Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)
One of the main elements of the security amendment of the Community Customs Code ( Regulation (EC) 648/2005) is the creation of the AEO concept.
On the basis of Article 5a of the security amendments, Member States can grant the AEO status to any economic operator meeting the following common criteria: customs compliance, appropriate record-keeping, financial solvency and, where relevant, appropriate security and safety standards.
The status of authorised economic operator granted by one Member State is recognised by the other Member States. This does not automatically allow AEO to benefit from simplifications provided for in the customs rules in the other Member States. However, other Member States should grant the use of simplifications to authorised economic operators if they meet specific requirements and without re-examining criteria that have been already checked.
Economic operators can apply for an AEO status either to have easier access to customs simplifications or to be in a more favourable position to comply with the new security requirements. Under the security framework, which has been applicable since 1 July 2009, economic operators have to submit pre-arrival and pre-departure information on goods entering or leaving the EU. The security type of AEO certificate and the combined one allow their holders to benefit from facilitations with regard to the customs controls relating to security.
The detailed provisions are laid down in the amendment (by Regulation 1875/2006) of the Implementing Provisions of the Community Customs Code. These provisions were drafted on the basis of experiences from the AEO Pilot conducted in 2006. Regulation (EC) 197/2010 has established new time limits for issuing the AEO certificate
Regulation (EC) No 1192/2008 aligns the rules for granting both the AEO certificate for customs simplifications and the single authorisation for simplified procedures ( SASP). Being an AEO facilitates the process of achieving a single authorisation for simplified procedures as the relevant criteria are deemed to be met.
The AEO Guidelines
The AEO Guidelines, recently updated to keep in consideration the experience so far gained, ensure harmonised implementation of the AEO rules throughout the EU, guaranteeing the equal treatment of economic operators and transparency of the rules.
The AEO guidelines are composed by a set containing the guidelines itself and three annexes: the Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SaQ) and its explanatory note, the list of possible risks, threats and solutions and a template of Security declaration.
The AEO guidelines explain the AEO concept based on the adopted legislation, including:
- Explanations about what an AEO is and on the different categories of AEO;
- A description of the AEO benefits, including a specific section on mutual recognition;
- A detailed description of the AEO criteria;
- A detailed explanation of the application and authorisation process including guidance on which is the competent Member State where the AEO application has to be submitted, on the acceptance of the application, and on how to conduct effective and efficient risk analysis and audits;
- A specific section dedicated to Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SME) with guidance on how to examine the AEO requirements if the applicant is an SME.
- A section giving information on the factors that help customs authorities to speed up the authorisation process;
- Guidance for both customs authorities and economic operators on how to facilitate the procedure for parent/subsidiary companies;
- A specific section on how Member States cooperate in exchanging information;
- Guidance on how to perform monitoring after an AEO certificate has been issued;
- A complete explanation on the concept of "business partners' security", including their identification and possible measures for securing.
AEO guidelines . The guidelines are available in 21 languages.
The AEO Self-Assessment questionnaire– Annex 1 to the AEO Guidelines
This document is a practical tool to enable an economic operator to perform a self-assessment and it is strongly recommended that it be submitted together with the application for the AEO status. The self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ), agreed between EU Member States and the European Commission, is harmonised at European level in order to guarantee a uniform approach throughout EU.
Explanatory Notes for AEO Self-Assessment
The SAQ and its explanatory notes are being translated and will soon be available in other languages
It should be noted that there may be some instances where specific national provisions may require additional information or adaptation of the model.
Threats, Risks and possible solutions document – Annex 2 to the AEO Guidelines
It is a lively document aimed at helping both economic operators and customs authorities throughout the AEO procedure, providing them a list of the most significant risks related to the AEO authorisation and monitoring process, and possible solutions on how to keep these risks under control.
Threats Risk and possible solution document . This document is available in 21 languages.
See also AEO COMPACT Model
AEO Security declaration Template – Annex 3 to the AEO Guidelines . available in 21 languages
Where to submit the AEO application:
Economic operators who wish to apply for AEO status should submit the application to an AEO competent customs authority. The competent customs authority informs all Member States of the accepted application by uploading the application in the EU AEO system. This computerised system allows customs authorities to upload AEO applications and certificates, to exchange information and to consult anotherMember State when required by legislation.
For further information related to specific EU Member States please contact the appointed contact points in the Member States' customs authorities .
In order to support the introduction of the AEO rules a network has been set up between the Member States' customs authorities and European Commission experts (Directorate General for Taxation and Customs Union).
It is also possible to get information on the AEO national WebPages of Member States:
Authorised Economic Operators are entitled to use the AEO logo. The logo is not freely available for downloading. AEO can get it by asking national Customs authorities which has granted the AEO status.
The AEO logo is copyrighted and the rights belong to the European Union. Any abuse will be pursued according to EU law.
AEO e-learning tool:
For more information about the AEO concept see the AEO e-learning tool. It explains the background of the AEO concept, why it was introduced, the application process, connected benefits and many other details.
Database on AEO (Authorised Economic Operators):
The database of economic operators holding a valid AEO certificate, and who gave their agreement to the publication of their details, is available on the "Online databases" page.
A number of other initiatives on transport security are being developed. For more information on these initiatives, see DG Mobility & Transport's security section.