CEOs and business owners hoping to grow their companies internationally must be familiar with the EORI number, a numbering system. Companies with suppliers based overseas will also need to understand the policy. Any individual involved in imports and exports is required to have an EORI number.
For those new to importing or exporting, obtaining an EORI can feel daunting. Don’t worry, though. We’re here to explain all about EORI numbers, including the EORI number definition, who should register, how to apply, and where to seek help.
Let’s get started.
An EORI number stands for Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number. It’s a unique code that’s used to trace and register customs information in the EU.
It’s possible to register for an EORI number as either a business or an individual. All EU based importers and exporters require an EORI number. In some cases, businesses that are outside of the EU but are trading within Europe must have one too.
If your company is part of a bigger holding group, then the application for an EORI number must be dealt with by the parent company and not the subsidiary.
If you’re new to importing or exporting, there are methods of ensuring that you aren’t paying more than you have to. For example, you can save money by using a brand that specializes in international transfers, like TransferWise.
TransferWise is a multi-currency borderless account used by businesses to send and receive money in various currencies without high fees or poor exchange rates.
TransferWise always offers a reasonable, mid-market exchange rate. Traditional banks, on the other hand, often inflate their prices, making transfers costly. Companies like TransferWise also charge no hidden fees, so you just have to pay one fair fee each time you transfer money.
If you’re regularly paying businesses overseas or are receiving payments in a foreign currency, have a look into your options.
Businesses or individuals based in the UK must complete the application form to receive an EORI number. The documents you must submit vary depending on your situation, but the necessary steps involve first visiting the EORI information page on the UK’s government website.
Then, applicants must find and complete the correct form based on their needs, location, and business type. They should then submit the form electronically.
Within three days, applicants should receive their EORI number via email. If the EORI number hasn’t arrived within three days, it’s advised to check the spam folder in the email inbox, as it may have reached there instead.
This unique code must then be passed on to the relevant fright forwarder to use for customs declarations.
For businesses or individuals based outside the UK, submissions should be made via the customs authorities of the EU country in which they’re established.
The online application course for an EORI number is relatively easy, but applicants must have various details on hand to complete it. Applicants must provide details of the shipment that they’re currently intend to clear in or out of the European Union. The form cannot be completed ahead of time, and those that skip these details will be rejected.
An EORI number includes a country code to display where the organization or individual is registered, and a unique code or number.
For UK businesses the number format is as follows:
VAT registered businesses: GB + VRN (VAT registration number) + 000 Non-VAT registered businesses: GB + unique number issued by HMRC
Before claiming an EORI number, businesses and individuals should check that they aren’t already registered. Companies that are registered for VAT may already have an EORI number issued automatically.
EORI numbers are permanently linked with the business they’re issued to. So even if a company or individual forgets their code, they won’t be able to receive a new one.
Fortunately, it’s easy for companies and business owners to check if they already have an EORI number with an EORI number validator.
It’s possible to contact the EORI team using their contact form to source an EORI number. However, data protection laws across the EU mean that it can be difficult to gain full data on a registered company. They might not accept publicly available details.
Remember, without an EORI number, businesses cannot import or export goods from the EU legally. This is because the EORI code is required for customs declarations of all products entering or leaving the EU.
There are a few options for businesses or individuals that need advice about the EORI meaning or receiving an EORI number.
For specific EORI advice, reach the HMRC EORI team using the online form on the website.
If the inquiry is more general, call HMRC on 0300 200 3700, Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.
Alternatively, it’s possible to write to HMRC at HM Revenue and Customs – CITEX Written Enquiry Team, Local Compliance S0000, Newcastle, NE98 1ZZ.
"Customs duties play an important role in your international shipment. How they're determined and calculated varies from country to country"
Klaus Lydsal, vice president of operations at iContainers