What Is an IOR Number and Why Do I Need It?

December 6, 2023
10 min read


Importing goods into the United States’ borders isn’t easy. There are various complexities and challenges to overcome, such as the need for an Importer of Record (IOR) number, a unique identifier that plays a pivotal role in ensuring a seamless import process. 

So, if you struggle with all the administration tasks and documentation required to import goods into the US, you’re not alone. To help you out, in this article, we will delve into the concept of IOR numbers, their purpose, and why they are essential for businesses engaged in cross-border transactions. 

And if you still find yourself at a loss, don’t worry. Fortunately, as a trusted fulfilment partner, Bezos can take this weight off your shoulders and help you get your products to your customers. Without further ado, let's explore how IOR numbers streamline imports and contribute to the compliance and efficiency of global trade.

Understanding IOR Numbers for US Imports

Obtaining an IOR (Importer of Record) number is an essential step for any business seeking to establish a smooth and compliant import process in the US. When we talk about IORs, we refer to the legal entity or individual that is officially responsible for overseeing the importation of goods into a particular country.

Hence, the IOR  assumes the obligation of compliance with US customs laws and regulations. This includes the accurate classification of goods, payment of duties and taxes, and adherence to any specific import requirements. 

On the other hand, the IOR number acts as a unique identifier, linking the responsible party to the imported goods throughout the customs clearance process. On top of that, an IOR number enables customs authorities to track the import transaction and ensures that the correct party is held accountable for meeting all import-related obligations. 

Why Do You Need an IOR Number?

Why do importers need an IOR number? And how can they benefit from one? Let’s have a look.

Compliance With Customs Regulations

By obtaining a valid IOR number, businesses demonstrate their commitment to adhering to the specific import requirements set by US customs authorities. This not only reduces the risk of potential penalties and delays but also helps build a positive reputation with customs officials, paving the way for smoother future imports.

Efficient Customs Clearance Process

With a designated IOR, the necessary paperwork and documentation can be efficiently handled, reducing the time spent in customs processing. This leads to faster cargo release, enabling businesses to meet deadlines and keep their supply chains running smoothly. Furthermore, a smoother customs clearance process can also result in cost savings, as fewer delays translate into reduced demurrage and storage fees.

Timely Deliveries and Operational Agility

With efficient customs clearance and proper compliance, businesses can operate with greater agility, responding promptly to customer demands and market fluctuations. This level of operational efficiency enhances a company's competitive edge and sets the stage for sustained growth in the US market.

How to Apply for an IOR Number

To obtain an IOR number, certain qualifications must be met as a general starting point. Typically, the person or entity seeking to assume this role must have a direct ownership stake in the goods being transported or possess a financial interest in them. 

For instance, if you are involved in both the production and sale of the goods or if you purchase the goods from one party and subsequently sell them to another, you are likely to qualify as an IOR.

Here are some of the basic requirements: 

Legal EntityThe IOR must be a legal entity, such as an individual, corporation, or partnership.
Tax IdentificationThe IOR must have a valid Tax Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Physical AddressA valid physical address in the country of import is often required.
Compliance with LawsThe IOR must comply with all import laws and regulations in the country of import.
Financial ResponsibilityThe IOR is typically responsible for paying all duties, taxes, and fees related to the import.
DocumentationProper documentation, such as commercial invoices, packing lists, and other required paperwork.

If you meet these requirements, then you’ll need to fill in the CBP Form 5106.

What Is the CBP Form 5106?

The CBP Form 5106, also known as the Importer ID Input Record, is a form used by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It is used to collect essential information about an individual or entity seeking to become an Importer of Record (IOR) in the US. Submitting this form is necessary for all businesses or individuals looking to act as an IOR in the country. 

A CBP Form 5106 sample.

The CBP Form 5106 serves as an application for an IOR number, and it is a critical step for businesses or individuals planning to import goods into the United States. The information provided on this form is used to establish the legal entity or individual as the official IOR, responsible for ensuring compliance with US customs laws and regulations for the imported goods.

The form gathers various details, including the legal entity's name, trade name (if applicable), address, contact information, and TIN or EIN. It also requires information about any related entities or branches involved in the import process.

You can fill out this form on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, or you can liaise with a service partner that applies for your IOR number for you.

Bezos: Your Global Expansion Partner

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With a vast network of distribution centres spanning the UK and fulfilment hubs in 16 additional countries, we are poised to elevate your eCommerce business and optimise your import operations like never before.

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What sets us apart is our unwavering dedication to providing comprehensive, flexible, and cutting-edge services that revolutionise your order fulfilment process and expertly manage imports with ease.

At Bezos, we understand that every business encounters unexpected challenges, especially when it comes to imports. That's why we prioritise transparency and communication. Our detailed order tracking and lightning-fast responses to inquiries within two hours keep you informed and in control at all times.

With us, you’ll wave goodbye to long-term agreements that tie you down. At Bezos, we value the freedom and flexibility of our clients. Our approach is all about tailoring our services to your unique business needs, ensuring maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness, including handling your imports with precision and care.

Ready to partner with Bezos for seamless global expansion and optimised import operations? Don't wait any longer. Reach out to one of our dedicated savings specialists today, and let's explore how we can unlock the full potential of your business on the global stage.


What is an IOR number?

An Importer of Record (IOR) number is a unique identifier assigned to an individual or legal entity responsible for overseeing the importation of goods into a specific country. The IOR assumes the legal obligations and liabilities associated with the import process, ensuring compliance with customs regulations and fulfilling all import-related requirements.

Who should be the Importer of Record?

The Importer of Record (IOR) is usually the person or organisation that possesses, has bought, or has been consigned goods at the time of importation. Moreover, in specific cases, a licensed customs broker, who has been authorised by the owner, purchaser, or consignee, can also act as the IOR. 

What is the IOR fee?

The expense associated with assuming the role of IOR is determined based on a percentage of the total value of the imported goods. This cost encompasses various elements, such as import licence approvals, permits, endorsements, labelling, and electronic data interchange.

How do I apply for an IOR number?

You can apply for an IOR number by filling out the CBP Form 5106 on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. You’ll need the legal entity's name, your trade name (if applicable), address, contact information, and tax identification number (TIN) or employer identification number (EIN).

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