What’s an EORI number?

An EORI number is an Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number. All businesses within the EU and UK are required to have an EORI number to import or export commercial cargo. It is also used by customs authorities when exchanging information amongst themselves or government departments and agencies, with the purpose of statistics and security. You will not need an EORI number if you are moving goods for your own private use.

From January 2021, you will need an EORI number for every country within the European Union that you import to, including the UK. 

How do I apply for an EORI number?

To apply for your EORI number, complete HMRC’s online form using your Government Gateway account available here. Alternatively, you can contact HMRC’s EORI Team on 0300 322 7067. It should only take you 5 minutes, or even less if you are VAT registered, and you will be allocated a number within a few working days. You can check if you are already EORI registered by typing your number here.

When should I apply for an EORI number?

You can apply for an EORI number at any time, as HMRC no longer needs information about your shipment. The primary restriction is UK Customs clearance, for which ou will need your EORI number. As long as you give yourself a week from the date of application before your shipment is due to arrive, then HMRC will be able to assign your number in plenty of time. However, if you are importing via air, you have greater time restraints. As it takes a 3 to 5 days to process your application, ideally you need to apply before your goods are on the mood in order to allow HMRC to provide you with your number prior to your shipment landing. Your number will become active the day after issue.

What if I don’t have an EORI number?

If you are using air or sea freight, your goods cannot be cleared through customs without an EORI number, and will therefore not be allowed to enter the country and begin accruing storage fees which are often extortionate. It pays to be prepared!