Economic Operator Registration and identification scheme: supporting guidance
How to apply for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification scheme (EORI) number if you are a trader or person carrying out customs activities in the EU.
The EORI scheme started across the EU on 1 July 2009 and replaced the old Trader’s Unique Reference Number (TURN) system. An EORI number is unique throughout the EU, assigned by a customs authority in a member state to economic operators (businesses) or persons. By registering for customs purposes in one member state, an Economic Operator (EO) is able to obtain an EORI number which is valid throughout the EU. The EO will then use this number in all communications with any EU customs authorities where a customs identifier is required for example customs declarations.
The implementation of EORI will ensure that the measures to enhance security introduced by the Security Amendment (Council Regulation 648/2005) and its Implementing Provisions will be more effective if EOs could be identified by reference to a common number unique to each EO within the EU.
When the EORI number is used
This unique number will be used by EOs, for example, on the provision to the customs authorities of pre-arrival and pre-departure information on all goods entering and leaving the customs territory of the EU. The EORI number is also included on the customs declaration when you import your goods from or export goods to countries outside the EU. This includes if you occasionally buy items for your business from outside the EU for example machinery/equipment, goods for exhibition, samples, office supplies etc even though your business is not usually involved in importing or exporting.
It will also be used for the exchange of information between the customs authorities as well as between customs authorities and other authorities for example other government departments but only in respect of the movement of goods involving a customs procedure.
Check if you need an EORI number
If you are involved in customs activities and are established in the customs territory of the EU, you shall be registered by the customs authority of the member state in which you are established.
If you are not established in the customs territory of the EU, you will be registered by the customs authority of the member state where you first:
- lodge in the EU a summary or customs declaration made for the temporary admission import procedure and ATA Carnet (but see paragraph below)
- lodge in the EU an exit or entry summary declaration
- operate a temporary storage facility under UCC Articles 144 to 149
- apply for an authorisation under UCC Article 22
- apply for an AEO certificate
Importing or re-exporting temporary admission goods and ATA Carnet
Non-EU EO declaring goods for relief under temporary admission are not required to obtain an EORI number. The code 00500 should be entered on the customs declaration (C88) in box 8 for imports or box 2 for re-exports. The code 00500 should be prefixed with the non EU country code, followed by the operators name and address. For example a trader from the US should enter US00500.
The ATA carnet replaces the normal customs declaration required however, where form C21 (customs clearance request) needs to be completed for inventory clearance purposes if the carnet holder is :
- an EU resident, an EORI number will need to be entered in box 8 of the C21
- a non EU resident they should complete box 8 of the C21 by entering 00500 in the identification field of the declaration preceded by the non EU country code followed by their name and address
The issue of an EORI number is restricted to a legal entity - sole proprietor, partnership, company or individual. It cannot be allocated to individual branches or divisions within a legal entity. Only one number can be issued per legal entity.
UK and EU databases and website
The member state granting the number validates the information included on your application form and processes the information in both a national and an EU Commission database. The information includes your name, address, EORI number, VAT number if appropriate and whether you agree to your name and address being made available on the EU Commission website. The EU EORI number validation site Commission Internet website is managed by the Commission. It contains limited data on EOs and their EORI numbers that is available to the general public.
The database contains your EORI number, name and address. An enquirer to the database can ask if your EORI number is valid and active. You can specify whether you want your name and address to be disclosed during the enquiry.
No identification details of the enquirer is requested or held.
The site is updated 4 times a day:
EORI in the UK
The implementation of EORI in the UK replaced the previous customs trader identification system, TURN, which ceased to exist from 1 July 2009. However a number of the TURN features were adopted in the EORI scheme, in particular the format of the registration number itself.
How previous TURN holders migrated to the EORI scheme
Before EORI most eligible TURN holders were automatically given an EORI number without them having to apply. Branches/divisions are not legal entities and therefore not entitled to an EORI number. They were instructed to ensure that their parent company/head office obtained an EORI number to enable them to continue importing/exporting.
How EORI numbers are structured
All UK EORI numbers start with the letters GB. Most are followed by a 12 digit number (in some cases a 15 digit number) based on the EO’s 9 digit VAT number with a 3 digit suffix number at the end, for example GB123456789000. This meant that over 98% of existing TURN holders including Pseudo TURNs were given an EORI number which was exactly the same as their previous TURN.
Most UK EORI numbers end 000. However some numbers relating to VAT Group Registrations, where each EO is a separate legal entity, will end in a 3 digit suffix other than 000.
The structure of the UK EORI number is the same for UK EOs who are not registered for VAT or EOs who are not established in the customs territory of the EU.
- N numbers - TURNs starting with the letter ‘N’ followed by 12 digits are now preceded by GB followed by their previous TURN
- GD numbers were issued an EORI number based on their VAT number for example GB888854321000 so GD numbers became obsolete after 1 July 2009
Dummy EORI numbers
Previous dummy TURNs were used in circumstances where the EO did not have an individual TURN. Most of these dummy numbers have continued under EORI but now each is preceded by the letters GB.
To comply with the incoming UCC from May 2016, dummy EORI numbers will no longer be accepted. However, private individuals can still use the status indicator GBPR when importing or exporting private non-commercial consignments regardless of value.
Apply for an EORI number in the UK
To comply with EU legislation, an EO established in the customs territory of the EU shall register with the customs authorities responsible for the place where they are established. When the EO is not established in the customs territory of the EU, the EO shall register with the customs authorities responsible for the place where the EO first lodges a declaration or applies for a decision.
Check if you already have a UK EORI number
If you are registered for VAT in the UK key in GB followed by your 9 digit VAT number and end with a 3 digit 000 suffix for example GB123456789000.
Please ensure that GB is in capital letters and that there are no gaps between any of the digits in the number. You will be automatically informed if your enquiry is valid or invalid. If valid, start using that number immediately. If invalid, you will need to submit an EORI application.
If you are not registered for VAT in the UK or not established in the customs territory of the EU, key in GB followed by the 12 digit number you were allocated under the previous TURN system for example GB950123456000. Check to see if you already hold an EORI number by accessing the EU Commission website.
If you’re VAT registered please complete the Application for Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) form.
If you’re not VAT registered complete one of the forms below:
- Importers -Application for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number-Imports form.
- Exporters - Application for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number - Exports form
If you’re not VAT registered but need to get an EORI number for another customs procedure or scheme please complete this form and include why you need an EORI number in the additional information box.
For EOs registering for VAT via HMRC online services who have indicated the requirement for an EORI number, there is no need to submit an EORI application form.
If after 3 working days of your VAT number notification, the EORI number has not been sent to you, via an email, contact the EORI team.
For further information contact the EORI team.
When to apply
Apply as soon as you become aware you will be involved in customs activities and when all details required on your application are available. Applications can take up to 3 working days to process. You will be able to use your EORI number 24 hours after receiving your notification from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Change of details
Contact the EORI team if:
- there are any changes to your name and/or address (these changes should be notified to EORI Team once you have confirmation that your VAT registration details have been amended)
- your VAT number changes or you deregister
- you change from a non VAT registered trader to a VAT registered trader
- you no longer require or are not entitled to an EORI number
- changes to inclusion on the EU Commission public
EORI and Royal Mail or Parcelforce Worldwide
You will require an EORI number for inclusion on the customs declaration (C88) where you intend to reclaim the import VAT on a VAT Return under normal rules:
- imports of goods with a value exceeding £2,000 declared to home use and free circulation
- imports of goods for which relief from Customs Duty and import VAT is being claimed, for example inward processing relief, outward processing relief, temporary admission
- certain exports including all goods for export with a value exceeding £2,000
VAT group registration
Each member of a VAT group registration is a legal entity and is therefore entitled to a separate EORI number if it is involved in customs activities. Please tell HMRC on your application form that you are applying as a group member.
EORI and VAT registration in the UK
You may submit your EORI application and you will be allocated an EORI number which you can use until you are advised of your VAT registration number.
Once you are registered for VAT you will need to submit a new EORI application advising HMRC at the same time of your EORI number before you were registered for VAT. HMRC will then cancel your old EORI number and issue you with another based on your new VAT registration number. This will also allow you to receive C79s which can be used to reclaim your import VAT as input tax.
If you change your VAT number you need to notify the EORI team and complete a new EORI application form.
Get an EORI number in another member state
Please see the EU Commission website for further details if you need to obtain an EORI number in a Member State other than the UK.
Get a C79 if you are UK VAT-registered EO established overseas
Prior to the introduction of EORI an EO would enter their TURN in box 8 of the C88. This would result in the generation of a C79 each month if the EO was registered for VAT in the UK. The C79 details import VAT paid and is used as evidence by an EO to reclaim any input tax paid under their UK VAT registration. Due to a UK system constraint a C79 will only be generated if a UK EORI number is entered in box 8 of the C88.
Therefore if an EO who is established in another member state has its EORI number issued in that member state but is also registered for VAT in the UK they will also need to obtain and use a UK EORI number if they import goods into the UK and require a C79.
This will mean an EO holding a UK EORI number as well as an EORI number issued by the member state in which they are established.
HMRC apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and are seeking a solution.
How to get VAT numbers recognised from EORI number on customs declarations
An EO with a single legal entity and operating in more than one member state may be given a separate VAT number in each member state but only allocated a single EORI number by the member state where the EO is established.
In some cases there have been problems for EOs with their customs declarations in having their EORI number linked to all their associated VAT numbers. To help resolve this situation, from 1 July 2010 you may request the customs administration which allocated your EORI number to also include all directly associated VAT numbers, issued by other member states, against your EORI number.
The VAT numbers notified to customs must relate to the same legal entity.
Provision of the additional VAT numbers to customs is optional. You should be aware that HMRC will add this information to the EU database which can be accessed by all EU customs administrations and the Commission. You must notify HMRC as soon as possible should any of the notified VAT numbers cease to exist or no longer apply to your EORI number.
Notify HMRC of UK issued EORI numbers
The new application form will require all associated VAT numbers to be included on the EU database. Until the revised application is available, you may include the details in the ‘Additional Information’ box on the form, headed ‘Additional VAT numbers’.
Existing EORI holders
You can contact the EORI team with:
- your UK EORI number for example GB123456789000
- the name and address of the EORI holder
- name and position of person advising details of the VAT numbers for example Jayne Briars, company secretary
- VAT numbers issued in other member states for example ES4137709856, FR165073195432
How to identify branches and divisions
Previously some EOs used TURNs to enable them to identify imports/exports and revenue due against individual branches/divisions. As branches/divisions do not qualify for an EORI number, this may cause inconvenience to economic operators set up in this way. As a result HMRC have devised some solutions to assist EOs to associate declarations to individual branches/divisions. The solutions are optional and you may choose instead to adapt your systems to meet your own needs.
Include an Additional Information (AI) Statement Code(s) at header level in box 44 of the customs declaration. The codes are:
- BR followed by a 3 digit numeric code for importers/exporters
- AG followed by a 3 digit numeric code for agents/declarants
To enable identification of the branch/divisions, importing, exporting or acting as declarant as appropriate for example BR001, AG008 etc when a customs declaration is made. It is likely the 3 digit numeric code you use will be the same as the previous TURN suffix but you are free to choose any number you wish.
It will be acceptable for both codes to appear on the same declaration if necessary.
You do not need to notify customs in advance of the numbers you have chosen to identify your branches. However you will need to maintain an adequate audit trail in your records and provide the information if requested by HMRC.
Four MSS reports are available to importers/exporters and agents/declarants as appropriate on a monthly basis:
- BR imports
- BR exports
- AG imports
- AG exports
These reports are free of charge. They list all entries made by you where the BR or AG code has been entered in box 44 to assist reconciliation to be carried out, in particular against C79s. If no code is entered in box 44, the entry does not appear on the report. Information on the reports include entry number, date, EPU, declaration UCR, master UCR, agent’s reference and BR or AG code in box 44.
Reports are normally sent within 15 working days of month end (for imports) and between the 15th working day and the end of the month following submission of the entry (for exports).
Please read the guidance on Registration for MSS Report before completing the Registration for MSS Report document .
This solution applies to importers only. This involves including your 3 digit branch identifier number as part of the agent’s reference in box 7 of the C88 customs declaration for example TGR12867498/002 or 001 - FWAYU561829. As box 7 of the declaration also appears on the C79 (a form detailing all your imports each month where VAT has been charged) this may help reconciliation of your imports against branches and may be used in conjunction with or instead of the MSS reports detailed above.
If you are a submitting trader/paying agent with branches who also acts as an agent to submit declarations on behalf of others or submits declarations for your own business:
- you need to acquire an EORI number for your parent company/head office if your details are required in box 2, 8 or 14 of the customs declaration
- you may continue to use your existing badge/role (to submit declarations) as well as access existing FAS accounts
This concession does not apply to any new badges/roles which are set up on Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) after 1 April 2009 which will only be set up against an EORI number.
National Export System (NES)
If you are a NES trader (including normal and simplified procedure declarations) who migrated from multi TURNS to a single EORI number you may continue to use the roles and badges previously allocated to your branch or division TURNS. However you will only be allowed to use a registered EORI number in box 2 or 14 of the Customs Declaration (C88).
Computer software houses and CHIEF test system
Computer software houses can access to the CHIEF test system if they first apply for an EORI number then contact CHIEF Operations via email and request access to the facility.
The Isle of Man or Channel Islands
The UK and the Channel Islands are in the same Customs Union for duty and therefore in free circulation for Customs Duty purposes but we are not in the same fiscal territory, so the goods will not be in free circulation for VAT purposes. The goods will not be in free circulation whether VAT is due on import of the goods or not. An import document will be required for these goods for VAT purposes and therefore an EORI number must be obtained.
The same application procedure will apply if you are an EO in the Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Jersey or Guernsey.
The Isle of Man is part of the customs and fiscal (VAT) territory of the UK. Therefore goods from the Isle of Man are deemed to be in free circulation and an import document will not be required. Isle of Man traders should follow the same process as UK traders in relation to EORI numbers.
Contact the HMRC EORI Team
Published: 4 December 2014
Updated: 18 February 2015
- New information about how to appliy for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number have been added to this guide.
- First published.