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EORI Number Needed When Shipping From China to UK?

Updated on April 4, 2012


This page has been designed to provide simple explanations to a series of confusing questions that you may have regarding EORI, VAT and Import Duty when shipping from countries from outside of the EU, such as China, Africa, Asia, Russia.

What does EORI stand for?

EORI stands for Economic Operator Reistration Identification. It replaced the previous traders identification number which was the TURN number.

Do you need an EORI number when shipping or placing orders from countries outside of the EU, such as China?

The answer is yes, if you are going to be spending more than £600 on the item cost + shipping. If your order is less than £600 including item cost and shipping then you do not need an EORI number.

What happens if your shipping order is just slightly over £600?

It's simple - you need an EORI number, otherwise your goods will get held in customers whilst you are made to apply for the temproary EORI number. This comes with holding costs and sometimes extra costs made through the courier if you have one. It's a good idea to have your EORI number ready!

Does the £600 EORI threshold include VAT and Import duty?

The £600 threshold only includes item cost + shipping, and does not include the extra costs that are incurred once the product reaches a country within the EU. This means that the VAT and the Import duty are not included in the £600 threshold. So for example, if you are ordering 10 items that are £50 each then this amounts to £500. Let's then say that the cost of shipping is £99. Your total cost is seen as £599 and therefore an EORI number is not required, regardless of the VAT and Import tax that will be added.

Do I have to pay VAT + Import Duty when shipping from China if the items are less than £600?

VAT and Import duty is added at your country's current rate on everything that is shipped into the EU from outside of the EU. The VAT and Import Duty are added when the items reach the country within the EU. If you are using a courier such as UPS or DHL then they will normally pay the VAT + Import duty on your behalf. When they deliver the goods to your home / office / warehouse, you will either be presented with an invoice that needs to be paid, or you can pay by telephone.

How do I pay Import Duty and VAT?

You pay this to HM Revenue and customs when it reaches the country. If you have a courier then they can pay on your behalf and invoice you the amount on delivery.

Do I have to be VAT Registered to apply for an EORI number?

There are two types of applications for EORI number. I like to describe one as permanent and the other as temporary. If you are VAT registered then you can apply for the permanent EORI number. If you are not VAT registered then you need to apply for the temporary EORI number every time that you have a shipment coming in to the EU. It's important to have it ready and prepared because otherwise you risk gaining additional costs through your goods being held in customs.

How long does it take to get an EORI number?

You can apply for both types of EORI number by downloading the forms from the HM Revenue and Customers website, and it is a simple process whereby you complete the form and send it to an email address for approval. It usually takes just a couple of days. You should be aware that for the "temporary" EORI number you will need to supply details of your supplier, so make sure that you can get them before making payment.

How much does it cost to apply for an EORI number?

EORI numbers are free.The only cost is your time, so it's better to get the permanent version if you are VAT registered.

What happens if I do not get an EORI Number?

If you do not get an EORI number and your cost of goods is over £600 then you will not receive your goods untill you get one. Furthermore, you will get some extra costs for having the goods delayed at customs.

How do I know what the rate of import duty is on my items?

Be sure to check with HMRC before placing your order. You can do this online and there are also some good websites that share this information with you.

Where to get a free Shipping Calculator?

There are some shipping calculators online that allow you calculate your shipping costs for free. However after a couple of goes they then start to charge you and require your subscription. There is no need to pay for this because youare simply paying for a calculator. If you have any basic Microsoft excel skills, or know anybody that does then you can make your own shipping calculator in no time at all.

Do I need an EORI number when using Alibaba, DHGate or Made in China?

The above information is also valid for all purchases made from B2B platforms such as, Alibaba, DHGate etc. You must still apply for an EORI if over £600 and you must still pay all of your shipping charges.

Do I Pay VAT on Gifts from China?

There is an exception on import duty and VAT on items that are less than the HMRC special thresholds. This amount changes from time to time so it's good check before ordering. It ony applies to items that are bought fo personal use or as a gift and do not exceed the threshold.


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