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What is a GLN (Global Location Number)?

Jan 4, 2019 | Medical Devices, Unique Device Identification

Global Location Number (GLN)

A Global Location Number (GLN) is a 13 digit number that acts as a key for identifying the location, whether physical or digital, and the function or entity of a company across the supply chain. A GLN gives companies complete flexibility to identify any type or level of location required, from the building, to the floor, to the room. In the world of global standards, GLN is one component of the GS1 (Global Standards), providing a common language to identify, capture and share supply chain data. A standard map of locations ensures important information is accessible, accurate and easy to understand across organizations. When implemented effectively, GLN improves business processes like logistics and inventory management, helping supply chains run smoothly and efficiently. The Global Location Number is made of 13 digits, containing a GS1 Company Prefix, a Location Reference and a Check Digit. The associated data points like name, address, trade function, etc. are linked to each unique number. Each GLN is uniquely specific to one exact location on the globe.

What is a GLN physical location?
A physical location is a specific place such as a building or group of buildings or an area where something is located presently, in the past, or will be located in the future. A physical location within another physical location (like a medical department located on a specific floor of a hospital or distinguishing the delivery dock from the emergency room entrance) are examples. The physical location is the hospital, while a sub-location is the department or/floor within the hospital. Each physical location would be allocated a GLN based on its access address and business need to identify location within location. The GLN can trace a history of the physical location and functional entity (like the floor and bed where a patient received treatment.)

What is a GLN digital location?
Any identified electronic (non-physical) address that communicates between computer systems is a digital location. The digital location differs from the physical location in that it focuses on the location being accessed. Business systems, such as a Warehouse Management System (WMS) or Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP) are examples because the location is where you find the product or service. In a hospital, a specific computer may have a physical location, but a specific documentation software across all the hospital’s computers may have a digital location. Parallel to a road map for a physical location. The related GLN data for a digital location will include the network address, system type, any related legal entities and administrator info.

What is a function within a GLN?
Every organization defines departments and subdivisions within the department based on functional tasks performed. For instance, accounting and sales may be under the same GLN, however production may be under a separate GLN. A GLN would be allocated to identify different business task types and would include accompanying details like contact names, tax numbers, and financial information for all who fall within that ‘function.’ A GLN makes it easier to identify and perform transactions between buyers and sellers because the unique numbers represent exactly what role each actor plays in the transaction. Having a GLN may make communication between a hospital’s billing department and an insurance company smoother because the function is clear on who is requesting information.

What is a legal entity within a GLN?
The legal arm of an organization has the authority to enter into legal agreements or contracts and represents the business, department, government, institution or an individual. Legal entity identification is especially important for global businesses with many locations. A GLN identifies the legal name, address and/or legal registration number and distinguishes multiple legal entities across organizations.

The GLN uniquely distinguishes physical locations, digital locations, business functions, and legal entities. There are structural and action rules defining the allocation of new and existing GLNs, the data that accompanies each GLN and how organizations should utilize them for their supply chain business processes. Being supported by the network of GS1 Member Organisations, GLNs work globally and across various industries. Using GLNs for internal mapping also alleviates confusion between the internal system and the external system. Implementing one system ensures confidence that external communication will be clear and evolving the organization will not be impeded because the current search and identification structure won’t scale.

To learn more about the benefits of utilizing GS1 standards see,

Understanding GLNs is part of the global language of business. When it comes to trusted guidance for product management solutions, Reed Tech can become a valuable asset to your team. We are industry experts in utilizing the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) and help you meet the requirements of governmental authorities, including UK NHS eProcurement, and buyers, including Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and influential hospital networks.

Contact Reed Tech today for any questions regarding GLNs or medical device product management and syndication. We are here to help. Email us: [email protected] or call 215-557-3010