Importing into the EU: FAQs
Imports into the European Union require an EU Importer of Record, EORI number, and a VAT.
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To import into the EU with Flexport, companies will need to have an importer of record, an EORI number, and a VAT number.
Importer of Record
An importer of record (IOR) is the entity or individual who is responsible for all entry documents required by customs, payment of duties, and any other import obligations.
In the EU the importer of record (IOR) needs a valid EU EORI number from one of the member states and a valid VAT number for the country of import.
Who is the IOR for a non-EU importer?
If a company does not meet the requirements to act as the IOR, a third party will need to act as the IOR. This third party could be a third-party service, or the non-EU company could arrange for the EU client (the EU party receiving the goods) to act as the IOR.
Note that Amazon will not act as the importer of record for shipments going to an Amazon FBA warehouse in the EU.
An EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number is how the European Union (EU) and The United Kingdom (UK) identifies business.
Businesses and people wishing to trade must use the EORI number as an identification number in all customs procedures when exchanging information with EU or UK Customs authorities.
Do I need an EORI number for every EU country?
No, a company will only have one EORI number per legal entity, and this EORI number will be used for Customs in every EU country.
Please note that as of Brexit you will need a UK specific EORI number for customs purposes in the UK and you will not be able to use a UK EORI number in the EU.
How do I request an EORI number?
An EORI number can be requested from the local tax authorities. The EORI number is usually requested from the EU country that the company’s goods will first arrive in, or the EU country the company wants to export out of. In the UK an EORI number must be requested from HMRC.
This is the unique number that identifies a taxable person (business) or non-taxable legal entity that is registered for VAT. A VAT (value added tax) number is required to import goods into the EU or UK with Flexport.
See the European Commission's VAT identification numbers page for more information on who needs a VAT number in the EU.
See the UK VAT Registration page for more information on who needs a VAT number in the UK.
Do I need a VAT number for every EU country?
Yes. VAT numbers are country specific, so if a company is importing or exporting to multiple EU countries, they will need a VAT number for each country.
For UK imports you will need a UK specific VAT number.
How do I request a VAT number?
VAT numbers can be requested from the local tax authorities of EU countries. Most applications can be completed online.
When do I pay VAT?
VAT will need to be paid upon import into the EU, unless the importer has a VAT deferment license (common in the Netherlands).
In the UK VAT will need to be paid upon import, unless the importer is registered for Postponed VAT Accounting (PVA).
For tax guidance please consult a tax professional.