This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are used for visitor analysis, others are essential to making our site function properly and improve the user experience. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Click Accept to consent and dismiss this message or Deny to leave this website. Read our Privacy Statement for more.
Print Page | Contact Us | Sign In | Join Us
News & Press: Blog

AEO – what is it and could your business benefit?

02 July 2020  
Share |

AEO banner

Within the Single Market and the Customs Union as we are at present, companies holding Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) certification have already had a clear advantage when exporting, especially to the United States and the world's largest economies, through Mutual Recognition Agreements.

Post-Transition Period, AEO certification will become even more desirable as an internationally recognised tool to keep cargo moving. The EU and UK are expected to recognise each other's AEO schemes in a Post-Brexit environment.


What is AEO

Internationally recognised as a mark of quality, an AEO status effectively demonstrates that your role within the international supply chain is secure, and that your customs controls and procedures are efficient and compliant.

Whilst not mandatory, the EU is none the less actively encouraging the majority of organisations who export outside of the EU to sign up to this worldwide initiative, which has been designed to ensure that international supply chains are secure and controlled from the point of origin through to the final delivery destination.

Who can become AEO

Registration is open to all businesses in the EU that are involved in the international trade of goods with non-EU countries, including logistics operators, carriers, freight forwarders, customs agents, importers, exporters and manufacturers.

Although the initiative has been in place for several years, the UK lags behind some EU countries, with just 1073 approved AEO registrations compared to Germany, which has 6512, the Netherlands with 1595 and France who have 1770 approved registrations (figures correct as at July 2020).

The reasons behind this vast disparity in AOE numbers may be attributable to the respective sizes of the logistics sector in Germany and Netherlands in relation to the UK.  However, there is a growing concern that UK businesses that trade internationally may lose traction if the scheme gains widespread popularity and they are not part of that development.

To qualify a business must be established in the European Union (EU), be actively involved in customs operations and international trade and have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, which is most exporters.

AEO Benefits

AEO acts increasingly as a quality standard with many larger organisations insisting on this as an integral part of any trading partners. As part of the application process, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officials will stringently assess, amongst other things, the company’s finances, site security, shipping procedures, compliance with customs requirements and fulfilment of the relevant legal and safety regulations. Companies who already have IPP and ISO are half way to attaining this highly secure accreditation.

Even though there can be no denying that achieving AEO status is a time consuming and often daunting exercise, but the commercial benefits can be immense and include:

• greater access to priority clearance
• reduced administration
• traceability of flows of goods
• increased transport security
• fewer delays in despatch
• improved security between supply chain partners
• quicker access to certain customs procedures including some of the HMRC safety and security procedures.

As the number of businesses with AEO status steadily increases, so will the pressure on other companies to also comply.  Priority clearance for AEO certificated businesses will, by default, mean that non-certificated organisations will be dealt with as a secondary concern.  When time is of the essence, such delays in delivery will inevitably prove ever more costly.

The UK may be behind many of its EU counterparts  when it comes to AEO applications, but with a plethora of resources and guidance available, the support is there for British businesses to make an informed decision on whether AEO status is right for them.

Are you interested in learning more about the AEO requirements and benefits, or are you looking to start the process of becoming AEO accredited? Our NEW AEO training course and consultancy packages can help.


AEO Training

The aim of this one-day course is to help you understand the AEO requirements and benefits that can be gained in achieving AEO status. It will guide you through the application process and enable you to help your organisation achieve and crucially, maintain AEO status. 

The course will also highlight the pitfalls that companies typically experience and explain how to avoid delays and mistakes. Find out more


AEO Consultancy

Even though there can be no denying that achieving AEO status can be a time consuming and often daunting exercise, the Institute can help take you through every step of acquiring and maintaining AEO status. 

We offer 3 tiers of service ranging from an initial 'readiness review' through to application completion. Following the initial review we will be able to advise on the cost of helping you to prepare and submit your application if you decide to progress. Find out more


If you have not yet considered becoming an AEO we can help with an initial discussion to help decide if it will benefit your organisation, please call us on 01733 404400 or email