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GTIN Rules are Being Updated

The global standard for GTIN reuse is being updated on December 31, 2018.


Beginning January 1, 2019, GTINs can no longer be reused.

As a global industry-driven, neutral not-for-profit organization, GS1 has been directed by industry to make an update to the global GTIN Management Standard to ensure traceability across the value chain through unique product identification and introduce new rules concerning GTIN non-reuse. This update aligns with global best practices.

The Reason for the Update

  • GTIN reuse creates confusion online where products live forever.
  • In listing processes, GTIN reuse can result in out-of-date, inaccurate catalogue data.
  • When GTINs are reused, GTIN management becomes unclear for brands with products in multiple sectors.

We're Here to Help You Prepare

If you are not currently reusing old GTINs, you are already in line with GTIN non-reuse rules and do not have to change anything.

If you do currently reuse old GTINs, you should start preparing your systems to discontinue GTIN re-use by no later than December 31, 2018.

Review the FAQs below for more information and to understand how you can prepare for GTIN non-reuse.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, the update to the global standard applies to all trade items, regardless of sector.

In some sectors, such as Healthcare, GTIN non-reuse has been in effect since 2011.

Before January 1 2019, GTINs can be reused—within certain parameters—after a product has been removed from the physical supply chain.

Currently, the allowable time is 48 months for most items, 30 months in apparel, NEVER for regulated healthcare items, NEVER in technical industries.

However, the standard will be updated so that as of January 1, 2019, the GS1 General Specifications will not allow GTIN reuse for any sector.

Through system validations and other data excellence checks, GS1 Canada solutions may detect when a GTIN has been applied to more than one product and prevent that GTIN from being used within our solutions.

Further, through community data excellence methods such as GTIN Discrepancy Reports (GDRs), retail trading partners may report when a GTIN they receive does not match the GTIN in GS1 Canada systems.

Additionally, GS1 Canada is taking extra steps to ensure that all of our subscribers, data recipients and data providers, are participating in this new global standard. This continues to include renewing your annual license with an account in good standing.

Some of the consequences your organization might face if it continues to reuse GTINs are:

  • Your trading partners will be notified of non-compliant GTINs, potentially affecting those relationships
  • Non-compliant GTINs will be removed from local and global registries making your product less visible to Canadian and global trading partners and marketplaces

Yes, maintaining an active GS1 Canada subscription is needed to maintain the benefits of being a GS1 Canada user including access to industry-managed solutions, educational resources, our help desk and the ability to participate in our community management processes.

As retailers become increasingly aware of the value of unique product identification, they are asking GS1 member organizations to regularly provide information authenticating the identifiers used by their vendors are current and valid.

In the Canadian market, the GTIN is the core of the business. Many trading partners require it as a part of their terms of trade and use it as the key identifier of a product. Being an active GS1 Canada subscriber also helps to ensure that your product content is discoverable to trading partners looking for active GTINs in GS1 Canada resources.

This will not affect you because you are already complying with the update. All you need to do is continue not reusing GTINs on your products and renew your annual GS1 subscription in order to keep your GTINs valid and, if applicable, in the national registry.

The new global standard of GTIN non-reuse rule is a result of industry feedback to GS1 on a global level. This rule was created to help support your peers with long-term product traceability in both supply chain distribution and after its purchase. GS1 prides itself on being neutral and industry-driven and regularly updates the global standard which may only affect a portion of subscribers. It is still critical to comply with these updates to ensure everyone is using best practices.

Any organization who currently reuses GTINs will have to implement this new global standard by January 1, 2019.

Cleanse your systems based on the updates made by brand owners to GDSN or ECCnet Registry and product catalogs.

GTINs that have been discontinued BEFORE 12/31/2018 can be reassigned to a different product.

GTINs that are active or "in use" on 1/1/2019 or later, cannot be reassigned to a different product.

If you have discontinued GTINs, make sure they are marked as such, or remove them from all relevant trading systems.

This includes, but is not limited to: GDSN, product catalogues, internal GTIN assignment systems, and ECCnet Registry.

No, content management fees are not currently applied to discontinued GTINs.

Maintaining records of GTINs that have been used continues to be the user’s responsibility. If you accidentally reuse a GTIN, you face many of the consequences GTIN non-reuse is designed to eliminate, including confusion between products, loss of data integrity, discrepancies around GTIN ownership, the need to reprint product packaging or withdraw products from shelves and potential reputational damage between trading partners.

To prevent GTIN duplication issues, GS1 recommends keeping a thorough and centralized database cataloguing the GTIN, which product it is assigned to, and any key defining attributes to avoid confusion down the line.


Globally, industry has identified the need to have a single rule establishing a permanently assigned unique identification number for all products across an omni-channel world.

Factors causing this update include:

  • The typical life cycle of a product has extended significantly as products are resold through online trade channels and re-sellers.
  • As organizations merge, grow and enter new sectors, GTIN management becomes difficult without a permanent record of existing GTINs and their history.
  • As consumers and trading partners demand more information, listing processes are becoming more complex; the risk of using incorrect data only increases when GTINs have multiple data sets attached to them.

Starting January 1, 2019:

  • Any new GTIN allocated to a product SHALL NOT be reallocated to another product.
  • Any GTIN that is still active in the market on January 1, 2019 SHALL NOT be reallocated to another product.
  • Any GTIN that was discontinued prior to midnight on December 31, 2018 can be reassigned once only, after a period of at least 48 months has elapsed (for most product categories) but thereafter MUST NEVER be reallocated to another product.
  • There is no sunset date to reuse a discontinued GTIN after the mandatory four-year waiting period.
  • Ensures clear and unique product identification in the omni-channel world, increasing transparency to the consumer, reducing operational costs and confusion in the market and in supply chain data exchange systems.
  • Eliminates uncertainty around the existing GTIN rules, while providing complete confidence in global brand ownership with everyone along the supply chain.
  • Combats product counterfeiting by establishing an authenticated ownership record.
  • More efficient after-sale consumer uses of GTIN including warranty, maintenance and repair.
  • Long-term traceability for withdrawal and recall, liability or ownership issues.
  • Ensures unique identification in global marketplaces.
  • Difficulty in accurately identifying which products are subject to product recalls, risking consumer safety and exposing organizations to brand damage.
  • Incorrect data may be used by trading partners causing delays in major business processes and risking relationships.
  • May need to recall products and reprint packaging to remediate issues caused by replicated GTINs.
  • May be subject to corrective measures from trading partners who expect compliance with GTIN non-reuse rules.

For more information

Contact GS1 Canada at 1.800.567.7084 or info@gs1ca.org.