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Accountancy  •  Bookkeeping  •  Business Services  •  Services  •  VAT

EORI – The one thing your business might need before Brexit

By RJP LLP on 7 December 2020

Given that Brexit negotiations are still not concluded, there is still a fair amount of uncertainty in the business community over what preparations need to be done. The Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020 and depending on the nature of your business different rules will apply, but there is one thing that’s universally relevant for all British businesses that trade products within the EU – the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.

This requirement applies regardless of whether any last minute trade agreements are made and is necessary for all businesses trading physical goods. This is regardless of the size of the business - sole traders, partnerships, limited companies and LLPs will all need one. If your business only imports or exports services and doesn’t move physical goods across borders, it will not need an EORI.

FAQ - What you need to know about EORI numbers

EORI numbers are unique identifiers, used by businesses that want to import or export physical goods from/to another country. They are not needed for services.

The EORI number is a 12 digit code similar to a VAT number and must be included on customs declarations and supporting documentation that businesses will need to create as of 1st January 2021.

From 1st January 2021 all UK businesses located in Great Britain that import or export physical goods from/to the European Union (EU) will need an EORI number that starts with GB. If your business conducts trades between Northern Ireland and other non-EU countries, you will also need an EORI number, it will start with XI.

If your business uses third parties for transportation services e.g. couriers who complete your customs paperwork, they will need to know your EORI number. Without one, goods may be blocked at customs and you may incur release fees.

In addition, if your business intends to switch to postponed VAT accounting, this will also require an EORI number. A customs declaration must be completed when goods are received into the UK. The EORI number is also needed to access monthly postponed VAT reports in the future.

How to get an EORI number

HMRC has sent EORI numbers out to many businesses that were expected to need them, but if you have not received one but meet the requirement criteria, you should apply online asap and before the end of December 2020.

It is very straightforward to apply for an EORI number and most people can get theirs straight away, but it might take longer if HMRC are inundated at the last minute or if extra checks are needed. You can apply online here:

You will need to go online using your Government Gateway ID and be prepared to complete two-factor authentication with a mobile device. Be ready to provide the following additional information:

  • Business’ VAT number and effective date of registration;
  • National Insurance number (for sole traders);
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) for your business or yourself if a sole trader – this is the number on tax returns;
  • Business Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code - find will be detailed on the; Companies House register entry or you can find out your code there as a sole trader.

Additional preparations needed for Brexit

The government has also launched another online information service to help with more specific questions about Brexit preparations. We recommend you visit this online resource as soon as possible, to find out more about any other impact of Brexit on your business. This resource is available here:

If you need any support getting your EORI number or have other questions relating to Brexit please email

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