How to ship within the EU

From EORI numbers to EFTA, there are a few terms you need to be aware of when shipping within the EU. Find out what they mean and what else you need to check before shipping. 

What is the EU?

The European Union is a political and economic union of 28 member states, consisting of countries primarily based in Europe. It’s a single market based on four freedoms – people, goods, services and capital. And all four can move freely between all member states.

This means goods can be transported between member states without the need for customs control and payment of duties and taxes. So goods from an EU country can be shipped to another EU country in free circulation without a commercial invoice.

However, while movement within the EU may be free of customs regulations – export controls, export licences, restrictions and dangerous goods rules may still apply on goods going in and out of your country.

What are the requirements to ship within the EU?

All businesses based in the EU that trade internationally must be registered with their national authority and have an EORI number.

What is an EORI number?

‘EORI number’ is short for ‘Economic Operators Registration and Identification Number’ and is a system of unique identification numbers used by customs authorities throughout the European Union.

Where do I get one?

You can get an EORI number from the customs authority in your country.

What about special territories?

There are overseas and special territories within Europe such as Guadeloupe and the Canary Islands. These territories often have direct association and agreements with the EU, which means while they form part of the EU, they may require a customs declaration to move goods in and out of their country, and duties and taxes may have to be paid.

To find out if you need a customs declaration for one of the overseas or special territories, check your country’s government website as you’ll need to provide a commercial invoice. You can also ask the receiver or your chosen carrier.

What is EFTA?

It’s important to note that while Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein are a part of Europe, they’re not in the EU. But they have a trade agreement with the EU as another customs union called EFTA, the European Free Trade Association. This means you need to declare your goods at customs, as well as provide a commercial invoice and other necessary documents. Find out more about this topic on the EFTA website.

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