As from 1st May 2016, in the 28 EU Member States. the so-called "Union Customs Code Package" entered into force. It includes:

• Union Customs Code (UCC) - Reg. (EU) 952/2013

• Delegated Regulation (DR) - Reg. (EU) n.2015 / 2446

• Implementing Regulation (IR) - Reg. (EU) No. 2015/2447

• UCC Transitional Delegated Regulation (TDR) - Reg. (EU) No. 341/2016

These regulations modified the pre-existing framework establishing the procedure for granting the Authorized Economic Operator status and its benefits.

The new Union Customs Code provides that such status is no longer certified by a certificate but by two types of authorization: AEO/customs simplifications (AEOC) and AEO/security and safety (AEOS). The two types of authorizations may be held concurrently thus allowing the operator to benefit from both authorisations.

The AEO status can be granted to all economic operators and their business partners involved in the international supply chain (manufacturers, exporters, forwarders /shipping companies, warehouse keepers, customs agents, carriers, importers) that, in the course of their business, are involved in activities covered by the relevant customs legislation and are eligible in terms of reliability and security in the supply chain.

In order to be granted the AEO status, the economic operators shall demonstrate that they meet the following criteria. Some are common to the two types of authorization:

compliance with customs and tax legislation, including no record of serious criminal offences relating to the economic activity of the applicant;

• have an effective system of managing commercial and transport records;

• proven financial solvency;

The applicant for an AEOC authorization shall also demonstrate:

• adequate practical standards of competence or professional qualifications.

The applicant for an AEOS authorization shall demonstrate:

• appropriate security and safety standards.

The criteria to obtain the status of Authorized Economic Operator are evaluated taking into account the type of economic operator (partnership or company) its size (small, medium, large enterprise) and the role that they play in the international supply chain. Other characteristics such as the size and the complexity of the business and the type of goods are also considered to this end.

Authorised Economic Operators are not obliged to impose on their business partners that they obtain an AEO status too. Actually, Authorised Economic Operators are only held responsible for their part of the supply chain although the security standards of their business partners are taken into account to ensure security.

For the AEO status to be recognised, a special audit needs to be applied for at the competent Customs Office. This will be based on any information and data elements already available (authorisations granted for simplified/local customs procedures, customs audit), as well as any certifications obtained by the applicant, conclusions by experts in the relevant sectors, internationally recognised certifications, which will be produced by the party. The AEO Authorisation process will thereby be facilitated.

Users can easily trace, in the dedicated links on this web page, the Community rules of reference, the main documents by the European Commission and the Customs Agency concerning the procedure for the recognition of the AEO status, the forms to be used, the FAQs providing answers to the most frequent questions, the list of contact points at Central and Regional Offices.