In the past few months, you might have found yourself seeing something about making an application for the EORI number. Are you confused? No problem, we’ve explained it all to you below.

What is an EORI number?

Businesses importing into the EU and UK need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number (EORI) when importing goods. This number is used to identify a business as an importer and allows to reclaim the import VAT.
The EORI system was brought in on the 1st July 2009 and replaced the Traders Union Reference Number System which previously identified traders for customs declarations when importing or exporting cargo

Who needs an EORI?

You may neeed an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI number) if your business move goods:

  • between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) or the Isle of Man and any other country (including the EU)
  • between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • between Great Britain and the Channel Islands
  • between Northern Ireland and countries outside the EU

You’ll will also need your EORI number if your business:

  • appoints someone to deal with customs for you and are ‘established’ in the country you’re importing to or exporting from
  • make customs declarations
  • use customs systems, such as the CHIEF system and the Import Control System Northern Ireland (ICS NI)
  • apply for a customs decision

You do not need an EORI number if you’re moving goods for personal use only.

Apply for an EORI number

There are 2 types of EORI numbers, starting with GB and XI.

Apply for an EORI number that starts with GB

To apply for an EORI number you need your:

  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
  • business start date and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code – these are in the Companies House register
  • Government Gateway user ID and password
  • VAT number and effective date of registration (if VAT registered)
  • National Insurance number – if an individual or a sole trader

If your business is not based in the UK, you do not need a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) or a Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code.
You’ll get the GB EORI number immediately unless HMRC needs to make any checks on your application. If they do, it can take up to 5 working days.

Apply for an EORI number that starts with XI

You must have an EORI number that starts with XI if your business:

  • moves goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales)
  • moves goods from Northern Ireland to another non-EU country
  • make a declaration in Northern Ireland
  • apply for a customs decision in Northern Ireland

Before you apply, you can check if you’re eligible for an XI EORI number.
You must have applied for a GB EORI number before you can get an XI EORI number.
Once you have your GB EORI number, you’ll need to fill in an XI EORI registration form.
You’ll also need:

  • your XI VAT number (if you have one)
  • any VAT numbers issued by an EU country
  • 2 documents showing proof of permanent business establishment in Northern Ireland (if there is one) – for example, a bank statement and a utility bill

You’ll get an XI EORI within 5 days.

If your business is not based in the country and they’re moving goods to or from

You should still get an EORI number if they’re:

If you’re not eligible to apply for an EORI number yourself, then you’ll need to appoint someone to deal with customs on your behalf. The person you appoint will need to apply for the EORI number instead of you. If based in the Channel Islands and you move goods to or from the UK, you do not need an EORI number. You’ll need an EORI number if you use HMRC’s customs systems like Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF).