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What is JAN/UPC/EAN?

JAN is a barcode standard specified by JIS-X-0501 (JIS: Japanese Industrial Standards), and used for almost all products distributed in retail stores in Japan. JAN brings many advantages to POS systems widely used in retail stores, among other places. Since JAN is compatible with UPC in the United States and Canada, and EAN in Europe, these codes can be used worldwide.
* JAN: Japan Article Number
  UPC: Universal Product Code
  EAN: European Article Number
JAN/UPC/EAN diagram

Data Configuration of JAN

JAN offers two types of configuration: Standard type (13 digits) and short type (8 digits). Standard type is most common. If the print area is limited
(80 cm2 or less), the short type is used.
JAN standard type chart JAN short type chart
Point The short type is a standard available only in Japan. It cannot be used in other countries.
Country code
A code which denotes a country. Japan is expressed with "49" or "45".
Initially, only "49" was used. With the rapid proliferation of JAN, Japan acquired another code of "45" in 1992.
Manufacturer code
A code which denotes a seller of the product.
A manufacturer code must be acquired by applying for registration to the chamber of commerce or the commerce and industry association of the area.
JAN codes can be used only after the manufacturer code has been acquired.
A company can acquire the manufacturer code for the short type as long as the company has already acquired the code for the standard type.
It is not possible to acquire a manufacturer code for the short type only.
Item code
The item code is used to identify respective products. It can be freely assigned by the company. Different products of the same manufacturer have different item codes.
Kokuyo barcode sample
The item code for the short type is expressed with one digit (0 to 9). If the
number of products exceeds 10, the company needs to apply for more than one manufacturer code.
Topic The manufacturer code of JAN has changed to 7 digits.
To cope with the rapid increase in the application for manufacturer code registration, the manufacturer code became 7 digits (9 digits including the country code) as of January 2001 and after.
Point The companies that have already acquired 5-digit manufacturer codes can continue the use of the 5-digit code. It is unnecessary to change the code system.
The total number of digits has not been changed (13 digits).
No change has been made for the short type (8 digits).
The new configuration is as follows:
JAN manufacturer code

Basic Dimensions of JAN and Scaling

The dimensions of JAN codes are specified as follows (JIS-X-0501):
The basic narrow bar width is 0.33 mm.
Codes can be enlarged or reduced within the range of 0.8 to 2.0 times the basic dimensions.
(Range of narrow bar width: 0.26 to 0.66 mm)
The following table shows the comparison of the dimensions with different magnifications. (For the standard type [13 digits])
Magnification 0.8 1.0 1.2 2.0
Narrow bar width 0.264 mm 0.33 mm 0.396 mm 0.66 mm
Barcode length 29.83 mm 37.29 mm 44.75 mm 74.58 mm
Barcode height 18.29 mm 22.86 mm 27.43 mm 45.72 mm
JAN dimensions

Characteristics of JAN Barcodes

The bar configuration of JAN has the following characteristics:
Printers with high printing accuracy are required because bars must be printed in four different widths. Consequently, reading is not stable when printers with low printing accuracy are used such as inkjet printers or dot impact printers.
Since the number of digits is fixed (13 or 8), users cannot customize data configuration.


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