Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs) – for businesses

What are Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs)? 


The Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) scheme was introduced in 2007 by the World Customs Organization (WCO), as a way to further improve international supply chain security, and to facilitate legitimate trade.


AEO certification is recognised internationally as granting ‘trusted trader’ status, which demonstrates that a business meets the AEO standards of supply chain security and customs compliance.


Any business directly involved in the international movement of goods can apply for AEO status, regardless of the size of their business, or role in the supply chain.


An AEO is defined as ‘an Economic Operator who is certified reliable in their customs operations,’ and therefore is entitled to certain benefits such as priority clearance for goods at customs, and fewer physical and documentation checks. If your product is selected for controls at the border, it will be given priority as an AEO consignment.


What do I need to do to benefit from AEO status? 


Businesses can apply for AEO status through their Customs authorities (if available). According to the World Customs Organization, there are currently 80 operational AEO programs worldwide, with 5 more under development, the WCO AEO online Compendium provides a list of all programmes.


Although different governments have different requirements for becoming an AEO, broadly, to qualify, a company must:

  • comply with national domestic laws;
  • abide by Customs and taxation requirements;
  • maintain appropriate records; and
  • practice required safety and security measures.


Where can I learn more about AEO for my business? 


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


Links to Supporting Information


The World Customs Organization (WCO)  safe-framework-of-standards  and  World Customs Organization


World Customs Organization (WCO) AEO Compendium 2020 Edition World Customs Organization


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Trade Facilitation Guide – AEO Authorized economic operators


The World Customs Organization (WCO) guide for small businesses Guide for small businesses


The World Customs Organization (WCO)  Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Validation – WCO – Academy  Online training course and aeo-implementation-guidance


The European Commission  Course: Authorised Economic Operator (AEO), Topic


Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Find a concise overview of key aspects of international trade for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises with our Businesses & Entrepreneurs Guides.

Policymakers & Researchers

Find a concise overview of key aspects of trade and MSME-related policymaking with our dedicated library of Policymakers & Researchers Guides.