An EORI Number Is Now Mandatory For New Customs Applications For Action

Gokcen Uzer Cengelci / Lisa Wright,

Customs enforcement is just one type of IP enforcement action (perhaps the most actively used) and arguably the most important one for stopping the export-import of counterfeit products. 

If you hold the IP rights to a product, you can defend these rights by asking customs to detain goods that you suspect may be infringing your IP at the border. This is known as making an application for action (AFA) in the EU. By making the EORI a mandatory field it will make it easier for customs to spot counterfeit goods.

Within the customs procedure in the EU; the “Economic Operators Registration and Identification number” (EORI number), which is an ID number assigned by a customs authority to any businesses or people (economic operators) wishing to trade in the EU, is now mandatory for any new, amended, or extended customs application for action (AFA). 

This has been stipulated by the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1209 of 13 August 2020 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1352/2013, which establishes the forms provided for in Regulation (EU) No 608/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning customs enforcement of intellectual property rights.

The new requirement came into force on 15 September 2020.

How effective are custom authorities in deterring the trade in counterfeits?

Statistics published on 19 September 2019 by the European Commission show that in 2018 more than 27 million articles were suspected of violating intellectual property rights. And, almost 70 000 detention cases were registered by EU customs authorities. 

Under EU laws, which have achieved a considerable degree of harmonization in terms of customs actions thanks to the EU Customs Union 2021-2027, customs have the power to detain goods at the border upon request of the right holder who believes such goods infringe their IP rights, or ex officio (that is, by the customs’ own initiative, where there is a suspicion of infringement).

The history behind the EORI number

The EORI system was introduced in 2009 to increase the security around sensitive customs authority information within the EU, as well as making the transportation of goods across the bloc smoother.

The EORI number is provided to customs authorities when goods enter or leave a customs territory. The EORI number is unique to its owner, which facilitates quick identification. The number usually consists of the country code of the issuing Member State followed by the company’s VAT number or the ID number of the person in that Member State.

Requesting an EORI number

The following sets out how to obtain an EORI number:

  • persons established in the customs territory of the Union should request the assignment of the EORI number to the customs authorities of the EU country in which they are established.
  • persons not established in the customs territory of the Community should request the assignment of the EORI number to the customs authorities of the EU country responsible for the place where they first lodge a declaration or apply for a decision.

How to get your EORI number

If you use the IP Enforcement Portal you can file your AFAs electronically. As the Portal guides you through the AFA application form, it will show you exactly where to include the EORI number.  The requirement of an EORI number will make it easier for customs officers to identify goods suspected of infringing IP rights and take required action. 

Henk Molegraaf - DG Taxud – EU Commission and Nicole Semjevski – Observatory, EUIPO are delivering a series of live Tuesday webinars to give an overview into how to complete a new application for action forms and the EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number.

Register for EUIPO webinar now

Because the EORI system was introduced over ten years ago, most companies and people who trade within the EU have a number. If you do not have one, the application process is fairly easy and you should receive your number within three working days.

Final words

From a brand owner perspective, it’s hoped that making an EORI number compulsory will indeed help EU Member States’ border controls to quickly identify and detain counterfeit products.

Regrettably, however, the advent of the pandemic in 2020 and subsequent workplace health and safety measures have created an environment in which it is more difficult for customs officials to inspect as many shipments as in previous years. For brand owners to ensure that their goods and IP assets are well protected, customs enforcement is just one piece of the puzzle. In a world in which e-commerce is increasing and physical inspections are more difficult, expansive online monitoring with cutting-edge technology is becoming ever more necessary.

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By Gokcen Uzer Cengelci / Lisa Wright
Gokcen Uzer Cengelci, Trademark Counsel at TrademarkNow, worked as a trademark attorney for over 12 years in top-tier trademark law firms where she specialized in opposition procedures and trademark portfolio management strategies. She regularly publishes articles on trademark law and has a deep interest in the role of legal tech in IP. Lisa Wright, Content Writer at TrademarkNow is a graduate of the University of Law. She researches and publishes books, articles, and webinars on global IP law and trademark activity.