Guide on Authorized Economic Operators

What are authorized economic operators (AEOs)?

AEOs are businesses and other entities certified by customs authorities to trade goods across borders under international supply chain security standards. Businesses holding AEO status are recognized within industries and supply chains that are relevant for international trade. An AEO status provides a competitive edge because it enhances efficiency in managing trade-related procedures (see guide on customs and border procedures) and reflects capacity in meeting market access requirements (see guide on trade requirements). You can apply for AEO status at the customs authorities in your country (if available) and benefit from faster procedures to export or import your products. Learn more from the UNECE, Accon and Crossflight websites.

Why does an AEO status matter for trade?

With international trade increasing over the years, cross-border movement of goods has become a complex process for customs authorities to manage with increased security standards in many economies and an increase of small, low-value shipments. If applying for AEO status is an option available in your country, you may want to consider this option to build confidence with customs authorities and customers, thereby enhancing the reputation of your business in international trade and facilitating your shipments.

What can an AEO status mean for my business? 

Having AEO status means that customs authorities in your country certify your business to comply with a set of international supply chain security standards. These standards cover multiple areas that show the capacity of your business to meet customs and security requirements and maintain sound business conditions in information exchange, financial records, contractual partnerships, and crisis management. Learn more from the World Customs Organization (WCO) website.

Which benefits can I have from AEO status?

The first benefit that AEO status can provide to your business is increased confidence with customs authorities, trade partners and customers. Your goods can get priority clearance with customs and be subject to fewer physical and document checks. This in turn saves time and administrative costs and enables you to focus on other relevant areas for managing your international business. Having AEO status also enhances transport security and trackability for your products and reduces delivery time to your customers.

Resources on AEO for my business

The World Customs Organization (WCO) offers a guide for small businesses that can help you to learn more about the context and general aspects of AEOs. In additional, some institutions offer training and courses that you can consider taking for navigating the process around obtaining AEO status.

  1. Course on AEO accreditation: ACTE International offers a training course that help you to prepare for obtaining AEO accreditation with customs authorities. Visit the training website.
  2. E-learning course on AEO: The European Commission offers a 60-minute course on the AEO status process that could be useful for your business. Visit the course website.