Understanding EORI Numbers in International Trade

The Blue dot Team

An EORI number is essential for you to do business with companies outside the UK (England, Scotland and Wales). Your Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number allows you to transport items across borders.

Without an EORI number, you can’t transport items between the UK and the European Union, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, or countries outside of the EU. However, if you’re moving items that are not controlled or for personal use, you won’t need an EORI number. This is just for companies exporting or importing products between the UK and other countries.

Your EORI number is valid throughout the EU and with other countries and is used as a reference point for your business and transactions by customs authorities. When it comes to your EORI number, there are four key things you need to know:

  • You can apply for an EORI number, which will take approximately three days to process. If you have a UK VAT number, you may already have EORI status.
  • You can check your EORI status and number using the HMRC EORI checker to make sure it is valid or to check you don’t already have a number allocated to you.
  • You can only get an EORI number if your business is based in the country you want to import to or export from.
  • You need your EORI number for customs declarations, using customs systems, applying for a customs decision, or if you have appointed someone to deal with customs for your business.

The Importance of Verifying EORI Numbers

Your EORI number and the EORI numbers used by other companies importing and exporting goods from the UK comprise your country code (GB) followed by a unique number. As it is used to identify companies and the goods moving in and out of the country, a valid EORI number is absolutely essential. It not only ensures that any company you’re doing business with is valid and correctly registered within their country but that your business is a valid and registered resource for other companies wanting to do business with you.

Your EORI number keeps you in line with customs and compliant with regulations. There are some important facts you need to consider when it comes to your EORI number:

  • It will keep you compliant, which is critical to ensuring your business remains on the good side of customs across all countries.
  • It is not the same as your VAT number, but you may have been allocated an EORI number when you registered for your VAT number, so check your status before applying for a new EORI number.
  • If your EORI number is up to date and included on your customs declarations for imports and exports, then you will limit the risk of shipping delays or customs delays.
  • Including your EORI number on your invoices is a good idea so customs authorities can quickly and easily verify your business.

Avoiding Common Issues in International Shipping

Understanding all the factors that influence EORI number management and planning is also important. If you don’t have a proper EORI number, or if you don’t write it down on your invoices or shipping labels correctly, or if you don’t check the EORI number of the companies you deal with, then you can potentially suffer shipment delays and experience legal complications.

If you don’t have an EORI number, your goods may be stored by customs at your cost until you get one and you may also be fined for shipping without one.

You must include your EORI number on all of your shipping documentation so that it’s easy for authorities to evaluate your shipping status and business identity.

Insights into EORI Number Verification

When verifying an EORI number for the UK, you can go to the HMRC website, which will walk you through the process and the requirements you need to fulfil to receive one, use one and assess one. You can also visit the European Union (EU) customs site to verify an EU EORI number.

A valid UK EORI number will start with GB followed by 12 digits and end with three zeros. For example: GB123456789000. A valid EU EORI number starts with XI, as does a Northern Ireland EORI number. Exporters from Madagascar, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe use the REX number when trading with the EU.

Best Practices for EORI Verification

Now that you’ve got a good idea as to what your EORI number is and how to check it using the HMRC and EU EORI verification checkers, here are some additional considerations for your business and managing your EORI number:

  • Your EORI number is mandatory if you want to engage in cross-border trade.
  • You can apply for your EORI number in the UK by clicking here.
  • EORI numbers are stored on a centralised database in the EU and UK to ensure all customs authorities have access to reduce delays and fraud.
  • EORI numbers are structured with a two-letter country code followed by a unique identification code. In the UK this is GB and the EORI code ends with 000.
  • Anyone can use the EORI checkers to assess whether or not your EORI number is valid; however, you can object to this information being publicly available.
  • You can contact the HMRC helpline for any support or help when it comes to managing your EORI number.

Impact of EORI Numbers on Your Business

An EORI number makes customs easier for legitimate businesses and harder for illegal trade, so being verified and up-to-date benefits your business in several important ways:

  • You improve customs processes and procedures as you have a unique business identifier readily to hand
  • You can use your EORI on your documentation which makes it easier for you to complete customs forms and processes
  • You’re compliant with legal requirements across borders
  • You can use your EORI to apply for your Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status which delivers faster clearance
  • You can easily expand your company’s growth into new markets


Contact Us for More Information

Get in touch with Blue dot for ongoing support when it comes to managing your business and your VAT and admin. Our leading AI-driven, centralised, and digitalised expense analysis platform delivers a complete and contextual understanding of your transactions, enabling you to maximise VAT reclaims and gain a full audit trail to elevate compliance.

We can help you reduce exposure and audit risks with our expertise and in-depth understanding of tax and VAT and business essentials.

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