Guide

Authorised Economic Operators

Criteria for granting AEO status

For a Customs Simplification Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) certificate (AEOC), you must fulfil the criteria listed below for compliance, record keeping and solvency. For a security and safety (AEOS) or combined certificate (AEOF), you must also fulfil the security criteria. Applicants for all three types of AEO certificate must first be enrolled with the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) Scheme.

Compliance

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will examine your record of compliance with customs and tax requirements over the last three years, or whatever's available if you have been established for less than three years. HMRC will look at whether serious or repeated infringements of customs rules have been committed by:

  • your business
  • the people managing your business
  • the people in your business responsible for customs matters
  • your legal representative for customs matters

You'll also need to demonstrate that:

  • you have procedures in place to identify and disclose any irregularities or errors to HMRC
  • you have taken appropriate remedial action when they are identified
  • you have satisfactory procedures for handling controlled goods such as military goods or technology, dual-use goods, excise or Common Agricultural Policy goods, dangerous goods or hazardous materials

Find out about the necessary standards of compliance by AEOs in Notice 117.

Record keeping

HMRC will want to be satisfied that you have a satisfactory system of managing commercial and, where appropriate, transport records. You'll need to have:

  • methods to allow HMRC access to your customs records
  • an appropriate logistical system
  • an appropriate level of administrative organisation
  • documented procedures to control and manage the flow of goods
  • internal controls in place to detect illegal or irregular transactions
  • procedures in place to handle certain licences and authorisations
  • archival and retrieval procedures in place
  • trained staff to inform HMRC if systems errors are discovered
  • procedures for verifying the accuracy of customs declarations submitted on your behalf by third parties, if appropriate
  • information technology security measures in place
  • a maintained accounting system with a full audit trail

Find out about the necessary standards for record keeping by AEOs in Notice 117.

Solvency

You have to prove you have been financially solvent for three years preceding your application and that you have the ability to meet your financial commitments. HMRC will check your record for paying and filing your accounts on time.

HMRC will expect your net current assets to be positive, but will take into account any special circumstances that might mean it is normal for a company to have negative net assets.

Find out about the necessary standards for solvency of AEOs in Notice 117.

Security

HMRC will look at what you have put in place to protect your business and its supply chain against potential risks, whether human, physical, economic or other. You'll need to:

  • comply with legal health and safety requirements
  • have had a safety and security assessment
  • have appropriately secured external boundaries with documented procedures to control access to your premises
  • have measures in place to protect your cargo units and measures to prevent unauthorised access to shipping areas, loading docks and cargo areas
  • use procedures to secure the safety of your goods during storage, manufacture and transport
  • agree appropriate safety and security measures with your suppliers
  • carry out security screening and procedures for prospective employees and contracted parties
  • train your staff in security and safety requirements

Find out about the necessary security standards for AEOs in Notice 117.

Read more about the Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) Scheme.