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What is an EORI code used for and how to get one

Codice EORI: cos'è, come ottenerlo e a cosa serve

The EORI number, a unique alphanumeric code, is essential for interactions with customs authorities across all European countries. Let's explore its purposes and the process for obtaining it.

What is an EORI code

The EORI code, short for Economic Operator Registration and Identification, is an alphanumeric sequence of characters essential for interactions with customs authorities. The primary purpose of this code is to register and identify all economic operators, i.e. companies and people, involved in customs activities.

In this way, customs and other government departments can monitor and track all shipments entering and leaving the European Union and other countries.

The EORI code is made of the ISO code of the issuing Member State (for example IT for Italy and FR for France) and is then followed by a sequence of up to 15 digits.

When moving goods to or from Great Britain you must get an EORI number starting with GB. When you move goods to or from Northern Ireland your EORI number should start with XI. UK EORI numbers are Customs ID numbers and differ from EU EORI numbers, which are valid in all EU member states.

The code is necessary for all operators who carry out import and export activities of goods between:

  • Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) or the Isle of Man and any other country (including the EU)
  • Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Great Britain and the Channel Islands
  • Northern Ireland and countries outside the EU

It applies to the following entities:

  • LLC – Limited Liability Company,
  • JSC – Joint-Stock Company,
  • GP – General Partnership
  • LP – Limited Partnership.

Even individuals without a VAT number can request the EORI code.

Example of EORI number

Typically, an EORI number consists of the country code of the issuing country followed by a unique set of digits. For example, if you’re a business in Great Britain and you’re VAT registered, your EORI number will begin with GB followed by your VAT registration number + 000. For example, GB987654312000.

If you’re not VAT registered, it will be GB followed by a unique number issued by HMRC. 

What is an EORI code used for and how to check its validity

EORI code: what is it used for?

The EORI Code is used exclusively for customs and has no fiscal or administrative value.

As we said previously, its purpose is to monitor and track all shipments entering and leaving the European Union. Specifically, it uniquely identifies economic agents engaged in EU customs activities and provides a universal reference for customs authorities across different countries, simplifying the exchange of information between customs and other government departments.

The EORI code is mandatory in all communications with the customs authorities of the European Union member states, whenever it is required.

Information related to the EORI code is stored in a central electronic database which allows customs authorities to quickly and easily identify the economic operators along with their customs clearance operations across all European Union countries.

The main purposes of the EORI code: summary

  • identify companies involved in activities with European customs authorities;
  • provide a universal reference for customs authorities of different countries;
  • simplify the exchange of information between customs and other authorities;
  • for the exclusive use of the customs authorities, it has no fiscal or administrative value.

How to check the validity of your EORI number

There are several ways to check the validity of your EORI number, from a manual check to online tools. Here are 4 suggestions:

  1. Check the code format: A UK EORI code is made up of 14 alphanumeric digits. EU EORI numbers are 3-15 characters long. Make sure you enter all characters correctly, avoiding spaces or typing errors;
  1. Identify the issuing country: The EORI number begins with the code of the issuing Member State. For example, a UK EORI number will start with "GB". Make sure the country code matches the issuing authority;
  1. Check for presence in the official database: you can check whether your EU EORI code has been validated on the European Commission website using this link. For UK EORI numbers, you can use this service. After entering it in the bar, you will know whether it is valid or not.
  1. Contact the issuing authority: If you still have doubts about the validity of the EORI number, contact the issuing authority directly. Give them your EORI number and ask for official confirmation.

How to get an EORI number?

In general, the EORI number is issued by the competent authority in the country where a company or economic operator is registered. This authority varies from country to country and can be a national customs agency, a tax office, or a foreign trade government organization.

The issuing authority assigns EORI numbers and keeps track of the economic operators registered in their country. Each issuing authority follows specific procedures and requirements for obtaining the EORI number and can provide assistance and information on registration applications.

How to apply for an EORI number in the UK?

UK applications are handled online via HMRC. You simply need to complete a form. You will find one for VAT registered applicants, one for non VAT registered from if exporting or a non VAT registered form if importing.

If you own a business based in the UK, make sure you possess the following information before applying:

  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR).
  • Start date and SIC code (Standard Industrial Classification)
  • Online access to HMRC portal – Gateway user and password.
  • VAT number and effective date of registration – in case you are VAT registered.
  • National Insurance Number, in case of sole traders.

Frequently asked questions about the EORI number

EORI number: what is it?

EORI is the acronym for Economic Operator Registration and Identification and is an alphanumeric code consisting of up to 14 digits in the UK. Essentially, it is used to track products entering and exiting the EU. In this way, shipments and their origins can be identified quickly by customs.

How to apply for the EORI number in the UK?

To obtain an EORI number in the UK you need to fill in a form available for free on the HMRC website.

How long does it take to obtain an EORI number in the UK?

Normally, GB EORI numbers are issued immediately. Otherwise, if the HMRC has to perform some checks, it can take up to five working days. Once you receive your UK EORI number, it may take around 48h for its official activation.

How to verify an EORI number?

The European Commission has an online tool to verify EU EORI numbers which is accessible for free here, whereas for UK EORI numbers you can use this service.

Martina Elizabeth Di Carlo

Passionate freelance copywriter, with a niche in ecommerce and logistics. When collaborating with ShippyPro, she loves writing about trends, marketing and communication strategies to help brands gain an edge in an ever-evolving digital landscape.