Code 32 Barcodes

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Code 32

Also known as Italian Pharmacode, Code 32 is used across Italy to encode data on medication dispensed by pharmacies for human use. This barcode is not used extensively outside of Italy.

Code 32 is a variant of Code 39. It uses the same symbol set to encode data and leverages the same start and stop rules, but permits only numeric digits and capital letters – excluding vowels A, E, I, O and U.


This 1D barcode is almost identical in structure to Code 39 but restricts the number of potential alphanumeric characters. The symbol structure for Code 32 includes eight characters which represent numeric digits, plus a check digit. If there are fewer than eight characters needed for encodation, padding characters are added to ensure the code is of sufficient length.

Code 32 barcodes use five bars and four spaces for each character. Six of these character elements are wide and three are narrow, and the barcode also includes a check digit that uses the modulo 10 algorithm.

Despite its limited application, Code 32 offers several advantages including high reading security and unique formatting, ensuring it is unmistakable when dealing with multiple barcodes. This barcode contains five key formatting elements:

  • A Leading Quiet Zone
  • One Start Character
  • All Symbol Characters and One Optional Check Digit
  • One Stop Character
  • A Closing Quiet Zone

Common Use Cases

Also called IMH or the Radix 32 barcode, this code is exclusively used for the encoding of data on human-consumable pharmaceutical products in Italy. While the readable variant of Code 32 sometimes printed on labels includes the ASCII character “A”, this character is not encoded as part of the barcode itself.

Because this code is only used in one industry and in one country, it is both distinctive and relatively secure. No other barcodes use this particular format and this specific structure. This makes it an ideal code for the pharmaceutical industry which must encode specific information in very small spaces and ensure the accuracy of this information.

Pharmacy Barcodes