What is an EORI?

EORI number (Economic Operators Registration and Identification number) means: a number, unique in the European Community, assigned by a Member State customs authority or designated authority or authorities to economic operators and to other persons in accordance with the rules laid down in Chapter 6 (of the CCIP)

QUOTE from - Definitions Part 1: Chapter 1 COMMISSION REGULATION (EEC) No 2454/93 of 2 July 1993

EORI, an EU-wide system for the registration and identification of 'economic operators', was introduced in July 2009 (though implementation was delayed until November 2009 in Germany) under the Security Amendment to the EU Customs Code (Reg 648/200) and Implementing Law Reg 1875/2006. 

The EORI number serves as a unique identification number in the completion of customs formalities. It replaced all national registrations used previously for customs purposes and is distinct from a Company’s National VAT Registration. 

The purpose for the establishment of the EORI (Economic Operators Registration Identification) system is to enable every trader who directly interacts with the Customs Authorities with regard to trade with 3rd Countries (non-EU Member States) in any Member State of the EU, to be allocated a unique reference number.

This reference number is valid throughout the EU Community and serves as a common reference for the trader’s interaction with the Customs Authorities of any Member State.  This number is also used for the exchange of information between the Customs authorities of the EU and where appropriate, between Customs and other authorities, eg statistical authorities.

The legislation restricts the issue of an EORI number to a legal entity – sole proprietor, partnership, company or individual. It therefore cannot be allocated to individual branches or divisions within a legal entity. Only one number can be issued per legal entity.

In most Member States where Economic Operators already had a nationally issued customs registration number the EORI identification number was generated automatically. Also, in order to minimise disruption to traders by creating further identification numbers, some Customs Authorities decided to align the EORI number to the VAT number to avoid a situation whereby traders would need to make significant adjustments to their own internal electronic systems (eg Malta and UK).  

The EORI master data is saved in the central EU database. In accordance with data protection regulations the economic operator has to provide written permission for this. The central EU database also has a public facing feature which allows third parties to view certain limited details of all EORI registered traders (ie EORI number, name and address). This is primarily to facilitate a situation where the third party will be carrying out some customs activity (such as making a customs declaration) on behalf of a trader and needs to know the EORI number. However, access by a third party to the database will only be allowed in circumstances where a trader has given specific and informed written consent to publication of those details.

Traders who are not based in any EU Member State still require an EORI in order to make transactions with EU Customs Authorities. From 1st January 2010, these traders are obliged to get their EORI number at the first Port of Call and are assigned a special EORI number. 

Since 10 March 2012 the EORI number has been mandatory for customs processing in cross-border shipping. In all cases where the relevant EU guidelines specify that the EORI number should be used – for example for drawing up export accompanying documents (EADs) and transit documents (T1 or T2), or for clearing import shipments (e.g. in the case of returns or collection requests) from 3rd countries to the EU – customs processing will not be possible without a valid EORI number.

To distinguish between standard Economic Operators and ones proven to have an excellent level of Customs Procedures and/or Supply Chain Security the Authorised Economic Operator status was introduced.  The scheme was launched in the EU on 1st January 2008 prior to the creation of EORI’s.  The AEO certificate is an internationally recognised quality mark that proves an Economic Operator’s role in the international supply chain is secure and that their customs controls and procedures are efficient and compliant. Quote UK HM Revenue & Customs (www.gov.uk 2014)

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Written on 24th April 2014 by Sandra Strong FIEX (CITA) Managing Partner Strong & Herd LLP

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