Updated: 29th February 2020
What is an EORI number?
An EORI number, or Economic Operators Registration and Identification number function as an identification number for those businesses who participate in importing or exporting goods into or out of the EU. Every company is given their own unique EORI number which must be quoted on a variety of official forms and correspondence including customs declarations and clearances.
EORI numbers and Brexit
For UK registered companies who trade exclusively within EU countries, an EORI number was not required due to the UK forming part of the free trade area. This meant that tariffs did not apply and therefore an EORI number was not needed to pass goods across EU borders. However, Britain’s decision to leave the EU has changed the position when it comes to importing and exporting within Europe.
With the country on the cusp of exiting the EU, and without a deal as yet in place, businesses need to be prepared for how this scenario may affect how they operate and trade. Should the UK no longer be part of the free trade area, an EORI number will be needed to import or export goods across any EU country.
This ruling will apply to all UK businesses regardless of their size or the frequency with which it trades within the EU. Limited companies, sole traders, and partnerships will all be required to obtain one. With UK businesses being urged to take action to ensure they can continue to trade with EU countries with minimal disruption going forward after Brexit, the message is that procuring an EORI number needs to be part of this preparation process.
Simply put, if your company does not have its own unique EORI number then you will not be allowed to move goods in or out of the UK legally in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
It should be noted here that EORI numbers are only required when importing or exporting physical goods; industries which are purely service-based will not be affected.