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:
- The basics and getting started
- Understanding and recognising EORI numbers
- Economic Operator Registration and Identification numbers and your UK e-commerce store
- Do I need an EORI number to import or export goods between the EU to the UK?
- Do I need an EORI number to export from the UK to Northern Ireland, or from the UK to the Republic of Ireland?
- How do I find my EORI number and how to find it by company name?
- Will Brexit affect my EORI number?
- What happens if I am not registered for an EORI number?
- Do sole traders or private individuals need an EORI number?
- I’m a subsidiary of a holding group. Do I need my own EORI number?
- Should I send my EORI number to my freight forwarder?
- Do I need an EORI number for importing or exporting digital services?
Applying for an EORI number?
- How much does it cost to apply?
- How to get an EORI number (from the UK or from outside the UK)?
- What information do I need to apply, and how long does it take?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
EORI numbers and your e-commerce store
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you do not have a valid EORI you may incur increased costs, fines or delays when shipping between the UK and the EU.
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.
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.
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.
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
There is no cost to apply. Both the application process and receiving the code are completely free.
Fortunately, the process is simple and straightforward if you are based in the UK.
- Go to the EORI pages on the UK Government website.
- 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.
- Submit your form electronically.
- 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.
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.
- Your full name.
- Business name and address.
- VAT registered name.
- Contact details.
- VAT address.
- Your position in the business e.g; manager, administrator.
- VAT registered number.
- 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: