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Since July 2009, cross-border merchants have been issued with an EORI number for importing and exporting goods with non-EU countries. This also applies to the UK from 1 January 2021. Please find out how to obtain an EORI number and use it in trade and customs.

Introducing the EORI number for cross-border trade with non-EU countries simplifies customs clearance. The EORI number enables the unique identification of economic operators and other persons in their relations with the customs authorities. It also makes the movement of goods more verifiable.

What is the EORI number?

The EORI number (Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number) replaced the customs number in 2009. It is only issued within the European Union. It is mandatory for trade from and with European countries and customs clearance. The number is issued once and is valid throughout the EU. It must be used in all communications (customs applications, customs declarations, appeals, etc.) of economic operators and other individuals with the customs authorities. The EORI number is also used for communication between authorities. The EORI number is required for all customs matters, and it must therefore be available before the activity takes place. The master data deposited for the EORI number is managed by the EU and also forwarded to the authorities of the other Member States.

The EORI number consists of 17 characters. The first two characters (two letters) represent the country code, followed by 15 digits.

EN 1234567890 12345

The EORI number is submitted to the customs authorities and the customs forms such as the commercial invoice and the customs declaration of contents.

Who needs an EORI number?

All private individuals and businesses can apply for an EORI number. These two groups that import or export goods from non-EU countries need an EORI number. This also applies to companies based outside the EU and trade within Europe. An EORI number is also required for all imports and exports within the EU.

Excepted are movements of goods within the EU or imports for private use.


You also have the option of checking whether you or your company have already been assigned an EORI number before submitting your application. To do so, visit the Customs and Tax Union website.

How to apply for an EORI number

The application for an EORI number is made at the Directorate General of Customs. Much information is required for this, depending on the trader’s initial situation. This includes, among other things, the name, contact information, VAT number, description of the products, delivery address, export procedure and import procedure.
The free application procedure at the Customs Directorate can be carried out entirely via the website. The prerequisite for this is an existing ELSTER certificate.
However, there is also the option of applying by post or fax. For this, you need form 0870a. For private persons or legally dependent companies or organizational units, form 0870b is prescribed. The awarding process usually takes four weeks.

The Master Data Management of the Directorate General of Customs at the Dresden office is responsible for the allocation:

DO Dresden – Stammdatenmanagement Generalzolldirektion
Carusufer 3-5
01099 Dresden
Tel: +49 351 44834-540
Fax: +49 351 44834-444
E-mail: info.eori@zoll.de

The OSS procedure – VAT on pan-European supplies

On 1 July 2021, the VAT liability for cross-border sales of goods changed for merchants due to the entry into force of the VAT digital package. Find out here about the changes in B2C distance selling.

EORI and the Brexit


Anyone who engages in import or export trade with the United Kingdom must have a UK EORI number. As a result of Brexit, deliveries to the UK became exports from the EU. Other changes include EORI numbers issued in EU member states losing their validity in the UK. This can lead to confusion, as UK Customs uses the term EORI.

Who needs a GB EORI number?

German companies require a “GB EORI number” when making customs declarations in the UK. Companies without a UK branch also require a custom representative to file the customs declaration with HMRC. However, businesses do not need a UK EORI if the business partner in the UK handles the customs clearance.

To apply for the UK EORI number: www.gov.uk/eori

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