Who is concerned?
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All economic operators involved in customs transactions and international logistics are concerned.
Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) and facilitation
Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status is granted by Member States to economic operators. AEO status can be granted to any economic operator established in the EU that meets the following common criteria stipulated in customs law.
- An appropriate record of compliance with customs requirements;
- A satisfactory system of managing commercial and, where appropriate, transport records, which allows appropriate customs controls;
- Proven financial solvency;
- Where applicable, appropriate security and safety standards.
Economic operators who wish to apply for AEO status should apply to an AEO competent customs authority.
Authorised Economic Operators benefit both from simplifications provided for by the customs rules and/or facilitation with regard to customs controls related to security and safety, according the type of certificate they obtain.
What should traders know about AEO status?
Economic operators should be familiar with the guidelines on AEO
The guidelines are divided into three parts. In Part one (see page 5) provides the general information about the AEO status and explains important concepts based on adopted legislation, such as:
- Explanations about the different categories of AEO;
- Information on who can become an AEO;
- 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 advice to customs authorities on how to speed up the authorisation process, keeping in consideration all factors facilitating the authorisation process such as: any information that customs already has on the economic operator, self-assessment carried out by the applicant before submitting an application, existing standards held by the applicant; existing conclusions of the relevant experts and any other information useful to avoid double checking , wasting time and resources by customs and increasing costs for operators;
- Guidance for both customs authorities and trade on how to facilitate the procedure for parent/subsidiary companies. It is explained that each subsidiary wishing to apply for AEO status shall submit a complete and separate application form, nevertheless some facilitation is envisaged for companies that apply the same corporate/standards/procedures for their customs activities;
- An explanation of the concept of the international supply chain and its security. In this context the concept of "business partners' security" is explained and examples on how to secure the supply chain are provided. The most relevant stakeholders in an international supply chain that could be involved in customs operations are listed and a short description of them and of their role in the supply chain is provided;
- A complete list of benefits and related explanations both for customs simplifications and security facilitation is provided.
- In order to improve relations between traders and customs administrations, it is strongly recommended that Member State customs authorities set up a dedicated service for Authorised Economic Operators, where they can direct any questions they have on AEO matters (see the list of AEO contact points ). See also the note to AEO contact points on EORI numbers in AEO applications .
- A complete explanation for determining the competent Member State to which the AEO application has to be submitted, including concrete examples, in order to help traders easily decide which is the competent Member State.
Part Two (see page 30) focuses on the criteria operators must meet in order to obtain AEO status. It is structured in sections and each section relates to a specific criterion. For each criterion a template has been prepared containing the relevant risks (indicators) related to that criterion, a short description of the risk (risk description) and the relevant questions to keep in mind in order to assess it (points for attention) . The last column lists references, where existing, to possible internationally recognised standards that could facilitate the process.
Part Three contains a table of criteria that apply to the different actors in the supply chain. Different operators are required to meet a set of criteria that relate to their different roles in the supply chain.
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.
What does an economic operator need to do before starting customs activities in the EU?
Any economic operator established in the EU needs to have an EORI number. Economic operators established outside the EU have to be assigned an EORI number if they lodge a customs declaration, an Entry or an Exit Summary Declaration. AEO applicants in particular (see above) need to have an EORI number that they must enter in box 9 of the AEO application form (see also the Guidelines on EORI below).
Moreover, it is irrelevant if the economic operator is a company (legal person) or a natural person. Even an individual needs to have a valid registration number, used by one of the Member States as from 1 July 2009. Many Member States use their current identification systems. As such only new operators should register. In the last case the application should be sent to the relevant authorities of the Member States in which the economic operator is established (in case of EU economic operators) - see also the EORI Guidelines. Online access to EORI is available from our Databases web page.
An economic operator not established in the European Community customs territory also needs to apply for an EORI number. From 1 July 2009 economic operators from third countries need an EORI number in order to:
- lodge a customs declaration, an Entry Summary Declaration or an Exit Summary Declaration ,
- apply for AEO status (Authorised Economic Operator),
- apply for simplifications in economic procedures.
The list of other possible cases and exclusions is provided in the EORI Guidelines. Economic operators from third countries should apply for an EORI number in the country in which one of the above mentioned cases takes place. See the latest indicative information about the EORI National Implementation .
EORI e-learning tool
An e-learning course on EORI is now available for download.