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What is an EORI number?

What Is an EORI Number?

EORI stands for Economic Operators Registration and Identification. An EORI number is a unique number assigned by customs authorities throughout the European Community to businesses and individuals who import from and export to non-EU countries. The EORI scheme replaced the TURN system (Trader's Unique Reference Number) in July 2009 and aims to gather trade statistics and enhance existing EU security measures more efficiently. In essence, EORI numbers serve to identify traders in all dealings with customs, most commonly during customs entry and clearing processes.

So Who Needs an EORI Number?

Any individual or business that ships to or from non-EU countries for commercial or trading purposes must have one.

Unlike the now redundant TURN system however, only one EORI number is required per entity, regardless of how many branches or subsidiaries one might have. For example, parent company A is located in the UK and has reginal branches B and C in Germany and France respectively.

Although branches B and C ship goods outside of the EU independently of company A, they are not assigned their own EORI numbers. An EORI number is assigned to parent company A and that same number is shared with and used by branches B and C.

For example a parent or holding company might own several businesses or trade under different names. In such a case, an EORI number would be issued to the parent company and it would be shared by all of the company’s subsidiaries and or branches.

I’m Not a Registered Business, Do I Still Need One?

Yes. If you are considered to be trading with businesses or individuals in countries outside of the European Union, you must apply for an EORI number.

Are There Any Exceptions?

Yes. Very infrequent traders are not required to have an EORI number. HMRC are not interested in those simply selling a few personal possessions every once in a while or indeed those just shipping some personal belongings. However if you are shipping goods on a regular basis with the aim of turning a profit, HMRC will likely consider you to be trading for commercial purposes and will require you to register for an EORI number.

How And When Should I Apply For An EORI Number?

You must apply for an EORI number in the country that your business is registered in or for private shippers, the country in which you are resident. Please check with your local customs authorities for further information. Here in the UK, EORI numbers are issued by HMRC and applying could not be easier. You can apply online but visiting www.gov.uk/eori. It’s completely free and response times do not usually exceed 48-72 hours. Once issued your EORI number will be valid throughout the European Community permanently.

In recent months ParcelBroker has observed a sharp rise in the number of cases where shippers have been required to register for an EORI number whilst their goods are still transit. To help avoid customs delays we strongly recommend applying for an EORI number well in advance of shipping.

Key Facts

  • EORI stands for Economic Operator Registration and Identification.
  • EORI numbers are used by customs authorities to identify you and to gather governmental trade statistics.
  • If you or your business are frequently trading with countries outside of the European Union, you must obtain an EORI number.
  • EORI numbers are issued by the customs authorities of the country your business is registered in or for private shippers, the country in which you reside.
  • You EORI number should be declared on all customs paperwork.
  • The application process is free and fast.
  • Not having an EORI number before shipping may cause customs delays.
  • UK business and private shippers can apply at any time by visiting www.gov.uk/eori.