EORI numbers and shipping after Brexit

EORI number: What Is It and Do I Need One?

28th December 2020, 11:11am in News by Eva Malpass

Let Interparcel be your one-stop-shop to all things EORI and Brexit. The New Year has arrived and changes have come with it. For businesses or sole traders who intend on selling their products outside of the UK, including the EU, an EORI number is essential.

But don't panic just yet, we're going to take you through exactly what it is. Who needs to register for an EORI number. How to apply and where you can seek extra help if need be.

The 1st of January is fast approaching, and Brexit will wait for no one, so let's get right into it!

What is an EORI number?

An EORI number, in its simplest form, is a unique reference that allows Customs authorities to identify the company that is exporting or importing goods. All UK businesses, large and small, that wish to trade with any other country will need to have an EORI number.

All European countries have their own versions. UK EORI numbers - which stands for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number - are 12 digits beginning with 'GB'.

If you are a business owner and are VAT registered, once you apply for an EORI number, this will be linked to your VAT number. Don't worry if you aren't a VAT registered business you can still apply without a VAT number.

Is an EORI number the same as a VAT number?

No. An EORI number will be linked to a companies VAT number, but it is different and must be applied for in addition to VAT registration.

The great news is, if you are already VAT registered, HMRC may have already allocated your EORI number so double check your paperwork. If not, don't worry, it's free to apply and will take approximately 5 minutes.

Do I need an EORI number?

Do I need an EORI number?

Yes, if you intend to sell goods outside of the UK, regardless of whether you are a sole trader or a business. If you are exporting or importing goods between most of Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man) and the EU. Then you will need to get an EORI number.

No, if you only move goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland you will not need an EORI number. Although, if you move goods to or from Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK or non-EU countries you will need an EORI number that begins with 'XI'.

No, if you are an Individual sending a personal shipment, for example, gifts to family and friends, that are not part of a sale. You do not need an EORI number.

Bear in mind that even very small businesses arranging one-off imports/exports outside of the UK will need an EORI number. If you do manage to ship your item without one you will incur additional fees and extended delays at customs.

When you book your delivery through Interparcel, you will need to provide your EORI number when filling in customs information. Don't worry; we make it nice and simple for you by providing you with all the documents you'll need. Just fill in the blanks, and you're ready to send!

How to apply for an EORI number

In 2019 the UK Government began assigning EORI numbers to any UK businesses they believed would require them. So if you are a VAT registered UK company you may already have received a letter confirming your EORI number.

If you believe you already have an EORI number, there is a handy EORI validation tool you can use.

If you haven't already received your EORI number, you can fill in a simple online form on the Government website. The EORI number registration process is all online, will take approximately 5 minutes to complete and should be done by the end of December 2020.

These are three types that you can apply for and the information you'll need to provide for each:

1. VAT registered business

  • Full name
  • Position in business
  • Contact details
  • VAT registration number
  • VAT registered name
  • VAT address

2. None VAT registered business & importing

  • Business name/address
  • Contact details
  • Businesses legal status
  • Description/quantity/value of goods
  • Supplier details or freight agent if known
  • Method of import

3. Not VAT registered & exporting

  • Business name/address
  • Contact details
  • Businesses legal status
  • Description/quantity/value of goods
  • Delivery address or freight agent if known
  • Method of export

Additional details you will need to apply:

  • Government Gateway user ID - if you haven't already, create one
  • National Insurance number - if you're a sole trader or individual
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) - you can find yours here
  • Start date of your business & Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code - you'll be able to find these in the Companies House register

After registering you will usually receive your EORI number immediately, occasionally it can take up to 5 working days if HMRC need to run some checks. Keep in mind that if you intend on importing by air, your EORI number may take longer to be sent to you, so make sure you apply well ahead of time.

Do EORI numbers expire?

No, EORI numbers don't expire, and you'll only need to apply once per business.

Commercial senders should make sure to check their EORI numbers are still valid and reapply if not. EORI numbers will be valid even in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

What happens if I don't have an EORI number?

What happens if I don't have an EORI number?

Without an EORI number, you won't be able to import or export goods from the UK to the EU. You will incur significant delays in shipping as your goods won't be able to clear customs. You may also incur Customs storage fees which can be expensive.

If the receiver has an EORI number, we strongly recommend you use it too to help speed up the process and prevent potential returns by Customs.

Who can I speak to about EORI numbers?

The government have a specialised EORI team that are on hand to help the rising numbers of businesses now applying in anticipation of the new year. They can help you with initial queries, but will also be the necessary port of call for the following:

  • To update business details, e.g. name, address or VAT number
  • If you don't need to use your EORI number any longer
  • To remove business details from the EORI database

To contact the EORI team you can fill out an online form, call HMRC on 0300 322 9434, or send a letter to HM Revenue and Customs - CITEX Written Enquiry Team, Local Compliance S0000, Newcastle, NE98 1ZZ.

Keep it simple with Interparcel

We know that this is an uncertain time for many, but regardless of how Brexit pans out, having an EORI number is non-negotiable after the 31st of December. Ensuring that you apply in good time will enable you to deliver past the new year hiccup-free and allow you to continue importing/exporting without delays.

At Interparcel, we are working to make the transition smooth for everyone. When you book a service with us now or in 2021, you are making the whole process easier. We provide you will all the documents you need to clear customs without a hitch and keep customers happy. All you'll need to do for now is apply for an EORI number, and the rest is a piece of cake, so, get prepared and simply send in the New Year!

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