Every day I receive countless questions about shipping and customs, and I’ve noticed a lot of these questions refer specifically to the EORI scheme… so I’ve decided to create an article on that specifically – to clarify all the confusion once and for all.
Let’s get to it!
The Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) scheme was introduced on 1st July 2009 (replacing the Trader Unique Reference Number system previously used in the UK) and it’s basically a method for tracking imports and exports within the EU.
An EORI number is assigned to an individual legal identity (i.e. sole trader, partnership, company or individual) by your local member state (so if you’re in the UK – by HMRC) and that EORI number is then used to identify you and your shipments across all EU countries.
And really it’s as simple as that – it is just a number given to importers and exporters throughout Europe that can be easily and consistently identified by customs.
Another top tip to helping keep the costs of your imports down is to research alternative money transfer providers that provide better exchange rates.
Companies that specialise in international money transfers could save you a substantial amount of money if you’re looking to make frequent transfers to your Chinese suppliers.
FCA and FinCEN regulated, TransferWise are up to eight times cheaper than banks when it comes to making international payments. They always convert money at the mid-market exchange rate – ie. the rate you see on Google is the rate you’ll receive. The only fee you’ll pay is a small, upfront fee on the value of the transfer. You can also make global USD payments to your Chinese supplier and with their fixed fee of $2 + small % cost of currency conversion, their rates are very competitive.
Setting up the payment is simple as well. You sign up for a free account, set up your transfer by entering your supplier’s bank account information and state what currency you’d like to pay them in and then fund your transfer. Options include bank transfer and debit/ credit card. Your supplier won’t need to do anything. For them, it’s just like receiving cash into their bank account.
With over 3 million customers and co-founded by the first employee of Skype, you can be assured that your money is sent securely. However, just like with a normal wire transfer, your money is not protected if your supplier turns out to be fraudulent so it’s best used when you’re paying a supplier you trust.
You can find out more about TransferWise in my post here.
Do I Need An EORI Number?
Although the official explanations are slightly more complicated, to keep things simple and easy to understand – if you are involved with imports OR exports to or from the EU, then you do need an EORI number, as without it you won’t be able to complete the Entry Summary Declaration or Exit Summary Declaration.
How Do I Get An EORI Number?
To get an EORI number, you simply fill in the application form and send it to HMRC.
Which form you need to complete depends on whether or not you’re VAT registered –
- Form C220 is for VAT registered applicants and can be downloaded here.
- And if you are not VAT registered, then you need form C220A, which can be downloaded here.
And just to make it clear as there seems to be a lot of confusion about this – you don’t have to be a company to get an EORI number and can get one in the exact same way as an individual or sole trader.
You can either print and complete the application form or fill it in online, via Word.
If you do it electronically, you then need to email the form to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do it as a hard copy, you’ll need to post it to the HMRC EORI Team:
HM Revenue and Customs
13th Floor South
One useful tip to remember is that if you are not VAT registered; you should apply for your EORI number after your first shipment has been dispatched, as that way you’ll already have carrier and tracking information to hand – both of which are needed for the application.
When Do I Need To Use My EORI Number?
You’ll need your EORI number pretty much every time you deal with customs as it must be included on all pre-arrival and pre-departure information on goods entering or leaving a customs territory of the European Community.
If it’s a business shipment, then your EORI number will be needed, regardless of the value of the order.
So that’s it really! There is nothing complicated about this at all… all you have to do is apply and get your unique number and that’s it!
And also, please note that you only need to apply ONCE and can then use your EORI number on all future imports and exports – it isn’t only valid for one shipment as some people think.
Actually, there is one last thing that I want to point out:
There’s a site run by the European Commission that can be used by the general public to check the validity of an EORI number. This site will also contain some basic information about the holder of the number such as your name and address but this information is only shown if you previously agreed to that.
So it works something like this:
- You enter an EORI number and click validate.
- If the number is not valid, the answer is ‘No’ and no further information is shown.
- If the number is valid and the answer is ‘Yes’, your name and address will be given, ONLY IF you have previously agreed to this information being shown.
- If the number is valid but you have not consented to your information being disclosed, then it will still show as ‘Yes’ (so no need to worry about that).
Here is the site if you’d like to have a look for yourself:
Obviously it’s not hugely important either way, and it’s completely up to you whether you want your information to be shown on searches (it doesn’t make any practical difference) but I thought I’d mention it so you know to keep an eye out on the form for any boxes regarding disclosing your data.
I hope you have found this guide useful and it answers any questions you had about EORI numbers and whether you need one, but if anything is unclear or you want to clarify something, post below and I’ll do my best to help.
Otherwise, until next time!
All the best,