Series 18 - Back to Brexit Basics – Applying for AEO status

Aug 02, 2018

Last week, we looked at what a “no deal” Brexit could mean. This week we examine how traders might go about applying for Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status.

We looked at AEO status back in Series 5 of Back to Brexit Basics and this week we look more closely at how you might apply for AEO status.  Before we delve in, to briefly recap, AEO status is a certified authorisation issued by customs authorities in the EU for traders involved in customs declarations.  The status means that a trader can be recognised worldwide as a safe, secure and compliant trader in international trade. 

While AEO is not mandatory, because it indicates that a trader’s customs controls and procedures are efficient and compliant, it does give faster access to certain simplified customs procedures and in some cases, shipments can be fast-tracked through customs procedures. 

Who can apply?

Any trader established in the EU who is part of an international supply chain (that is trading with countries outside the EU) can apply to their country’s customs authority for AEO status (so the Revenue Commissioners for traders established in Ireland and the HMRC for traders in the UK). 

For example, manufacturers, exporters, warehouse operators, clearance agents, importers or freight forwarders can all apply for AEO status. They just need an Economic Operators’ Registration and Identification (EORI) number to do so.  This should be obtained before applying for AEO status.    It’s important to note that you need an EORI number anyway to trade goods with countries outside the EU.

 How to apply for AEO status in Ireland

  1. Apply to Revenue for an EORI number (this can be done online)
  2. The first step before applying for AEO status is to complete a  self-assessment questionnaire. This will help you to evaluate your procedures and ensure they meet the criteria for AEO
  3. Revenue has prepared explanatory notes that will help you to complete this questionnaire.
  4. If the AEO criteria are met, you should complete the application for AEO certificate 
  5. The completed application and self-assessment questionnaire should then be sent to the Simplifications and Compliance Unit. Phone numbers, postal and email addresses are provided
  6. Revenue staff will then carry out an evaluation which will always involve a visit to the premises detailed in the application

How to apply for AEO status in the UK

  1. Apply to HMRC for an EORI number
  2. Complete the form C117 application form which requires basic information about the business
  3. Complete the form C118 which is a detailed questionnaire about your business activities
  4. Send both forms together to HMRC at AEOapplications@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk so the application can be accepted and processed
  5. Traders need to have evidence of processes and procedures to support your application and meet the AEO criteria. These should be retained and produced at the audit stage of the process or at the request of the auditor
  6. If you’re a group of companies, you have to submit separate applications for each legal entity. If you have common standards and customs procedures, only one questionnaire C118 is needed along with an application form for each legal entity. However, if you submit a separate C118 for each legal entity, you can speed up the application process

More information

Chartered Accountants Ireland and The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales have released a joint publication entitled Taking the Lead: Chartered Accountants & Brexit which gives practical details of AEO status and its benefits.  Download your free copy.

Read all of our Brexit updates and Back to Brexit Basics on the dedicated Brexit section of our website.