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barcode tattoos
Make your own barcode tattoo. 100% Free.

Barcode tattoos are cool! They are the only kind of body art that also encodes a hidden message that can be read by a bar scanner. Whether you're a human, a cyborg, or prefer not to say, there's a barcode tattoo for you!

Barcode Tattoo Generator

Examples of Barcode Designs

Barcode Tattoo FAQ
Some cool barcode tattoos made with our free barcode tattoo creator:
Barcode Tattoo FAQ

How can I make my own scannable barcode tattoos for free?

We've added a selection of several barcode fonts to our free Tattoo Lettering Designer, so now you can make your own barcode tattoos at home. Just go to the Lettering Designer, click on the "PICK FONT" button, and then choose "Barcode" from the styles menu. Type in your message and click on the bar code style you want.

Right now, only the first three of the barcode fonts generate scannable barcode tattoo designs -- the rest are just for decoration, although they do encode the information you type. These first three fonts are known as Code 39 and work with both numbers and letters. For best scanning results with these fonts, use single, short words (better under ten characters or less, best under five). If you want to encode a phrase, try saving each word separately. Some barcode fonts can encode spaces and some cannot. If you care about scannability, be sure to test your design before getting inked (see below)!

Make your own barcode tattoo right here!

Why would anyone want a barcode tattoo?

To the person who wears one, a barcode tattoo can imply various things, both positive and negative. Many people who might like to get inked with a barcode are very interested in high technology and believe humans will eventually merge with their technology. A barcode tattoo might also be a subversive statement about a totalitarian surveillance society. Other people just think it's cool to put a message on your body that has a meaning available only to those who have the technology to read it.

Basically, people get bar code tattoos for all kinds of reasons! What's yours?

How does a bar code hold information?

People often ask how barcodes hold information and sometimes think that barcodes can only represent numbers. It actually depends on which style of barcode is being used to represent the data. Some styles can only represent numbers, but some can also represent letters and even some other symbols.

In creating a custom barcode, each character you type is converted to a pattern of wide and narrow bars. Different types of bar codes encode this information different ways. Some can handle both upper and lower case letters, some only capital letters. Some can represent punctuation as well, and all can represent numbers. When a scanner reads a barcode, it simply re-translates the bar patterns back into the original characters.

By the way, the letters that appear underneath barcode designs (which are the same as whatever you typed in with our free tool) actually cannot be read by a barcode scanner. You can write whatever you want there, or leave those letters out completely, and the barcode itself will still scan the same way.

Can all barcode tattoos be scanned by a bar code scanner?

The short answer to this question: no. Most barcode tattoos you can see are NOT scannable, just cool body art. Some people do not care if their tat can actually be scanned, so we've included several barcode fonts that won't scan, but can be used to create nice designs.

The first three of the barcode fonts we make available are scannable. As long as you keep your message down to a small number of characters, and make it large enough, you should be able to read it with a bar code reader that can read Code 39. See below for more information about how you can get a free barcode scanning app for you smartphone for testing your designs.

Will my barcode tattoo still be legible when it gets older?

Age will definitely affect your barcode ink, just as it does any other tattoo design. The lines will eventually blur somewhat and this will affect scannability, especially if the design is not very big to begin with.

You can help ensure that your barcode tattoo will stay scannable by choosing a suitable spot on your body (see next question). Also, your design must be large enough for a scanner to be able to distinguish between the bars, so avoid making your tattoo too small. If you can successfully scan your printed design, you should also be able to scan it once it's inked.

The bottom line: Don't try to pack too much information into a single barcode tattoo -- keep it short and choose a good spot, and it will be more legible for a longer time.

Which locations on the body are best for bar code tattoos?

The back, shoulder, forearm, wrist, and back of the neck are the most popular places to get a barcode tattoo because they tend to be flat enough, and the skin doesn't expand as much over time. Also, those spots are bad ass.

How can I test my barcode tattoo design to see if it will scan?

Testing is easy if you have a smartphone. Just download a free app that uses your phone's camera to read barcodes. For Android, we recommend this one, and for the iPhone, this one. (Both are free.) You can print your creation and scan the printed design or scan it right off the screen (first three fonts only!). Your design will not scan from the screen if it is too long, and will not scan from the paper if your printer isn't printing very clearly too. You can play around and see what works best for you.

By the way, most store scanners probably will not read your barcode tattoo. That is because most store systems are set up to read only their own product numbers, and your hidden message is probably not a product number. At least we hope not. ;)

Can I print temporary tattoos using your barcodes and lettering that I make in the Tattoo Lettering Designer?

Yes you can! You can purchase special paper that will allow you to make not only temporary tattoos, but also decals and thermal stencils. Choose one of the following links to find a recommended product you can use to transfer your creations from to your own body:

Temporary Tattoo paper    Tattoo Decal paper    Tattoo Stencil Transfer paper