Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)

What is an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)?

As a part of the EU Customs code modernisation, customs authorities need to look at more efficient ways to allocate resources using risk based techniques and placing increased reliance on the processes in place within trusted shippers.  Since 2007, customs in the EU have developed an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) certification for companies that could demonstrate a strong track record of customs compliance, processes and systems in order to ensure adequate customs controls, financial solvency as well as physical and security standards.

What are the benefits of AEO certification?

Companies with this certification are treated as lower risk by customs.  This results in benefits such as a lower rate of compliance inspections, as well as simplified import and export documentation requirements.

  • Reduction in the number of control checks by customs
  • Fewer customs related supply chain delays
  • Eliminate the need for a separate financial guarantee for bonded operations
  • Being viewed in the marketplace as a trusted shipper. Contributing to international cargo safety and security
  • International recognition of AEO status by customs in key markets including US, China, Japan and India

What are the different types of AEO?

EU customs have provided options to limit the scope of the AEO certification to customs practices only (AEOC) or to product safety and security (AEOS), in addition to a full scope certification (AEOF).

Depending on the scope of your operations, it may be appropriate to consider AEOC or AEOF.  These deal with subsets of the processes required for the full certification, but the associated benefits of AEO are also restricted based on that scope.


Interest in AEO has increased significantly, in the context of Brexit.   While there remains no certainty about post Brexit customs arrangements, most scenarios involve shipments between the EU and the UK becoming third country shipments which will be the subject of customs inspection.

There is no planned priority lane for AEO shipments.  Customs authorities will however need to increase their reliance on shipper profiles in managing risk across increased third country shipment volumes.

There have also been several references through the negotiations to the possible future role of 'trusted trader' programs like AEO in providing the basis for streamlined customs reporting in the future.

With the lack of certainty about the future, many companies have seen AEO certification as a 'no regret' action that they can take to prepare their business for an environment with increased customs related activity.

Certification process

Customs authorities in one of the EU states manages the certification process, which is then recognised across the union by all other member states.  It involves a multi stage process over approximately six months, during which the customs authorities need to satisfy themselves on the customs track record, the nature of customs and security controls in place, as well as the financial health of the applicant.

Where to start?

The process starts with a detailed self-assessment by the applicant describing the nature of the business and its' financials and key personnel, as well as outlining all of the relevant process controls as part of a formal application.

What is included in the formal certification?

The applicant must also demonstrate that they have considered potential customs and security risks and threats for their business and make appropriate process changes to address them.  Customs will then assess the application based on the self assessment and will validate the financial and customs track record of the company as well as key personnel.

They will also conduct physical audits of the processes at key operating locations, prior to making a decision on the application.  Once certified, customs will continue to monitor and will conduct additional checks and audits periodically.

Certification support

PerformanSC has a highly experienced compliance team that has guided dozens of companies in the UK and Ireland through AEO certification.

  • Advice on suitability (or otherwise) of AEO.
  • Training in-house or through public courses.
  • Gap analysis and readiness assessment.
  • Process development and training
  • Managed application, ensuring company understanding of responsibilities.
  • Targeted post-certification support to maintain compliance.

PerformanSC assist companies in Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) certification

We are available now to guide and support you and your team through the process.

If you are interested in learning more about the certification support we provide, please submit your details in the form below and one of our team will be in touch within 24 hours.