Are you ready for AEO?

Why are so few UK companies ready for International Trade Changes? This is quite a troubling question considering the apathetic response throughout the UK and Ireland towards the take-up of the AEO scheme. Countries like Germany and Holland have seen companies embrace the scheme in their thousands, compared to the low hundreds in the UK.

Vertical shot of a tired businesswoman having a lot of paperwork

The AEO (Authorised Economic Operator) scheme started back in 2008 but the terrible events of September 2011 in New York really brought into focus the security issues, particularly those relating to terrorism, organised crime and others. The urgent need to protect and secure the international supply chain was brought into stark relief and galvanised the European Union into action.

Financial Penalty

Although the AEO scheme is governed by HMRC changes are afoot which will affect every organisation within the EU that is involved in the supply chain such as:

  • Exporters
  • Importers
  • Carriers
  • Freight and Logistics companies
  • Manufacturers, and others.

In brief, the Union Customs Code will come into force in May this year (2016). The indications are that this will bring significant benefits for AEO accredited organisations; not least among these is the exemption from the financial penalty which non-AEO accredited companies will have to pay. A figure between 8-12% of inventory duty has been rumoured, according to MyLogistics magazine.

What can AEO do for you?

Having AEO accreditation demonstrates loud and clear to your partners and clients that your organisation has achieved the highest standards of excellence and meets the criteria that require you to show a good record of:

  • Customs compliance
  • Top quality security and safety standards
  • Management systems which allow customs controls
  • Proven solvency


Across the EU area AEO certification can bring a host of benefits in terms of achieving greater company efficiency. These include faster clearance and priority at points of entry; easier access to customs authorisations and reduced need for data requirements, basically reducing the time it takes to clear customs. In the future it is expected that these benefits will extend to include access to guarantee waivers and centralised customs clearance, plus others which will be offered to AEO accredited companies operating outside the EU.

How to Get Started with AEO Certification

There are three types of AEO certification and whichever certificate is held your company will reap the benefits. These include customs simplification and safety controls, recognised status across the EU and a useful industry kite-mark. The three types are:

  1. Customs Simplification AEO Certificate, for meeting criteria concerning customs compliance, record keeping standards and financial solvency.
  2. Security and Safety Certificate, for the above plus maintaining appropriate security and safety standards.
  3. Combined Customs Simplifications/Security and Safety AEO Certificate. Self-explanatory – a combination of the above for those who want to benefit from both types of certification.

The bottom line is this: becoming AEO accredited will reduce the time taken in getting through customs, thereby reducing the time involved in goods supply flow, thus increasing profitability. AEO is going to affect the supply chain UK businesses large and small urgently need to get up to speed before we find operations moved abroad to organisations which have had the foresight to embrace AEO and the many benefits it holds.

If you’re looking into gaining AEO certification for your business, why not gain some assistance by contacting Synergos. With a wealth of experience in helping clients improve the processes and systems within their businesses, we can help take the pain out of AEO and help your business reap the benefits. Simply call us today on 01484 817 444 or email for assistance.

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Jenny Kilburn
Jenny Kilburn
Completed my Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 2012 I was looking to start my own business. With over 10 years improving and streamlining business systems, I grasped an opportunity to assist a local business to improve their quality and communication processes by researching the requirements of a quality management system based upon ISO 9001 and conducted my first internal audit that resulted in 97 improvement recommendations. After a successful outcome, I was recommended again and again with glowing reviews and in February 2014, Synergos Consultancy was born. I now have the role of regularly reviewing and planning the strategic direction of the business to ensure that Synergos continues to develop, whilst at the same time, still actively working closely with some of our clients. In my spare time I love to attend the theatre to watch musicals, dance productions and plays. In 2019, I attended the theatre a whopping 24 times. I follow a plant-based diet which I absolutely love. A keen tick-tock follower, I have picked up a lot of interesting recipes. A firm favourite is Brussel sprouts and sriracha sauce baked in the oven. Delicious!
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