Do I need an EORI number after 31st December 2020?
As if coronavirus wasn’t enough to contend with, UK businesses are now having to navigate importing and exporting through new Brexit borders.
The EORI number was introduced on 1st July 2009 to trace imports and exports within the EU. Up until 31st December this year you would only need an EORI number if you were trading in physical goods with countries outside the EU. You did not need an EORI number for trade within the EU as there were no tariffs to track in the single market. This however will change at the end of the transition period on 31st December.
So, as a physical goods exporter or importer, the answer to the question “do I need an EORI number after 31st December 2020” is a definite YES. From 1st January 2021 an EORI number will be needed to identify your business on all import and export documentation even if a Brexit trade deal is agreed. This will include movements between GB and NI where digital customs declarations are required.
The good news is that it is simple to apply for one online at https://www.gov.uk/eori and you should receive it within a few days.
The EORI number consists of a 12-digit number prefixed by the country code and incorporating your VAT number if you are VAT registered. This prefix is GB for UK traders but NI traders will be issued with a replacement XI country code to identify the trader as being within the NI protocol, that is effectively remaining within the EU single market.
If you think you are already registered, you can do a validity check here. Enter the letters GB, followed by your VAT number and 3 zeros. You will see a notification that it is valid (or not) and, if valid, it may also display the company details. The latter is an option given when registering. HMRC issued EORI numbers automatically to some traders but, by default, these do not show company details, presumably for privacy reasons.
If you only export or import services you will not need this number.
Good luck with your future paperwork!