The status of «Authorised Economic Operator» (AEO) entered into force in all member states as from 1st of January 2008. AEOs shall benefit from:
The Department of Customs and Excise pays particular attention on the proper implementation of the customs legislation on AEOs, so that a balance may be maintained between customs controls and facilitation for compliant traders.
- simplifications provided for by the customs rules; and / or
- facilitations with regard to customs controls related to security and safety.
2. Legal provisions
- Regulation (EC) No 648/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 13 April 2005, amending Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code (Article 5a)
- Commission Regulation (EC) No 1875/2006, of 18 December 2006, amending Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93 laying down provisions for the implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code (Articles 14a – 14x)
“Economic operator” means a person who, in the course of his business, is involved in activities covered by customs legislation.
“Authorised economic operator” can be defined as an economic operator who is reliable throughout the Community in the context of his customs related operations, and, therefore, is entitled to enjoy benefits throughout the Community, depending on the type of the AEO certificate obtained.
4. Who can become an AEO
Applications for AEO status may be submitted only by economic operators. An AEO can be a: Manufacturer Exporter Freight Forwarder Warehouse keeper Customs Agent Carrier Importer.
5. Criteria to be fulfilled
Article 5a of the Community Customs Code, Reg. 2913/92, as amended by Regulation (EC) no 648/05 provides for the granting of the status of AEO to reliable traders that fulfil the following criteria:
The AEO criteria apply to all businesses regardless of their size.
- 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; and
- where applicable, appropriate security and safety standards [in cases where the application concerns an AEO Certificate – Security and Safety (AEOS) or an AEO Certificate – Customs Simplifications / Security and Safety (AEOF)].
6. Types of AEO certificates
There are three (3) types of AEO certificates, as follows:
6.1. AEO Certificate – Customs Simplifications (AEOC)
This is issued to any economic operator, established in the Community, who fulfils the criteria of customs compliance, appropriate record-keeping standards and financial solvency and requests to benefit from simplifications provided for under the customs rules.
6.2. AEO Certificate – Security and Safety (AEOS)
This is issued to any economic operator who requests to benefit from facilitations of customs controls relating to security and safety when the goods enter or leave the customs territory of the Community, is established in the Community, fulfils the criteria of customs compliance, appropriate record-keeping standards and financial solvency and maintains appropriate security and safety standards (an exception from the general rule of being established in the Community is provided for in Articles 14g and 14k (2) of Reg.2454/93, i.e. an airline or a shipping company).
6.3. AEO Certificate – Customs Simplifications / Security and Safety (AEOF)
This is issued to any economic operator who is established in the Community, fulfils the criteria of customs compliance, appropriate record-keeping standards and financial solvency, maintains appropriate security and safety standards and requests to benefit from all the AEO benefits.
7. Application process for the granting of an AEO certificate
7.1 Application form
Application form can also be obtained from the regional Custom Houses. The application properly completed should be submitted to Customs Headquarters together with the relevant documents and the AEO Questionnaire Self-assessment (see point 7.3 below).
7.2 Contact person
The applicant shall provide a readily accessible central point or nominate a contact person within the administration of the applicant, in order to make available to Customs all the information required to prove that the applicant fulfils the requirements for the issuance of the AEO certificate.
7.3 AEO questionnaire self-assessment
The questionnaire provides a list of questions to assist both economic operators and customs authorities to assess whether the AEO criteria are met or not. The aim is to assess the existing risks for the individual applicant within the international supply chain and focus only on relevant risks and relevant points of attention in order to detect and investigate what measures the applicant has taken to deal with those risks.
The completed questionnaire must be submitted together with the application form.
Applicants are advised to read carefully the relevant AEO Explanatory Notes when answering the said AEO questionnaire.
Note: The questionnaire is divided into 5 Sections. The first section enables customs authorities to establish an overall view of the applicant from a «customs» perspective. Each further Section corresponds to a specific criterion described in Article 5a of the Customs Code (CC) and in the relevant article of the Customs Code Implementing Provisions (CCIP). It is to be noted that Section 5 of the said questionnaire should not be completed in cases where the application concerns the AEO certificate – customs simplifications (AEOC) only.
8. Cases whereby applications shall not be accepted
Applications shall not be accepted in any of the following cases:
9. Issuance or rejection
- if the application does not comply with Articles 14c and 14d of Reg. 1875/06 (i.e. the correct application form is not used, it does not contain all the relevant information, etc);
- if the applicant has been convicted for a serious criminal offence associated with his economic activity;
- if the applicant is subject to bankruptcy proceedings at the time of the submission of the application;
- if the applicant’s legal representative in customs matters has been convicted for a serious criminal offence related to an infringement of customs rules and associated to his activity as a legal representative;
- if the application is submitted within three years after the revocation of the AEO certificate (except in cases where the said revocation was effected on request by the authorised economic operator).
In cases where the conditions and criteria are met, Customs shall issue the appropriate AEO certificate, which shall take effect on the 10th working day after the date of its issue.
If this is not the case, the application shall be rejected. However, where the intention of the Department is to reject the application, this fact shall be made known to the applicant and he shall be given the opportunity to respond, before the rejection.
In either case the applicant shall be informed in writing.
After the certificate is granted, the authorised economic operator shall notify the customs authorities of all information, which may influence its continuation or content.
10. AEO benefits
It should be noted that an AEO certificate is issued to the applicant and not to his clients. Therefore, benefits can be enjoyed by the AEO only.
The AEO benefits, depending on the type of the AEO certificate, are summarised here below:
11. AEO e-learning module for traders under Customs 2013 programme of the EU
- fewer physical and document – based controls;
- priority, if consignments are selected for control;
- option of the place where controls will take place;
- easier admittance to customs simplifications (this benefit has been applicable to holders of an AEO certificate - customs simplifications or of AEO certificate – customs simplifications / security and safety);
- reduced data for summary declarations (this benefit will apply as from 1 July 2009 and is applicable to holders of AEO certificate – security and safety or of AEO certificate – customs simplifications / security and safety);
- prior notification (this benefit will apply as from 1 July 2009 and is applicable to holders of AEO certificate – security and safety or of AEO certificate – customs simplifications / security and safety);
- indirect benefits (benefits that are not directly linked to the customs side of his business, i.e. fewer cases of theft, fewer delayed shipments, improved planning, etc);
- improved relations with the customs authorities;
- recognised as a secure and safe business partner;
- mutual recognition.
Within the framework of the Customs 2013 programme, the European Commission has developed an AEO e-learning module for traders. The aim of this module is to facilitate traders to understand what an AEO is and why it is to their benefit to apply for an AEO certificate.
The AEO e-learning tool for economic operators is available on TAXUD`s website:
12. European Commission AEO Guidelines
To ensure a common understanding and uniform application of the new customs legislation relating to the AEO concept and to guarantee transparency and equal treatment of economic operators, the European Commission has issued guidelines of an explanatory nature (TAXUD /B2/047/2011-Rev.3).
Applicants are advised to read very carefully the said guidelines before submitting an AEO application. Please consult TAXUD customs and security website to find the latest version of the AEO guidelines.
For more information, you may write to the following address.
Information regarding Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) is also available at the European Commission website under the title: European Commission - Taxation and Customs Union / Customs / Policy Issues / Customs and Security