Importing to UK – Are VAT and EORI numbers required for Importing?

A VAT number is required to pay taxes! Let me explain both VAT and EORI numbers to you and their purposes:

You need a VAT number to pay taxes, and this number is used within the UK to determine the amount you owe, based on the total amount of goods purchased. So, if you are importing as a business, and not an individual, you definitely need a VAT number.

The government determines specific amounts that are due on goods, and VAT is owed on most imported goods that are shipped in from the EU when the value is over £18. This number is so low that it makes it necessary for most resellers to have a VAT number.

However, if your turnover is below a certain threshold, you may be exempt if you are

  • Supplying and delivering goods from another EU country to non VAT-registered customers in the UK. If you sell and deliver goods (or arrange for their delivery) from another EU country to customers in the UK who aren’t registered for VAT and don’t have to be registered, this is known as distance selling. Common examples are mail order and Internet sales. If the value of your distance sales in the calendar year from 1 January goes over the distance selling threshold, currently£70,000, you must register for UK VAT. You can also register voluntarily, if you are trading below the threshold or you intend to start trading.
  • Supplying goods on which an 8th or 13th Directive claim has been made or is going to be made. In certain circumstances you have to register if you sell, supply or otherwise dispose of an asset on which someone has claimed – or intends to claim – an 8th or 13th Directive refund. More information is below.
  • Supplying and delivering excise goods from another country. If you sell and deliver goods from another country that are liable to UK Excise Duty (such as tobacco or alcohol) to UK customers, then you must register for VAT in the UK. There’s no threshold – everyone must register.

Find out more about distance selling into the UK from other EU countries

There are certain instances where VAT is zero-rated for goods. You can find out which goods are VAT rated and follow HMRC guidelines for importing and VAThere.

The EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number doesn’t help track taxes; it’s simply a measure that identifies you or tags you as a business operator within the European Community, and it gives you license, so to speak, to do business within the EU. It’s your unique number that identifies you within each country.

It is a requirement for any business that is trading outside of the UK.

It is meant to increase security measures, and it just makes it easier for Customs in the EU to identify you and know who you are. It allows for easier transportation of goods between the states.

This link will take you to the HMRC website to register for EORI. You can do it online.

If you don’t yet have VAT, you can sign up for VAT online on the HMRC website.

So, in basic terms, a VAT number is for taxes (when you import or export goods). However, an EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number is for different purposes — customs. The EORI number simply identifies you as a business operator and helps you solely with customs. So, the two numbers are for entirely different purposes. That is because every business operator with a VAT number doesn’t necessarily need to import goods. For those that do, the EORI number is required.

The EORI number doesn’t help track taxes; it’s simply a measure that identifies you or tags you as a business operator within the European Community, and it gives you license, so to speak, to do business within the EU. It’s your unique number that identifies you within each country.

Follow instructions on registering for VAT here