The events of 11th September 2001 and the growth of global trade shifted the focus of Customs Administration to the increasing security threats away from the traditional task of collection customs duties. In this respect, the WCO formulated a set of measures to ensure constant flow in the supply chain. The downside of this was that these measures were bound to slow down traffic due to customs controls. With this in mind, the European Union devised the concept of AEO to minimise the impact of the new controls. The intention is that AEO's will be given benefits that will lessen the impact of the new security measures compared to other non-AEO approved businesses.
An Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status is a standard issued by a Customs Administration. The issue of either one of the two authorisations means that a player in the supply chain has met certain criteria in relation to management systems, compliance with customs rules, ongoing solvency, is competent and is safe and secure. An AEO authorisation issued by any of the Member States Customs Administration is recognised throughout the EU. Currently, AEOS certificates are also recognised by Japan and the United States of America.
There is no charge for the processing of applications or the issue of authorisations.
An AEOS can benefit from
Both AEOC and AEOS benefit from;
((Article 38 (1) UCC). Application for AEO status is open to all economic operators established within the customs territory of the EU and meets the criteria as set in Article 39. Article 5 (5) UCC defines an economic operator as "a person who in the course of his or her business, is involved in activities covered by customs legislation".
In accordance with Article 5 (4) UCC, the definition of a 'person' is:
Whoever carries out customs related activities in EU can apply for AEO status irrespective of the size of their business. These include inter alia manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses and distributors.
The following categories of traders can apply:
On the basis of the definition where an economic operator has to be involved in an economic activity covered by customs legislation, the following would not be able to apply;
On the other hand, a manufacturer who produces goods to be exported can apply for an AEO authorisation even if the export formalities are performed by another person.
For more in-depth explanations of the above, please consult the AEO Guidelines.
The regulation introducing the AEO programme states that "the customs authorities shall take due account of the specific characteristics of economic operators, in particular of small and medium-sized companies."
The conditions and criteria for AEO authorisation relevant to each category of business will apply to all businesses regardless of their size. However, the means to achieve compliance will vary and be in direct relation to the size and complexity of the business, type of goods handled etc.
Applying for AEO status
It is advisable to contact the AEO National contact point of the Malta Customs Department Ms Ingrid Vella on email: email@example.com for further information.
Thanks for your co-operation and assistance
Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)
Updated Special Procedures Unit 27/04/21