The EAN-8 barcode is based on the EAN-13 specification for use in areas where standard EAN-13 codes would be too large. Developed in the 1970s, the European Article Numbering (EAN) system, also called the International Article Numbering (IAN) or Japan Article Numbering (JAN) system, was designed for the quick and accurate identification of retail products.
EAN-8 codes are numeric-only and contain a 2 or 3-digit country code along with 4 or 5 data digits and a checksum digit. For example, JAN barcodes use country codes ranging from 490 to 499 to indicate that products are of Japanese origin.
Wherever possible, EAN-13 is the preferred code methodology since its larger size offers higher-density data encoding. As a result, EAN-8 codes are typically used on smaller products which don’t have the size to support a full EAN-13 code. It’s also possible to use EAN-8 barcodes to encode GTIN-8 (Global Trade Identification Numbers) which are used as product identifiers under the GS1 System. Along with EAN-13, EAN-8 codes remain popular across the world for simple product data encoding.