AEO – Authorised economic operator

An AEO is a business whose customs clearance and logistics operations have been granted a security certificate by Customs and is therefore entitled to benefits across the EU.

You can check the Commissions system for information on AEOs in Finland and the whole of EU. The AEO authorisation of a company branch is published under the country that granted the authorisation. Move to the page Authorised Economic Operator.

AEO in a nutshell

  • AEO is a global business security programme for Customs authorities in different countries.
  • Applying for AEO status is optional.
  • There are three kinds of AEO authorisations: 1) AEOC, Customs simplifications 2) AEOS, Security and Safety and 3) A combination of the two.
  • The AEO authorisation is not a prerequisite for using simplified procedures in imports, exports or transits.
  • The realisation of AEO benefits is also affected by the mutual recognition of the AEO status between the EU and third countries.
  • A company applying for AEO status must meet the authorisation requirements and the assessment criteria.
  • Fulfilling the strict security standards can become a significant financial investment for the applicant.
  • The AEO status is specific for each legal entity (= business ID). A group of companies cannot apply for AEO status with one application.
  • Customs provides consultation free of charge to customers who want to become AEOs.
  • If any information given during the application process changes after receiving the authorisation, notify Customs with the form for Changes in information (in Finnish).

Points to consider

AEO status is granted to a company

  • established within the Union (exceptions for airlines and shipping companies) and
  • which operation the customs legislation concerns; the company e.g. handles goods, goods data or documents under customs supervision.

The aim of the AEO programme is to get as many parts of the international supply chain as possible to apply for the AEO status. Typical operators with the AEO status within the EU are manufacturers, exporters, freight forwarders, warehouse keepers, customs agents, transport operators and importers.

Customs has prepared a short questionnaire for companies thinking about applying for the AEO status. The questions are a simplified version of the AEO self-assessment questionnaire that a company must complete when it is applying for the AEO status. When Customs assesses an AEO application, it considers the size of the company and the role of the supply chain as well as the scope and type of the business. The more the company meets the conditions given in the questionnaire, the better equipped it is for the AEO status.

The AEO system of the Commission has up-to-date information on AEO operators in Finland and within the EU.

The AEO benefits are

  • a reduction/ waiver of comprehensive guarantee (AEOC operator)
  • an expedited granting of some of the authorisations by Customs in all EU countries
  • facilitations with regard to customs controls in the whole EU territory
  • the Customs security evaluators expertise during the process
  • the improvement of supply chain security
  • the reputation as a reliable trader
  • global benefits in the future, when the goals of the EU regarding mutual recognition are realised on a wider front.

The AEO authorisation is not a prerequisite for trade across EU's external borders, but it will expedite the flow of goods as the project proceeds and the WCO members start up their AEO programmes, and the mutual recognition of the AEO status is agreed upon between the EU and third countries.

The greatest advantages of the AEOS authorisation are the MRAs between the EU and third countries. MRA means that the AEO operator’s status is mutually recognised in third countries that have entered an agreement with the EU. With the MRA, the AEO operator receives a lower risk rating in the contracting country, the goods move more easily and there are less Customs controls.

EU currently has MRAs with the USA, Japan, China, Switzerland, Norway and Andorra. Negotiations are on the way, for example, with Canada and Mexico.

Only an AEOS operator can receive MRA advantages in another contracting country. When submitting the AEOS application, the company must agree to the exchange of information between the contracting parties. Through the exchange of information, the Customs authorities in the different countries can ensure that the operator has AEOS status.

Information to be exchanged between the MRA contracting parties:

  • name of the AEO operator
  • address of the AEO operator
  • the validity of the authorisation
  • date when validity of the authorisation starts
  • revocations or suspensions of the authorisation
  • number of EORI or AEO authorisation.

The AEO operator’s identification number must be entered in the import declaration of the destination country, so that the AEOS operator can receive MRA advantages. The form of the identifier depends on the technical systems in the destination country. When Customs in the country of destination has received the identifier, it checks the validity of the identifier in EU’s database.

Read more: MRA, Mutual Recognition Agreement (in Finnish)

By using the Changes in information form, Customs can be notified of any changes regarding the information in the application.

Changes can include:

  • change of AEO person in charge
  • change of person responsible for customs matters
  • a significant change in the clearance operations (e.g. a new customs warehouse, end of clearance operations at a specific location) and
  • changes in the contact information of the business location.

Instructions regarding the AEO authorisation

An authorised economic operator, AEO, is an operator enabled to benefit from certain simplifications in accordance with the customs legislation and/or entitled to facilitations relating to security and safety. The AEO programme aims to provide guidance for continuous improvement of security and customs operations.The AEO is intended for businesses of all sizes and for various roles in the supply chain.

Open the instructions regarding the AEO authorisation (pdf) (in Finnish)

Instruction 1, requirements concerning the trading partners and service providers of an AEO

An AEO is only responsible for the goods, information and facilities concerning the part of the supply chain that belongs to it. The AEO is, however, also dependent on the security-related measures taken by its trading partners and service providers.

The AEO must have a clear and verifiable process for identifying and selecting its contracting partners. The AEO must also be able to provide a list of the the contracting partners it uses. 

Open the instruction on the requirements concerning the trading partners and service providers of an AEO (pdf) (in Finnish)

Instruction 2, The risk management system of an AEO

With its risk management system, a company assesses risks as well as controls and reports the risk management measures taken and the impact of these measures. The risk management policy of the company describes the purpose, objectives and processes of risk management and defines the key concepts and responsibilities. In its operational policy or strategy, an AEO must present how it aims to ensure compliance with the customs rules and secure the part of the supply chain belonging to it.

Open the instruction on the risk management system of an AEO (pdf) (in Finnish)

Contact us

AEO customer information

Customs offers free of charge advice to all businesses interested in applying for AEO status before an AEO application is submitted.

General instructions for businesses

General instructions for businesses offers advice from Monday to Friday 8 am–4 pm. Have a look at the FAQ or contact us with your question.

Customs Information Service

Keywords AEO

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