Are you trading with the EU or the UK? If so, understanding EORI numbers is absolutely essential, but don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds! 

EORI numbers are special identification numbers given to companies doing business with the EU or the UK. If you’re unsure about what they are, what they’re used for, or how to obtain your EORI number, don’t fret! Keep reading, and we’ll provide you with all the answers you need in a friendly and approachable manner! 


What is an EORI number?

An EORI number, which stands for “Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number,” is like a special ID card for companies doing business with the EU or the UK. Think of it as your business’s passport for smoother trade transactions and customs procedures. 

Breaking down the EORI number, it consists of a country code assigned by the issuing state, followed by a unique code or number within that country. This number helps customs authorities keep track of goods moving in and out of the EU, ensuring that everything aligns with customs regulations and security measures. 

It’s important to distinguish between an EORI number and a VAT number to avoid confusion. VAT numbers are for taxes, ensuring compliance and facilitating tax payments. In contrast, EORI numbers identify economic operators engaged in trade with the EU or UK. One economic operator can have only one (valid) EORI number, and this unique number should be used in all customs-related activities on the territory of the European Union or the United Kingdom. A branch of a company must use the EORI number of the parent company. 


EORI and Brexit

EORI numbers used to be an EU thing only. However, when Brexit happened, it brought some significant changes to EORI requirements. In the past, a single EORI number from any EU Member State covered trade across the whole Union. But now, with the UK out of the EU, things have shifted. If you’re a UK-based business trading with the EU, you’ll need to apply for a UK EORI number that starts with ‘GB’.  


When do I need an EORI number?

So, when exactly do you need an EORI number? Well, if you’re involved in trade with the EU or the UK, you’ll definitely need one. The specific issuing state will depend on where you trade from and to, but here are the general scenarios where you’ll require an EORI number: 

  • Non-EU businesses importing into the EU 
  • EU businesses exporting outside of the EU 
  • UK businesses importing into the EU 
  • Non-UK businesses importing into the UK 

To make your trade experience smooth sailing, it’s crucial to include your EORI number on the following documentation: 

  • Customs declarations for imports or exports 
  • Transport and shipping documents 
  • Import/export licenses if applicable 

It’s also recommended to include your EORI number on your commercial invoice. This simple step helps customs officials verify the authenticity and legitimacy of the traded goods, making the customs clearance process even smoother. 


How do I get an EORI number?

Now that you know you need an EORI number, the next question is: how do you get one? Usually, your business needs to have premises based in the country you want to import to or export from. Think of it as “being established” in that country. Your premises can be one of the following: 

  • A registered office 
  • A central headquarters 
  • A permanent business establishment 

If you need an EORI number from an EU country, you can find the contact information for each country’s customs authority on the European Commission’s website. If you need to apply for a GB EORI number, you can visit HMRC’s website. 

But what if your business isn’t based in the country you’re trading with? Don’t worry! You can appoint someone to handle customs on your behalf. That person will need to obtain the EORI number for you. 

It is important to start the registration ahead of time, as it can take several days due to administrative procedures. Economic operators who have not yet been assigned an EORI number should initiate the registration procedure before submitting a summary or customs declaration. Applying for an EORI number at the last minute, such as at the customs office of entry, could cause delays in processing the necessary paperwork. This is because the electronic customs systems won’t have the newly assigned EORI number’s information available. 


What is it used for?

The EORI system plays a vital role in ensuring the security of the entire supply chain. By registering economic operators and closely monitoring their activities, it helps customs authorities identify potential risks, crack down on illegal trade practices, and uphold the safety and integrity of international trade. 

The heart of this system lies in the centralized EORI database, which is managed by the European Commission. This database stores all the important master data and ensures seamless sharing with customs authorities across all EU member states. This coordinated approach not only minimizes potential delays but also reduces unnecessary administrative burdens. 



On March 1, 2023, the EU introduced the second release of its Import Control System 2 (ICS2), and it brought significant changes to the customs landscape. Now, ICS2 requires carriers transporting packages into or through the EU to provide a complete set of data on the goods before they even arrive. It’s a new customs security model that impacts not only carriers but all businesses shipping to the EU. 

So, what does this mean for you? From March 1, 2023, all goods being shipped to or transiting through the EU, as well as Northern Ireland, Norway, and Switzerland by air, have extra data to include. Specifically, your shipment must have a minimum six-digit HS code, an accurate description for each item in the package, and, if you happen to know it, the receiver’s EORI number on the commercial invoice. 

In addition, from 1 March 2024, maritime, road, and rail carriers will also have to submit ENS (Entry Summary Declaration) data to ICS2. This includes postal and express carriers who transport goods using these modes of transport as well as other parties, such as logistic providers, and in certain circumstances also final consignees established in the EU will have to submit ENS data to ICS2. 


Let’s recap

EORI numbers are essential for businesses engaged in trade with the EU or the UK. They serve as identification numbers, ensuring smooth customs procedures and trade transactions. By obtaining an EORI number and including it on relevant documentation, you can navigate the complexities of international trade more efficiently.  

Additionally, the EORI system plays a vital role in securing the supply chain and preventing illegal trade practices. Staying informed about EORI requirements and adhering to customs regulations is crucial for successful and hassle-free trade.