It was designed by the International Article Numbering Association in 1976 for identification of retail goods at point of sale outside of the US. Also known as: EAN, UCC-13, European Article Number, International Article Number, JAN, JAN-13.
An EAN-13 barcode (originally European Article Number, but now renamed International Article Number even though the abbreviation EAN has been retained) is a 13 digit (12 data and 1 check) barcoding standard which is a superset of the original 12-digit Universal Product Code (UPC) system developed in 1970 by George J. Laurer. The EAN-13 barcode is defined by the standards organization GS1.
The 13 digits in the EAN-13 barcode are grouped as follows:
The left group: Digits 2-7. The left group also encodes digit 1, through a scheme of odd and even parity.
The right group: Digits 8-13, digit 13 is the check digit.
The EAN-13 barcodes are used worldwide for marking products often sold at retail point of sale. The numbers encoded in EAN-13 bar codes are product identification numbers, which are also called Japanese Article Numbers (JAN) in Japan. All the numbers encoded in UPC and EAN barcodes are known as Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), and they can be encoded in other GS1 barcodes.
The less commonly used EAN-8 barcodes are used also for marking retail goods; however, they are usually reserved for smaller items, for example confectionery.
2-digit (EAN 2) and 5-digit (EAN 5) supplemental barcodes may be added for a total of 14 or 17 data digits. These are generally used for periodicals (to indicate the current year's issue number ), or books and weighed products like food (to indicate the manufacturer suggested retail price or MSRP ), respectively.