What to Know About Creating a Global Location Number For Your Business


Technology has changed tracking and location services for companies all around the world. As software and tech services have improved identification methods, global location numbers have become the unique way of assigning locations (legal, functional, or physical) all around the world.  The number is a reference key to a digital file where information about the location or parent company can be found. Rather than relying on long chains of information that include names and addresses, the location number useful to expedite the automated process. Computers are able to accurately route information without manual involvement. The Electronic Data Interchange requires these numbers to conduct business between certain trading partners, identify locations and data pools, as well as collect and provide relevant tracking or invoicing information.

Creating a Global Location Number

The GLN is a 13-digit number that originates with your GS1 Company Prefix number. This is a unique identification number that is issued by the GS1 US, and is only eligible for use by your company. The GS1 code is recognized internationally as your brand within the global supply chain. Your location number does not carry any information about a location, instead of giving those needing the information a link to the systems where the information is being held. As a company, your responsibility is to make each number unique. The numbers are created using the GS1 company prefix, following an identical numbering series. If three years have passed since an obsolete number has been used to identify another location, it can be reassigned. It can be easy to confuse GTINs with GLNs, so it is imperative that these numbers be held in two different database records. Remembering the context for use can help eliminate confusion.  When these numbers are used in barcodes, the GS1 application identifier can ensure that the data is accurately understood and processed. The following three steps are used to create the whole 13 digit number.

  1. Start with your assigned GS1 company prefix. If you have a U. P.C. Company Prefix, you need to add a zero before the number.
  2. Create a location reference. This number identifies either a legal function for your company or a specific location. The combination of your location number and the prefix will always add up to a 12 digit number. To keep things organized, always assign the location number sequentially. Do not build any hidden intelligence into the number, as the location is good for the particular moment when it is used and will become obsolete if any company changes occur. A change could come with mergers, company reorganization, or employee replacement.
  3. Calculate the check digit. The final number in the sequence is called a check digit. It is calculated in conjunction with the first 12 numbers and is issued from the GS1 website. This number is used to validate data integrity.

How to Help Your Trading Partners

Your responsibility to your trading partners is to communicate the details of each location number before it is put into use. The information is digitally stored and will be retrieved whenever the GLN is used. The data often includes the name of the company and the postal address, contact details for either the account manager or receiving personnel, the type of location (such as distribution center or manufacturing location), bank details and payment terms for the transaction and any delivery restrictions or requirements. The owner of the location is also able to specify in greater detail things like a bay number, room number, facility operating hours, time zone differences, or other delivery instructions. Each global location number is able to be used in supporting functions like verifying receipt of invoices, collection, order placements, or receipt of merchandise confirmation. Give each location its own number, and if any of the information associated with the number is altered-such as an address change, new GLNs should be issued.

The Benefits of Global Location Numbers

GLNs are a benefit to both senders and receivers. The numbers can be issued for either internal locations or a location that will be used by a trading partner. A single identification number makes it easy for all companies and interested parties within the supply chain to have accurate, real-time information. This reduces unnecessary costs and frustrating errors of confusion. Locations can be tracked all over the world, and any number of locations are able to use the numbering system. The digital transmission also relays information more accurately and cost-efficiently.

If you need more information about the global location numbering process or you want to get your own number, there are a number of online tools and resources to get you going.