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UK Brexit planning Authorised Economic Operator AEO

  • Jan 14, 2018 | Richard Asquith

UK Brexit planning Authorised Economic Operator AEO

UK businesses with large international supply chains risk huge delays for their goods crossing EU borders after 2019's Brexit. However, so far only 608 UK businesses have considered a major mitigation of this customs clearance risk – applying for Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) certification.  This compares to a total of around 130,000 eligible UK exporters.

Supply chain delays at Brexit

On 29 March 2019, Brexit date, the UK is likely to leave the EU’s Customs Union. Aside from potential new tariffs, the big risk for UK supply chains is major new delays and queues at EU borders for customs checks and declarations.

Trusted importer - AEO

Applying for the EU’s Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status – a ‘trusted importer’ qualification - may help alleviate this problem.  AEO is the customs and supply chain accreditation which demonstrates best practices on customs duty and goods' security management. It demonstrates that the business has taken process and security checks against misstatements on declarations or tampering with goods. It encourages EU customs officials to give quicker clearance on goods, and reduce checks and delays.

AEO was launched in 2008, but has had limited take up.  This is partially because of the time and administrative requirements required to qualify.  Businesses have to demonstrate strong controls over customs duty processes and documentation, staff training and goods security. A typical application may take up to nine months.

UK slow to take advantage of AEO

So far, only 608 UK companies have obtained AEO status. This compares to an EU total of 25,000. The UK will probably need 4-5 times this number registered to ensure most major supply chain business are covered.


Need help with your UK VAT compliance?



Researching UK VAT legislation is the first step to understanding your VAT compliance needs. Avalara has a range of solutions that can help your business depending on where and how you trade. 

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VP Global Indirect Tax
Richard Asquith
VP Global Indirect Tax Richard Asquith
Richard Asquith is VP Global Indirect Tax at Avalara, helping businesses understand their compliance obligations as they grow globally. He can be contacted at: richard.asquith@avalara.com. He is part of the European leadership team which won International Tax Review's 2019 Tax Technology Firm of the Year. Richard qualified as an accountant with KPMG in the UK, and went on to work in Hungary, Russia and France with EY.