Any person wishing by way of business to import goods into the UK or export goods from the UK requires an EORI number. Without this, it is not possible for imports and exports to be processed by HMRC. Until 31 December 2020, an EORI number (which, when issued, is normally the VAT number followed by three zeros) is required only by those who move goods to or from non-EU jurisdictions. From 1 January 2021, it is also required for moving goods between the UK and EU member states in either direction.
It follows that businesses that historically traded in goods with the EU only and did not have an EORI number need one from 1 January 2021. Over a number of months, HMRC have automatically issued EORI numbers to many businesses fitting this profile, but it remains important for such businesses to ensure that they have one in place in 2021. In normal circumstances the application for an EORI number must be accompanied by details of a specific shipment to demonstrate that there are relevant trading activities. This requirement was waived for businesses trading only with the EU needing an EORI number in preparation for the new arrangements. The application process is described here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-a-uk- eori-number-to-trade-within-the-eu.