Below are a series of the most common questions formulated by users, with the relative answers, to solve some questions and offer more clarity on the Authorized Economic Operator - A.E.O.


Q: What is the legal basis of the AEO?
A: Starting from May 1st 2016, the regulatory references for the AEO are:

  • articles 38 to 41 of the Union Customs Code (UCC) - Reg. (EU) no. 952/2013;
  • articles from 23 to 30 of the Delegated Regulation (RD) - Reg. (EU) 2015/2446;
  • articles 24 to 35 of the Implementing Regulation (RE) - Reg. (EU) no. 2015/2447.

Q: What are the AEO Guidelines?
A: In addition to the regulatory references cited, there are also guidelines (Doc. TAXUD/B2/047/2011 - rev.6 of 11 March 2016) prepared by the European Commission - DG TAXUD - to ensure greater transparency and equal treatment conditions across the EU of economic operators applying for AEO status.
The AEO concept is explained in the AEO Guidelines. In particular, information is given on:

  • what the AEO is, who can become AEO and the different types of authorization;
  • the benefits of the AEO;
  • the criteria to be met to obtain AEO status;
  • the procedure for granting of the status;
  • the management of the authorization after its issue;
  • concept of "safety of business partners" and their identification;
  • mutual recognition of AEO programs.

The Guidelines also contain a section dedicated to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with indications on how to examine the criteria required for AEO if the applicant is an SME.

Q: What is the COMPACT AEO model?
A: the COMPACT AEO model (TAXUD/1452/2006 of 13 June 2006) provides a methodology for assessing the risks associated with the applicant for the AEO status and for verifying their effective coverage.


Q: How many types of AEO authorization are there?
A: Article 38 of the UCC provides for two types of AEO authorization:

  • AEOC which allows access to some customs simplifications;
  • AEOS which allows the holder to obtain benefits in terms of security.

The two authorizations are cumulative and, therefore, if an applicant meets both the requirements for obtaining the AEOC status and for those for the AEOS status, the Customs Authority issues a combined authorization.


Q: Who can become an AEO?
A: Any economic operator operator established in the Union and carrying out an activity covered by customs legislationcan acquire AEO status.

Q: Do operators who have obtained AEO status before 1 May 2016 have to submit a new application?
A: No, economic operators who obtained AEO status before 1 May 2016 do NOT need to submit another application. However, the authorization will be reviewed by the Customs Office which conducted the audit to see if the new criteria are met.

Q: Is it an obligation to become an AEO?
A: An economic operator is not obliged to become an authorized economic operator: it is an individual choice, which depends on his particular circumstances.
However, according to the new EU legislation, to access some customs simplifications (e.g. global guarantee with a reduced amount for debts which have already been incurred) it is necessary to have the status of AEO.

Q: How much does it cost to become AEO?
A: There are no costs for the issue of the AEO authorization as the entire authorization procedure, as well as the management of the authorization, is completely free.

Q: Can operators established for less than 3 years apply to become AEO?
A: Operators established for less than 3 years can submit an application to acquire AEO status. The criteria will be checked against the information available.
As regards the criterion relating to practical standards of competence, it is considered satisfied if the person responsible for customs matters has previously gained the minimum experience required. If customs activities are outsourced the criterion is met if the person responsible for customs matters has AEOC status.


Q: What are the criteria for obtaining the status?
A: The criteria for obtaining the status are, with reference to the type of authorization requested, the following:

Criteria to be fulfilled AEOC
(customs simplifications)
AEOS  (security)
Proven compliance with customs and tax legislation and absence of serious crimes in relation to economic activity YES YES
Effective management system for commercial and transport records YES YES
Financial solvency YES YES
Standard pratici di competenza o qualifiche professionali YES  
Security Standard   YES


Q: Who must comply with the subjective requirements for compliance with customs and tax legislation and the absence of serious crimes in relation to economic activity?
A: The criterion of compliance with customs and tax legislation and the absence of serious crimes in relation to the economic activity is verified with reference to:

  • the applicant;
  • the person responsible for the applicant or who exercises control over its management;
  • the employee responsible for customs matters within the company.


Q: What are the benefits provided by the AEO program?
A: The benefits associated with the possession of the AEO authorization are:

Benefits AEOC AEOS References
Facilitated access to customs simplifications X   Article 38 (5) UCC
Facilitations relating to the declaration of pre-departure   X Article 23 UCC DA
Reductions in physical and documentary controls
  • related to safety & security
  • related to other customs legislation
  X X Article 24(1) UCC DA
Article 38(6) UCC
Priority of notification in case of selection for control
(relating to safety & security)
  X Article 24(2) UCC DA
Article 38(6) UCC
Priority of notification in case of selection for control
(NOT relating to safety & security)
X   Article 24(3) UCC DA
Article 38(6) UCC
Priority of treatment if selected for control X X Article 24(4) UCC DA
Article 38(6) UCC
Possibility to request a specific place for customs control X X Article 24(4) UCC DA
Article 38(6) UCC
Use of the AEO logo X X  
Mutual recognition with third countries   X MR- Agreements
Article 38(7) UCC


Q: What are the indirect benefits to AEO?
A: The main indirect benefits deriving from the AEO status consist of:

  • better relations with customs authorities;
  • greater speed in shipments;
  • increased security and better communication between the parties in the supply chain;
  • reduction of problems related to safety.


Q: What documents must be submitted to obtain AEO status?
A: To start the process to obtain AEO status, an application must be submitted on the model found in the appropriate section "New Union Customs Code - UCC" of this site, in the AEO section - forms and the self-assessment questionnaire duly filled out.

Q: Where is the application presented?
A: The application must be presented, on a standard community model, to the customs office with territorial jurisdiction in relation to the headquarters of one's company in which:

  • the main accounts for customs purposes are kept or accessible;
  • in which at least part of the transactions covered by the AEO authorization are carried out.

The two criteria must be met at the same time.

Q: What are the obligations of the Customs Administration?
A: When submitting the application for authorization, the Customs Office assesses whether the applicant complies with the four conditions for accepting the application:

  • be registered with the customs authority (EORI code);
  • be established in the customs territory of the Union;
  • the application has been submitted to the competent customs authority;
  • in the years preceding the submission of the application, there have been no revocations or cancellations of an AEO authorization.

If the above criteria are met, the application is accepted and entered in the CDCO Community database and the applicant is notified.
After the application has been accepted, the actual audit phase begins, which involves the customs authority making visits to the places relevant to the applicant's customs activity.

Q: How long does it take to complete the authorization process?
A: The customs authority responsible for issuing the AEO status must complete the procedure for issuing the authorization within 120 days from the date of acceptance of the application. However, if the Customs Authority is unable to complete the process within this deadline, it may have a further 60 days.

Q: What are the possible outcomes of the final audit report?
A: The audit activity conducted by the Customs Office ends with a final report expressing a positive or negative outcome to the issuance of the authorization:

  • in the event of a positive outcome, , the applicant's ability to meet the required requirements is recognized and the authorization is issued;
  • in the event of a negative outcome, the competent Authority communicates the reasons underlying its decision to the party and grants the applicant a reasonable time to express its point of view and observations. Upon expiry of this term, the decision is communicated to the party.


Q: What is the Mutual Recognition of AEO status?
A: AEO Mutual Recognition allows Customs Authorities of different countries to recognize the AEO authorization issued under the other program and provide mutual benefits to operators recognized as reliable under the criteria of the other program.

Q: With which countries have Mutual Recognition Agreements been concluded?
A: The EU has currently concluded and implemented Mutual Recognition Agreements of AEO programs with Norway, Switzerland, Japan, Andorra, the United States and China.
Further negotiations are ongoing or will be launched in the near future, with other countries which are important trading partners of the EU.

Q: What are the advantages of Mutual Recognition?
The specific benefits are contained in each individual Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), but in general the benefits include the following key elements:

  • Fewer security checks;
  • Be recognized as a reliable economic operator/business partner in some third countries;
  • Receive priority treatment at the time of customs clearance.

Q: How to participate in the Mutual Recognition?
R: Q: How to participate in the Mutual Recognition? A: The holders of AEO authorizations with the security component (AEOS or AEOC/AEOS) who intend to benefit from the advantages of the Mutual Recognition must give their written consent to the exchange of certain information (for example name, address, identification) with partner countries. Consent can be provided by filling in the specific attachment to the self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ), but it can also be given or revoked at any time upon written request addressed to the competent customs authority.

Q: How to get the benefits of the Mutual Recognition?
A: To guarantee their commercial partners the benefits of Mutual Recognition, during the process for the issue of the AEO status, European operators (who apply for the status with the security component) must indicate their name, address and authorization number. of their partners already AEO recognized in one of the countries with which the EU has signed an agreement.
Conversely, to benefit from reduced security controls and to have priority of treatment at the time of customs clearance in the third country, authorized economic operators in Europe must communicate their EORI number to partners established in countries with which Mutual Recognition agreements exist.


Q: What is the AEO logo and who can use it?

A: The European Commission has created a logo that allows operators who have obtained the status to be recognized. Authorized Economic Operators who want to use the AEO logo can request it from the Customs Authority that issued the authorization.