Authorised Economic Operators (AEO)
In this section key information and tips on the AEO application procedure are available
Table of contents
- Where do I submit my application?
- What does self-assessment mean?
- Electronic processing of applications and self-assessments
- Tips on the application and self-assessment
- What are security declarations?
- Further information and forms
Economic operators based in Austria and subject to the jurisdiction of the Austrian customs administrations must submit their application to the customs office responsible for the area in which the applicant’s residence or registered office is based. Economic operators based outside Austria and subject to the jurisdiction of the Austrian customs administrations must submit their application to the Innsbruck customs office. The scope of jurisdiction of the Austrian customs administration is regulated in the Customs Code Implementing Regulation.
In addition to general requirements, authorised economic operators must also fulfil specific criteria (AEO criteria). Depending on the specific type of certificate being applied for, these are:
- previous adherence to customs regulations;
- a satisfactory accounting system;
- demonstrable financial solvency;
- where applicable, appropriate security and safety standards.
Before issuing the AEO certificate, the customs authorities must check whether all the prerequisites have been fulfilled. Economic operators who have decided to apply for AEO status are advised to conduct a self-assessment before submitting the formal application in order to internally determine whether the criteria have been met and all the necessary information is available. The self-assessment enables the economic operator and the customs authorities to conduct an upfront risk assessment and minimises the scope of the pre-audit at the company to check for potential risks.
In the interests of an efficient risk analysis process, a risk-oriented self-assessment questionnaire has been developed, which can be completed electronically on the website of the Ministry of Finance (see below). You are advised to only send your application and the result of this self-assessment to the customs office once you have fully completed the self-assessment. Without the self-assessment, the customs authorities are unable to maintain an effective, efficient certification procedure.
The Austrian customs administration endeavours to process all applications as quickly and efficiently as possible. To reduce costs and administration, applications and self-assessments can be electronically completed on the website of the Ministry of Finance (see below). At the moment, the IT-supported application must still be printed out, signed and submitted to the responsible customs office for legal reasons; however, the application details are also sent to the responsible customs office electronically. The self-assessment, which does not form part of the application, can be conducted as a completely paperless process and all the electronic files can be sent to the responsible customs office.
The Austrian customs administration requests that you only complete a paper-based application and self-assessment in well-justified exceptional cases. In such cases, the necessary forms can be requested from the customs and excise competence centre via e-mail (AEO-Austria@bmf.gv.at). The sample application and self-assessment forms provided in PDF-format below are for further information only.
- The AEO concept is not only a customs matter. Agree on the decision to become an AEO within your company or group before applying.
- Familiarise yourself with both the legal regulations on the AEO concept and the AEO Guidelines.
- Collate all the documents and information required for the application and self-assessment in your company in good time.
- Give yourself plenty of time for the self-assessment and conduct it carefully.
- Only submit your application once all the data is available and you have prepared all the information for the self-assessment.
- Incomplete or superficially complete applications and self-assessments waste time and can substantially delay the application procedure and the pre-audits.
- The numbers in the self-assessment questionnaire correspond to the questionnaire in the AEO Guidelines. Each question is based on a potential risk, which is described under the same number in the AEO Guidelines. The AEO Guidelines also specify particular focus areas and provide examples of measures that can be taken to minimise potential risks.
- The self-assessment questionnaire has been designed for all supply chain participants and companies of all sizes. However, this means that some questions will not be applicable to all economic operators. In such cases, it is not necessary to answer these questions. To make the risk analysis easier for the customs authorities, you should, however, provide a brief explanation as to why the question is not applicable, unless this is already obvious.
- If you have any technical questions about the electronic process, please contact the Customs and Excise Competence Centre.
- Work together with the customs office to organise the temporal schedule of the pre-audit and ensure that the important contact persons are available for information at the necessary time. This can substantially ease the temporal requirements of the audit.
If an application is made for an ‘AEOS’ or an ‘AEOF certificate’, when concluding new contractual relationships with a business partner, the authorised economic operator should urge the business partner to evaluate and improve the supply chain security and – providing this is compatible with the company model – expressly indicate this in the contractual agreements. One way of implementing this requirement is by using security declarations. Further information on security declarations can be found in the AEO Guidelines and in the document ‘Frequently Asked Questions on the AEO concept (FAQs). The European Commission has recommended the use of the template-based security declarations throughout the EU.
Since 1 January 2008, economic operators based in the EU have been able to apply for AEO status. AEO status is awarded by the customs authorities in the form of certificates and has the advantages of facilitation with regard to customs regulations and/or simplifications with regard to security-related customs controls. Before certifying a company with AEO status, the customs authorities must review whether the economic operator has previously properly observed customs regulations, has a satisfactory accounting system, is demonstrably solvent and has suitable security standards.
The following AEO certificates can be awarded:
- ‘AEOC’ – for customs simplifications
- ‘AEOS’ – for facilitation with regard to security-related customs controls
- ‘AEOF’ – for a combination of customs simplifications and facilitation with regard to security-related customs control
In addition to the binding legal regulations, the Commission has published guidelines to ensure the harmonised assessment and evaluation of AEO criteria by customs authorities throughout the EU.
- AEO Guidelines - self-assessment questionnaire
- AEO Guidelines (April 2012)
- Explanatory notes for AEO self-assessment
- Risks, threats and possible solutions
- Security Declaration form for AEO (Form Za 251 E)
Authorised Economic Operators are entitled to use the AEO logo. The AEO logo can be obtained from the customs authority that has granted the AEO-certificate. The European Commission is the owner of the copyright. Economic operators using the AEO logo without AEO status violate copyrights and will be pursued according to EU law.
Current information on security cooperation with third countries as well as information on the status of mutual agreement on AEO-programmes are available on the European Commission Website.