Carrier labels

Depending on the degree of automation the requirement of the carrier shipping label can vary:

  • Carriers with a high degree of automation have optimized their shipping label in great extend and require specific layouts for their processes to run smoothly.
  • Carriers that have more human processing in their handling process are more flexible and can support a wider range of shipping labels.

Basic requirements:

  • A unique barcode on the handling unit for easy scannig and identification.
  • Delivery address to identify the destination on the handling units itself in case automation fails. Exceptions like full truckloads ignored here.
  • Any other element is subject to interpretation of most carriers.

A shipping label standard

Express carriers have their own standards for shipping labels which are handled when requesting labels through their APIs. This all has todo with the automation degree that these carriers have in their handling process. For the other carriers, over time, some standards have been developed that are used by multiple carriers.


GS1 has standard labels for products but also for logistics processes. Sample labels for logistics can be found on

In short:

  • Only Barcode is mandatory
    • Barcode format can be Code-128 or a 2D barcode like Datamatrix
    • Barcode content is a SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code): request barcode ranges from GS1 via GS1 website.
      • For logistical handling units the SSCC always start with “00” (this is the application identifier in GS1 terms)
    • Place barcode
      • Linear barcode: at bottom of the label
      • 2D barcode: on middle section at the right-hand-side of label
    • Minimal height of barcode: 31.75mm
    • Always mention a human readable version of the barcode content below the barcode
  • Free text is allowed in top and middle section

Note: in Germany the SSCC is also called NVE (Nummer der Versandeinheit)

Example GS1 transport label:

example gs1 transport label


Based on our experience we have developed a label standard that can be used by multiple carriers. It adheres to the GS1 standard, with main difference that the barcode does not need to be an SSCCC but can also be another tracking reference format.

Example Viya standard shipping label:

example standard label