Hurry for an EORI

12 March 2019 - Elizabeth Nichols

Do you import or export goods in or out of the EU? If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement (a No Deal Brexit) then you will need an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number to continue trading with the EU. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will then use this number to identify your business and to collect any duty payable on your goods. UK EORI numbers are eight-digit numbers and begin with the prefix GB, such as GB111111111111.

If you don’t have an EORI number then you may incur costs and delays which could impact your business. For example, if HMRC cannot clear your goods you may have to pay storage fees. There is no charge for an EORI number, so in the event that a deal is reached on or before 29 March, and the EORI number does not need to be used, your business will not have lost out. 

There is plenty of information on the website at, which claims that it takes 5-10 minutes to apply for an EORI number,  however if you need to apply for one then you may find it helpful to have the following information to hand when you fill in your application:

  • VAT number and date of registration (these can be found on your VAT registration certificate)
  • National Insurance number – if you’re an individual or a sole trader
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
  • Your business start date and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code – these are in the Companies House register
  • Government Gateway user ID and password 
    If you already have an UK EORI number and you trade with EU or non-EU countries then you should continue to use this, and you do not need to apply for a new number.

Joy Shaw, tax manager at Scrutton Bland says:
“We strongly suggest that businesses who need an EORI number should not leave it to the last minute.  HMRC claim the EORI will be issued in three to five days, but experience shows this could take longer as the 29 March draws closer and more applications are received.
Newly incorporated companies may also face an additional delay in receiving their unique tax reference number (in the form of their Corporation Tax reference number) which may take an additional two weeks, on top of the three to five days to get an EORI number.”
Importing goods from the EU
HMRC are introducing new Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) for businesses established in the UK, to make importing from the EU as easy as possible for the initial period after the UK leaves the EU, should there be no deal.
If you sign up for TSP, you will be able to import goods into the UK from the EU without having to make a full customs declaration at the border, and you will be able to postpone paying any import duties. You can sign up for TSP online, but you will still need an EORI number.

Related news

Get in touch for forward-thinking, impartial advice

With offices in Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Colchester, Diss and Ipswich, we’re close enough for personal meetings with clients from anywhere across the East of England. Got something on your mind? We’ll be happy to listen and give you our thoughts.

Call us on 0330 058 6559
Email us at

Get in touch