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European wide changes to importing and exporting of goods in the EU

As part of a package of measures introduced by the European Commission to improve cross border security, a scheme known as the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) came into effect on 1 July 2009.

In the past, all importers were allocated a TURN number (Trader's Unique Reference Number) which was used to import goods from non EU countries. TURN numbers will now be replaced by a new EU reference number (EORI) issued to all Economic Operators (EO’s). EO’s will be issued with an EORI number by the member state where they are established. This will be the case even for occasional importers/exporters.

In the UK, if you have imported goods in the last two years, you should have automatically received notification of your EORI number from HMRC. This number should be provided to your import agent to ensure that your imports/exports are dealt with correctly. This will avoid issues particularly in relation to the recovery of import VAT.

If you have not imported goods in the last two years but may do so in the future, you will need to apply for an EORI number. We would recommend that you do so now, rather than wait until you need to import goods, as there could be a delay in obtaining the number. HMRC’s guidance states that an EORI number should be issued within one working day of receipt of the application, but could take longer in peak periods.

You can apply for an EORI number by post or electronically via e mail. Full details of the EORI scheme and the application process is available on HMRC’s website.

Jane Stacey is a VATadviser and a Senior Manager at Mercer & Hole. The views given in this blog are personal to the author.



Date: 20th August, 2009
Author: Jane Stacey


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