Registration for Customs required: EORI number necessary for customs declarations
May 19, 2023
In our previous post (Introduction to Customs Regulations for Global Trade), we focused on the legal foundations and sources of customs, and in this current post, we've summarized the key practical information about EORI numbers and customs registration.
What is an EORI Number?
An EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number is an identification code assigned by the EU customs authorities. The EORI number is valid throughout the European Union.
An EORI number is a unique identification code that companies need to operate within the European customs system. EORI stands for "Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number." This number is issued by the customs authority of the country where the company is based. Its purpose is to verify the company's identity and ensure its compliance with customs obligations.
Who Needs an EORI Number?
Every company engaged in international trade within the European Union (EU) requires an EORI number. This includes companies involved in importing or exporting goods and those interacting with EU customs authorities for other customs procedures, such as clearances or movements. The EORI number serves as a unique identifier for the company or entity (=economic operator) within the European customs system. Without a valid EORI number, a company cannot perform customs declarations or other customs procedures, and thus cannot move goods in international trade within the EU.
Who Doesn't Need an EORI Number?
Sole traders who exclusively buy or sell goods for personal use within the EU typically don't need an EORI number, as long as they submit written or electronic customs declarations occasionally i.e., fewer than ten per year. Also, individuals who occasionally import or export goods within the EU usually don't need an EORI number. In all other cases where companies engage in international trade within the EU, they need an EORI number. This applies even if they're represented directly by a service provider (e.g., postal or express services).
If the use of an EORI number is required by other Union regulations or regulations of a member state, individuals who are not economic operators must also register (you can find national specifics here). In particular, an EORI number is required for export licenses when needed in the administrative process at the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control.
How Many EORI Numbers Does a Company Have?
As an economic operator, you're allowed only one EORI number, as this number serves as a European-wide identifier. Non-legal entities within your company, like branches or operational units, shouldn't have their own EORI number.
How Do I Apply for an EORI Number in Germany?
The EORI number is granted free of charge upon application:
In Germany, companies can easily apply for an EORI number through the General Customs Directorate - Branch Office Dresden - Master Data Management. To do this, they must complete the corresponding form online and submit it to the relevant main customs office. Here are the steps you need to follow:
Go to the website of the German Customs (www.zoll.de) and look for the "EORI Application" form.
Download the form and fill it out completely. The form includes fields for your company data, such as name, address, and tax number, as well as information about your business activities.
Submit the completed form to the General Customs Directorate - Branch Office Dresden - Master Data Management (GZD DO Dresden Stammdatenmanagement).
Once GZD DO processes the application, you'll receive written confirmation of your EORI number.
It's important to note that processing the application can take several weeks (typically 2-6 weeks). Therefore, it's advisable to submit the application as early as possible to ensure you have a valid EORI number in time to fulfill your customs obligations.
Where Can You Verify the Validity of an EORI Number?
You can check the validity of an EORI number on the European Commission's website. Here are the steps to follow:
Go to the European Commission's website: https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/dds2/eos/eori_validation.jsp?Lang=en.
Enter the EORI number you want to verify.
The system will verify the validity of the EORI number and display a confirmation of whether the number is valid or invalid.
It's important to regularly check the validity of your EORI number to ensure it remains valid and to avoid issues when handling customs formalities.
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