Brexit: EORI Numbers – not one but two!

If your business will be selling goods to consumers between the UK and EU from 1 January 2021, it will need to ensure it has the appropriate EORI numbers to avoid goods being held by customs in the UK or EU.

What is an EORI?

EORI stands for “Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number”

Businesses and people wishing to trade must use the EORI number as an identification number in all customs procedures when exchanging information with Customs administrations. An EORI number is formed of the ISO country code (EU member state) and a maximum of 15 digits. Generally speaking, in the UK, a VAT registered company’s EORI number will consist of the prefix ‘GB’ followed by the company VAT number and suffixed with ‘000.’ Despite being based on the traders VAT number, the EORI isn’t automatically generated. Businesses should therefore check if they have an EORI and if not apply to be activated.

Why is an EORI required?

From 1 January 2021 businesses will need an EORI number to move goods between the UK and the EU. When a business imports into the UK or EU, it will have to include its EORI number on declarations for customs to check. If you do not have one, you may have increased costs and delays.

I need more than one EORI?

Yes, prior to Brexit, UK EORI numbers were accepted by the EU and vice versa. This will however stop from 1 January 2021. Businesses will need an EU EORI number if it will be making customs declarations or getting a customs decision in the EU. Businesses will therefore need a UK EORI number to export or import goods. And an EU EORI for the opposite leg of the same goods movement.

How do I register for an EORI?

If your businesses does not currently have an EORI number don’t worry it really is quite a straightforward (and relatively quick!) process. It was announced that EORI numbers would be automatically issued to certain businesses so it would be worth checking first. If required, businesses will be required to complete a simple form with HMRC. HMRC will then email confirmation of the UK EORI.

Procedures for issuing EU EORI numbers differ across the remaining 27 Member States. The European Commission has indicated that all customs authorities across the Member States are accepting applications for authorisations and registration.

These EU EORI numbers will activate upon the UK leaving the EU. So UK businesses trading with the EU should (if they do not already have one) apply for a UK EORI number from HMRC, to ensure they can still move their goods into and out of the UK post-Brexit, and (whether or not they have a UK EORI number) apply for an EU EORI number from the Customs authorities in whichever EU state they deal with the most, to ensure they can still move their goods into and out of the EU.

Similarly, EU businesses intending to continue trading with the UK will need to apply for a UK EORI number post-Brexit. If you have a question about Brexit or an EORI number, please contact a member of our VAT team today.