020 as consumers shifted from shopping in-store to online. By the end of the year, 74% of consumers believed the majority of consumer shopping would happen online in the future — up from 69% just months earlier. This and other trends indicate that 2021 holds immense potential for ecommerce entrepreneurs.

In order to provide all the information sellers need to succeed with their Amazon ventures—from launch, to first sale, to growth and scaling—we’ve updated our content for 2021.

Interested in starting an ecommerce business? Our guide to selling on Amazon will teach you everything you need to know.

Barcodes are important for all Amazon sellers because they’re used to keep track of inventory as products move in and out of an FBA warehouse.

For sellers just starting out on Amazon (or for veteran sellers, for that matter), barcodes can be a confusing and frustrating topic. Do you need a barcode on your products? If so, what kind, and where do you get them? UPC, GTIN, FNSKU — just how many acronyms do you need to know? 

First, some definitions.


What is a GTIN?

A ‘Global Trade Item Number’, or GTIN, is a unique string of numbers that identifies individual products underneath the barcode, but is not the actual barcode.

Many other codes, including UPCs and ISBNs, are types of GTINs. 

Types of GTINs:

  • UPC: A Universal Product Code, or UPC (also designated as GTIN-12), is a unique 12-digit numerical product identifier most commonly used in the United States and Canada. This is the most common barcode type in the world and can be found on most physical products in retail stores. It consists of a barcode with a GTIN-12 number beneath. 
  • EAN: A European Article Number, or EAN (also designated as GTIN-13), is a unique 13-digit numerical product identifier used specifically for products in the European marketplace. It consists of a barcode with a GTIN-13 number beneath.
  • JAN: A Japanese Article Number, or JAN, is a type of product identifier used specifically for products for the Japanese marketplace
  • ISBN: An International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, is a product identifier used specifically for books. ISBNs have either 10 or 13 digits, depending on the publishing date.
  • GTIN-14: Shipping container codes.


Do I need a UPC or barcode to sell on Amazon?

UPCs are the most common type of GTIN used for selling on Amazon.com, so does every seller need one? 

The short answer is, no. UPCs are common, but not required for every single product sold.

The long answer is that 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, meaning you do not need a UPC to list the product on Amazon. (We’ll get to this shortly.)

Otherwise, Amazon now requires all listed products without the Amazon GTIN exemption 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. 

If you do not have a UPC affiliated with your product or brand, it is required by Amazon to have an Amazon barcode or FNSKU affixed to your product packaging when using FBA. (An FNSKU, or Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit, is an Amazon-specific code for tracking inventory.)

I will go over more of this later on.

How do you get a UPC?

There is a lot of conflicting information about how to obtain a UPC barcode for your Amazon products. 

The old way:

Years ago, you were able to purchase UPCs (simply digital lists of numbers) from eBay sellers or other third-party vendors for as low as a couple dollars per barcode.

The problem with doing this was that many of the UPCs were resold, and were in fact previously associated with different brands. That caused issues with products becoming mismatched, listed incorrectly, or created duplicate listings.

For example, you are selling a Sports & Outdoors product and the UPC you bought matches a toy brand. 

That will not fly with Amazon. Amazon began regulating the codes used to ensure each product is differentiated, which helped sellers by using codes that matched their brand exactly and caused less confusion for shoppers.

If you continue to use incorrect UPCs, Amazon may suppress your listing or even suspend your seller account.

The new way: 

Simply put, purchase them through GS1. 

Amazon’s TOS regarding Valid UPCs:

“We verify the authenticity of product UPCs by checking the GS1 database. UPCs that do not match the information provided by GS1 will be considered invalid. We recommend obtaining your UPCs directly from GS1 (and not from other third parties selling UPC licenses) to ensure the appropriate information is reflected in the GS1 database.

All invalid product UPC listings will be removed and may result in your ASIN creation or selling privileges being temporarily or permanently removed.”

Purchasing barcodes through GS1 costs $250 for 1-10 barcodes with a $50 annual renewal fee. The price per barcode gets lower as you purchase more, but for someone just starting out, this can be a big expense.

Applying for an Amazon 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.


Requirements for an Amazon GTIN exemption

Here are some scenarios when you can apply for a GTIN exemption:

  1. You want to sell products for which the brand, manufacturer, or publisher does not provide a GTIN. 
  2. You want to sell products for which you are the manufacturer, brand, or publisher and you do not have barcodes on your products. For example, private-label products or handmade products.
  3. You want to sell product parts that do not have a GTIN. For example, automotive parts or mobile accessories.
  4. You want to sell a bundled pack of more than one product. For example, a pack containing a leather belt and wallet or a pack of two shirts.
  5. You want to sell a generic product that does not have a brand name.

* See product ID requirements by category

You can also download a list of brands provided by Amazon that are required to have a UPC here. According to Amazon, any product that belongs to any of these brands and does not have a GTIN will be suppressed.


How to request an Amazon GTIN exemption

1. Apply for GTIN exemption

Click the link above or type in ‘Apply for GTIN exemption’ using the search function in Amazon Seller Central).

After you sign into your seller account, it will bring you to this page.

As noted by Amazon, once you apply your brand for the exemption, you will not have to apply again when adding new products under that same brand. 

For example, your brand name is BC Sports. Once Amazon approves BC Sports to be GTIN-exempt, you can list as many products as you want under the brand name BC Sports in the sports category.

2. Choose your product category 

You may also apply for multiple categories and brands at the same time by clicking ‘+ Add more categories’.

3. Add the Brand / Publisher 

You will see in the text box that Amazon states ‘For unbranded items or bundles enter “Generic”‘. This means on your product listings, it will say ‘By Generic’ underneath the title


Amazon GTIN exemption: product category options


In the above example, I choose ‘Generic’.

4. Click ‘Check for eligibility’

When you choose ‘Generic,’ it may show you an automatic approval for that ‘brand’. If not, you will need to add images of the product showing there is no UPC or brand name.

Now I am able to add a product using the brand name ‘Generic’ in the sports category without having to input a UPC code.

But let me show the steps when you enter an actual brand name.

Using my previous example, I entered BC Sports as the brand name. If the brand name is eligible for an Amazon GTIN exemption, you will see a green check mark under status and you can continue to submit proof.

You will need to provide proof that this product does not have a UPC or GTIN. The first question is, “Do you have a supporting letter from the brand owner, manufacturer or publisher?”

If it is your own private label or handmade product, select ‘No’.

Next, you will need to enter in the product name and at least 2 images of your product and the packaging. 

Make sure to include all angles of the product and the packaging that shows there is no UPC code. Your images should also include the brand name on the packaging or on the product somewhere.

Amazon GTIN exemption: showing the submit button

5. Submit request

It may take up to 48 hours to hear back from Amazon (though it usually only takes a few hours).

You will be able to see the status of the request in your ‘Case Log’. Once Amazon reviews your case, you will receive an email notification with an approval or denial.


How to create your new listing once approved

Were you approved? Congratulations! Now you can list your products without having to purchase a UPC code.

Amazon recommends that you wait 24 hours before adding your product once you have the UPC exemption. This is to be sure that the exemption is updated in their system.

For your GTIN exemption to work, you must enter in the exact same category and brand you were approved for. If you use different uppercase or lowercase letters, add additional spaces or characters, the system will not recognize your exemption.

Manage Inventory > Add a product

From there, click on ‘I’m adding a product not sold on Amazon’.

Since I was approved in the Sports category, I am going to choose Sports & Outdoors as the main category. You’ll need to dig deeper into the subcategories to find the one that matches your product most closely.


After choosing the category, it will bring you to a section to enter in your product information. 

Enter your product name (which will be the title on your listing), the manufacturer (you can enter the same as the brand name), and the brand name exactly as it was submitted for the GTIN exemption. Since I was approved for BC Sports, I entered BC Sports.

Notice there is no asterisk next to the product ID field. Since your exemption was approved, you will no longer be required to enter a UPC or EAN for that brand!

Under the ‘Offer’ tab, make sure you choose FBA as the fulfillment channel — if using FBA of course

Amazon GTIN exemption: Seller Central

When you are finished filling in the other required fields, you can hit ‘Save and finish’. After approximately 15 minutes, your product will be listed under your manage inventory.

After clicking ‘Save and finish’, it will bring you to the ‘Choose Barcode Type’ page. Since you do not have a manufacturer’s barcode (UPC or EAN) you will choose Amazon barcode, which is the FNSKU.

After hitting ‘Save & Continue’, it will bring you to your FBA shipping plan.


Using the Amazon barcode (FNSKU)

Even though you were approved for a GTIN exemption, you will still need to affix the FNSKU label, aka an Amazon barcode, to each unit. That way, Amazon can track your inventory once received in an FBA warehouse. If you are selling through FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant) then you can skip this step.

How to find your FNSKU barcode

When continuing on to your shipping plan, you will have an option to have Amazon label the products for you (for a fee) or you can print and label each unit yourself. 

In the ‘Label Product’ section, you will be able to print the amount of labels you need. When you download the label PDF, you can also give that exact barcode to your packaging designer so they can add the Amazon barcode to your packaging.

That way, you won’t need to manually label each product or pay Amazon to do it.

Amazon GTIN exemption: barcode example

Another way to find your FNSKU barcode

You should now see your product in your ‘Manage inventory’ section. Scroll down to your product and on the right hand side click the drop down menu next to ‘Edit’.

Then click on ‘Print item labels’.

Amazon GTIN exemption: Print item labels option



What if you’re not eligible for an Amazon GTIN exemption?

If the product or category you are trying to list in is not eligible for a GTIN exemption, then you will need to purchase a UPC code or receive the UPC code from the manufacturer.

Again, we recommend that you purchase from a legitimate source like GS1. 

If you wish to build your products and brand outside of Amazon in the future such as selling in a brick and mortar store, you will need to have a UPC or EAN anyway. 


Did you apply for a GTIN exemption? Let us know how it worked for you in the comments.


41 comments on “How to List Products on Amazon Without a GTIN or UPC

  1. We are currently using GTINS/UPC codes but would no longer like to do so, as we are running into issues with companies buying our UPC prefixes on GS1. We did not register them with GS1 several years ago and now we no longer own them. Amazon sees that our UPCs are not correct so our listings are frozen. We cannot edit them and they will not update with things like inventory level, etc…. Our brands do seem to qualify for a GTIN Exemption as we get the green check mark.

    My question is, is it OK to ask for an exemption on products that already have GTINs/UPCs? Can we remove ask for exemption and then remove them all from the listings, or does this only work before you add new products/

    1. Hi Brad,

      I believe this only works when you are creating new products on Amazon. But I suggest reaching out to support to see if this is something you can do.

  2. Thanks for axplying but i am still cunfusing for the par cood. Because i have around 60 different item my question is do i need different par cood for each etim. Thats mean i have to $250 × 60 = $ 15000
    Or i misunderstanding because. All my items is not cost that much to seale them

    1. Hi,

      You will need a barcode for each product that you are selling. You will need to purchase the UPC codes if they’re brand new products not yet in the market. If you are reselling other brands products, you will not need a new UPC code as they’ll already have one.

  3. I got a product. It already has a UPC. Its a boxed AMD CPU I got a distributor. I am sending one to FBA for fullfillment. Do I need the AMAZON label or may I just use the boxes provided UPC just to be clear on your article, I don’t have to. Besides it would make the box look uglier. So to ask again, do I need a label if I already have the manufacturers upc on it.

  4. You have quoted membership in dollars so I assume that is for GS1 US, but there are in fact 115 offices around the world. Given the global nature of marketplace selling, the sellers can be based anywhere so local language and local time zone support for learning about GTINs and the other GS1 standards to help you trade might be better for you.

    You can find your local office here: https://www.gs1.org/standards/get-barcodes

  5. Hi Brian,

    Thanks very much for the post. If you list a private label product with a gtin exemption, but then ultimately get a upc code in the future, can you change your product listing (ie add a upc code to the listing in the future)? Thanks!

  6. Hi Brian

    I took each step as you have said but did so before reading this post. My listing was created but unfortunately I missed clicking the FBA choice. Now that my product has went through and is under FBM. I have tried to edit and switch to FBA but when I do so now it asks for a UPC. Is there anyway to remedy this?

    1. Hi Brett,

      You can create an FBA SKU under the same ASIN. Go to Add a product and enter in your ASIN. You can enter in a unique SKU number and make sure to check you would like Amazon to fulfill your orders.

      Then, you’ll have both an FBM and FBA sku under one ASIN. You can just leave the FBM sku with zero inventory.

  7. Hi, this article is helpful…but would like to ask, if i apply for gtin exemption under the brand generic, would it affect the sales as compared to those with brand? what is the implication in the long run? because getting brand approved is not easy as it seems. thanks in advance.

    1. Hi William,

      That is tough to say without knowing anything about your product. I may or may not. Depends on the quality, price, etc.

      Though, with a “generic” listing, you may find other sellers hoping onto your listing selling the same generic product.

  8. Thank you so much for this info
    I just need to know, what is brand, does it mean patent?
    so if I am going to sell handmade products, can I give a name (not registered brand) to all my products? Or I have to use “Generic” ?

    Thanks in advance

  9. I m trying to apply for GTIN EXEMPTION from my phone only. But it all goes in fiasco as after entering my brand name I m not getting into the next submit proof window.
    What can I do, or how can I make it through my phone kindly suggest.

  10. Thank you for the information. It has cleared my mind!
    But I have a question: I would like to my brand to appear on the sales page. Not as Generic.
    For me, it didn’t show the check mark to submit a proof, it went straight to add a product, so I didn’t have a chance to request.
    How can I do it?

  11. Hello Brian,

    thank for such valuable information.

    I have the GTIN exemption and manage to add my product etc, however when it comes to who prepares option, it does not give me an option to select Amazon even though i have updated my settings to Amazon to prepare my product and labelling.

    please can you let me know if GTIN / EAN / UP etc is mandatory for Amazon to prepare the product? if yes, can i just buy from GS1 ?
    Note, i dont have brand name etc, am selling individual products with any brand.


    1. Hi Asma,

      It should give you the option to have Amazon label the products for you. If you don’t, they will label them automatically when reaching the warehouse.

  12. An important lesson I learned the hard way – if you have a GTIN exemption and no UPC code, Amazon will NOT allow you to select Amazon for packaging in the shipping for some bizarre reason – it has to be you – the merchant. I am trying to ship bundled jams in glass jars (hence no UPC) and have read in other reviews that people received broken jars because even though the product was well wrapped, it was placed by Amazon in a much larger box with NO sort of cushioning or crumpled paper, hence it bounced around and broke. I was told by the Amazon support agent to make sure to select “Amazon” for packaging and pay the 30 cents per unit since I had a fragile product, but the system kept rejecting that and finally they told me it was because I did not have a UPC code. It’s horrible and I wonder if there are other little inexplicable punishments for people without UPCs.

  13. When I enter my brand name to see if it is eligible for an Amazon GTIN exemption, I am not seeing the green check mark under status . Instead it is giving this error. Does this means that I won’t get GTIN exemption for this brand name?

    Brands require approval
    Amazon must approve your brand before you can use it to apply for exemption and list products. Brands should be registered through Brand Registry, but if your brand is not eligible for Brand Registry, you can obtain an exception by contacting Selling Partner Support and mentioning error code 5665. When contacting Selling Partner Support, provide the following information:
    – The brand name used when creating the listing.
    – Images of the product and/or packaging, showing branding on either. The images can show the product and/or packaging held in hand, or placed on a table. The branding must be permanently affixed.
    For more information, please review our Brand Name Policy. Once you have received an approval for the brand name, please come back and apply for GTIN exemption with the same brand name to list products without GTIN(barcode/UPC/EAN/ISBN etc)

    1. Hi Sameena,

      Just follow the steps that Amazon has outlined for you. Simply send them images or your product/product packaging with your branding on it. Then they will approve your brand. After that, you will be able to apply for the GTIN exemption.

  14. Hi Brian,

    I bought my products from wholesale market, i.e. unbranded and no manufacturer’s information and also no Product Number.

    I got the exact screen cap as above to ask me “You have been approved to list products in the below brand and category. You can start listing these products after 30 minutes.” and “Add a Product”. However, when I added my product, the Product ID is still required. What should i do?

    1. Hi Joanna,

      You will still need to apply for the GTIN exemption. What brand were you approved for?

      You will need to apply for the GTIN exemption for whichever ‘brand’ you were approved for or simply as ‘Generic.’

  15. Hello,
    I applied and received a GTIN exemptions for my brand products.
    I have followed the step-by-step instructions for adding a new product not sold on Amazon which accompanied the GTIN acceptance letter and I am unable to add a new product.
    When I applied for the GTIN exemption, none of the categories available actually described my product, which should have been Arts and Crafts Sewing, so I had to choose one and decided on Entertainment Collectibles. When I follow the instructions from the GTIN acceptance letter, that exact category, Entertainment Collectibles, doesn’t exist.
    If I try to add a new product not sold on Amazon, and go through the correct categories, Arts and Crafts Sewing, Bead and Jewelry Making, etc. it requires the product ID, UPC etc.
    Can you please help me resolve this and figure out how to add products for my brand? Yes, I am listing the brand exactly as described in the acceptance letter. These are short-term inventory products and do no require a UPC code. Thank you for your assistance.

  16. Hi Brian,

    Can we post both the GTC barcode and FNSKU barcode within the same box packaging? The reason I am asking is that I am allowed to use FNSKU for certain marketplace (e.g. US) and not on some other marketplace (e.g. UK). Thanks

  17. Hi,

    I’m hoping you can help me. Ive already been granted an approval for the GTIN exemption. The email stated that I should wait 24 hours before listing. This is day 2 at the moment and the asterisk does not disappear when I attempt to add the product. Have you had this trouble before and do you know how this can be solved?


  18. Hello Brian,

    I am hoping you can help. I have followed the steps you detailed above and was approved to sell “generic” in the health and personal care category however when I try to create my listing and try to “save and finish” it will not let me as I have not inputed a product number. Please note there is no asterix beside the product number.

    Have you run into this before? Do you have any suggestions on how to fix this issue? I have reviewed the seller central forums without success.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Do you have “Generic” as the brand name? If it is spelled wrong or with a lowercase, Amazon will not accept it.

      Also, how much time was there in between getting approved and trying to create the listing? Usually takes about 24 hours for you to be able to list the product.


    1. Hi Justin,

      You have tried creating a new listing with the UPC barcode and you’re getting an error? Or Is the product already listed on Amazon?

  19. Thanks for the beneficial information you shared with us.

    i have question, actually i dealing with a supplier and the products i received has a bar-code on the product side, but i don’t know what’s the type for this bar-code, and when i tried to scan it and search but it’s not exist in GS1 database

    1. Hi Ahmad,

      Thanks for the question! So the product you received from your supplier already has a barcode affixed to it? You didn’t supply them with the barcode?

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