Taxation and customs union

Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)

 

What is AEO

The AEO concept is based on the Customs-to-Business partnership introduced by the World Customs Organisation (WCO). Traders who voluntarily meet a wide range of criteria work in close cooperation with customs authorities to assure the common objective of supply chain security and are entitled to enjoy benefits throughout the EU.

The EU established its AEO concept based on the internationally recognised standards, creating a legal basis for it in 2008 through the 'security amendments' to the "Community Customs Code" (CCC) (Regulation (EC) 648/2005) and its implementing provisions.

The programme, which aims to enhance international supply chain security and to facilitate legitimate trade, is open to all supply chain actors. It covers economic operators authorised for customs simplification (AEOC), security and safety (AEOS) or a combination of the two.

On the basis of Article 39 of the Union Customs Code (UCC), the AEO status can be granted to any economic operator meeting the following common criteria:

Conditions and criteria AEOC AEOS
Compliance with customs legislation and taxation rules and absence of criminal offences related to the economic activity. X X
Appropriate record keeping. X X
Financial solvency. X X
Proven practical standards of competence or professional qualifications. X  
Appropriate security and safety measures.   X

The AEO status granted by one Member State is recognised by the customs authorities in all Member States (Article 38 (4) UCC).

 

Who can become AEO

Any economic operator established in the customs territory of the Union who is part of the international supply chain and is involved in customs-related operations, may apply for the AEO status.

 

AEO Benefits

AEO benefits are an integral part of the EU legislation governing the AEO status. The AEO benefits, dependant on the type of the authorisation, are summarised in the table below:

Benefit AEOC AEOS
Easier admittance to customs simplifications X  
Fewer physical and document-based controls
  • related to security & safety
  • related to other customs legislation

 

 

X

X
Prior notification in case of selection for physical control (related to safety and security)   X
Prior notification in case of selection for customs control (related to other customs legislation) X  
Priority treatment if selected for control X X
Possibility to request a specific place for customs controls X X
Indirect benefits
(Recognition as a secure and safe business partner, Improved relations with Customs and other government authorities; Reduced theft and losses; Fewer delayed shipments; Improved planning; Improved customer service; Improved customer loyalty; Lower inspection costs of suppliers and increased co-operation etc)
X X
Mutual Recognition with third countries   X

 

Mutual Recognition

What is Mutual Recognition of AEOs?

Mutual Recognition of AEOs is a key element of the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards to strengthen end-to-end security of supply chains and to multiply benefits for traders.

By mutual recognition of AEOs two customs administrations agree to

  • recognise the AEO authorisation issued under the other programme and
  • provide reciprocal benefits to AEOs of the other programme.

The EU has concluded and implemented Mutual Recognition of AEO programmes with Norway, Switzerland, Japan, Andorra, the US and China. Further negotiations are currently taking place or will be launched in the near future with the other most important trading partners. In addition, the EU is providing technical assistance to a number of countries to prepare them to set up AEO programmes.

What are the benefits of Mutual Recognition?

The specific benefits are contained in each individual Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), but in general the benefits include the following core elements:

  • Fewer security and safety related controls
  • Recognition of business partners during the application process
  • Priority treatment at customs clearance
  • Business continuity mechanism

How to participate in Mutual Recognition?

Holders of AEO authorisations with the safety and security component (AEOS or AEOC/AEOS) are eligible to participate in Mutual Recognition. They have to provide their written consent to exchange company details with partner countries (e.g. name, address, identifier). The consent can be provided by filling in the respective box in the Annex to the Self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ), but it also can be provided or withdrawn at any time by written request to the competent customs authority of the EU Member State concerned.

How to get the Mutual Recognition benefits?

  • In order to benefit from the “Recognition of business partners during the application process” EU companies applying for AEOC/AEOS status in the EU are requested to indicate the name, address and AEO number of any business partner which is AEO in one of the countries that the EU has an MRA with in the SAQ section 6.10. These business partners are considered safe and secure and generally no additional requirements (security declaration etc.) will be asked from the applicant.
  • In order to benefit from “fewer security and safety related controls and priority treatment at customs clearance” the AEO has to communicate its EORI number to their business partner in the respective MRA partner country. The business partner enters the EORI number in the declaration form for the import process into the MRA partner country. Further details are available in the FAQs referred to under 6.III of the AEO Guidelines.

 

List of mutual recognition agreements/arrangements and further information

CHINA

Joint statement (C/2015/4270-annex)
Information note on the joint statement
Information note on implementing mutual recognition
FAQs on EU-China mutual recognition of AEOs

JAPAN

Decision (OJ L 279 of 23 of October 2010)
Information note

NORWAY

Agreement (OJ L 232 of 3 of September 2009)

SWITZERLAND

The agreement (OJ L 199 of 31 of July 2009)

USA

Press release with video (IP/12/449)
Decision (OJ L 144 of 5 of June 2012)
Information note
Instructions on CBP portal for matching EORI and MID Number
FAQ on EU-USA mutual recognition of AEO's

 

Cooperation with other government authorities

Cooperation with other competent authorities and alignment of programmes have been identified and recognised as a key element for the further development of a robust AEO programme. It is to ensure global supply chain security and to avoid duplication of efforts and costs for authorities and economic operators.

As such it has been incorporated since the beginning at an international level in the WCO SAFE as well as in the EU legislation.

At EU level work has been initiated in a number of areas (e.g. aviation security, maritime, export controls, etc.) with a view to identify synergies and to avoid duplication of administrative burden.

The EU Strategy and Action Plan for customs risk management and in particular the inclusion of a specific objective related to interagency cooperation and information sharing between customs and other authorities had a crucial role in this area.

Besides, there are a number of certificates or authorisations in other policy areas for which the requirements are identical or similar to one or more of the AEO criteria, or directly linked to the AEO status:

  • Civil aviation - Regulated Agent, Known Consignor, Account Consignor

If a holder of an AEOS applies for the status of a Regulated Agent (RA) or a Known Consignor (KC), the respective security requirements are deemed to be met to the extent that the criteria for issuing the AEO status are identical or correspond to those for RA or KC status. The same principle applies vice versa.
In case of an Account Consignor (AC), holders of an AEOS do not need to sign the declaration of commitments 'account consignor’, and are recognised as AC by the regulated agent, provided that all other requirements established by the Union legislation in the field of aviation security are met.

  • Approved Economic Operator (APEO)

For economic operators dealing with fishery products and catch certificates it is possible to apply for the status of an APEO. APEO should be eligible to use simplified procedures regarding the import of fishery products into the EU.

For issuing the status of an APEO it is mandatory to have an AEO status as laid down in the relevant regulations. Besides, if the APEO applicant is holder of an AEOS authorisation, the application process is simplified.

  • Others

Security and safety is gaining in significance and importance for different stakeholders. The AEO status is one of the biggest security initiatives worldwide and attracting increasing attention.

At the same time, certificates and authorisations granted by customs or other government authorities facilitate the authorisation procedures.

 

AEO Logo
AEO_final cs

Authorised Economic Operators are entitled to use the AEO logo. The logo is not freely available for downloading. It is provided by the Issuing Customs Authorities.

The AEO logo can be used under the following conditions:

  • only the holder of a valid AEO authorisation can use the logo;
  • the AEO must stop using it as soon as its AEO status is suspended or revoked.

The AEO logo is copyrighted and the rights belong to the European Union. Any abuse will be pursued according to EU law.