What is an AEO?
An AEO is a reliable economic operator that has been granted this status by a competent customs authority in the European Community in respect of whatever function it has been authorised to perform (e.g. customs, logistics, human resources, finance, security, IT, supply chain management, manufacturing and sales) in the course of customs procedures.
Who issues the AEO certificates?
Since 1 January 2011, the National Tax and Customs Authority’s (“NAV”) county (and Budapest) customs directorates, and Airport Directorate No. 1 are responsible for issuing AEO certificates.
Useful information about AEO
What are the applicable regulations?
Article 5a of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code; and
Articles 14a-14x of Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93 laying down provisions for the implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code.
How long does it take to meet the requirements and obtain a certificate?
In our experience, the preparations for obtaining an AEO certificate may take 3 to 6 months to complete (depending on the type of certificate). The subsequent customs authorisation procedure will take an additional 4 to 6 months.
Types of AEO certificate
There are three types of certificate:
Customs Simplifications – appropriate for businesses that wish to benefit from simplifications provided by the customs regulations;
Security and Safety – appropriate for businesses that wish to benefit from simplifications during the customs audit as regards security and safety standards; and
Customs Simplifications/Security and Safety – appropriate for businesses that wish to benefit from simplifications provided by both of the above types of AEO certificate.
What are the benefits of the three types of AEO certificate?
From 1 September 2009, economic operators with AEO certificates can also obtain import VAT self-assessment licences, irrespective of their sales figures. The self-assessment licence is significantly more advantageous to AEOs in terms of financing import VAT.
Under the act on excise duties, holders of AEO status that pursue activities subject to excise duty will qualify as reliable debtors if they fulfil the criteria associated with one of the following categories:
- exempted users for controlled mineral oils and denatured alcohol,
- reliable tax warehouse operators, or
- reliable users. This means that the amount of excise guarantee they have to provide will be reduced by 50%.
All AEO certificate holders will be entitled to file electronic declarations 24 hours day.
In general, AEO certificate holders will only be selected for a post-clearance audit if they have a high risk rating due to the type and nature of the transaction concerned.
As an AEO certificate holder you do not need to provide proof of your reliable customs debtor status every year; your status will be checked when checks are carried out to verify whether you meet the AEO criteria.
If you have a Security and Safety or a Combined Customs Simplifications/Security and Safety AEO certificate, when placing military goods or dual use goods under a customs procedure, the customs authority may waive an item-by-item examination; in other cases, it may reclassify your goods so that they fall under a simpler customs procedure than the goods of non-AEOs.
1. If you hold a Customs Simplifications AEO certificate:
You can obtain customs authorisations for simplified procedures more easily. During a simplified authorisation, the criteria that were previously examined for issuing the AEO certificate will not be re-examined.
You will be subject to fewer physical and documentary checks than non-AEOs: as a result, your goods will cross Community borders faster, and the time required for customs clearance (e.g. when exporting the goods or releasing them for free circulation) will be less. You will be given a lower risk score than non-AEOs in customs’ risk analysis systems in all Member States, as AEO certificates are mutually recognised throughout the EU.
If physical controls are to be conducted, you will be given priority over non-AEOs (your consignments will have to be checked first). At your request, these checks may be carried out at a location other than the customs office involved (e.g. at your site), which may further simplify the customs procedure.
2. If you hold a Security and Safety AEO certificate:
Before the goods arrive in the customs territory of the Community, the Customs Authority will notify you if, as a result of a risk analysis, the consignment has been selected for further physical checks. The inspection and clearance process will therefore become more transparent and predictable.
You may lodge entry or exit summary declarations subject to the reduced requirements regarding the information to be given when your goods cross the customs border of the Community, which will reduce the administrative burden.
Similar to the benefits of the Customs Simplifications AEO certificate, you will be subject to fewer physical and documentary checks than non-AEOs, will be given priority treatment in customs clearance procedures, and will be able to choose the location for the customs checks.
3. If you hold a Combined Customs Simplifications/Security and Safety certificate, you will be entitled to receive the benefits of both types of certificate.
Other benefits in having AEO status include:
- a better relationship with the customs authorities (when applying for AEO status, good cooperation is usually established with the competent authorities, which may be useful at a later stage);
- being recognised as a safe and secure partner (an AEO who meets the security and safety criteria is considered to be a safe and secure partner in the supply chain, which enhances the AEO’s reputation);
- mutual recognition (as a result of the WCO’s work in the past few years, it has become clear that mutual recognition of security and safety standards, and the implementation of comparable measures on a global scale, is essential in order to increase the security of international trade operations). If you have a Security and Safety or a Combined Customs Simplifications/Security and Safety AEO certificate, you will be entitled to other benefits in China, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the US based on the mutual acceptance of AEO status;
- benefits related to other tax types (the Hungarian government is planning to make further benefits available to AEO certificate holders in terms of various types of tax);
- transparency and tracking (e.g. reduced theft and losses, intra-company risks can be minimised);
- transportation and conveyance security (e.g. reduced crime and vandalism, fewer delayed shipments);
- better collaboration among supply chain parties (improved security and communication between supply chain partners, lower inspection costs of suppliers, and increased cooperation);
- cross-border movements and customs clearance will be quicker, which means reduced logistics costs;
- the security of the whole supply chain (e.g. transport, storage, processing, sales, customs clearance, and use of goods) will increase;
- intra-company communication will become more effective (the AEO certificate establishes relationships with the organisational units involved in internal control within the company);
- economic operators with AEO status are included in a common EU database (which will be the basis for an EU-wide database of suppliers that follow best practices and are given priority);
- transparency and equal treatment for AEOs in all 27 EU Member States.
What is included in the EU AEO database?
The AEO database includes the certificate holder’s name, the date on which they obtained their AEO certificate, and the certificate type. The data will only be made available with the certificate holder’s consent.
The database allows searching and filtering by country, type of certificate, and name.
The AEO database is available at:
The European Commission has updated the AEO self-assessment questionnaire and the accompanying explanatory notes to take into account operational experience.
The AEO questionnaire is available in the following languages:
- AEO questionnaire in Hungarian
- AEO questionnaire in English
- AEO questionnaire in German
- Explanatory notes in Hungarian
- Explanatory notes in English
- Explanatory notes in German
What services do we offer?
1.) Assistance with obtaining the AEO certificate
During the procedure for obtaining an AEO certificate, PwC undertakes to provide project support services in order to ensure that your certificate is granted as soon as possible. In addition, we will ensure that your employees can focus on your company’s daily activities and will not be distracted from work longer than necessary.
We will collaborate with the customs bodies responsible for issuing AEO certificates so that we can answers specific questions that you may have at any stage of the application process.
We will also keep in contact with the customs authorities from the initial discussions until the AEO certificate is issued.
Our services in connection with obtaining an AEO certificate will be structured as follows:
|Project planning||1 to 4 weeks|
|Activity audit and identification of deficiencies. Planning the necessary processes and documentation.||7 to 12 weeks|
|Preparing the application. Preparing the application for submission, liaising with the customs authority. Submitting the application.||4 to 8 weeks|
|Customs audit||16 to 24 weeks|
2.) Assistance with maintaining the AEO certificate
After issuing the AEO certificate, the competent customs authority will monitor compliance with the AEO criteria. AEOs will also have to inform the customs authority of any significant changes to the data and processes reported to the customs authority and included in the AEO questionnaire and its attachments.
The customs authority will review compliance with the AEO criteria every two years starting from the date of issue of the AEO certificate, which means a review similar to the audit carried out before the certificate is issued. In the case of AEOs that have been in operation for less than three years, the customs authority will exercise stringent supervision during the first year after issuing the AEO certificate.
PwC can carry out periodic checks to ensure that you continue to meet the AEO criteria, and prepare you for and take part in customs audits.