EORI Number for Spain: What Is It, Format and Application Process
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EORI Number for Spain: What Is It, Format and Application Process

How to get the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) Number in Spain?

Understanding the complexities of international trade can be daunting, especially when it comes to customs transactions. For businesses operating within the European Union, an EORI number is a critical piece of this puzzle. Whether you’re a company based in Spain or involved in frequent import and export activities across the Spanish border, understanding and obtaining an EORI number is essential. This article will guide you through the EORI system in Spain, providing you with all the necessary information to seamlessly conduct your economic activities. We will delve into what an EORI number is, its application process, and its validity. Furthermore, we’ll clarify how it differs from the VIES number and share other pertinent details to help you maximize your business operations within the EU.

Logistics manager at a shipping container yard, overseeing operations regulated by an eori number in Spain

What is an EORI number?

The Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number is a unique identifier mandatory for businesses and individuals engaged in importing and exporting goods within the European Union. This system plays a pivotal role in harmonizing customs controls across the EU by providing a standardized code that is used by customs and other authorities to monitor and track shipments crossing EU borders.

Originally, any entity wishing to perform customs activities in the EU required a customs number. However, this has been replaced by the EORI number, which consists of 17 characters that streamline automatic customs clearance processes. Without an EORI number, entities are not permitted to engage in any customs-related activities within the EU.

An EORI number is composed of an alphabetical and numerical code that uniquely identifies each company or private individual within the EU’s customs territory. Once assigned, this number is utilized for all customs duties throughout the EU, not only for products entering or leaving the Union but also for intra-community operations and movements of goods.

The introduction of the EORI system has provided a unified tax ID for all economic operators within the EU, significantly enhancing trading efficiency and simplifying customs procedures. By employing a single identification format for all entities across Member States, the EORI system facilitates easier verification for statistical and security purposes.

Navigating international trade regulations can be complex. At Lawants, we simplify the process for foreign entrepreneurs looking to expand in Spain. Contact us today for expert tax and accounting consultancy tailored to your business needs.

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Who needs an EORI number in Spain?

In Spain, the EORI number is indispensable for a broad spectrum of entities engaged in international trade. This includes importers, exporters, and other parties involved in customs-related activities, both within the EU and from non-EU countries. Specifically, any business or individual involved in the movement of goods across EU borders must obtain an EORI number.

The requirement for an EORI number extends to economic operators established within the customs territory of the Union, who are registered by the customs authority of their respective Member State. This also applies to economic operators not established in the Union who must be registered by the customs authority of the Member State where they first carry out customs activities. These activities can range from submitting customs declarations to acting as a carrier for goods entering or exiting the EU.

Moreover, non-EU entities may need an EORI number when operating in Spain or any other EU country. For instance, if a non-EU company intends to import or export goods to or from Spain, they must apply for an EORI number at the Spanish customs office or at the office where they first perform commercial activities within the Union.

The necessity for an EORI number is not limited to companies; it also applies to self-employed individuals and private persons under certain conditions. In Spain, most small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are automatically registered for an EORI number that coincides with their tax identification number. However, individuals are typically not required to register unless they conduct more than five intra-community operations or fall under specific provisions of Member State legislation.

It is also worth noting that following Brexit, companies in Spain trading with the United Kingdom may need to apply for a separate EORI number issued by British institutions to comply with new border control regulations.

How to use your EORI number in Spain

For businesses engaging in trade within the European Union, the proper use of the EORI number is a critical component of customs compliance. This unique identifier must be included on all commercial invoices and relevant documentation for customs declarations, both when shipping to and from EU countries. It is the key to ensuring that shipments are processed efficiently and without unnecessary delays at customs.

When you are the exporter, your EORI number should be clearly stated on the commercial invoice, as it serves as a reference for customs authorities during checks and audits. Similarly, if you are importing goods into the EU, you must ensure that the EORI number of your recipient or importer is included on all shipping documents.

The Spanish tax authorities maintain a comprehensive record of all EORI users in Spain and are responsible for submitting this data to the central EORI system managed at the EU level. It is essential for economic operators to keep their information up-to-date with the tax authorities, as any changes must be reported and reflected in the EU-wide database. This information typically includes the assigned EORI number, the name of the entity or individual it has been assigned to, their address or place of establishment, VAT number, consent for data disclosure, and other pertinent personal data.

In essence, the EORI number not only facilitates smooth transit of goods across borders but also contributes to a transparent system where customs authorities can easily access and verify information about economic operators. By meticulously including your EORI number on all necessary documents, you ensure compliance with customs regulations and support efficient international trade operations.

What is the EORI number format for Spain?

The EORI number format is a standardized code essential for tracking and registering economic operators within the European Union.

In Spain, the format of the EORI number integrates the country’s ISO code with the Tax Identification Number (NIF) provided by the Spanish Tax Agency (AEAT). Specifically, a Spanish EORI number begins with the country’s two-digit ISO code ‘ES’, followed by the NIF, which is typically an eight-digit numerical code. This combination results in a consistent identifier, such as ES12345678, which remains unchanged even if there are modifications to the holder’s tax identification details.

For companies not established within the EU but opting to register for an EORI number in Spain, the format differs slightly. It starts with ‘ES’, followed by a ‘K’, then the ISO code of their home country, and lastly, the number assigned by their tax office.

For instance, a UK company’s EORI number registered in Spain would be formatted as ESKGBXXXXXXXXXX, where ‘XXXXXXXXXX’ represents their unique taxpayer reference.

This dual-part format ensures that each economic operator can be distinctly identified for customs and trade purposes throughout the EU.

It is important to note that post-Brexit, EORI numbers beginning with ‘GB’ originating from Britain are no longer valid within the EU. Foreign companies outside of the EU often choose to apply for an EORI number in a member state where they have VAT registration or are registered for One-Stop Shop (OSS) purposes.

The customs authorities in each EU member state are responsible for assigning EORI numbers after an operator registers for customs purposes. The EORI number is recognized across all EU countries and is mandatory for any company engaged in import/export activities in Spain.

Customs clearance documents on a desk, a crucial part of the process requiring an eori number in Spain.

Where do you get the EORI number for Spain?

To obtain an EORI number in Spain, the primary destination is the Spanish Tax Agency’s online platform, known as the AEAT. This digital portal allows for a streamlined application process that can be initiated from anywhere, provided you have internet access. Before applying, it’s essential to secure a digital certificate, which serves as an electronic ID for both Spanish nationals and foreigners. This certificate can also be acquired through the AEAT’s online platform.

The application process is designed to be user-friendly and efficient, with the EORI number typically issued within three days. However, given that every day of delay in customs actions can result in significant penalties, it’s advisable to apply for your EORI number well in advance of any planned shipping or trade activities.

It’s important to recognize that the EORI number isn’t instantly confirmed upon application; it undergoes a verification process and must receive official approval. Historically, applicants could expect an average processing time of three to four weeks when submitting their application through various means such as email, fax, or post. However, since the latter part of 2019, the entire process has been digitalized. 

For economic operators outside the EU who wish to apply for a Spanish EORI number in 2024, a specific form provided by the Agentia Tributaria must be completed. This form is necessary for non-EU entities seeking to lodge an exit or entry summary declaration as per Regulation (EU) No. 608/2013. Upon successful registration, non-EU legal entities will receive a 14-digit EORI code, facilitating their customs and trade operations within Spain and across the EU.

How to obtain the Spanish EORI number: procedure

The process for obtaining a Spanish EORI number is straightforward and can be completed through the electronic office of the Spanish Tax Agency (AEAT). Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Check if You Already Have an EORI Number: If you are a Spanish company or citizen, you might already have an EORI number assigned during your business registration. Non-EU companies, however, will need to undergo the application process and also register for VAT in Spain.
  2. Digital Certificate: Before applying, obtain a digital certificate from the AEAT’s online platform. This acts as your online identification.
  3. Document Preparation: You will need to provide identification documents, such as a NIE number for individuals or business registration documents for companies. These documents should be translated into Spanish.
  4. Online Application: Visit the AEAT’s electronic office (https://www.agenciatributaria.es) and select “Alta de EORI español.” Log in with your ID or digital certificate to proceed.
  5. Fill Out the Forms: Complete the application forms provided online. It is essential to note that all forms are in Spanish, so non-Spanish speakers may require assistance from specialized service providers.
  6. Submission and Verification: Once submitted, your application will undergo a verification process. The EORI number becomes legally valid once you receive confirmation from the AEAT.
  7. Timing: Apply at least three to four weeks before your intended customs activities to avoid delays and penalties.
  8. For Non-EU Companies: Non-EU entities should use the specific form provided by the AEAT for operators not established within the EU according to Regulation (EU) No. 608/2013.
  9. VAT Registration Not Required: It is not necessary to be VAT registered to apply for an EORI number, but you must have one if you are conducting taxable activities.
  10. Notification: The AEAT will notify you when your EORI number is activated and ready for use.
  11. Validity: Once obtained, your EORI number does not expire and is valid throughout the EU.
  12. Additional Information for Non-EU Traders: Non-EU traders may experience up to a 10-day issuance period for their EORI number, depending on various factors, so it is advised to obtain it before shipping goods.
  13. Electronic Data Processing: As per Article 6 of the Union Customs Code, all information exchanges with customs must be conducted electronically through the AEAT’s platform.
  14. EORI Application for Non-Established Operators: A special form is available for carriers not established in the EU who do not require a NIF in Spain. This can be submitted in paper form at any Customs and Excise Office.
  15. Data Disclosure: If desired, operators can choose to have their EORI number and related information published on the European Union website by giving express consent.

By following these steps and ensuring that all documentation is correctly prepared and submitted, businesses can obtain their Spanish EORI number efficiently and comply with EU customs regulations.

Ready to streamline your import and export activities in the EU? LaWants provides comprehensive guidance on obtaining your EORI number and optimizing your fiscal strategies. Contact us for dedicated support in Barcelona and Madrid.

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How long does it take to obtain the EORI number?

The timeframe for obtaining an EORI number in Spain is typically swift, with the process often being completed within 24 to 48 hours under normal conditions. However, it’s prudent to apply for your EORI number one to two weeks prior to the commencement of your import/export operations to ensure all goes smoothly, as the absence of this identifier can result in goods being held up at customs. 

It’s also worth noting that once issued, the Spanish EORI number does not expire and does not require renewal, making it a one-time administrative task that offers long-term benefits for your business’s international trade endeavors.

Are the EORI and VIES number the same thing?

The EORI and VIES numbers, despite having a similar structure, serve distinct purposes within the European Union’s regulatory framework.

The VIES (VAT Information Exchange System) number is primarily used to facilitate intra-community trade by allowing businesses to make VAT adjustments due to varying tax rates among EU Member States. It is a form of registration essential for any economic activity within the EU, enabling companies to legally engage in cross-border transactions and apply the correct VAT rules.

On the other hand, the EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number is utilized by customs authorities for monitoring and controlling imports and exports. It plays a critical role in the customs clearance process, ensuring that goods moving in and out of the EU are properly tracked.

In essence, while both numbers are identifiers used in international trade, the VIES number is geared towards VAT regulation and trade within the EU, whereas the EORI number is focused on customs control for import and export activities. To engage in intra-community trade, businesses must first obtain a VIES number; if their operations also involve importing or exporting goods, they must additionally secure an EORI number.

EORI number and VAT: understanding the connection

The EORI number and VAT registration in Spain are intrinsically linked, particularly for corporations such as public limited companies (S.A. in Spain) and limited liability companies (S.L. in Spain), which are pivotal players in the Spanish market. For these entities, the Spanish VAT Tax Identification Number (NIF-IVA), which begins with an ‘A’ for public limited companies or a ‘B’ for limited liability companies, doubles as their EORI number when prefixed with “ES”. This dual-purpose identifier streamlines the process, allowing for a seamless integration of customs and tax systems.

The Spanish authorities have proactively registered approximately 90% of Spanish companies within the EORI system, assigning numbers automatically to these legal entities. This preemptive measure significantly simplifies the EORI registration process for businesses already holding a VAT number, as they may not need to undergo separate EORI registration.

However, it’s crucial for businesses to verify that their Spanish EORI is valid and recognized across the EU. The official EU website provides a validation service that should be utilized to ensure compliance and avoid any potential disruptions in international trade activities. Businesses that are solely VAT-registered without an automatic EORI assignment must be particularly diligent in confirming their status to facilitate customs operations effectively.

How do you know if an operator has a valid EORI number?

To ascertain the validity of an EORI number, one can consult the European Commission’s EORI online database. This verification tool is particularly useful post-Brexit, as UK-based EORI numbers, previously prefixed with ‘GB’, are no longer accessible through this EU database. Instead, UK operators must now secure an EORI from the Member State where they intend to submit customs declarations. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland-based EORI numbers, prefixed with ‘XI’, remain queryable in accordance with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

For those seeking information on EORI numbers issued by Spanish authorities, there are two avenues: the State Tax Administration Agency’s portal offers direct access to the Spanish Census of EORI Economic Operators, while the TAXUD (European Commission) website facilitates broader verification within the European Census of Economic Operators. Both platforms are instrumental in confirming an operator’s established status, a mandatory requirement under EU regulations.

Logistics workers auditing a warehouse inventory, necessary for customs clearance with an eori number in Spain

Conclusion: maximizing the benefits of your EORI number

In conclusion, the EORI number stands as a cornerstone for businesses engaged in international trade within the European Union. This unique identifier streamlines customs procedures, enhances the efficiency of trade operations, and facilitates the monitoring of goods as they move across borders. It’s clear that possessing an EORI number is not just a regulatory requirement but a strategic asset for any economic operator looking to thrive in the EU market. Businesses are encouraged to remain vigilant about their EORI compliance to ensure uninterrupted trade and to leverage the full potential of their international commercial activities. By staying abreast of EORI regulations and maintaining a valid number, companies can maximize the benefits of their global operations and contribute to a more secure and efficient trading environment.

Don’t let the complexities of customs dampen your business ambitions in Spain. At LaWants, we specialize in helping international businesses thrive. Contact us for personalized accounting and tax consultancy services that align with your goals.

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