For many of our clients, Europe is the first region that they expand their IT infrastructure into. An EORI # is required for any shipment that crosses international borders, whether you’re utilizing your own EORI # or a third party’s via an Importer of Record service. While Europe is one of the “easiest” markets to import IT infrastructure into, if you want to act as your own Importer of Record, you will need to obtain an EORI number.
What is an EORI Number?
“EORI” stands for Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number. EORI numbers are used by customs to track your shipments into and out of Europe and are an extension of your VAT ID / number [if your business is VAT registered]. EU member countries will require you to have an EORI# to act as your own importer or exporter, even if you hire a third party to manage clearances for you.
EORI Numbers are used for all trading and customs procedures in the EU. It contains two parts:
- A country code specific to the issuing member state [a 2 letter code]
- A unique id number that includes the siren code and NIC [a string of numbers]
Your number is specific to your company, and once you obtain one, it will be the same number you use for all of your shipments to and from the EU. If you have operations in multiple countries, you may want a separate EORI for each country, based on your company’s internal tax strategies.
If you want to act as your own Importer of Record, you’ll need to obtain your own EORI #.
Why Should You Get An EORI Number?
If you want to act as your own Importer of Record, you should obtain an EORI #. This will allow you to act as the Importer of Record and not have to pay a third party to provide IOR services. It gives you the flexibility to import and export as needed and potentially reclaim the VAT that you pay on import.
If you don’t want to obtain an EORI # for all of your locations in the EU, you may be able to use the number issued in the country where you are registered, to import into other EU countries. But this is a case by case basis; different countries are more open to that, whereas others not so much. For example, if you have an EORI registered in Germany, you may be able to use it to import into the Netherlands or France, but you will need a separate number for Spain.
FGX enables our clients to act as the IOR even when we manage their entire shipment from door-to-door. This gives our clients the benefit of using our turnkey global IT shipping solution while taking advantage of cost and VAT efficiencies, as opposed to working with an IOR Broker (that focuses on selling IOR even if it’s not to the benefit of the client) and piecing all the parts together themselves.
There are some cases, however, where our clients may not want to act as the Importer of Record, again due to differing tax strategies. For example, CDN companies and managing tax nexus. Another scenario where there’s a benefit to using FGX’s Importer of Record service is when a company is expanding into a new market but isn’t ready to have a business entity created. This is applicable to many tech-enabled companies, like streaming or SaaS businesses.
Where should you apply?
You should always apply for an EORI number with the country where you primarily conducting business. However, once you have an EORI number it is valid for the life of your business and you should be able to use it to import into most of the countries in the EU.
Here are some links to popular EORI sites if are planning on shipping your IT hardware to Europe:
However, if you are shipping to another company in the EU they should also have an EORI and the rules may be slightly different. You should consult a customs broker or logistics professional, like FGX to assist you with the process.
Other Things to Consider
EORI numbers must be formally requested and take at least 5 days to receive after you’ve filed the paperwork. It’s important to make sure that paperwork has been filled out properly before the shipment arrives in Europe to avoid the risk of it getting stuck in customs. If your shipment is already with customs, check out this article for further information.
If you are selling equipment to a customer based in the EU but do not have your own EORI number, FGX can assist with setting up the cross-border transaction in advance of shipping.