As 31 October draws closer, and more businesses are taking steps to prepare for the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, some aspects of the steps which businesses need to take have been clarified.

There is now greater awareness that businesses trading with the EU will need an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) Number. But one question which may not be clear is whether you need both a UK and an EU EORI number.

On 9 September 2019, the UK Government published a detailed guidance document on the ‘myths’ surrounding EORI numbers, entitled ‘EORI Mythbuster’. The document addresses a number of areas of confusion and provides clarification on the post-Brexit position from the UK perspective. It is true that not all UK businesses will need both a UK and an EU EORI number, but many will.

So, does my business need both a UK and an EU EORI number?

Maybe. If your business only deals with import or export declarations in the UK, with a customer/client completing the equivalent declaration on the EU side of the border, then you will only need a UK EORI number. If you are registered for UK VAT, a UK EORI number should already have been assigned to you by HMRC. Contact HMRC if you have not received details of it.

If you are not registered for UK VAT, you should register for a UK EORI number now.

However, if your business is responsible for completing both the export declaration as goods leave the UK, as well as the import declaration when the goods are imported into the EU, you will need both a UK and an EU EORI number. This will include situations where you are the importer on record in the EU as well as being the exporter from the UK, for example a UK businesses with a branch in the EU. It could also include UK businesses who import goods into the EU on consignment or call-off contracts.

The European Commission published guidance in March 2019 confirming that UK EORI numbers will not be valid in the EU post-Brexit. The Commission also invited businesses with a UK registered EORI number to apply to the relevant EU customs authority for an EU EORI number that will activate upon the UK leaving the EU without a deal. In practice not all EU customs authorities are actually following this guidance, with economic operators reporting refusals from authorities, such as Germany, to issue a number until after Brexit.