FinancesEORI number: what is it, how to check one and how to...

EORI number: what is it, how to check one and how to get one

Thinking about expanding outside the UK and trading internationally with your business? If so, you will probably already know that any business that plans to import or export products into or out of the European Union needs an EU EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number.

Since 1 January 2021, this EORI number is both an identification and registration number for your business in the EU. The member state whereby your company is registered assigns an EORI number, so for small businesses registered in the UK, you will be issued an EORI number by the UK.

Once you obtain an EORI number, you can use it throughout the other EU regions and it’s used in all customs operations as an identification number while sharing information with customs authorities.

Your EORI number

The country code of the issuing Member State is the first portion of the EU EORI number, followed by a code or number that is specific to that Member State. For example, an EORI number in the Netherlands is composed of the letters NL and 9 digits. The nine-digit number is your business’s fiscal code.

Similarly to the EU EORI number is the UK EORI number. It begins with the letters GB and is followed by a 12-digit number derived from your business’s VAT number. If you possess a UK VAT number, HMRC ought to have already given you an EORI number. Note that if your business is registered in Northern Ireland, your EORI code will start with the letters XI.

The format of your EORI number

Your company’s EORI number is made up of a two-character country code (the country where the organisation is registered) and a unique number. For UK businesses the number is made up as follows:

  • VAT registered businesses have the format: GB + VAT registration number + 000
  • Non-VAT registered businesses use the format: GB + your unique number issued by HMRC

For example, this is the type of format you’ll see for an EORI number of a UK-based company: GB123456789000

Do you need an EORI number?

An EORI number is required for any business importing commercial items from outside of the EU or exporting them in the reverse direction.

Also, this number is used by customs officials when communicating with other government agencies and departments. An EORI number serves security and statistical purposes.

You won’t need to have an EORI number if you’re importing or transporting items inside the EU for your own personal use.

Furthermore, companies must have a UK EORI number as of January 1st 2021 in order to import into or export from the United Kingdom.

Also, if you are moving goods into Northern Ireland from the UK or moving goods from Northern Ireland to a non-EU country, you will need an EORI number that begins with XI. 

How to apply for an EORI number

You only need to fill out an online form and submit it using your Government Gateway HMRC. This is the same account and login that you use when you are filling your tax returns. On the Government Gateway, you can apply for an EORI number.

The EORI team through HMRC can be reached by businesses using this phone number: 0300 322 7067.

Prior to shipping your goods, you must have this number if you are exporting items via air or  sea freight. When importing, you often only require the EORI number before the products arrive in the UK.

Therefore, if your items are arriving by sea, you might have a few weeks after shipping to make sure you have your EORI number. This is particularly true if you are importing from Asia or China. 

It’s now simpler than ever to apply for an EORI number. No longer are import specifics necessary. Simply complete the form with your information and that of your business, then submit the form online and it normally takes just a few minutes to complete the online form and you should be assigned your number within a couple of working days.

What happens if you don’t have an EORI number?

Without this number, your products cannot be processed via customs. The country cannot accept items that cannot be passed via customs. This means that if you’re importing products they will be stuck in storage at customs and might accrue storage charges at the dock or the airport.

If sending small numbers of a product via courier, you should be able to go without an EORI number, however, if you are using sea or air transportation, you will need one.

What Is An EORI Number

Is your VAT number and EORI number the same?

Your business’s VAT number is different from its EORI number. They are connected if your business is registered for VAT since HMRC will associate all of your imports with your VAT number when a VAT-registered business applies for an EORI number.

HMRC will give you the C79 form when imports are reported using your VAT-linked EORI number. This then allows you to claim back the import VAT on your regular VAT return.

Help and support

Any initial questions you may have when beginning to import or export in the EU can be answered by the EORI team. For example, contact the EORI team:

  • To change the registration name, address, or VAT number for your business
  • If this is your first time registering for VAT,
  • If you no longer wish to utilise your EORI number
  • To remove your business information from the public, EORI database

If you want to expand your company internationally or do business with international suppliers, you must have an EORI number. It shouldn’t be too difficult to put up. Simply follow these instructions, and your company may be operating internationally in no time.


EORI numbers are crucial when importing or exporting any commercial goods from or to the rest of the world. All businesses within the EU are required to have an EORI Number.

An EORI number, or Economic Operator Registration and Identification number, is a special ID code used in the EU to manage and record customs data. 

Customs and other officials use it to keep track of and monitor cargo entering and leaving the European Union. Thus, without this number, businesses could face shipping charges and delays as their products get stuck at customs. 

Written by

Mark Hodgson
Mark Hodgson
Mark Hodgson is one of our expert writers. Mark is our lead researcher and editor who writes our main guides and expert topic coverage. He’s passionate about helping entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses with practical advice delivered clearly. Mark’s worked for a number of business magazines and titles and has started two small businesses himself, so has first-hand experience in setting up, managing and growing a small business and shares his expertise with our readers.

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