GS1 Digital Link

In 2018, the GS1 Web URI Structure Standard document introduced a standard for the GS1 Digital Link, which is a Web Uniform Resource Identifier (Web URI) that conforms to the GS1 Web URI syntax. This standard makes it possible for any existing GS1 data carrier that encodes a primary GS1 identification key to translate the corresponding element strings or plain syntax into a GS1 Digital Link.

A Web URI is a type of URI that can act as a globally unambiguous name for an item and simultaneously provide a way to retrieve information from the web about the item. The GS1 Digital Link is a GS1-specific Web URI that can be used to represent GS1 identification keys (such as a Global Trade Item Number [GTIN]) in web addresses that are encoded by certain barcode symbols. GS1 Digital Links work by making it possible to translate Web URIs to GS1 element strings and vice versa, so that these elements are interchangeable.

By using this feature, the symbols can support both product identification and a link to online material that comply with the GS1 standard. Manufacturers can use GS1 Digital Links to provide web-based product information to other businesses or to consumers. Retailers can use them to communicate product and marketing information, such as coupons or in-store specials, to consumers. Consumers can use GS1 Digital Links to connect to web-based resources to verify the authenticity of a product, to find informational resources (such as user manuals or safety information), to look for related items, to place orders, and so on.

Several barcode symbologies that carry GS1 identification keys have the potential to support GS1 Digital Links. Currently, however, the GS1 Web URI syntax is widely supported only for the GS1 QR Code and GS1 DataMatrix symbologies.

GS1 Digital Link Components

A Web URI includes the http:// or https:// prefix, a hostname (such as, and path information. The Web URI can be extended to include a query string (which enables key/value pairs to be sent to a web resource) and an optional fragment identifier (which is typically used to provide a link to a subsection of a web resource).

In the GS1 implementation, GS1 Application Identifiers (AIs) are expressed either in the URI path information or in the query string, as follows:

  • The URI path information expresses a GS1 identification key (in the form of an AI) and any qualifiers that are used with the GS1 identification key to form a compound key (such as GTIN plus serial number).

  • The query string expresses data attributes (in the form of AIs), such as expiration date, and includes any key/value pairs that cannot be expressed by using AIs; such key/value pairs can be expressed by using typed links.

A sample GS1 Web URI is as follows:

The URI has a flexible syntax that allows for different expressions of the components. For example, in this URI, "01" is the identifier for a GTIN, and "gtin" can be substituted for "01" in the URI, as follows:

Both of these sample URIs represent the same item or resource.

A typed link component represents an extra key/value pair in the URI query string. This key/value pair represents information that cannot be expressed unambiguously by using AIs in element strings. For example, a typed link might provide a way for a customer to request an instruction manual for an item.

The following sample Web URI shows the typed link component:

For more information about how to construct and use GS1 Digital Links, refer to GS1 Web URI Structure Standard.