Code 32


The Code 32 was commissioned by the Italian Health Ministry. Code 32 has to be used all over Italy for the encoding of pharmaceutical products. Code 32 can be found on all medication packages for human medicine. Basis for Code 32 is the Code 39 Reduced, only that Code 32 does no consist of 39 characters but only of 32 characters.

Symbol Examples

Example of a Code 32 Symbol with eight information characters (12345678) and one check-digit (8):

Code 32

Symbology Terms

The Code 32 (VBCD: Code 32) is also called

  • IMH or
  • Italian Pharmacode or
  • Radix 32 Barcode.

The barcode consists of 5 bars and 4 spaces. Three of the elements are wide and six elements of Code 32 are narrow.

Ranges of Application & Businesses/Trades

  • Italian medication packages for human medicine.


Advantages / Strong Points

  • Alphanumeric character set
  • High reading security
  • Unmistakable characters
  • Unmistakable when interacting with several different barcodes.

Disadvantages / Weak Points

  • Limited to the Italian pharmaceutical industry.

Codeable Character Set

  • Alphanumeric A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
  • 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
  • 1 Start/Stop-Character Is automatically generated by the „Visual Bar Code Designer“.

Symbol Properties

  • Code Type: A discrete, self-checking, alphanumeric code without special characters.
  • Elements per symbol: 9, 3 of which are wide and 6 are narrow, character representing 5 bars and 4 spaces.
  • Self-checking characters: Yes (the characters are intrinsically safe, meaning that any change within a character is recognized as an error.)
  • Symbol Length Variable (the number of data characters within the symbol can – depending on existing agreements – be firm, variable or variable up to a defined maximum.)
  • Ratio between narrow and wide elements. The ratio should lie between 2.0 : 1 and 3.0 : 1.
  • Bidirectionally readable: Yes (the barcode symbol can be read in two directions, meaning forwards or backwards.)
  • Check Digit: One check digit. By operating with a check digit – symbol check digit – substitution errors can nearly all be identified.
  • Character Density: 13 to 16 modules per symbol character, including the space between the character fonts – separating space – and according to the ratio between the wide and the narrow elements.
  • Necessary characters containing no functional characters: The equivalent of 2 symbol characters

Check Digits & Data Security

The nine elements of each character consist of five bars and four spaces. Each character of Code 32 is self-checking and thereby already ascertaining a high level of security against misreading. The existence of an additional check digit (symbol check digit) is not mandatory.

Because of a higher level of security, a check digit should be implemented (calculated according to Modulo-10), that is automatically generated by the "Visual Bar Code Designer” on request.

Symbol Description

Beginning on the left, a symbol consists of:

  • A leading Quiet Zone,
  • A Start Character,
  • One or more Symbol Characters (information characters). Possibly an optional Check Digit (symbol check digit), that is automatically generated by the "Visual Bar Code Designer” on request.
  • A Stop-Character,
  • A closing Quiet Zone,
  • Human Readable Text
    A human-readable translation of the data characters encoded in the symbol (and possibly also the check-digits) should normally be printed out together with the symbol. The sizes of the characters and the font types are not specified. As long as the Quiet Zones are not disturbed, the Human Readable Text line can be printed out at any desired spot in the vicinity of the symbol. Usually, the Human Readable Text is actually situated right below the symbol.