EORI number: Everything your ecommerce business needs to know

EORI number

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen an increase in conversations with businesses shipping from the Zenstores platform asking about EORI numbers. 


So here’s a quick guide that clears up what an EORI number is, if you need one, how you can go about getting one, and then what you’ll need to do with it. 

What is an EORI number?

EORI stands for “Economic Operators Registration and Identification”. This number is used by customs to track shipments coming into and out of the European Union and is unique to your business. 

Does my ecommerce business need an EORI number? 

More than likely, yes. If your ecommerce business exports to or imports from outside of Great Britain, your business needs an EORI number. 

My business already has an EORI number, do I need to do anything?

If your business already has an EORI number, you need to check that it starts with GB. This is because from 1 January 2021, you will need an EORI number that starts with GB. 

So it’s worth checking this as soon as possible and applying for a new EORI number if the one you currently have does not start with GB. You should be able to check your EORI number here

When do I need to get an EORI number by?

From 1 January 2021, you will need an EORI number to move goods between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and the EU. You may also need one if you move goods to or from Northern Ireland.

How do I get an EORI number?

To get an EORI number, you will need to apply with HMRC. What information you need to apply depends on whether your business is VAT registered or not. 

Either way, you will need:

  •  Your business start date and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code (these are available in the Companies House) 

  • Your Government Gateway user ID and password 

If your business is VAT registered — you will also need your VAT number and effective date of registration.

Individual or a Sole trader? You will need your National Insurance number and your UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference)

Once you have these details, you can apply here

How long does it take to get an EORI number?

You can use the GOV.UK service to apply for an EORI that starts with GB. The GOV.UK site says that it takes 5 to 10 minutes to apply and you will get your EORI either right away or within five working days. 

What happens if I don’t supply an EORI when shipping internationally? 

If you do not supply an EORI, then this may result in international parcels being delayed and incurring additional costs. 

For example, if HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) cannot clear your goods when leaving Great Britain, you may have to pay storage fees.

What do I need to do when I have an EORI number?

Shipping from Zenstores? Please enter your EORI number on the Zenstores Shipping settings page. Your EORI number will then be automatically added to customs documentation as and when required. 

Not shipping from Zenstores? You can create a free account here 

We also recommend contacting the shipping providers and couriers your ecommerce business works with to find out more too.

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