Research shows that most people don’t really understand what exactly an EORI number is, what it is used for, and whether or not they should apply for it.
The confusion iseven worse now that the UK has left the EU.
The affected traders have numerous questions. Now, what next?
Relax; I got you covered.
This article will shed more light on EORI.
It will answer all your questions and give you a clear understanding of the subject.
- Define EORI Number
- Why you Need an EORI Number for your Business?
- Can Companies Outside EU have EORI Number?
- History of EORI Number
- How EORI Number Facilitates Trade within the EU
- How EORI Number compares to VAT Identification Number
- Recommended Format for EORI Number
- Businesses and Individuals who need EORI Number
- Information you Need to Apply for EORI Number
- How to Apply for EORI Number
- How Long It Takes to get EORI Number After Successful Application
- How to Verify EORI Number
- Uses of EORI Number on Import and Export to Business
- Can you have More than One EORI Number
- Number of Digits in EORI Number
- Cost of Applying for EORI Number
- So how much do I need to apply for an EORI? Will I really afford it?
- Why you need an EORI Number to Import from China
- Do Non-Business Entity Require EORI Number
- Impacts of BREXIT on EORI Number
Define EORI Number
EORI is a term that stands for Economic Operators Registration and Identification number.
It is a must-have number plate used by businesses or individuals who import or export goods within and without the EU countries.
It is issued according to your business location.
Why you Need an EORI Number for your Business?
Here are some of the reasons why you need an EORI:
i. You need an EORI number irrespective of the means of transport you use. Whether it’s the sea, air, or freight.
Hence it acts as a delivery person in the transport of goods.
ii. To register a customs and temporary storage statement in the EU Member State.
iii. It is a requirement used to register and submit an entry (ENS) and exit (EXS)summary declaration.
iv. Itacts as a messenger who links the Custom Management System and international traders.
Can Companies Outside EU have EORI Number?
The answer is yes.
Companies outside the EU that are willing to trade internationally with EU countries for commercial purposes are required to have an EORI number.
EORI is required in every customs declaration document.
This document is then used by customs authorities to access imports and exports in and out of the countries respectively.
Apply for a relevant EORI number according to your location or business location.
History of EORI Number
EORI number structure
This system was introduced in EU countries on 1st July 2009.
Its purpose was to ease the process of record-keeping of goods getting in and out of EU countries.
EORI replaced Traders Unique Reference Number System(TURN).
TURN was a system that monitored international business shipments.
Traders have requested the European Commission to provide a numeration system that is distinctive and justifiable to everyone in the EU.
This has not yet happened. Maybe it will when EU countries merge into one state.
EORI is provided to customs authorities before the arrival or departure of goods entering or leaving the customs authorities.
Additionally, different customs authorities share your EORI information just in case your goods cross different customs areas in transit to the final destination.
How EORI Number Facilitates Trade within the EU
i. EORI has ensured smooth trade between the EU and other countries.
ii. It has created order in international trade.
iii. EORI has provided the EU with the necessary documentation needed by businesses such as customs declaration.
iv. It has ensured customs authorities in the EU identify with imports and exports to and from the countries.
v. Also, it has helped custom authorities to identify traders wishing to apply for postponed VAT accounting.
vi. It has been used as an identifier by a computerized custom system.
vii. EORI number has provided reliable paperwork for businesses that can be used for future references.
Besides, it has ensured custom security within the European territory.
viii. It has helped the customs authorities to monitor the circulation of goods.
How EORI Number compares to VAT Identification Number
There is a thin line between the EORI number and the VAT number. People mostly confuse the two.
Here is the reason why: EORI is basically an elongation of VAT.
Once you apply for an EORI number as a VAT registered business, HMRC links all your imports to your VAT.
For example, if your VAT is 9 digits it will be prefixed with two-letter codes of the issuing country ie‘GB ‘and suffixed with ‘000.’
In UK the EORI number is GB-9 VAT digits-000.
Ensure your custom agent correctly enters your import declaration because the import VAT is only refunded by the tax authorities if the EORI number mentioned is correct.
In case your imports are declared against your VAT linked EORI number, HMRC will assist you by sending you a C79 form.
The form is meant to help you reclaim your import VAT on your standard VAT return.
Recommended Format for EORI Number
An EORI number has two parts.
i. The country code of the issuing member state
ii. The code number unique to the member state.
There are two different formats of an EORI number;
i. Those for VAT registered businesses.
ii. Those for businesses that are not VAT registered.
EORI for VAT registered business consists of prefix ‘GB’ for example followed by the company VAT number then suffix ‘000.’
For instance, in the UK the EORI number begins with GB followed by 12 other digits according to the traders’ VAT then 000. Ie GB 111 222 333 000.
EORI for non VAT registered businesses comprises of a country code such as ‘GB’ followed by a unique number issued by HMRC.
Businesses and Individuals who need EORI Number
You can register for an EORI number as an individual or as a business.
Businesses and individuals that need EORI number include:
i. An individual or business established in the EU needs to obtain an EORI number for their national customs authorities before commencing customs activities in the EU.
ii. Any economic operator established outside the EU needs to be assigned an EORI number if they intend to lodge a customs declaration or an entry or exit declaration.
iii. Authorized economic operates also need to have an EORI number.
Anyone importing and exporting commercial goods with EU countries or moves goods from Northern Ireland needs an EORI number.
Note you may not need an EORI number if you are offering digital services or if your business moves goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland only.
However, you can apply for an EORI number just in case your business grows and there is a need to trade with countries outside the Republic of Ireland.
If your company is operating under a larger one, let the parent company do the application.
EORI number acts as an identification number in all customs procedures when they are exchanging information with the customs administrations.
Information you Need to Apply for EORI Number
You need the following documents to apply for an EORI number:
i. If you are a sole trader/proprietor, you need to provide your insurance number.
ii. Provide a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) for your business. If you are a sole proprietor, you can find this information on your tax returns.
iii. Provide the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code for your business. You can easily get the information in the Companies House register entry for your business.
iv. Provide Government ID and passport together with any mobile device you might have used to put together to complete two-factor authentication.
This could either be the one for your business or organization. It could also be your own if you are applying as an individual.
v. If your business is registered for UK VAT, you are required to provide a VAT number and the effective date of registration. You can check the details on the VAT registration certificate.
How to Apply for EORI Number
Application for an EORI number is a process. However, it is simpler than you think.
Before applying it’s worth noting that after BREXIT, you may need three types of EORIdepending on the kind of trade you do with the EU. They include;
i. Trade in Great Britain-If you are trading goods with EU countries, you need an EORI number that starts with GB.
Nonetheless, if your business deals with trade within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, you may not require an EORI number.
ii. Business moving goods to and from Northern Ireland- If you are importing and exporting from Northern Ireland, you need a second EORI that starts with XI.
Remember before getting an EORI that starts with XI, you need to already have one starting with GB.
This involves whether you move goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Or whether you are moving goods between Northern Ireland and outside non-EU countries.
iii. If your business gets custom decisions in EU countries, then you need an EORI number from customs authorities in EU countries where you request or submit your first declaration.
The application process differs in various EU countries.
In some countries, you are required to fill a form then send it via email (ancient right).
Nonetheless, in most countries, the process is done online.
All you need to do is to fill a form on the HMRC website.
There are three different ways of applying which depends on whether you are:
i. Anon VAT registered application form if you are exporting.
ii. A non VAT registered application form if you are importing.
iii. A VAT registered applicant.
The EU has not yet merged into one big state; hence EORI numbers differ from country to country.
EORI number is issued according to where you or your business is located.
There are different forms online.
You need to apply according to your circumstances.
Ensure you select the right one.
To apply for an EORI number, fill in an online form provided by HMRC using the Government Gateway account.
For example, in the UK you are required to fill in paperwork before getting an EORI number
Steps for obtaining an EORI number in the UK include:
i. Visit an EORI information page on the UK government website.
ii. Carefully select the form that suits you and answer correctly based on your location and business type.
iii. Submit the form online.
iv. You may receive an email within 3 working days
v. You can then use your EORI number or pass it forward to be used in the customs declaration.
Note there are several forms online you should choose to depend on whether you are applying an EORI number to complete customs declaration by yourself.
If you need to use CHIEF, NES, or NTC system or if you use it for courier or freight forwarding services to import or export.
The process of applying for an EORI might be easy and hard at the same time.
Easy if you have all the information required and you answer correctly.
For instance, you may be required to give information onthe shipment you are currently intending to clear in or out of the EU.
Hard if you don’t follow instructions; your application may be rejected.
How Long It Takes to get EORI Number After Successful Application
Time is money, right?
According to HMRC, after a successful application, you should receive your EORI number immediately.
In the real sense, you will receive it within three business days.
It’s worth noting that the estimated time might not be accurate.
Businesses are realizing the importance of EORI; thanks to the internet.
Hence the process may experience congestion due to many applications.
Therefore, it’s wise to apply for one as soon as possible.
Preferably a few weeks before shipment to avoid any inconveniences.
However, if the process takes more than a week, fill out the contact EORI team form online.
Go to queries and tick the box that says ‘it’s a query regarding a current EORI number application.
You can as well check the status of the application you have made online.
How to Verify EORI Number
Are you worried whether the information you filled in while applying for an EORI number is correct or whether your business already has an EORI number?
Well, worry no more because the EORI number validator got you covered.
Remember if your company is registered for VAT, it has already been issued with an EORI number.
You need not stress. However, you can check just to be sure.
Additionally, an EORI number has a lasting association with the company it is issued to.
So just in case you had one but forgot all about it, you won’t be issued a new one.
The issued EORI number will show up.
The EORI number issued is valid irrespective of how many transactions you make on imports and export of commodities.
Uses of EORI Number on Import and Export to Business
EORI number has numerous benefits on imports and exports.
i. It is basically a tracking method used by the EU to assess imports and exports getting and leaving the EU respectively.
ii. Ensures traders’ goods are safe by implementing any security measures necessary.
iii. It eases the process of identifying shipments by categorizing goods.
iv. Helps if you need to provide customs authorities with pre-arrival and pre-departure of your goods.
v. It is used by customs authorities when exchanging information with government departments and agencies.
vi. Also, it is used when the movement of goods involves custom procedures.
vii. Provides relevant statistics to the authorities in international trade.
viii. It helps to identify customs for import and export of goods outside the EU zone.
Can you have More than One EORI Number
The answer is yes.
While applying for an EORI number you may finally be relieved; huh am done. Sadly, that’s not the case.
As long as your company is established in more than one EU State, you will need a separate EORI number for each.
The more businesses you have in the different EU States the more EORI numbers you may need.
This may include businesses in landlocked countries or those that import goods through a port that is different from the EU state.
Number of Digits in EORI Number
An EORI number consists of an ISO country code from a member state which is usually two characters plus other additional digits.
The maximum number of digits is fifteen.
For example, an EORI number issued in Sweden consists of country code SE plus other 10 digits. I.e. SE5512345678.
The 10 digits’ is linked to your business registration number or personal identity if you are an individual.
For traders outside the EU applying for an EORI number in Sweden, the EORI is formed by SE plus 10 other digits starting with 502 0R302 that is if you have registered for VAT in Sweden.
For non- VAT operators use supplementary number SE plus other random digits.
Note the 2 digits’ supplementary number provided by the Swedish Customs is not part of the EORI.
It only adds to the business registration number or personal identification number for individuals.
In Dutch EORI number consists of prefix NL followed by 9 other digits.
The 9 digits are basically the company fiscal code.
For UK and EU, the prefix is GB followed by 12 other digits. In short, the total number of EORI digits differs in countries. However, the maximum number is 15 digits.
Cost of Applying for EORI Number
So how much do I need to apply for an EORI? Will I really afford it?
Guess what the application process is free.
Huh! Relieved right. Everyone loves a free deal so am sure you are.
So now that the process is free and fast, what is stopping you from getting an EORI number?
Go get it.
Why you need an EORI Number to Import from China
China is not a member of the EU so why do I need an EORI number while importing from them?
Yes, it is not.
Nonetheless, China is one of the World’s biggest economies.
It can manufacture large amounts of goods at an affordable price hence it’s the world’s largest exporter.
It is also UK’s third-largest partner, hence an EORI number is needed for the two countries to trade.
All businesses in the EU importing commercial goods from china needs an EORI number.
UK customs need an EORI number to keep records of imported and exported goods.
The number is also required when submitting an electronic export declaration, when submitting a commercial invoice and when the CHIEF system is being used.
You still need an EORI number even if you use a courier or freight forwarder.
Do Non-Business Entity Require EORI Number
Non-business entities do not require an EORI number to import or export goods from EU countries.
If you are importing or exporting goods for personal purposes could be a gift or any other personal product, you may not require an EORI number.
This applies especially to those who import goods temporarily then re-export them afterward.
In Sweden, citizens are required to provide personal identification number for transactions of import and exports if the value of the goods exceed 10000 SEK.
Non-citizens are required to produce their date of birth.
It worth noting that other individuals carrying custom trade activities must have an EORI number.
If the consignee or the exporter is an individual who is not an economic exporter, a national code PRIVA ‘Natural Person without EORI number’ is included on box 44 as additional information in custom declaration.
For the individuals who have no EORI number or Swedish ID, they are required to enter a country code followed by the date of birth.
Ie DE+19880903 (YYMMDD)
Impacts of BREXIT on EORI Number
BREXIT agreement between the UK and the EU came along with various effects:
i. EORI number post BREXIT biggest question is whether you need both UK and EU EORI numbers.
UK published a detailed guidance document ‘EORI mythbuster’ to share its perspective on the issue.
Not all businesses will need both UK and EU EORI number.
Your business may not need both EORI numbers if it only deals with import or export declaration in the UK.
Whereby the customer completing the equivalent declaration is on the EU side of the border.
If you are registered for UK VAT, the UK EORI number should be issued by HMRC. If not registered for UK VAT, you should register for UK EORI.
On the other hand, if your business deals with both export declaration as goods leave the UK and import declaration as goods are imported to the EU, you will need both UK and EU EORI number.
This applies to a situation where you are the importer on record in the EU and exported on record from the UK.
ii. Before BREXIT or at the end of the transition period, many businesses in the UK dint need to have an EORI number. This is because as a member of the EU, the UK enjoyed the benefits of free trade.
They only needed an EORI number while exporting from third countries (non-EU countries).
However, after BREXIT, the UK is required to have an EORI number to trade with the EU.
iii. The European Commission guidance published in March 2019, confirmed UK EORI number will not be valid in the EU post BREXIT.
The Commission advised businesses with UK EORI numbers to apply for relevant EU customs authority for an EU EORI number.
This is meant to be activated when the UK leaves the EU with no deal.
iv. In case there is no amicable agreement between the UK and the EU, BREXIT will affect French companies operating in the UK and British companies running in France.
Meaning for those French companies running in the UK, companies carrying imports and exports will be required to obtain a UK EORI number.
Equally, for those British companies operating in France, British EORI will no longer be valid within the EU.
Hence the affected companies will be expected to apply for an EORI in the first member state where they carry custom operations.
That is, they will be required to apply for an EORI number in France to be able to operate smoothly.
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