EORI Number - What Is It and Do You Need One?
Just what is an EORI number and should your business have one? Below we explain what it is, how to get one, and why anyone doing business in the EU or UK is likely to need it.
What is an EORI number?
The Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number (EORI number) is an identification number that customs authorities assign to an economic operator or other person in order to register them for customs purposes.
The main purpose of the EORI number is to streamline the increasingly automated customs clearance process. Any correspondence between the operator and the authorities, whether regarding applications, declarations, or other documents, must include the EORI number automatically. So, if you’re required to complete customs duties, you’ll need to have an EORI number.
Since January 1st, 2021, when the United Kingdom officially left the European Union, it has been necessary to have two types of EORI numbers, one specifically for the EU and one for the UK. Before Brexit, the EU recognized the UK EORI number and vice versa, but this is no longer the case.
The EU EORI number is made up of the country code of the issuing Member State and a number unique to that Member State. For example, you'll see the Dutch EORI number beginning with the letters NL followed by a 9-digit number. The UK EORI number is similar and consists of the letters GB and 12 digits.
Who needs to have an EORI number?
If you plan to import or export goods into or out of the EU, you’ll need to have an EU EORI number. The number is assigned by the member state where your business is located but will be valid in all Member States. If you move goods to or from the United Kingdom, it will be necessary to apply for a UK EORI number, which is only valid in the United Kingdom.
As well as sellers, forwarders and transporters also require an EORI number to identify themselves to customs officials. Additionally, businesses based outside of the EU or UK but who conduct business in Europe or the UK must also obtain an EORI number.
Companies or individuals who carry out no more than five customs operations a year within the EU do not need an EORI number. However, if they exceed this amount they must apply for one.
Also, you cannot begin the import/export process without an EORI number. You must first have it in place before going through the local customs clearance system.
There is an online EU EORI number checker and a UK EORI checker you can look up if you want to check the EORI registration status of a company.
How do I apply for an EORI number?
For EU EORI numbers, companies or persons should request their EORI number from the customs authority in the EU Member State where they’re already established. If they’re not established in the customs territory of the EU, they should apply to the customs authority of the country where they will be carrying out their first import or export.
Those requiring a UK EORI number can apply on the HMRC website. Once the application has been submitted, you’ll receive your number via email within 3 to 5 working days. If you have a UK VAT number, HMRC should already have issued you with a UK EORI number.
How do I check an EORI number?
Before applying for an EORI number, you should check that you’re not already registered as in some cases a company will automatically be assigned an EORI number once they’ve registered for their VAT number.
You can do an EORI number check on the EORI online database for EU-issued numbers or on the HMRC EORI checker UK, which authenticates numbers issued by the UK authorities. You can also use these databases to authenticate an EORI number belonging to another business.
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