All businesses and individuals moving goods in or out of the customs territory of the European Union (EU) as part of trading activity require an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. The EORI number is split into two parts:
- the country code of the issuing Member State; and
- a code or number that is unique in the Member State
EORI numbers are essentially identification numbers, recognised by all EU Member States, which must be recorded on all customs declarations.
In the absence of an EORI number, traders may face delays and costs (e.g. storage fees if HMRC is unable to clear goods).
Who needs an EORI number?
Economic operators* need an EORI number for customs purposes if:
- They are established in the customs territory of the EU; or
- They trade goods with the EU, for a number of official customs situations (e.g. lodging a customs declaration in the customs territory of the Union; submitting an Entry Summary Declaration; lodging an Exit Summary Declaration etc).
* According to article 5 (5) of the Union Customs Code economic operator means: “a person who, in the course of his or her business, is involved in activities covered by the [EU] customs legislation”. This covers individuals as well as companies and other organisations.
There are certain circumstances in which persons other than economic operators will also require an EORI number. The European Commission provides further guidance on who requires an EORI number.
How do I apply for an EORI number?
Apply for an EORI number online and it will either be available immediately or, if further checks are required, within 5 working days. The following information is needed to complete an application:
- Business start date
- Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
- Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code (for companies)
- National Insurance number (for individuals and sole traders)
- VAT number and effective date of registration (if applicable)
It may be necessary to wait 48 hours after an EORI number has been issued before you can use it for customs declarations in the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.
You can check the status of EORI number applications by signing in to your Government Gateway account – if you do not have an account, it’s quick and easy to create one. Once they have been issued, all EORI numbers can be checked in the EORI online database.
To discuss any problems in relation to EORI numbers (e.g. lost or forgotten numbers), you can contact the EORI team online or call them on 0300 322 7067 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).
What happens to EORI numbers after Brexit?
Following the Brexit transition period, economic operators in the UK will require an EORI number if they are trading goods with the EU, unless goods are only being moved between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
According to EORI advice from GOV.UK, from 1 January 2021 (currently expected to be the first day after the end of the transition period) anyone moving goods in or out of the UK will require an EORI number that begins with ‘GB’.
A separate EU EORI number will also be required for businesses making customs declarations or getting customs decisions in the EU.