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Code 39 - Dynamsoft Barcode Reader SDK

What is a Code 39?

Developed in 1974 by Intermec, Code 39 is the first barcode to use both letters and numbers. It is a discrete, variable length barcode symbology that is also called Code 3 of 9, Alpha39, Type 39, Code 3/9, USD-3, and USS Code 39.

As Code 39 barcode could only encode a total of 39 characters, hence the name. The latest version, however, can encode up to 43 characters. It consists of numeric digits (zero to nine), uppercase letters (A to Z), and a number of special characters (-, ., $, /, +, %, and space). For both start and stop delimiters, an additional character- ‘*’ is used.

A typical Code 39 barcode looks like this:

Code 39

As Code 39 does not contain a check digit and is considered self-checking because a single print defect cannot transpose one character into another valid character.

Code 39 symbol is one of the most extensively used barcode types. Almost every barcode encoding/decoding device can encode or decode it.

Although used in many applications, Code 39 does have some drawbacks. It is a low-density barcode and is not as compact as barcodes such as Code 93 or Code 128. Hence, it is not a good option for very small items or goods that need to enclose a large amount of information.

Where is a Code 39 used?

Code 39 is majorly used in non-retail environments. It is used in the automotive industry, hence, it is also called the automotive industry barcode. It is also used by the Health Industry Bar Code Council (HIBCC) and the United States Department of Defense.


  • Automotive
  • Manufacturing
  • Government
  • Logistics
  • Medical
  • Postal
  • Defense

How could Dynamsoft help you with Code 39?

Dynamsoft barcode reader enables you to efficiently embed high-speed and reliable barcode reading functionality in your web, desktop or mobile application using just a few lines of code.

Download the free trial SDK, explore our helpful resource center including sample codes, tutorials, guides and more to get started.