Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status is an internationally recognised mark of quality, a certificate which demonstrates that your company supply chain is secure, and that your customs controls and procedures are compliant. But how important is it for your business?
Whilst not mandatory, and with no current plan to make it so, it is actively encouraged to sign up to this worldwide initiative, for the simple reason that AEO allows ports and shippers to enjoy simplified custom arrangements easing trade and making international supply chains secure and controlled from the point of origin through to the final delivery destination.
As a global gateway, Bristol Port has actively been assessed and approved over the last year. In order to receive the award, the Port has been through regular audits by HMRC and detailed checks looking at the way in which the business operates; from its systems and processes to data exchange. David Brown, CEO said “It means we have proven policies and procedures that are thorough and wholly trusted, both in our operations at Avonmouth, and Royal Portbury Docks,”
After completing all assessments and checks, HMRC informed the Port last month that it had gained Authorised Economic Operator status. The scheme has already delivered value for the Port by enabling HMRC to waive the financial guarantees that must be provided on goods held at its facilities, on which duty might need to be paid. It has also enabled the Port to apply for an extension of its temporary storage areas, which enables customers to store cargo without paying duty.
The status can also speed up the process of applying for other types of customs accreditations in the future, and puts the Port in a strong position post-Brexit.
Within the UK, although the scheme has been in place for a number of years, take up sits behind other EU countries. Some argue that this could be attributable to the size of the logistics sector in Germany and the Netherlands in relation to the UK. However, it is a risk that UK businesses which trade internationally may lose out, if the scheme continues to grow in popularity and if they are not included.
According to recent reports in the press, timeframe approvals for AEO status have increased by up to 12 months to gain approval. Therefore, organisations looking to secure this should apply for the scheme as soon as possible.
For a business to apply for accreditation, they need to be based in the EU and be actively involved in the international supply chain. All businesses in the EU involved in trade, such as carriers, freight forwarders, custom agents, importers, exporters, logistic operators or manufacturers can register. In an era where speed is key, AEO accreditation can provide quick access to simplified custom procedures.
Talking about Bristol Port’s latest certificate, Philip Radford, the Port’s Quality Manager who led this process said "AEO status is recognition that Bristol Port is a place where the movement of goods is free of red tape. We are delighted to receive this and to pass on its immediate benefits to our customers, who can be further assured of rapid and reliable deliveries in the trade chain through our global gateway.”