Authorised Economic Operators (AEO)
The electronic AEO application procedure as of December 2021
As of December 1, 2021, the application for an AEO authorization as well as the administration of AEO authorizations will only be possible via the central system of the EU. Below you will find all the information you need for this.
What is an AEO?
A company established in the EU can apply to the customs authorities for AEO status, i.e. Authorized Economic Operator status.
Authorized Economic Operators receive benefits in the form of simplifications related to customs regulations and/or facilitations in security-related customs controls. Before granting an authorization for the status of an Authorized Economic Operator, the customs authorities must check whether the economic operator meets the criteria required for the respective AEO status. These criteria are briefly described in the section "What does self-assessment mean?“
The following authorization types are possible:
"AEOC" - for customs simplifications
"AEOS" - for facilitations in security-related customs controls
"AEOC/AEOS" - for a combination of customs simplifications and facilitations for security-related customs controls (technically also referred to as AEOF).
Where can I submit my application?
Economic operators keeping their main accounts for customs purposes in Austria must submit their application for AEO authorization, including an answered questionnaire for self-assessment, to that customs house of the Austrian Customs Office in whose area the applicant has a place of residence or registered office.
If the Austrian customs administration is responsible for granting the AEO authorisation (keeping of or access to the main accounts for customs purposes in Austria), Economic Operators who are domiciled in another Member State but keep their main accounts for customs purposes in Austria or who have access to them here must submit their application to the customs house responsible for the Western region.
What does self-assessment mean?
Authorized Economic Operators must meet specific criteria. Depending on the type of AEO authorization applied for, these include:
- No serious or repeated infringements of customs and tax regulations and no serious criminal offenses in the course of their economic activity (for AEOC and AEOS)
- evidence of an increased level of control of activities and movement of goods by means of business records and, if applicable, transport records (for AEOC and AEOS)
- proven solvency (for AEOC and AEOS) and, where applicable
- practical or professional competence directly related to the activity carried out (for AEOC) and, where applicable
- appropriate security standards related to international supply chain security (for AEOS)
Customs authorities must verify that the required conditions and criteria are met before granting the authorization. Economic Operators who have decided to apply for AEO status must therefore carry out a self-assessment before submitting the AEO application, the result of which will be verified by the customs authority.
With the help of a standardized questionnaire for self-assessment provided by the European Commission, it must be checked whether all criteria are met and all required information is available. The self-assessment enables the economic operator and the customs authorities to perform a preliminary risk analysis and to reduce the audit in the company (pre-audit) to potential risks.
The submission of the completed self-assessment questionnaire is mandatory.
In order to facilitate the self-assessment for the Economic Operator, a list of the most important risks related to the granting and monitoring of the AEO status and at the same time a list with possible solutions has been included in the AEO Guidelines. It is recommended to take this list into account when conducting the self-assessment.
How do self-assessment and application work?
As of November 30, 2021, the national AEO application will be discontinued. From this date, the application and management of AEO authorizations will only be possible via the central EU application. This means that an economic operator must register in advance in the Enterprise Service Portal (USP) in order to be able to submit AEO applications via the EU trader portal "eAEO-STP", or to process existing applications or authorizations. The data from eAEO-STP is then transmitted to the EU's central EOS (Economic Operator System) application, where it is processed by the customs authority. Responses or requests to the applicant are created by the customs authority in turn in EOS and transmitted to the EU trader portal eAEO-STP.
It should be noted that the data previously available in the national AEO-ZP application will be available for further processing in the central EU trader portal eAEO-STP as of December 1, 2021.
Since the central system EOS or the eAEO-STP do not offer electronic self-assessment, and a corresponding national system for the creation and assessment of the self-assessment questionnaire will probably not be available until the end of 2022, the template in Word format of the self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) must be used until that time. This template must be completed, submitted to the customer team responsible for issuing the AEO authorization and also uploaded as an attachment in pdf format to the AEO authorization application in eAEO-STP. Please note that a completed self-assessment questionnaire is a mandatory acceptance criterion and therefore an application submission to EOS without a self-assessment questionnaire is not possible for purely technical reasons.
Please read the self-assessment well and answer all questions required for the AEO status applied for and your role(s) in the supply chain.
If possible, also make an appointment for a preliminary discussion with the customer team responsible for you in order to clarify questions of doubt in advance and to ensure the smooth handling and processing of your AEO application.
In case of content-related issues, please contact the responsible customer team at the customs house responsible for you at the Austrian Customs Office.
In case of technical inquiries or malfunctions, please contact the BRZ Service Desk, available Mon-Thu (weekdays) 8am-4pm and Fri (weekdays) 8am-1:30pm at the hotline tel. no.: +43 50 233 733 or via the e-mail inbox email@example.com.
For assistance in setting up a USP user account and assigning the necessary procedural rights (a prerequisite for entering the central AEO portal eAEO-STP), relevant information is available at the links below:
- Create new user
- Remove administrator rights
- USP registration: Link
- Support for USP Administrators: Link
- USP FAQ: FAQ
Additional links to helpful documents for AEO application via eAEO-STP can be found below:
Additional tips for the application and self-assessment process
The AEO is not just a customs issue. Coordinate the decision to apply for AEO status in advance within the company, especially with the management.
- First, familiarize yourself with the AEO legislation, AEO guidelines and self-assessment questionnaire.
- Obtain all documents and information required for the application and self-assessment in a timely manner within your company.
- Take your time for the self-assessment and perform it diligently.
- Do not submit the application until all data is available and all information has been prepared for the self-assessment.
- Incomplete or superficially completed applications and self-assessments are "time wasters" and can significantly delay the application process and pre-audits.
- Each question is based on a potential risk. The "Risks, Threats and Possible Solutions" list is part of the AEO Guidelines and contains a description of these risks and possible solutions on how to control these risks and sustainably meet the AEO criteria.
- Plan the timing of the pre-audit together with the customs house and ensure that the relevant contact persons are available to provide information at the required time. This can significantly reduce the time required for the audit.
- Repeat the self-assessment at regular intervals even after the authorization has been granted and inform your responsible customs office of any significant changes in your company or events that may be related to the AEO-specific risks (notification requirement).
What are security declarations?
When applying for an AEOS authorization or a combined AEOC/AEOS authorization, the AEO should, when entering into new contractual arrangements with a business partner, encourage the business partner to assess and improve the security of its supply chain and, where compatible with the business model, explicitly provide for this in the contractual arrangements. One option to implement this requirement is the use of so-called security declarations. More detailed information on security declarations can be found in the AEO Guidelines. The European Commission has recommended the EU-wide use of model security declarations. Saving versions in pdf format are also available under the heading „Customs Forms“ (Security Declaration for Authorized Economic Operator AEO (Form Za 251).
Further information and forms
In addition to the binding legislation, the European Commission has published guidelines to ensure the uniform examination and monitoring of the AEO criteria throughout the EU. The current AEO Guidelines are available at the link below:
Only holders of an AEO authorization are entitled to use the AEO logo. The AEO logo can be requested from the competent customs house that issued the AEO authorization. The European Commission, as the copyright holder, has indicated that the use of the logo by companies that do not hold an AEO authorization is an infringement of copyright that can be prosecuted. For more information, please see the link below:
Mutual recognition agreement for AEO programs
For the latest information on security cooperation with third countries, the status of AEO mutual recognition agreements and other useful information on AEO, please visit the European Commission's website at the link below: