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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Many businesses – especially SMEs – have not yet undertaken any activities to prepare for Brexit and do not plan to take any steps until there is some clarity about the conditions of the exit from the EU.

Still businesses of any size importing or exporting with EU members need to be aware that, whatever these conditions, an EORI number will be compulsory after the 31st of October.

The EORI (European Operator Registration and Identification) is a European requirement for any business that trades with EU member states and mandatory on any custom paperwork such as declarations and clearances.

The obtention of an EORI number is free; businesses already trading with the rest of the world will already have this “sesame” (number starting with GB) but others will need to act urgently to avoid disruption to their trade. This number enables HMRC to identify businesses trading with Europe and to collect the relevant customs duties. Without it, there may be delays in clearing goods and further costs incurred.

The application for an EORI number, whether made by the business or a customs/forwarding agent, is free and straightforward, at with the following:

  • VAT number and registration date
  • UTR (Unique Tax Reference) number
  • Business start date and SIC code(s) found in the Companies House register.
  • Sole traders or individuals will need their NI number

EORI numbers are usually attributed immediately but it may take longer if more checks are needed or if there is a high volume of applications. After receiving their EORI number, businesses are advised to wait 48h before using it on relevant paperwork.

N.B. Businesses trading between Ireland and Northern Ireland will not need an EORI number.


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