The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, entering a transition period during which the UK and EU continue to act for most purposes as if the UK were still a Member State. That period is due to end at 11pm (UK time) on 31 December 2020 after which time the UK will leave the EU customs area.

Businesses based in, or trading with, Northern Ireland will need an EORI number starting with 'XI' (XI EORI number), as well as an EORI number starting with a 'GB' (GB EORI number) to continue trading from January 2021. HMRC will automatically issue an XI EORI number to all businesses with a GB EORI number and who are signed up for the newly established Trader Support Service (TSS) by 14 December 2020. Sign up for the TSS here.

To be issued with an XI EORI number, a business must already have a GB EORI number. It is possible to apply for a GB and XI EORI number at the same time, and businesses are urged to apply as soon as possible, as it can take up to 4 working days for one to be issued.

The Cabinet Office has recently issued guidance on requirements to continue trading in Northern Ireland from January 2021. While this clarity is welcome, it does leave unprepared businesses a matter of days to check supply chains and plan for any disruption.

The requirement to obtain an XI EORI number is just one of many important points to be considered in advance of 31 December 2020; read our recent blog on customs preparations and the Brodies' Brexit Checklist for businesses for guidance on other necessary steps.


Isobel d'Inverno

Director of Corporate Tax