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Everything online sellers need to know

Since July 2009, an EORI number has been mandatory for regular (more than ten imports p.a.) participants in cross-border trade. This also applies to the UK from 1 January 2021, as the UK has left the EU and is to be treated as a third country like Switzerland or the USA. We explain how you can obtain an EORI number and apply it in trade and customs.

Introducing the EORI number for cross-border trade with non-EU countries is a prerequisite for 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 with non-EU countries and an essential prerequisite for customs clearance. The number must be applied once at the competent customs authority. It is issued once and is valid throughout the EU. It must be used in all contacts (customs applications, customs declarations, appeals, etc.) of economic operators and other persons with the customs authorities. The EORI number is also used for communication between authorities. The EORI number is necessary for all customs-related matters. 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 is submitted to the customs authorities, and the customs forms, such as the commercial invoice and the customs declaration of contents. The customs declarations are submitted digitally.

Who needs an EORI number?

All private individuals and companies spending more than ten cross-border shipments per year must apply for an EORI number. These two groups import or export goods from non-EU countries and need an EORI number. This also applies to companies based outside the EU and trade within Europe.

Excluding movements of goods within the EU or importation for private use (e.g. gift consignments)


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 respective data can be accessed online.

You can also check 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. Depending on the trader’s initial situation, much information is required for this. 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, legally dependent businesses or organisational 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 in Germany:

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

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 that EORI numbers issued in EU member states lose their validity in the UK. This can lead to confusion as the UK customs authority continues to use the term EORI.

Who needs a British EORI number?

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

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

Do you want to make your VAT and customs clearance more efficient? Get in touch.