All businesses within the EU, from sole traders upwards, need an EORI number when importing or exporting any commercial cargo from or to the rest of the world (i.e. outside of the EU).
What is an EORI number and who does it affect?
An EORI number is an Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number. This system was introduced back in 2009 and identifies traders for customs declaration when importing or exporting cargo.
If your business is involved in importing commercial goods from outside the EU (or exporting in the opposite direction), then you will need to have an EORI number. The number is also used by customs authorities when exchanging information between themselves and other government departments and agencies. The purpose of an EORI number is for statistics and security.
If you’re moving goods within the EU or importing products for your own personal use, then you won’t need to have an EORI number.
Does Brexit affect my EORI number?
Currently businesses can move goods freely between EU member states. For customs, this means that businesses trading with the rest of the EU do not have to make any customs import or export declarations and their trade with the EU is not subject to import duty.
If the UK left the EU without a deal under Brexit, those businesses importing goods from the EU will be required to follow customs procedures in the same way that they currently do when importing goods from a country outside the EU. This means that for goods entering the UK from the EU an import declaration will be required, customs checks may be carried out and any customs duties must be paid.
What happens if I already have an EORI number?
You don’t have to apply for a new EORI number if you fall into the following categories:
- You have traded with countries outside of the EU and already have an EORI number
- You will only import or export goods with Ireland across the Northern Ireland border (further HMRC guidance is awaited on this).
- You will only import or export services that do not involve moving physical goods.
If you are a VAT registered business, you can check if you have an EORI number here.
To use the checker, you should type in your VAT number with “000” on the end (e.g. GB0123456789000). If it says that the number is valid then you should be good to go. If not, you will probably need to apply for an EORI number.
How do I get an EORI number?
To apply for an EORI number, this can be done via your HMRC Government Gateway, by clicking here.
To apply, you may need the following information:
- VAT number and effective date of registration – these are on your VAT registration certificate
- National Insurance number – if you’re an individual or a sole trader
- 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
- Business start date and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code
It generally takes three to five working days for HMRC to process an EORI application and the number becomes active for you to use the day after issue.
What if I don’t get an EORI number?
If you use sea or air freight, your goods cannot be cleared through customs without it. When goods can’t be cleared through customs, they’re unable to enter the country. This means that you can’t get them and they will start accruing storage fees at the port or at the airport.
If you are shipping small amounts via a courier, then you should be okay without an EORI number.
For further information, please contact your line manager or speak with Mark and Andrew on 01634 731390.
The content of this blog is correct as at 31/8/2019