UID Labels and Labeling Simplified

uid labels

What are UID Labels?

UID is a Department of Defense mandate that requires a globally Unique Item Identifier to track items throughout their lifecycle. It is a permanent marking method used to give equipment a unique ID. UID labels play an essential role in the UID process. They contain the information required to comply with the UID mandate in the required format and must last the lifetime of the asset they are assigned to.

Who uses UID Labels?

Every defense contractor that supplies assets to the Department of Defense which meet the program’s requirements are responsible for labeling their products. The Department of Defense uses the UID labels to track the value of an asset, its location, quantity, and its current state.

What are UID Label requirements?

Requirements for items that need to be marked with a UID label include:

  1. Mission critical, controlled or serially controlled assets
  2. Items valued at $5000 or greater
  3. Is sold to the US military from a third-party contractor

UID labels must contain specific information about the asset and be able to last the lifetime of the asset.

How does government/military/DOD use UID labels?

The Department of Defense uses UID Labels to track the value of an asset, its location, quantity, and its current state. By so doing, the Department is able to monitor their usage and maintain them when necessary.

How are UID labels formatted?

The general format for a UID-compliant label is specified in MIL-STD-130 and must be either Construct 1 or Construct 2. Construct 1 uses a part number, barcode and a supplier-assigned serial number that must be unique to any other products produced by that company. Construct 2 uses a lot/batch number, part number, and serial number that is taken directly from the asset.

The recommended barcode symbology for UID labels is 2D data matrix. Two-dimensional (2D) barcodes are ideal for a couple of reasons. First, users can encode a lot of data into a smaller area in comparison to one-dimensional (1D) barcodes. Second, 2D barcodes have redundancy within the code so if up to 60% of the barcode gets destroyed, the barcode is still readable. Additional elements can also be added to the UID label, i.e., 1D barcode, human readable number.

How do you make UID labels compliant with MIL-STD-130?

MIL-STD-130 is a military standard (Identification Marking of US Military Property) that describes markings required on items sold to the Department of Defense including UID markings. MIL-STD-130 describes the materials allowed, maximum text size and fonts, format, syntax and rules for identifying marks on a part, where to locate this marking plus exceptions and unique situations. Metalcraft is very familiar with MIL-STD-130 and will ensure customers’ UID labels are compliant by verifying every order to the specs described in the military standard.

For more information on UID labels or to get started on your UID application contact Metalcraft at 800-437-5283 or [email protected].


Julia Deets, VP of Marketing and Customer Experience 

About the Author: Julia Deets

Julia Deets joined Metalcraft in 1999 as the Marketing/New Product Director. Julia has held numerous roles during her career with Metalcraft, all related to marketing and customer support. Her current position is as the VP of Marketing and Customer Experience. She has both an undergrad and a Master's degree in Organizational Communications from Northwest Missouri State University and the University of Northern Iowa, respectively. 

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