Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) is an existing Customs authorisation which can make international trade much easier and less costly.  AEO status will almost certainly bring significant benefits to UK businesses trading with European countries post-Brexit, although this will of course depend upon the final nature of Brexit. 


There are several question marks that remain over Britain’s exit from the EU and none more so than for businesses who trade internationally. How will trade continue with the EU? Will businesses face heavy tariffs and increased Customs administration on leaving the trading bloc? These are some of the questions that are being asked – but there could be a simple solution which may help businesses who already trade internationally or will trade with EU countries post-Brexit. 

AEO is a globally recognised international supply chain security kitemark designed to “smooth” the Customs processes for EU businesses and this is increasingly becoming the cornerstone of HMRC’s border controls and Customs authorisations.  

In the past, very few businesses have been aware of the AEO regime or attained an authorisation but there are now likely to be some significant advantages. One commercial advantage is that AEO accredited businesses will be given priority clearance of goods at borders and generally be subject to fewer Customs checks etc., which could prove a significant advantage if the predicted “frictions” in the UK import/export process arise as a result of Brexit. AEO accredited business are also able to obtain Customs authorisations with a much reduced Financial Bond or Guarantee which could significantly reduce banking costs.    

In its recently issued White Paper Customs Bill: legislating for the UK’s future customs, VAT and excise regimes, the Government refers on several occasions to AEO and although it is not mandatory for businesses to have AEO status, it is important that every business is aware of a resource that should allow businesses to clear customs much more quickly, particularly if the business trades in perishable, valuable or harmful products. Many larger businesses with AEO status are also encouraging their suppliers to get an accreditation.  

There is an application process via HMRC which must be followed to secure AEO status which can take a few months and businesses would be well advised to consider the benefits of an AEO accreditation now as part of any Brexit planning and/or proposed changes to supply chains etc.  

If you would like any further assistance, then please contact our offices in Heathrow or Guildford.


Guildford – 01483 306 318

Heathrow – 01784 435 561

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