Some 60% of businesses trading with UK have yet to get key customs registration

EORI number will be needed in no-deal Brexit

More than 60 per cent of businesses that trade with the United Kingdom have yet to engage with a critical customs registration process to ease delays post-Brexit, a Fianna Fáil analysis has found.

Through a parliamentary question, Fianna Fáil's Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers established that 58,000 such businesses do not have an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number.

An EORI number is a requirement for traders dealing with non-EU “third countries” and will be needed for businesses with UK operations in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

Ms Chambers noted that Revenue has identified 94,000 businesses that traded with the UK in 2018. Of those, about 58,000, or 61 per cent, have yet to get an EORI number. Figures supplied to her also indicate that of the businesses with import or export trade in excess of €50,000 per year, the number without an EORI number is about 3,500.


“These figures are alarming and underscore that the Government’s messaging on preparing for Brexit is not resonating with businesses,” she said.

“Whilst I understand that some of these businesses may have reoriented their supply chains which may negate the need for an EORI number, the reality is that if a no-deal Brexit happens on the 31st of October thousands of businesses are exposed which will put jobs at risk.”

Revenue advice

In his reply to her parliamentary question, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe noted Revenue advice showing that 90 per cent of the value of UK imports and 97 per cent of the value of exports to the UK was carried out by businesses with an EORI number. He said this indicates that businesses expected to be significantly impacted by Brexit "are responding to the call from Revenue to prepare for Brexit by acquiring a customs registration".

"Some businesses are clearly planning on changing their trade patterns to source products within Ireland or from other member states post-Brexit. Other businesses are part of larger groups that have customs expertise within the group and may transfer the customs operations to the more experienced part of the business," Mr Donohoe added.

Ms Chambers said it is nonetheless incumbent upon the Government to ensure that “no stone is left unturned in preparing” for the potential of a no-deal Brexit.

The data supplied to Ms Chambers indicates that almost 80 per cent of accommodation and food services businesses that traded with the UK last year don’t have an EORI number. In the case of the construction industry that figure was 75 per cent, while in the financial and insurance activities sector it was 81 per cent.

The head of Revenue's Brexit policy unit, Lynda Slattery, previously warned that businesses without an EORI number are running a "real and unnecessary risk" that their businesses will experience significant delays post-Brexit.

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business