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What is a GLN (Global Location Number)?


Global Location Number (GLN)

How does the supply chain keep ‘order’ in identifying locations and functions? The identifying key to determine the ‘where’–physical/digital location and the ‘who’—a function and or legal entity is the GLN. Global Location Number (GLN) can be used by companies to identify their locations, giving them complete flexibility to identify any type or level of location required. 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– ensuring important information is accessible, accurate and easy to understand. When implemented effectively, GLN improves business processes like logistics and inventory management, helping supply chains run smoothly. The Global Location Number is 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.

How do you identify the 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. 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.) The physical location is the hospital, a sub-location is the department/floor within the hospital.

What is a digital location?
Any identified electronic (non-physical) address that communicates between computer systems is a digital location. Business systems, such as a Warehouse Management System (WMS) or Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP) are examples. The related GLN data will include the network address, system type, any related legal entities and administrator info.

How are functions identified?
Every organization defines departments and subdivisions within based on functional tasks performed. A GLN would be allocated to identify different business functional types and would include accompanying details like contact names, tax numbers, and financial information. A GLN makes it easier to identify and perform transactions between buyers and sellers. For instance, accounting and sales may be under the same GLN, however production may be under a separate GLN.

What about identifying a legal entity?
The legal arm of an organization has the authority to enter into legal agreements or contracts and represents the business, department, government, institution or may represent 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.

Understanding GLNs are 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 medical device product management and syndication. We are here to help. Email us: or call 215-682-8269

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

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