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Authorised Economic Operator status

One of the options highlighted by the UK government to help reduce the risk of delays at the post-Brexit border is the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) certification, an ‘internationally recognised quality mark indicating that your role in the international supply chain is secure, and that your customs controls and procedures are efficient and compliant.’

The scheme is available to any company which is actively involved in customs operations and international trade and also meets certain other legal criteria. The benefits include simplified customs procedures and the possibility of fast tracking shipments in some cases. 

HMRC advise that the status can take up to 120 days to approve, including site visits. However, in some cases this period may be extended by a further 60 days.   

Although the process involves a lot of work some experts have argued that the rigorous nature of the application process can be beneficial in its own right, helping companies understand their own supply chains and exposure.

The scheme may not be appropriate to every company, particularly where additional procedures (such as veterinary checks) need to be carried out at the border.

Find out more about AEO status

Check if Authorised Economic Operator status could benefit you
Guidance from the UK Government which explains the types of AEO authorisation available, one for customs simplification (AEOC) and another for security and safety (AEOS); the criteria for certification and how to apply. Further information is available in HMRC's Information you need to apply for Authorised Economic Operator status guidance.

Check if a business holds Authorised Economic Operator status
Downloadable list of approved Authorised Economic Operator businesses.

Resources on AEO status

Life after the EU single market and customs union - Post-Brexit trade issues at the border

EEF, The manufacturers' organisation 12 October 2017

Briefing which offers a helpful introduction to tariffs and rules of origin, looks at the additional customs administration we might see at the UK border and discusses the option of applying for Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status. Includes a ‘Considerations for manufacturers’ flowchart which lists areas that manufacturers should audit across their supply chains to help them understand the impact of tariff barriers and non-tariff barriers.

Brexit: Understanding your tariff exposure

KPMG July 2017

Paper offering five tips for retailers which highlights the difference that a combination of AEO status, simplified procedures and customs warehousing could make to the additional costs for one client post-Brexit.


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This chapter explains the operation of VAT and trade tariffs for goods imported into or within the European Union. It includes advice on Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs) and the customs and excise procedures for imports across the various transport methods. It also covers the Single Administrative Document (SAD) as it pertains to the EU, and the UK's system of Customs Handling Imports and Freight (CHIEF).

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