An EORI number (Economic Operator Registration and Identification number) is a unique ID number given to businesses that
import or export goods into or out of the European Union (EU). This number would need to be quoted on a variety of official forms
and correspondence, including custom declarations and clearances.
From 1 January 2021, businesses will need an EORI number that starts with GB to move goods between the UK and the EU.
Is the EORI number the same as a VAT number?
An EORI number is not the same as a VAT number, however if you are VAT registered, they are linked. When you submit your VAT registration, there is an option to also register for an EORI number. Once this has been done, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will link all your imports to your VAT number. EORI numbers in the UK begin with the letters “GB”. This is followed by a 12-digit number, which is based on the business’s VAT number (for example, GB123456789000).
The EORI number should be allocated to you by HMRC in a few working days. You can check if you already have an existing EORI number using the number validation checker. This only applies if you already have an existing UK VAT number. Just type in your VAT number with “000” on the end and see if the number is already valid.
What happens if I don’t have an EORI number?
If your business does not have a valid EORI number, you will not be able to clear your goods through customs and the goods will not be able to enter the country legally. You would also start to accrue storage fees (demurrage). These fees range from £40-60 per day per container. An EORI number might not be needed when shipping small amounts with a courier, but it is a must if you are using air or sea freight. We are happy to help if you need more information about your specific case.
When to apply for an EORI number?
You should apply for an EORI number if you are planning to start exporting or importing goods outside the EU (or after 1 January 2021 outside the UK). It usually takes a few working days to get an EORI number registered with HMRC. Ideally, you’d want to apply for it at least a week before the goods are on the move.
When importing goods, it is possible to apply for an EORI number after the goods have been shipped, provided the goods have not landed as HMRC doesn’t require information about the shipment anymore. However, when importing goods by air, time is more crucial. If exporting goods via sea or air freight, you must have the EORI number before shipping the goods.
How to apply for an EORI number?
It is now easier to apply for an EORI number as there is no requirement for the details of import. We can offer you our help filling in the application and submitting it to the HMRC. You will need to provide some basic business details and we will take care of the rest.
Please contact us if you need help with the EORI number application. We recommended doing this sooner rather than later, as the number of inquiries will increase closer to Brexit.