Unique product identifiers

Unique product identifiers are product codes or other values associated with an individual product. The primary set of unique product identifiers are Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), which include UPC, EAN (in Europe), JAN (in Japan), and ISBN. In addition, a Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) can be used to identify a specific product in the 'mpn' attribute if it is accompanied by the manufacturer's brand name in the 'brand' attribute. These values are very important for matching users' queries to your products.

Learn more about our unique product identifier requirements for each target country and specific product categories, in our Summary of attribute requirements.

Types of unique product identifiers

Name Description Location Format Feed Attribute
Universal Product Code (UPC) A unique numerical identifier for commercial products that's usually associated with a barcode printed on retail merchandise. Primarily North America 12 numeric digits GTIN
European Article Number (EAN) A unique numerical identifier for commercial products that's usually associated with a barcode printed on retail merchandise. Primarily outside of North America Typically 13 numeric digits (can occasionally be either eight or 14 numeric digits) GTIN
Japanese Article Number (JAN) A unique numerical identifier for commercial products that's usually associated with a barcode printed on retail merchandise. Only in Japan 8 or 13 numeric digits GTIN
International Standard Book Number (ISBN) A unique numerical identifier for commercial books published since 1970 that can be found on the back of the book along with the barcode. Globally ISBN-10: 10 numeric digits (last digit may be "X" which represents the number "10")
ISBN-13: 13 numeric digits and typically starts with either 978 or 979
GTIN
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) The number which uniquely identifies the product to its manufacturer. Globally Alphanumeric digits (various lengths) MPN
Brand The brand of the product. Globally Name of brand. Brand

Include unique product identifiers in your data feed

  • Apparel categories: 'brand' is required. Additionally, for the categories listed below, you must submit at least 1 out of 'gtin' or 'mpn’:
    • 'Apparel & Accessories > Shoes'
    • 'Apparel & Accessories > Clothing Accesories > Sunglasses'
    • 'Apparel & Accessories > Handbags, Wallets & Cases > Handbags'
    • 'Apparel & Accessories > Jewelry > Watches'
  • Media and software categories: 'gtin' is required
  • All other categories: at least 2 of the following 3 identifiers are required: ‘brand’, ‘gtin’, and ‘mpn’.
  • Exception: in categories where unique product identifiers are required but no such identifier exists for an item (e.g. custom goods), submit 'identifier exists' with a value of FALSE.

If you don't provide the required unique product identifiers, your items may be removed from Google Shopping. For all your items, we recommend submitting all three attributes (‘brand’, ‘mpn’, and ‘gtin’) where available.

1. Required Product Categories

Please note that it is possible that none of your products will appear in Google Shopping if your data feed does not include the required unique product identifiers in all categories, except for custom goods.

Custom goods: Custom goods are one-of-a-kind items for which no unique product identifiers exist, like vintage goods, collectibles, art, perishables, books published before 1970, and other special items. Custom goods can be in any product category.

Category Identifiers required for each product
Media (i.e., Music, Movies, Video games) UPC, EAN, or JAN
Books ISBN (Either ISBN-10 or ISBN-13. Exceptions apply for books published before 1970.)
Apparel (outside of the Shoes, Handbags, Sunglasses, and Watches categories)* Brand
Items in the Shoes, Handbags, Sunglasses, and Watches categories Brand and at least 1 of the following 2 identifiers:
  • UPC, EAN, or JAN
  • MPN
Custom goods The ‘identifier exists’ attribute must be provided with a value of FALSE.
All other At least two of the following three identifiers:
  • UPC, EAN, or JAN
  • Brand
  • MPN

*Definition of Apparel: To see the scope of the apparel category, please visit the ‘apparel and accessories’ section of the taxonomy chart.


2. Finding Unique Product Identifiers for your Products

If you don’t have the identifier data, you can find it on Google Shopping "Compare prices" pages, under the “Details” section.

You can look up UPCs or EANs at the Internet UPC Database website, which includes many, though not all product identifiers that have been issued. You can look up ISBNs at ISBNdb.com. You can also check ISBN-13 on Google Shopping.

Note: Please do not invent or approximate values for GTIN, MPN, or Brand. Each has a prescribed value assigned by the manufacturer, and any other value will be flagged as invalid.

Invalid Identifiers

We may provide you with feedback that the unique product identifier you submitted is invalid. There are several potential reasons for this, including:

  • Too many or too few digits
  • Letters or symbols (instead of numbers only)
  • Nonstandard manufacturer part number
  • Invalid check digit*

We will generate errors for incorrectly formatted values for the GTIN attribute. These errors will prevent an item from appearing in Google Shopping.

*The check digit is a digit within the GTIN that can be used as a mathematical check to make sure the product identifier is accurate. Validate your product identifier and check digit at GTIN Info.

Invalid usage of unique product identifiers and invalid usage of ‘identifier exists’ may result in your products being removed from Google Shopping. It is very important that, when unique product identifiers exist for an item, you use those identifiers in your feed. It's equally important that the unique product identifiers you use are the correct ones: the manufacturer-assigned part number in the case of ‘mpn’; for ‘brand’ an appropriate brand name (not a store name or product name); and for ‘gtin’ there should be a valid check digit.


3. Exemptions

When there is no unique product identifier for an item, provide this information explicitly in your feed by specifying the ‘identifier exists’ attribute for that item. When an identifier exists for the item but you do not have it, it is important to add the correct identifier to your feed rather than using the ‘identifier exists’ attribute.

Previous Exemptions

For accounts that are currently exempted from requiring unique product identifiers, Google Shopping will start enforcing these new requirements for unique product identifiers on July 15th, 2013 in the US, and September 16th, 2013 in all other target countries. Enforcement for all other accounts will start July 15th, 2013 for the US, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, and September 16th, 2013 for all other target countries. Non-compliant items might then be disapproved and disappear from Google Shopping.

Account level exemptions for unique product identifiers won’t be supported after the above mentioned dates – the 'identifier exists' attribute should be used instead.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Isn't ISBN a subset of EAN? Should I put my ISBN value in the "ean" attribute or the "isbn" attribute?
    Yes, ISBN-13 is a subset of EAN; therefore, you can use either the "ean" or "isbn" attribute to submit your values.

  2. I have books, videos, and DVDs that have UPC and ISBN values (the values are different). Which value should I include, or should I submit both?
    Please submit both values.

  3. Where can I find more information about unique product identifiers?
    A great place to start is GTIN Info. Wikipedia also has helpful information.

  4. I sell books that are either too old or rare to have ISBNs. What should I do?
    Use the ‘identifier exists’ attribute to indicate that there isn't an ISBN for your item.

  5. I sell used and refurbished goods.
    We require all items except custom made goods to include valid product identifiers irrespective of the condition. Seller of the item has the responsibility of including valid identifiers for the items included in the data feed.

  6. What if my products have more than one UPC?
    Please use the following guidelines when submitting UPCs:
    • Variant products: For products which have a different UPCs for each variant of the item, such as size or color, please submit individual product listings with one UPC per item.
    • Multiple UPCs: For products which have more than one valid UPC, such as a global UPC and a UPC which is specific to a merchant or distributor, please provide all applicable UPCs in the UPC attribute. For Text/Tab-delimited format, separate multiple UPCs by a comma and space. For XML format, include a <GTIN> attribute at the item level for each additional UPC.