EORI number in the UK

Table of Contents

What is an EORI number?

Economic operators registration and identification number (EORI) is a system of unique identification numbers utilized by UK customs officials. The identification is required for importing commercial goods into the UK as well as exporting merchandise from the region to the rest of the world.

As for the background of the EORI, it was formulated on July 1, 2009, replacing The Traders Union Reference Number System. Since then, it has basically served as a system for expediting non-EU trades.

The UK government uses the EORI number as a mandatory requirement when trading with a non-EU country or a country that’s not a part of the European Economic Area (EEA). It is also beneficial for them to use the system to exchange information both internally and with other government agencies in order to provide security and statistics in international trade.

What is the purpose of an EORI number?

Import and Export

If your company imports or exports commercial commodities to or from countries outside of the United Kingdom, it is mandatory for you to obtain an EORI (Economic Operator Registration Identification) number, regardless of the mode of transport used to convey the items. However, you can register for an EORI either as a business or as an individual.

The EORI number provides security and statistics for international trade and is used by customs officials when communicating information among themselves and with government agencies. In addition, only when an EORI number is received are your products eligible for deferred value-added tax payment (VAT).

To break it down further, Economic Operators Registration and Identification number is required if you transport commercial goods:

  • Between the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, and Wales) or the Isle of Man and any other country (including the European Union)
  • Between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland
  • Between the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands
  • Between Northern Ireland and non-EU countries.

For business procedures and negotiations

The use of EORI numbers in the UK is extensive and business operators can use the code in multiple different circumstances in the process of transporting goods from and to the UK, these documents are also applicable in the case where your business is not established in the country you are moving goods to or from:

  • Lodging a custom declaration
  • Applying for custom decisions
  • Submitting an entry or exit declaration summary
  • Making a temporary storage declaration
  • Delegating someone to deal with customs for you who are based in the country you are moving goods to or from

Can I still move goods to and from the UK without an EORI?

Without an EORI number, you cannot legally import or export items from the UK. This is due to the fact that the number is used in customs declarations for all products entering or leaving the UK. Without a number, you could incur additional expenses (such as storage fees) and experience delays.

EORI issued by the UK and the EU can’t be used interchangeably

Prior to Brexit, the EU recognized UK EORI numbers and vice versa. This, however, ended on January 1, 2021. If a business will be filing customs declarations or obtaining a customs decision in the EU, it will need an EU EORI number. Therefore, businesses will require a separate UK EORI number to export or import goods in this region.

In general, the EORI number of a VAT-registered company in the United Kingdom will consist of the prefix ‘GB’ followed by the company’s VAT number and the suffix ‘000’. In the event that the company has not retrieved a VAT registration, they will be issued a code with a different format. EORI starting with either XI or IE represents the identification code used for transporting goods to and from Northern Ireland which could not be used for the UK border. In short, only EORI numbers commencing with “GB” are accepted in the process of importing and exporting goods from the UK.

How to apply for an EORI number in the UK

What do you need to prepare in advance?

Finding out which information will be required in the application process will help you get a head start and save you from having to resubmit missing documents. Below are the lists of company information you need to prepare in order to apply for an EORI number in the UK

  • Your Unique Tax Payer Reference (UTR)
  • Business commencement date and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code
  • Government Gateway user ID and password
  • VAT number and registration date ( if you are VAT-registered)
  • National Insurance number – whether you are self-employed or a lone proprietor

Application process

Entering the application process, you will need to know whether your business has been registered for VAT or not to fill out the form that fits your need. According to your VAT registration situation and transporting demand, you can refer to the different EORI application forms below.


If your business has been registered for VAT in the UK, you can access this registration link to fill out the necessary details for the application.

Once an EORI number is assigned to a VAT Registration Number (VRN), it will remain linked until the VRN is deregistered.

Not VAT-registered

In the case where your company has not been VAT-registered in the UK, you will be demanded to complete the EORI application form online based on your goods’ transportation needs.

EORI for customs declaration

Provided that your company will be importing or exporting goods through couriers or freight forwarding services that require you to carry out the customs declaration on your own, you will be asked to complete a separate EORI number registration form online. This application method should be adopted if you wish to use the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF), National Export System (NES), or New Computerized Transit System (NCTS).

How long does it take to get a UK EORI number?

You should expect at least 5 working days after having been issued with a code to obtain your official EORI.

What if I’m not eligible to apply for an EORI in the UK?

If you are ineligible to apply for an EORI number, you will need to choose a representative to deal with customs. The individual you designate will be responsible for obtaining the EORI number.

How to check the progress of your EORI application

You can easily keep track of your EORI application in order to follow up once issues emerge through the portals provided by the government. You will be asked to enter the code provided after completing the registration form. Fill the code to check the process

How to enquire about your EORI

If you have any questions regarding your EORI application, there are multiple ways to get in touch with the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) team on EORI for guidance and assistance:

  • By filling out the above mentioned form with your EORI details and inquiries, you can expect a response on the matter in a few working days.
  • If you need instant assistance, HRMC can be reached at 0300 322 9434 from 8 AM to 6 PM, Monday to Friday.
  • If you wish to write to the HRMC about the matter, you can refer to this address HM Revenue and Customs – CITEX Written Enquiry Team, Local Compliance S0000, Newcastle, NE98 1ZZ.


Whether you currently run a trading business or are looking to set up a UK company to do so, registering for an EORI number is always a good choice. If you fall into the latter category and would like to know more about company registration affairs, feel free to contact our consultant teams for the best way to proceed.

Disclaimer: While BBCIncorp strives to make the information on this website as timely and accurate as possible, the information itself is for reference purposes only. You should not substitute the information provided in this article for competent legal advice. Feel free to contact BBCIncorp’s customer services for advice on your specific cases.

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