Skip to main content

The EORI number is an essential code for international shipping, especially for ambitious UK e-commerce businesses that want to grow internationally. In order to export or import from countries within the EU, it is vital that you to apply for one. You’ve come to the right place if you want to understand EORI numbers and how they work with importing and exporting. 

We have put together a complete guide covering all the above information. We answer: what is an EORI number, why is it needed, how to use it and when to use it. You’ll also find out what to do if you need further support, and any other considerations you need to make, including changes following Brexit

EORI Number – Frequently asked questions: 

Applying for an EORI number?

The EORI number is just one of the changes to shipping to Europe that have come with Brexit. Make sure to download our Post-Brexit Shipping Checklist to make sure you’ve got everything covered.

EORI numbers: The basics and getting started

What is an EORI number? 

EORI is an acronym for Economic Operator Registration and Identification. It is a unique code that is used to track and register customs information within the EU. 

Who needs an EORI number? 

Any business that exports or imports from the UK to the EU. This includes businesses of all sizes and sectors. 

If you are not sure if your business already has one, then it’s important to check. EORI numbers are unique to each business. If you reapply you won’t be issued with another. Sometimes when a company registers for VAT it is automatically registered for one. To check whether you already have one, use the validator on the European Commission site. 

What is an EORI number used for?   

The Economic Operator Registration and Identification is a code required for any business exporting to the EU from the UK or importing from the EU to the UK. The numbers are used for tracking and registering all customs information and activity within the EU. 

When is it used in the shipping process?

The EORI number is a vital part of your shipping documentation when sending packages from the UK to the EU. The code is the way that customs authorities identify who is importing or exporting goods. You will be asked to fill out your number when completing customs forms. If you use a freight forwarding company you should share your number with them. 

Is an EORI number the same as a VAT number? 

Your VAT number is linked to your Economic Operator Registration and Identification. But this number is not the same as your VAT number. When you apply for your EORI number as a VAT registered business, the HMRC links all your imports to your VAT number.

Remember: The way EU VAT is processed has now changed due to Brexit and changes to EU laws, so be sure to read up on all the updates.

Understanding and recognising EORI numbers

what is an eori number

What is the format of an EORI number, and how many digits does it have?

UK Economic Operator Registration and Identifications begin with the letters ‘GB‘. This is followed by a 12-digit number which is based on the trader’s VAT number. It is suffixed by ‘000’. For example, GB123456789000. 

They always begin with the letters ‘GB’, followed by 12 digits. For example, GB123456789000. 

Don’t get this code confused with your HS codes or Incoterms. They all have very different purposes! 

EORI numbers and your e-commerce store 

eori number brexit

Do I need an EORI number to import or export between the EU to the UK? 

Yes. All UK businesses that import from the EU to the UK need a valid EORI number. And all UK businesses that export from the UK to the EU also need a valid number. 

Top tip: make sure to also read up on the rules of origin if you’re looking to ship your products to Europe.

Do I need an EORI number to import or export from the UK to Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland?

No. If you are importing or exporting to Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland from the UK you do not currently need an EORI number. We don’t expect this to change after Brexit. 

How do I find my EORI number? 

If you are already a UK VAT registered business, you might already have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification. You can find your status and number easily online. You can access your specific code on both the UK and European Commission databases. Your nine digit VAT number should be prefixed with ‘GB’ and suffixed with ‘000’, eg; GB987654321000.

How to find an EORI number by company name?

Due to data protection, it can be tricky to find an EORI number by the company name. If you need to find yours and only have your company name to search by you should contact the HMRC team

Will Brexit affect my EORI number? 

The UK leaves the EU on the 31st December 2020. Businesses that already have an EORI number do NOT need to re-apply or change their existing number. EORI numbers are unique to every business so you won’t get a new one if you do reapply. 

It can take up to a week to apply for, and receive your number. If you do not have one and want to shipping to Europe after Brexit or import from the EU, then applying should be your highest priority before Brexit.  

What happens if I am not registered for an EORI number?

If you do not have a valid EORI you may incur increased costs, fines or delays when shipping between the UK and the EU.

Do sole traders need an EORI number? 

Yes. All UK businesses including sole traders, partnerships and larger companies need one. 

Does a private individual need one? 

No. At the time of writing, if you’re a private individual and need to move goods between the UK to EU you don’t need one.

I’m a subsidiary of a holding group. Do I also need my own number? 

No. If you are part of a larger holding group you do not need your own. The holding company needs to take care of this themselves. 

Should I send my EORI number to my freight forwarder? 

Yes. It is very important to share your unique EORI number with your freight forwarder. Failing to do so could result in delay in shipping or fines at customs. 

Do I need an EORI number for importing or exporting digital services between the UK and the EU? 

No. At the time of writing you do not need one to import or export digital services between the UK and the EU. 

How to apply for an EORI number

eori number

How much does it cost to apply for an EORI number?

There is no cost to apply. Both the application process and receiving the code are completely free. 

How do I get an EORI number if I am based in the UK? 

Fortunately, the process is simple and straightforward if you are based in the UK. 

  1. Go to the EORI pages on the UK Government website
  2. Locate and complete the application form that fits your business type e.g VAT registered in the UK, not VAT registered in the UK etc. 
  3. Submit your form electronically. 
  4. Keep checking your email. You should receive your EORI number within a week. 

How do I get one if I am NOT based in the UK? 

Contact the HMRC team for assistance if you are based outside the UK. 

What information do I need to apply for an EORI number?

The UK Government has made the application process as easy as possible. Though, as with a lot of shipping documentation, you do need to supply quite a few pieces of information to ensure a successful application. 

Here are the pieces of information you will need to supply when applying. 

  1. Your full name. 
  2. Business name and address. 
  3. VAT registered name. 
  4. Contact details. 
  5. VAT address. 
  6. Your position in the business e.g; manager, administrator. 
  7. VAT registered number. 
  8. If you are an individual or sole trader you will need to have your National Insurance as well. 

Important note: When you apply, the system assumes you are intending to import or export a shipment straight away. This means you can’t complete the forms in advance. Therefore, you should make sure you have all the details of your shipment ready. This includes; destination address, sender address, details of the parcel contents and any other shipping documentation. 

How long does an application take?

Once you have finished applying you will receive your EORI number via your registered email address. It takes around one week to receive one. You will receive the code with your registered email address. We advise to apply as soon as possible in case there are delays. 

Important note: When you apply, the system assumes you are intending to import or export a shipment straight away. You cannot complete the forms in advance. Therefore, you should make sure you have all the details of your shipment ready. This includes; destination address, sender address, details of the parcel contents, weight and measurements and any other required shipping documentation. 


This guide may seem like a lot of information to take on board. But, like many business processes, we guarantee it gets easier over time. Before you know it, it will become just another part of your shipping process between the UK and the EU. 

If you don’t have an EORI number, make sure you prioritise applying for one. Once the UK leaves the EU on the 31st December 2020, all UK businesses and individuals who want to move goods between the UK and the EU will need one. If you don’t have a valid number, you could incur delays or fines. If you do get stuck with anything, you’ll find plenty of information on the UK Government web pages. 

Above all, don’t worry if it takes a bit of time and effort to get your international shipping processes in order. Take your time to get your ducks in a row and you’ll be fine. And if you’re looking for a handy tool to ship abroad and take care of your customs declarations, why not try Sendcloud for free!

Want to learn more about international shipping? Come check out our blog where we talk about everything from commercial invoices to how to save time with your shipping strategy.

Need help shipping to a particular country?

Check out the following guides for more specific advice on shipping to a particular nation:

If you’re a growing business looking to start shipping across Europe, download our International shipping made easy eBook below!

Start shipping smarter today

Start for free
Set up in 5 minutes No coding required No credit card required

More than 2000 five star reviews

G2 Crowd Logo Trustpilot Logo Capterra Logo


  • Parag says:

    Can you please explain if the Orderer is from Spain and Shipmemt is moved from UK TO Germany
    in this case who’s EORI number is required ??

    • Stephanie Butcher says:

      Hi Parag! Hmm this is an interesting question. Without all the information like the buyer, seller, and delivery details, it’s difficult for me to answer to be honest. Generally, if you’re a company selling from the UK to a customer within the European Union and the end destination is Spain, then the EORI number should be that of your UK company if that is who the customer bought the product from, even if the delivery of the product will transit through Germany. However, if the situation is more complex that this, then I’m afraid I can’t assist you without all the information. What I’d suggest is getting directly in touch with the carrier you are shipping with or seek guidance from a customs agent to make sure you get the correct answer.

      I hope this helps, and wishing you good luck!

  • Ersan kara says:


    We have a company located in Uk. And at the moment we are also entering to german market for e-commerce. We will import goods directly to germany from a non european company and will sell domestically in germany. As stated above our company is registered in uk and we will have branch in germany.
    The question is do we need EORI number for germany to import goods.

    • Stephanie Butcher says:

      Hi Ersan,

      I will try my best to answer this question to the best of my knowledge, but I would highly advise getting a second opinion from maybe a customs agent or specialist. An EORI number is a European Union registration and identification number for any business which undertakes the import or export of goods into or out of the EU. This means if you are importing from a non-EU country into Germany, then an EORI number will be required on your customs documentation so that the EU can identify and register the import correctly. My question is, will your branch in Germany be a registered holding in the country? If so, you can therefore apply for an EORI number from the German authorities for your German branch. This means you can use this EORI number in your customs documentation for the exchange.

      If you are importing to a third-party fulfilment provider in Germany to supply your goods for your customers, then if I’m correct, you will then need to supply their EORI number to identify them as the importer into the country. If you do use a third-party supplier, then I would advise contacting them and discussing how they handle other clients and imports to see what they say.

      I hope this information helps, and good luck!

  • Alex says:


    I hope somebody can help me or give me an opinion on the below.

    We’re a Russian company purchasing goods from Austria on EXW terms.

    Our Austrian seller invoices us with 20% VAT despite the goods are sold for export to Russia. According to the seller, they refund the VAT once we provide with the export proof.

    In order to go through the export clearance from Europe, we ask our Austrian seller to provide with their EORI number. They refuse to provide us with it saying it’s illegal or fraud when someone uses their EORI number (especially on EXW terms).

    The questions are:

    1. Is it correct to invoice us with 20% VAT?
    2. Do we have a right to request and use seller’s EORI number for the export purposes?


    • Stephanie Butcher says:

      Hi Alex,

      I hope I can help you with these issues, however, as these are such a specific questions, I would advise you to talk with a customs agent or someone who specialises in international trade law, as I would not want to advise you incorrectly.

      However, it is indeed true that you are NOT allowed to use another business’s EORI number. If you are a business based in a non-EU country importing from an EU country, you need to use your own EORI number for the import process, so make sure you apply for one to use on the import documentation.

      Regarding the charge of 20% VAT, as far as I’m aware, goods that are being exported from an EU country to a non-EU country should be rated at 0% VAT. However, this is only possible when documentation is provided as proof the goods were transported outside the EU. You can read more about it here:

  • Sunny says:

    Hello ,
    We are small eCommerce business in UK importing goods from India , china and selling to customers in UK , EU and USA. Do we need an EORI number along with VAT ? Will same EORI be valid to send goods to USA ?

    • Stephanie Butcher says:

      Hi Sunny,

      Thanks for reaching out, and I hope I can help answer your question. However, with regards to questions about international VAT, it’s a good idea to get a 2nd opinion from a tax advisor or customs agent to make sure you follow the correct rules.

      An EORI number is only needed when you export or import to the EU. The numbers are used for tracking and registering all customs information and activity within the EU. Therefore, it is not needed when you sell goods to the USA. If you want more information on what is need to ship to the USA, check out our full guide here.

      In regards to your question on whether you need both an EORI number and a VAT number: yes. Your VAT number is linked to your EORI, but the numbers are not the same thing. When you apply for your EORI number as a VAT registered business, the HMRC links all your imports to your VAT number.