Unique product identifiers

Unique product identifiers are product codes or other values associated with an individual product. These values are one of the main ways your products are matched to a user's search. Because they are so important, you're required to provide some or all of the unique product identifiers for your products when targeting certain countries.

Here's a list of the unique product identifiers you may have to provide:

  • Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), which include UPC (in the US), EAN (in Europe), JAN (in Japan), and ISBN
  • 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
  • Brand identifies the manufacturer of the product

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

Tip

If you sell custom goods or older products that don't have unique product identifiers, use the 'identifier exists' attribute to let us know. Learn more

Contents

Types of unique product identifiers

Name Description Location Format Feed Attribute
Universal Product Code (UPC), also called GTIN-12 and UPC-A 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), also called GTIN-13 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), also called GTIN-13 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").
Note that this format was deprecated in 2007, and not all books can be represented using ISBN-10.
ISBN-13 (recommended): 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

Depending on the type of product you submit, you'll submit different identifiers. For all your items, we recommend submitting all three attributes (‘brand’, ‘mpn’, and ‘gtin’) where available.

Click a link to jump to the section below:

Apparel

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

Category Identifiers required for each product
Apparel (outside of the Shoes, Handbags, Sunglasses, and Watches categories) Brand only
Items in the Shoes, Handbags, Sunglasses, and Watches categories Brand and at least 1 of the following 2 identifiers:
  • GTIN: UPC, EAN, or JAN
  • MPN

Media, books, and software

Category Identifiers required for each product
Media (i.e., Music, Movies, Video games) GTIN only: UPC, EAN, or JAN
Books GTIN only: ISBN (Either ISBN-10 or ISBN-13. Exceptions apply for books published before 1970.)

Multipacks

Definition of multipack: A manufacturer-defined multipack is a package of several individually packed identical items sold as a unit. A merchant-defined multipack can contain either several units of the same or of distinct products sold as a unit.

Multipack type Identifiers required for each product
Manufacturer-defined multipack Use the unique product identifiers required for your product type. Treat the multipack as a single item.
Merchant-defined multipack Use the unique product identifiers required for the individual base item in the multipack.

Bundles

Definition of bundle: A product that contains multiple items and at least two of the items are different.

Bundle type Identifiers required for each product
Manufacturer-defined bundle (for example, a camera body with a lens) Use the unique product identifiers required for your product type. Treat the bundle as a single item.
Merchant-defined bundle (a custom grouping of different products defined by the merchant and sold together for a single price) Use the unique product identifiers required for the product type of the main item in the bundle. Plus, use the attribute 'is bundle' in your data. Learn more

Toner and inkjet cartridges

Category Identifiers required for each product
Compatible cartridges in the 'Electronics > Print, Copy, Scan & Fax > Printer, Copier & Fax Machine Accessories > Printer Consumables > Toner & Inkjet Cartridges' category Submit the unique product identifiers of the manufacturer who actually built the printer cartridge.

Submit at least 2 of the following 3 identifiers:
  • GTIN: UPC, EAN, or JAN
  • Brand
  • MPN

Custom goods and products without identifiers

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
Custom goods The ‘identifier exists’ attribute must be provided with a value of FALSE

All other product categories

Category Identifiers required for each product
All other Submit at least 2 of the following 3 identifiers:
  • GTIN: UPC, EAN, or JAN
  • Brand
  • MPN

Troubleshooting unique product identifier issues

Use the links below to jump to the troubleshooting topics.

Finding unique product identifiers for your products

When you're working with unique product identifiers, it's important that you don't invent or approximate the values. Each product has a prescribed value assigned by the manufacturer, and any other value will be flagged as invalid.

If you don’t have the identifier for your product, 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 or on Google Books. You can also check ISBN-13 on Google Shopping.

When there is no unique product identifier for an item, let us know explicitly in your product data by specifying the ‘identifier exists’ attribute for that item. When an identifier does exist for the item but you don't have it, take the time to look it up and add it to your feed instead of using the 'identifier exists' attribute.

Making sure your GTIN codes are correct

Ensure that each GTIN that you submit includes the correct:

  • number of digits;
  • check digit (or letter for ISBN-10). 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; and
  • prefixes as defined by GS1.

If you use GTIN-14 codes, only use packaging levels (1-8) if you are selling packages containing multiple items, do not use the bulk level indicator (9).

GTIN submissions should not include codes in the restricted ranges (prefixes 2, 02, 04) or the coupon range (05, 981, 982, 983 ).

Resolving invalid identifier errors

If you submit your feed and encounter errors with your unique product identifiers, you can check a few parts of the identifiers to make sure you provide the right values:

  • 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.

For more information about the validation of GTINs, refer to the GTIN Validation Guide edited by GS1.

*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. You can validate your product identifier and check digit at GS1.

Because users rely on accurate product information, each product submitted to Merchant Center must use the correct identifying information. If your products don't have correct identifiers, they'll be disapproved. Remember to use 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.

No unique product identifiers available

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Isn't ISBN a subset of EAN? How should I submit it?
    Yes, ISBN-13 is a subset of EAN, which in turn is a subset of GTIN; therefore, you should use the 'gtin' 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?
    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?
    If the books have an old SBN code (9 digits, used in Great Britain until 1974), you can convert it into an ISBN-10 by prepending it with a zero.

    Otherwise, 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.

    For example, if you sell compatible toner and inkjet cartridges, make sure to include the unique product identifiers of the manufacturer who actually built the printer cartridge.

  6. What if my products have more than one UPC?
    Use the following guidelines when submitting UPCs:
    • Variant products: For products that have a different UPCs for each variant of the item, such as size or color, 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, 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.
  7. I sell magazine subscriptions.
    International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) values can be converted into GTIN codes. See the wikipedia page about ISSN for more information.
  8. I sell prescription or nonprescription drugs.
    National Drug Code (NDC) values in the United States can be converted into GTIN codes. See the GTIN Validation Guide Appendix C.

    Similar conversion rules exist for drugs issued in European countries. See Guideline on the packaging information of medicinal products for human use authorised by the Union published by the European Commission.

    Refer to our policies for more information about submitting prescription and nonprescription drugs to Google Shopping.

  9. I sell printed music
    International Standard Music Number (ISMN) can be converted into GTIN codes. See the wikipedia page about ISMN for more information.