What Is an EORI Number?

February 21, 2024
13 min read

At the heart of international trade regulations within the European Union (EU) lies the Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number, a crucial component for businesses engaged in importing or exporting goods. This distinct set of digits is not just a regulatory requirement; it serves as a key to unlocking seamless cross-border trade within one of the world's largest single markets.

This article is crafted with the ambitious eCommerce entrepreneur in mind. Our objective is to demystify what an EORI number is, highlight its significance in EU trade, explain the process of obtaining one, and underscore its pivotal role in customs processes.

What Is an EORI Number and Its Purpose?

As briefly mentioned above, the EORI number is a unique identifier that is mandatory for businesses and individuals engaged in importing or exporting goods within the EU. This system was established in 2009 to secure and streamline customs procedures, ensuring that businesses have a single registration and identification number that is recognised across all member states.

More specifically, the primary purpose of the EORI number is to facilitate the tracking, regulation, and processing of the increasing volume of goods as they move across EU borders. It allows authorities to efficiently manage and clear shipments, reducing delays and enhancing security. For businesses, this number is also essential for submitting customs declarations and requests for permissions that involve the movement of merchandise into or out of the region.

Historical Context and Legal Framework

Its legal foundation is rooted in the Union Customs Code (UCC), which is a key element of the EU's customs legislation. The UCC aims to modernise customs procedures, facilitate trade, and enhance security across the EU's external borders. 

Hence, the EORI number is a critical tool for achieving these objectives, and it's a requirement for all economic operators in order to legally function within the EU's customs territory. This also includes entities based outside the area who engage in import or export operations within the region. 

The Importance of EORI Numbers in EU Trade

Below, we delve into the critical role of the EORI number in facilitating international commerce and ensuring the efficient and secure movement of goods across EU borders.

Customs ClearanceEssential for the customs clearance process, speeding up import and export procedures.
Security and SafetyImproves security and safety in the supply chain by allowing for easier tracking of goods.
Trade EfficiencyEnhances trade efficiency by streamlining processes and reducing delays.
ComplianceEnsures compliance with EU regulations, avoiding potential fines and legal issues.
Data AccuracyEnsures accuracy and consistency of data in customs declarations and documentation.
Global RecognitionRecognised by all EU member states, promoting international trade within and outside the EU.
Customs CommunicationFacilitates direct communication with customs authorities, simplifying procedures.
Market AccessProvides access to EU markets, a prerequisite for many trade agreements and partnerships.
Record KeepingAids in efficient record keeping and audit trails for overseas transactions.

Who Needs an EORI Number?

This section outlines who is required to have an EORI number, detailing the criteria for both EU-based and non-EU businesses, and provides illustrative examples to help businesses determine their own needs.

EORI for EU-Based Businesses

  • Criteria for EU-established Businesses: Any business established within the EU that engages in activities involving the import or export of goods to or from non-EU countries is required to have an EORI number. This includes companies involved in manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing, and eCommerce. 

For an in-depth understanding, check out our discussion on legal regulations for eCommerce businesses in the EU

  • Specific Requirements Based on Business Activities: It also applies to businesses involved in temporary movements of merchandise, such as those used for exhibitions or professional equipment, and to those providing services that require the movement of items in and out of the EU. Additionally, companies that act as intermediaries in the supply chain, such as freight forwarders and customs agents, must also have an EORI number.

EORI for Non-EU Businesses

  • Non-EU businesses need an EORI number when they are directly involved in the customs clearance process within the EU, even if their physical presence is limited or indirect. This is particularly relevant for companies that store goods in an EU country, sell goods online to customers in the region, or participate in trade fairs within the EU. 


These examples illustrate the broad range of businesses that require an EORI number to engage in trade activities within the EU.

An EU-based Online RetailerAn online retailer based in Italy, specialising in fashion accessories, serves customers throughout the EU and the UK. Following Brexit, the retailer now requires an EORI number to handle customs declarations for goods entering the UK. This ensures compliance with new regulations and facilitates smooth operational processes.
A US-based ManufacturerA US-based electronics manufacturer stores its products in a warehouse in the Netherlands to fulfil orders in the EU more efficiently. The company needs an EORI number to manage customs declarations for goods entering the EU from its US manufacturing plants.
A Chinese eCommerce PlatformA Chinese eCommerce platform sells goods to EU consumers directly from China. To streamline the import process and ensure that customers receive their orders without undue delay, the platform must obtain an EORI number.

How to Obtain an EORI Number

This section provides a detailed guide on how to secure an EORI number, tailored for both EU-based and non-EU businesses, along with insights into the necessary documentation and the expected timeframe for obtaining this essential identifier.

Application Process for EU-Based Businesses

  1. Identify the Competent Authority: The first step is to identify the national customs authority of the member state in which the business is established. This is the entity responsible for issuing EORI numbers.
  1. Prepare the Required Documentation: Generally, businesses need to provide basic information about their company, including legal documentation that proves their establishment within the EU, such as registration certificates or articles of incorporation.
  1. Complete the Application Form: The application form for an EORI number can typically be found on the website of the national customs authority. It must be filled out accurately, providing all requested details about the company and its trade activities.
  1. Submit the Application: Once completed, the application form, along with all required documents, should be submitted to the authority. This can usually be done online, though some member states may offer or require in-person submission.

Application Process for Non-EU Businesses

  1. Determine the First Point of Entry: Non-EU businesses should apply in the member state where they first intend to carry out customs activities. This is typically where they will make their first customs declaration or request their first customs decision.
  1. Gather Necessary Information and Documents: Entities will need to provide details about their company and its legal status, including any registration with trade or customs authorities in their home country.
  1. Access and Complete the Application Form: The application form can be accessed through the website of the relevant customs authority in the member state of the first entry. It's important to ensure that all information is complete and accurate.
  1. Submit the Application: Submission procedures may vary, but most authorities allow or require online submission. It is important to ensure all supporting documents are included with the application.

Documentation and Time Frame

  • Required Documents: The specific documents required can vary by member state but generally include proof of business registration, details of the company's legal representatives, and a description of the business activities related to customs operations.
  • Expected Time Frame: The processing time can also vary from one state to another. Generally, for EU businesses, the EORI number is often issued within five to 10 working days after the application is submitted and all necessary documents are received. For non-EU businesses, the process may take up to four weeks, depending on the customs authority's requirements and the completeness of the application.

Using Your EORI Number in Trade

Once your business has been assigned an EORI number, it becomes a key asset in your international trade operations within the EU. Let’s explore some practical insights on effectively utilising it in customs declarations and integrating it into your business operations for streamlined logistics and supply chain management.

How and Where to Use Your EORI Number in Customs Documentation

  • Customs Declarations: Your EORI number must be included in all customs declarations for trade to or from the EU. This applies to various documents, including import, export, and transit declarations.
  • Communicating with Customs Authorities: When interacting with customs authorities in any EU member state, it should be used in all communications, inquiries, and submissions of documentation, ensuring that your transactions are processed efficiently.
  • Electronic Customs Systems: Many EU countries have adopted electronic customs systems that require the EORI number for access. As a result, you can submit electronic declarations, receive notifications, and manage customs processes more effectively.

Tips for Integrating EORI Numbers Into Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Internal Record KeepingEnsure that your EORI number is integrated into your business's internal record-keeping systems. This includes finance and accounting software, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and logistics documentation. This streamlines the preparation of customs declarations and other trade-related paperwork.
Supplier and Partner CommunicationInform your suppliers, logistics partners, and any third-party service providers of your number. This is crucial for businesses that rely on partners for shipping or customs clearance services, avoiding delays in processing.
Training and AwarenessEducate your staff about its importance in international trade operations. Ensure that employees involved in shipping, logistics, and customs compliance understand how and when to use it. Regular training sessions can help keep your team updated on any changes.
Compliance ChecksRegularly review your use of the EORI number in customs declarations and other trade-related documents. Conducting periodic audits ensures ongoing compliance with regulations and can help identify any discrepancies or issues that may lead to delays or penalties.

Beyond EORI – Related Compliance Requirements

While securing an EORI number is a critical step for businesses engaging in trade within the EU, it's just one component of a broader compliance landscape. Understanding the relationship between this number, Value Added Tax (VAT) registration, customs duties, and other trade documentation is essential for seamless international operations.

VAT and Customs Duties

  • VAT Registration: This is a consumption tax that applies to goods and services sold within the EU. If your business is involved in such activity, you may need to register for VAT in each country where your customers are located, depending on the volume of sales. In some cases, your VAT number can be linked to your EORI number, streamlining customs and tax processes.
  • Customs Duties: Customs duties are taxes on the import and export of goods. The amount of duty payable depends on the type of items, their value, and the country of origin. Your EORI number is required when declaring goods to customs, enabling authorities to assess and collect the appropriate duties. 

Other Trade Documentation

Beyond EORI and VAT, several other types of export documentation are essential for international trade, ensuring compliance with EU regulations and facilitating smooth customs operations.

  • Commercial Invoice: Provides information about the transaction between the seller and the buyer, including a detailed description of the items, their value, and the terms of sale. It's pivotal for customs clearance and duty determination.
  • Packing List: Details the contents of each shipment, including weights and dimensions. It helps authorities verify the goods being imported or exported.
  • Certificates of Origin: Certify where your goods were manufactured and may be required for items subject to trade agreements or regulations.
  • Licences and Permits: Depending on the type of merchandise you are trading, you may need specific licences or permits. For example, certain agricultural products, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals require additional documentation for import and export
  • Safety and Security Declarations: For certain goods or destinations, you may need to provide additional safety and security information as part of the customs declaration process.

Unlock Seamless International Expansion With Bezos

Navigating the complexities of international trade, especially within the EU, requires more than just understanding regulations like the EORI number; it demands a partner who can streamline every aspect of your logistics and fulfilment process. Bezos stands out as this essential collaborator for SMEs looking to expand their horizons without the burden of logistics overheads.

By choosing us, you're unlocking a suite of services designed to propel your business forward. Our state-of-the-art technology and dedicated account managers ensure that your orders are handled with precision and care, offering you the peace of mind to focus on growth and product development. 

Our network spans 63 fulfilment centres across 16 countries, including key markets like the UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as the US and Canada. This extensive reach is complemented by our commitment to transparency, flexibility, and cost-efficiency, ensuring that you save time and money while enhancing your customer experience.

Don't let the intricacies of EORI numbers and customs regulations slow your operations down. Partner with Bezos and leverage our expertise and infrastructure to streamline your fulfilment process and expand your business seamlessly into new markets. Get your free quote today and see how we can help your enterprise grow sustainably.


Understanding and obtaining an EORI number is a fundamental step for eCommerce businesses looking to navigate the complexities of EU trade. From facilitating smoother customs clearance to enhancing security measures and ensuring compliance, it serves as a critical tool in the arsenal of international trade. 

As you look to expand your horizons, consider partnering with Bezos. With our expert fulfilment solutions and dedicated support, we're here to streamline your logistics, allowing you to focus on growth. Speak to an expert today.

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