What is an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) and do you need one?

What is an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) and do you need one?


3 minute read | By Denholm Good Logistics

Last updated: January 16, 2024 | Published: July 19, 2017


The term Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) is an internationally recognised quality standard demonstrating the company’s role in the international supply chain is secure and their customs controls and procedures efficient and compliant.

Any business in the EU regardless size can apply for AEO status if they’re involved in the international supply chain and carry out customs related activities, including:

  • Airline Loaders
  • Carriers
  • Customs Agents
  • Exporters
  • Freight Forwarders
  • Importers
  • Manufacturers
  • Port Operators
  • Warehouse Keepers

What quality standards does an Authorised Economic Operator have to maintain?

There are two types of AEO standards; AEOC (Customs Simplification) and AEOS (Safety and Security). An organisation that holds both is referred to as AEOF.

To achieve AEOC status, the company must have:

  • Good tax and customs compliance history
  • Good commercial and transport record-keeping standards
  • Financial solvency
  • Professional qualifications or demonstrate practical standards of competence

AEOS is issued to companies that fulfil the above criteria (except for professional qualifications/practical standards) and can show appropriate security and safety standards to protect the international supply chain. These include:

  • Physical integrity and access controls
  • Logistical processes and, if applicable, the handling of certain kinds of goods
  • Personnel and identification of business partners

Companies who hold AEO status benefit from some consignments being fast-tracked through customs controls, and when customs select AEO consignments for examination or inspection, they receive priority over non-AEOs, making the whole shipping process run more smoothly and efficiently.

While holding AEO accreditation isn’t mandatory, most reputable freight forwarders will take the time to achieve AEO status, and for those that have, it’s a sure sign that they take their responsibilities seriously. If you’re on the lookout for a new freight forwarding partner and you’re not sure what else to look for, check out our blog post: 10 essential questions to ask your freight forwarder.


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