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AEO Certification: what it is, benefits, and how to obtain it

AEO certification is a fundamental tool in the field of customs services. Here's what it is, its history, what advantages it offers and what to do to get it.

aeo certificate

In the current context of economic globalization, the security and efficiency of international supply chains play a fundamental role. Companies operating in this environment are constantly seeking solutions to optimize their logistics processes while ensuring maximum security. In this scenario, the AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) certification emerges as a key tool, offering a wealth of opportunities and benefits for companies engaged in international trade. This article by Savino Del Bene provides a comprehensive guide on the topic of AEO.


What is the AEO?


The status of Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) certifies a specific situation of reliability of a particular entity towards the Customs and is part of the new computerized procedures in relations between private entities and authorities responsible for control activities in international trade. The WCO (World Customs Organization) defines an “Authorized Economic Operator” as a party involved in the international movement of goods in whatever function that has been approved by or on behalf of a national customs administration.


Why was the AEO program established?


Growing global trade and increasing security threats to the movement of goods around the world have forced customs administrations to focus on securing the flow of international trade instead of just collecting customs duties.


For this reason, in the context of international shipping services, the WCO (World Customs Organization) drafted the Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade, known as SAFE. This is based on the following four principles:

  • Advance electronic cargo information is harmonized;
  • Each country follows a consistent approach to risk management to address security issues;
  • The sending country’s customs authorities will undertake outbound inspections of high-risk containers and cargo at the request of the receiving country’s customs authorities;
  • Customs authorities will define the benefits for businesses that meet minimal supply chain standards.


The AEO program itself is a fundamental part of SAFE.


Who can obtain an AEO status and how?


AEO certification can be granted to economic operators and their commercial partners involved in the international supply chain: producers, exporters, shipping companies, customs brokers, warehouse keepers, carriers, and importers.


Who can obtain AEO certification


More specifically, the subjects who can apply for AEO certificates are:

  • Economic operators established in the customs territory of the Community who carry out activities related to customs operations;
  • Non-EU economic operators if there is a mutual recognition agreement of the AEO certificate between the Community and the third country where the applicant is established;
  • Non-EU air or maritime companies that have a local office or benefit from customs simplifications.


The European Commission manages a database of AEO certified operators who have given their consent to the publication of their data. The database is accessible here.


What are the benefits of being an AEO


Being an Authorized Economic Operator entails a series of benefits that can be divided into general benefits and benefits related to customs controls:

  • Easier access to customs simplifications;
  • Facilitations for security controls;
  • Advance notice in case of selection for goods inspection;
  • Reduction of the amount of data to be provided for the customs summary declaration;
  • Less physical and document control of shipments;
  • Priority treatment of cargo in case of selection for control;
  • Possibility of choosing the place of control.


Why work with an AEO: the advantages


Working with an Authorized Economic Operator offers significant advantages for companies that use their customs services. These advantages derive directly from the benefits that AEOs receive from customs authorities, transforming import and export operations into more streamlined, secure, and efficient processes:

  • Reduction of waiting times at borders and better logistical planning;
  • Increased security in the supply chain;
  • Simplification of customs paperwork management;
  • Priority treatment of selected shipments for controls;
  • Possibility of choosing the place of control.


aeo authorized economic operator


Mutual recognition of AEO: what it is and how it works


AEO mutual recognition is a fundamental principle in international trade designed to facilitate trade operations between different countries. This concept is based on the agreement between two or more national customs authorities according to which AEO statuses issued within their jurisdiction are mutually recognized. Over the years, there have been numerous mutual recognitions of Authorized Economic Operator programs with third countries such as Norway, Switzerland, Japan, the United States, China, Canada, South Africa, and others. Many countries have adopted the CEE “AEO” acronym, while others like the United States (C-TPAT) use other equivalent acronyms.


Is Savino Del Bene an AEO?


Savino Del Bene obtained the status of Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) in August 2009 and is currently AEO in Europe, India, South Africa, and South Korea. Additionally, it has relevant certifications in the USA (C-TPAT), Colombia (BASC – Business Alliance for Secure Commerce), Singapore (RCAR – Regulated Air Cargo Agent Regime), and China (Class A Certificate). For more details, you can consult the section dedicated to Savino Del Bene’s certifications and authorizations.


If you are looking for an international freight forwarder capable of offering greater efficiency and flexibility to your import and export operations, and that can help improve your competitiveness in the global market, you are in the right place. Request a consultation with your local Savino Del Bene contact.

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