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IMPORT GUIDE: What are EORI numbers and how do I get them in the EU and UK?

(S,P) Discover the EORI number and how to get one. Customs Advisor Arne Mielken explains what EU and UK businesses need to know

In a nutshell

In the UK, this starts with GB to import goods into England, Wales or Scotland. In the EU, this is Member State-specific, like DE for Germany. Note: In the EU, one EORI number is valid throughout the EU. You can get it from your national central customs authority. To trade with Great Britain, there is a need to get an EORI that starts with GB (If you move goods to or from Northern Ireland, you may need one that starts with XI). 

Tip: EORI registration can take some time, so plan and apply well ahead (in UK it is very fast)

What is an EORI number?

EORI stands for "Economic Operator's 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.

Why should businesses have an EORI number?

Having one common type of identification number across the EU is more efficient, both for economic operators and customs authorities. You need a separate one for Great Britain and a separate one for Northern Ireland, as the UK is not part of the EU

What format does the EORI number have?

The EORI number exists out of two parts:

  • the country code of the issuing country; followed by

  • a code or number that is unique in the country.

In some countries, it is the VAT number with the country code in front of it.

Who needs an EORI number?

Which type of EORI number you need and where you get it from depends on where you’re moving goods to and from. You may need more than one. If you do not have the right EORI number, you may have delays at customs and increased costs, for example, your goods may have to be stored until you get an EORI. Businesses need an EORI number to move goods between the EU and the UK and to non-EU countries.

Businesses not established in the customs territory of a territory also need an EORI for a number of different situations.

For example:

  • to lodge a customs declaration in the customs territory

  • to submit an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS)

  • to lodge an Exit Summary Declaration (EXS)

  • to lodge a temporary storage declaration in the customs territory

When you’ll need your EORI number

You’ll need your EORI number if you:

  • appoint 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 or CDS system in Great Britain, Delta in France or AIS in Ireland and the Import Control System of Northern Ireland (ICS NI)

  • apply for a customs decision

  • access the EU CDS system

How can you request an EORI number?

  • Businesses established in the customs territory of ta country should request the assignment of the EORI number to their local, national customs authority.

  • Businesses not established in the country should request the assignment of the EORI number to the customs authorities of the country responsible for the place where they first lodge a declaration or apply for a decision.

EORI Numbers in the UK

Since Brexit, since 1 January 2021, to move goods between the EU and Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) businesses need an EORI number when customs systems and declarations need to be lodged. There is a separate EORI number if businesses move goods to or from Northern Ireland.

You may need an EORI number if you 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

If you’re moving goods to or from Great Britain

If you move goods to or from Great Britain you must get an EORI number that starts with GB. If you already have an EORI number and it does not start with GB, you must apply for a GB EORI number.

If you move goods from Great Britain to or from Northern Ireland

Since 1 January 2021, you’ll need an EORI number that starts with XI to:

  • move goods between Northern Ireland and non-EU countries

  • make a declaration in Northern Ireland

  • get a customs decision in Northern Ireland

In Great Britain, to get an EORI number that starts with XI, you must already have an EORI number that starts with GB. If you already have an EORI number starting with GB, you need to apply for an EORI number that starts with XI.

You must have an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI number) that starts with XI if you:

  • move goods into Northern Ireland from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales)

  • move goods from Northern Ireland to another non-EU country

  • make a declaration in Northern Ireland

  • apply for a customs decision in Northern Ireland

Only people or organisations based in Northern Ireland or the EU can be named as the ‘declarant’ on import and export declarations made in Northern Ireland.

To apply for an EORI number in GB, visit this page:

To check a valid EORI number, visit this page:

EORI Numbers in the EU

Apply for an EORI number by contacting the EU customs authority:

All EORI numbers can be checked in the EU EORI online database

Following the UK withdrawal from the EU, from the 1st of January 2021, the EORI numbers, and AEO authorisations, of UK (starting with the “GB” code) are not consultable anymore on the European Commission EOS online database.

Only the EORI/AEO numbers of Northern Ireland (starting with the “XI” code), as foreseen by the Northern Ireland Protocol, are available for query.

How long does it take to get an EORI number?

This can vary from EU Member State to EU Member State. In the UK, it can take only 5 to 10 minutes to apply. Businesses can get their EORI number fast, maybe within 4 working days on average. This can vary from country to country.

How can a business get an EORI number?

To get an EORI number, your business usually needs to have premises based in the country you want to import to or export from - this is called ‘being established’.

Your premises will need to be either a:

  • registered office

  • central headquarters

  • permanent business establishment - premises where some of your customs-related activities are taking place and your HR and technical resources are permanently located

Do I need an EORI number for the movement of personal goods?

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

Can I get an EORI number if I am not established in the country you’re moving goods to or from?

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

  • making a customs declaration - check if you’re eligible to make a customs declaration

  • making an entry summary declaration

  • making an exit summary declaration

  • making a temporary storage declaration

  • making a customs declaration for temporary admission or re-export declaration where you have a guarantee

  • established in a common transit country where the declaration is lodged instead of an entry summary declaration or is used as a pre-departure declaration

Getting an EORI number when you do not meet the criteria

If you’re not eligible to apply for an EORI number yourself, you’ll need to appoint someone to deal with customs on your behalf. The person you appoint will need to get the EORI number instead of you.


EU Guidance on EORI

EU EORI GUIDE provided by Customs Manager Ltd
Download PDF • 1.45MB

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