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The Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) – the EU & Britain’s answer to meet the USA’s own import controls – is being rolled out. Not just the largest but also the smallest companies have gone through (SMEs have been explicitly encouraged to do so) the certification process, and now enjoy trading with greater security and customs facilitation. Veracis can help your business become an AEO » more about AEO

The place of AEO in a post-Brexit world

The Union Customs Code (UCC), which defines AEO, was implemented only in 2016 and will impact especially on non AEO holders; it acts as an enabler for other customs authorisations and included in its provisions are such as:
• Mandatory guarantees required for special procedures and temporary storage
• The ability to move goods under temporary storage rather than National Transit or NCTS
• Removal of sales provisions relating to valuation
• Self-Assessment and Centralised Clearance

The UCC is still utterly relevant today as it serves as the framework regulation on the rules and procedures for customs throughout the EU.

As the Prime Minister has announced that Britain will leave the EU customs union, this does represent an opportunity to rework the UCC for a British version – but how long this would take would depend (at the very least) on the end terms agreed for Brexit. In the medium term, it is not realistic to see much change from UCC terms to a “BCC”.

Members of a customs union impose a common external tariff on goods imported. World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules require in most cases that uniform tariffs, across the board, are applied and it is therefore difficult to assess how the cherry picking of some goods (e.g. autos) would be enabled or allowed.
Countries not in the EU but in the European Economic Area (e.g. Norway) have been held up as an example for post-Brexit – but as freedom of movement is mandated, it is again difficult to see how such access to the EU customs union could be achieved under the proposed Brexit regime.
And we will continue to hear that “Britain cannot have a better deal outside the EU than it has now”.

So, do we look to a complete withdrawal from the EU customs union? In that case and in a world-wide Free Trade Agreement environment, many negotiations will be with countries with their own AEO programmes – and can one imagine the USA Customs and Border Protection giving up the Mutual Recognition between C-TPAT and AEO “trusted traders”?

The value of AEO will surely be even more important as a measure of security and compliance and as a kitemark for companies in an independent and fiercely competitive environment – where the international supply chain may ironically soon start with our biggest trading partner, the EU.

In addition to the Veracis AEO process

We have experience in ISO standards across Quality Management, IT Security and Supply Chain Security (9001, 27001 and 28001) and can advise on their relevance to AEO or on actual implementation. Veracis provides risk mitigation to companies involved in Trading and Wholesaling. A systematic process is applied to Due Diligence, compliance testing and transaction verification. Expert support and advice is provided to companies dealing with investigation by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. » more about Veracis

NEWS & UPDATES
09/10/17Today's government white paper (read paper) on future customs regimes identifies the key role that AEO will play in enabling border clearance and streamlining authorisation requirements:

5.10 The government will look at options to reduce the pressure and risk of delays at ports and airports, for example by:
• negotiating mutual recognition of Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs), enabling faster clearance of AEOs’ goods at the border, the Government will seek mutual recognition of AEOs with the EU.
5.11 … to reduce revenue and security risks to the UK, and improve targeting of inspections, reducing delays for legitimate traders.
5.12 The government would look to reduce the time and costs of complying with customs administrative requirements … for example:

• speeding up some authorisation processes, … and in the longer-term streamlining authorisation requirements to reduce complexity, such as in relation to the UK’s existing framework of duty suspensions and reliefs
• making existing domestic simplified procedures easier for traders to access, in a way that is compatible with the UK’s international obligations, in order to reduce the requirements traders need to comply with for their goods to be cleared at the border.
28/09/17Some keynotes from the September HMRC appearance before the Treasury Committee:
• 130,000 businesses moving goods to the EU who will as importers and exporters be interfacing with HMRC and customs processes for the first time, and [will] "have to fill in 55 data fields" (to make a declaration)
• 3-5,000 new staff to cope with declarations
• "[The UCC] is an improvement on what we have had before … we are in the middle of implementing [it] … makes sense for it to form the base of the UK’s customs regime from the end of March 2019"

16/08/17HM Government’s “Future customs arrangements” paper acknowledges the place of AEO accreditation in facilitating trade:
we would look at options to reduce the pressure and risk of delays at ports and airports, for example by negotiating mutual recognition of Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs), enabling faster clearance of AEOs’ goods at the border - according to HMRC estimates, UK companies with AEO status account for around 60 per cent of the UK’s imports and 74 per cent of the UK’s exports
However only 600 companies have been AEO accredited in the UK so far: as the paper also notes, “In 2016, UK imports from and exports to the EU totalled £553bn, with over 200,000 UK businesses trading with the EU” – and so we continue to believe that it’s imperative for UK companies to step up to the AEO mark in order to protect their business.
18/07/17Philip Hammond in Parliament today "... when we leave the European Union ... we will also leave the single market and the customs union. Those are matters of legal necessity."
And we thought he was a "soft brexiteer"! There we all were, hoping vainly that there was a chance that all of our trade with our EU trading partners might not all become exports and imports.
How are you planning to deal with this?
17/07/17Well - the wrangling (aka negotiations) has started in earnest. Veracis is intrigued to see a senior minister refer to "Mutual Recognition" agreements on prime TV, and one solution touted for the Northern Ireland border is to give ("give"?) firms authorised economic operator status.
It will be some while before the Customs Union issue is sorted - but whatever happens, AEO will either continue as very important or become quite critical to fast cost effective cross border operations.
10/07/17Many congratulations to the SEKO companies - SEKO Logistics London, Southampton, North & Farnborough, who have passed their AEO with flying colours. It's been a pleasure working with you and we look forward to hearing about accreditation for the remaining companies in the group.
05/04/17The Great Repeal Bill will convert most current EU statute into British law. The Union Customs Code will therefore – we assume - be replaced by a "BCC" to become the basis of how we process imports & exports from EU & other countries - and manage AEO. But, how much or how quickly will the government actually want or be able to change the EU UCC rules under which we currently operate?
30/03/17So, it's happened: and the terms of Article 50 mean that Britain must leave the Single Market and Customs Union. The government wants free-trade deals giving access without barriers to EU and non EU markets, but you may have seen the leak reported, that HMRC think that customs controls – even under free trade deals - would result in customs delays and additional costs, that 2/3 of EU countries apply more import inspections than Britain, and citing OECD research that import costs could rise by up to 24%
17/01/17The Prime Minister has finally announced that Britain will leave the EU customs union, to enable FTAs with 3rd party countries.
Even if an “associate agreement” with the customs union is reached, could current movements with our biggest trading partner become exports and imports in 2019? How might the AEO programme facilitate business in a new such environment? Veracis doesn’t like second guessing, but we do consider that AEO seems likely to become more important in future-proofing your cross border trade.
20/12/16Congratulations to the Eskenazi Gallery in achieving their AEO - we're so pleased that we could help a small company, outside of the "normal" freighting stream, demonstrate their proficiency, and future-proof their business.
19/12/16Veracis, in conjunction with Morgan Rose Solicitors, was recently successful in overturning a very large Misdeclaration Penalty issued by HMRC.
09/11/16If you trade with USA, the value of AEO is much reinforced by today's election results; the new US government's attitude to international trade will undoubtedly reinforce and make more robust the US CBP policies of delay and strict checks to those shipments not falling under AEO/C-TPAT mutual recognition.
30/06/16Withdrawal from EU - HMRC has issued CIP 42 (view) to confirm that there will be no immediate change to the movement of goods in and out of the UK. This position will remain until the terms of the withdrawal under Article 50 have worked through - over a period of at least two years.

The value of AEO can only be increased by potential changes in the UK's relationship with the EU Customs Union - and the key benefits remain, especially of course regarding exports to the USA.
17/02/16Norman Global Logistics Limited has been successful in its application for AEO(F). We were pleased to help them through the application process - well done and thoroughly deserved! . . . link to Norman Global Logistics
27/01/16 Changes coming in with the UCC: Veracis' Newsletter summarises, and collates with links to a batch of HMRC's Customs Information Papers recently issued. Click to open the Newsletter

04/01/16AEO stats - we've made our annual review of the current state of AEO takeup: we note that there are nearly 14,000 AEOs across the EU; Germany is still much the largest adopter (42%) with UK languishing in 8th place at 2.9%. Certifications in UK grew by 9% in 2015 - showing the start of an increased rate of takeup associated with UCC implementation in May.
31/12/15HMRC's recent CIP 39 is an excellent detailed summary of changes with the implementation of the UCC on 01 May - procedures & reliefs ending on that date, new facilitations starting, changes taking place and their impact on you. A 'must read' for the new year!
11/09/15HMRC confirms in CIP 33(2015) that the final UCC text will be published by early November, in preparation for implementation next May. A number of issues or ambiguities still remain, for example whether agreement with Customs is actually needed by AEOs in their the favourable treatment "to have documentary and physical controls of goods carried out at an agreed location (as opposed to just at the port)", but the principle stands.
28/05/15The AEO Policy team has told us that “businesses need to have a long, hard look at their customs activities and what the UCC will mean to them – it’s pretty clear that anyone operating a customs authorisation or approval is going to be affected by the guarantee requirements and the only sure way to avoid that is to be an AEO. Applications need to be coming in sooner rather than later.”
20/05/15UCC and Guarantee waivers - HMRC confirm in a recent webcast and blog that AEOC/AEOF holders will not have to provide a guarantee to store un-customed goods in approved storage. By implication, any Customs Warehouse keepers who do not hold AEOC/AEOF accreditation, will have to provide a guarantee when their current authorisation expires. The amounts could be significant.
01/05/15HMRC paper - CIP 17(2015) considers the implementation of the Union Customs Code in 12 months’ time in noting the impact of the number of applications on them. They are therefore tightening procedures: “incomplete or incorrect applications will be returned” and if evidence cannot be shown at audit that stated procedures are followed, the applicant ”will be advised to withdraw”. Getting it right first time, and being really ready for audit, is now critical - & a fundamental part of our approach!
07/01/15Implementation of the UCC next year - our latest newsletter reviews and discusses its issues and benefits (read/download)
03/12/14A US Customs & Border Protection Fact Sheet claims that "C-TPAT importers are four to six times less likely to incur a security or compliance examination."
27/11/14And special congratulations to Artfx Fine Art Services Ltd on gaining their AEO, who claim that with Veracis' help the process was painless! Well deserved, and demonstrates that even the smallest "family run" business is judged capable, excellent and truly professional by HMRC.
15/10/14Congratulations to the 17 companies who have achieved AEO in 2014 – but the UK still pays only as much attention to AEO as do Hungary and Belgium, and has only 1/16th of German accreditations, with well under 3% of the total AEO accredited firms. Lots of room for well organised British companies to stand out ahead of the pack, as the 2016 UCC implementation date comes closer.
10/10/14Import VAT deferment: Veracis supports BIFA who recently voiced concern (as in the last HMRC JCCC) over the disadvantaging of UK businesses where “EU neighbours have already changed their domestic regimes to benefit their traders” … “large parts of the near EU appear to be introducing regimes under which import VAT is deferred” and … “the French have stated that they have taken these steps to anticipate the future reforms of the UCC”.
03/09/14An interesting research paper presented to the 2nd Global AEO Conference, using results from over 300 companies and 8 MRA participants concluded, inter alia, that:
~ Import Customs clearance time for an AEO is faster than for a non-AEO company before MRA
~ Import Customs clearance time for AEO Exporter is greatly reduced after MRA
~ The number and percentage of cargo inspections for an AEO is significantly reduced after MRA
although:
~ AEO satisfaction is about 10% lower than expectations
~ MRA awareness is significantly low
"Research on AEO and AEO MRA Effects" 04/2014/WCO Lee & Shao
02/07/14The benefits accruing to AEO companies are often rather opaque - we like the detailed analysis in a WCO News article of June 2014 by the Cross Border Research Association. Click the link to download ... AEO benefits and inducements
28/03/14USA Mutual Recognition - further AEO benefit? Goods for onward airfreighting on arrival into USA may require making as “Known” (even if already as such on export from UK) or be changed to onward land shipment. The USA CBP has talked of stiffening the treatment of movements outside C-TPAT/AEO (trusted trader) chains.
19/03/14UCC legislation – HMRC introduces “an AEO benefit” in CIP (14) 21: AEO (& only AEO) traders may request the movement of goods that have been entered to CHIEF against their External Temporary Storage Facility inventory record, into it from the air/port under UCC legislation. CIP (14) 21
01/11/13The Union Customs Code came into force at the end of October 2013, the mechanics of its implementation to be detailed in regulations during 2014 and its implementation effective from June 2016. Previously published and promised benefits and objectives are now codified in statute! Click here for more information.
01/10/13Cell Talk (UK) Limited (ref TC 2013/03844) won its VAT appeal against a decision to deny input tax by HMRC. The case concerned the purchase of iPhones stock from the Apple Corporation. Veracis, in conjunction with Robert Holland of Dass Solicitors, is proud to have helped achieve this excellent result for directors Mr Irfan and Mrs Alia Ghani.
30/09/13C Narain Brothers (ref TC 2013/03223) won its appeal against a refusal by HMRC to pay Repayment Supplement - the statutory payment after delaying the repayment of input tax. Veracis is proud to have helped the partners Ash and Raj Nainani achieve this excellent result.
12/09/13The Union Customs Code has been formally adopted by the European Parliament and should now enter into force as from November 2013. A press release summarises issues behind this, with comments such as "In 2012 Customs treated 261 million declarations ... the value ... came to €3.5 trillion".
15/08/13Fine Art export trade … is booming, confirms the latest figures released by the Office of National Statistics and reported by the press. Veracis is pleased to have helped participants to AEO status in all aspects of this sector – auctioneering, gallery, specialist freighting and storage.
08/07/13Trans Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the EU & USA started today. The conclusion target date of November 2014 is rather optimistic, but the ambition of removing tariffs, non-tariff barriers and conflicting standards impeding trade is creditable and could boost EU exports by between 0.5-1.5% GDP
20/06/13Union Customs Code (UCC) nears final agreement as the timetable for its establishment is legislated back to this November. Its revised features may now not start phased implementation for several years but it's AEOs who will be able, for example, to take advantage of "self assessment" declarations and gain the duty waivers - without waiting in a long queue for AEO certification.
25/04/13AEO spreads a little further: Singapore & China’s Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) came into effect in March. As MRAs are put into place around the world, it is becoming more critical that companies engaging in the international supply chain can participate as AEOs.
07/04/13In a landmark VAT iPhone case, Momobile Worldwide Limited (v HMRC) has won its VAT Tribunal Appeal (No TC 2012/00262), represented by Veracis and Dass solicitors. Veracis continues to be successful in helping companies obtain release of input tax (VAT), as in this case where stock purchases were held up by HMRC after transactions were subject to extended verification.
05/03/13A roadmap towards EU-Canada mutual recognition - EU & Canada signed up yesterday to extend customs cooperation to supply chain security and risk management (using AEO and Canada's Partners in Protection). More...
28/02/13Anglia Forwarding Limited and International Cargo Centre Limited have been granted accreditation for AEO. Congratulations to Managing Director Colin Dowling and his colleagues. Veracis is proud to have helped these two leading UK Freight Forwarding and Logistics providers through the AEO preparation and application process.
01/02/13Customs Information Paper, EU-USA mutual recognition
HMRC has published the first paper detailing post implementation progress on this. "trusted traders will enjoy lower costs, simplified procedures, and greater predictability in their transatlantic activities ... this will include faster clearance ... at the US frontier for those holding AEOS/F." see CIP(13)05
31/01/13EU FAQs
The European Commission has issued a FAQ guide to EU-USA M-R, which reiterates reduced costs & trade facilitation to trusted traders, arising from:
• one common standard of conformity with fewer controls,
• reduced & faster validations,
• marketability and brand equity
18/01/13USA & mutual recognition
US Customs & Border Patrol have signed up to a two year pathway to mutual recognition with Mexico for the two countries AEO programmes. Interesting demonstration of the US commitment to increased border control efectiveness by the use of AEO.
04/01/13AEO progress
Over 300 AEOs are now certified in UK - but we're lagging behind Netherlands, France, Italy, Poland and Sweden, with Hungary catching up ... and Germany's still in a league of its own with 20 times our AEOs!
30/09/12Modernised Customs Code (Union Customs Code)
We note that the recent European Parliament draft report on laying down the UCC includes two benefits not previously spelled out by the EC: Amendment 9 states "... that shall entitle the holder thereof to facilitations relating to security and safety. This includes fewer controls at the point of import or export and may also be taken into account for post-clearance controls."
It's good to see this clear affirmation of a benefit previously touted, and its extension also into post-clearance controls.
16/07/12US Mutual Recognition update - registration:
Implementation started today & should be fully operational in January 2013 once all data exchange is completed. However, benefits will NOT come to you automatically - your EORI must be registered by you with US Customs & Border Protection to associate it with their Manufacturer ID (MID) on a website now activated for this purpose.
See their guide CPB EORI-MID or the EU information on this or contact us for copies.
29/06/12HMRC Powers of Detention dented by Court of Appeal Decision:
Customs will not now be able to use the power to detain goods "on suspicion that they may be liable to seizure" at ports and airports to keep cargo whilst conducting enquiries into the declarations. It was often a protracted process in which goods were in a legal limbo - neither seized nor free - and no legal action could be taken to recover them. HMRC will now have to move more rapidly to seizure, or to release goods more promptly. (more)
04/05/12Mutual Recognition is here! The EU and the USA have formally signed off recognising each other's safe traders (AEOs & C-TPATs), who will enjoy lower costs, simplified procedures and greater predictability in their transatlantic activities & benefit from faster controls and reduced administration for customs clearance.
The joint decision will start to be implemented from 1 July 2012. Read the full US CBP & EC press releases.
This is especially important to any company exporting to the USA and whose goods could suffer from time delays when sidelined away from fast-track clearance.
01/05/12At the recent Multimodal Exhibition, seminar speakers Dave O'Gara (HMRC) & Arne Mielken (Deloitte) confirmed that UK has only 300 of the 10,000 EU AEOs. To worsen the situation, HMRC is also tougher on applicants - approving 27% less than the German authorities do.
When, say, a US trader is seeking a compliant European partner (language & culture differences are just not a factor any more) – why will they not choose an EU AEO competitor instead of a UK company?
Veracis is concerned that we are relying on a “special relationship” that is no longer valid in today's supply chain realities.
20/03/12It is our understanding that HMRC are about to issue letters nationwide to relevant traders that they cannot buy small parcels of stock below the reverse charge levels from other wholesalers, severely restricting the number of pieces which can be bought from retail outlets. Preliminary view from Counsel is that there maybe grounds to challenge this – see our VAT page for more information.
19/03/12In a reflection of our own concerns (27/10/11), we see that the last JCCC Customs Group "noted the high number of approvals in Germany and asked whether there was a specific reason why German traders were attracted to the scheme in comparison to other traders in OMS. (The trade also thought the number of AEO rejections in the UK looked like a high percentage when compared with OMS, could HMRC also comment on this?)". Results of their investigation will be reported at the next meeting in April.
20/02/12The Modernised Customs Code is now in reality postponed, with the formal proposals to "recast" (replace) it with the Union Customs Code. The new recasting "preserves the objectives of Regulation (EC) No 450/2008" (the MCC), in the context of the Treaty of Lisbon and evolving business processes -
and a timescale is again laid down in terms of "the new electronic processing environment will be operational at the latest by 31 December 2020".
31/01/12Mutual Recognition with USA is nearly here! US sources claim that exporters to USA will face more rigorous inspection regimes and potential delays, with associated port charges.
However, as the recent European Commission's press release says: "The mutual recognition decision will bring huge benefits for certified businesses and traders [AEOs], when it will become operational in June 2012, in terms of reduced costs and time delays, less red tape, greater ease and predictability in the movement of their goods, and new trade opportunities."
22/11/11EU is concerned about the MCCIP deadline, impact on SMEs & AEO benefits; the European Parliament approved a report on customs modernisation for auctioning by the EC. This includes:
“23. … taking into account the difficulties experienced, mainly in relation to the development of IT systems, to explore the possibilities of considering 2016 as a new deadline for the uniform implementation of the MCC”
“29. … is concerned, however, that considerable investments necessary to obtain AEO status might be a serious obstacle for traders, especially SMEs; (here at least, is somewhere that Veracis can help you!)
“30. … propose additional concrete benefits which could be granted to traders holding AEO certificates … for example by relieving AEOs, as a rule, from the requirement to lodge a security of customs debt, and facilitating the payment of customs duties and VAT;”
Remember that the delay will not change USA’s tightening of import restrictions and its and China’s moves towards Mutual Recognition, or the cash benefits of CT waiver availability to you.
27/10/11What does the EC register of AEOs tell us? Dissecting the data reveals that Germany is swiftly increasing its “share” of companies certified as AEO to nearly half the 7,000 total across the EU; that as a result most other countries apart from Poland (whose share has doubled to 6%) have seen their share fall – UK’s by half over the last three years to just over 3%. Is “UK plc” losing out? What should HMRC do to rectify this situation? Is this a level playing field? We know you have to work very hard to gain accreditation and we will support you as efficiently as we can.
26/08/11Veracis is pleased to welcome into the team, Geoff Whittingham - former HMRC International Trade Development Liaison Officer and senior AEO specialist. Geoff's experience in establishing HMRC's AEO audit processes will prove invaluable to Veracis and our clients.
23/06/11At last – a timeline for USA mutual recognition?

A “Joint statement on supply-chain security”was signed 23 June 2011 by the EC and Janet Napolitano, Secretary for Homeland Security. Actions include:
• Implement the mutual recognition of the EU (AEO) and U.S. (C-TPAT) trade partnership programmes by end October 2011 contingent upon the completion of the agreed steps and work programme.
• Implement global guidelines under the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards for AEO programmes and mutual recognition. Explore opportunities for a global identification number for mutual recognition purposes.
16/05/11Implementation of mutual recognition of AEOs between the EU and Japan will begin on 24th May 2011. The European Commission states that “Trade that is coming from EU AEO exporters or going to EU AEO importers will benefit at the stage of the Japanese import / export declaration.” See the EC statement
Agreements withChina andUSA will follow soon and a two tier system will start to become noticeable – for non AEOs!
30/11/10CASH FLOW BENEFIT ON CTWAIVERS CONFIRMED FOR AEOs!

New CIP (10) 81 issued 30th November confirms that, “provided businesses that have AEOC or AEOF status can satisfy the sufficient experience and command of transport operations criteria for transit, these AEOs will be entitled to qualify for a transit guarantee waiver or guarantee reduction.”
Veracis reminds you that this is just a taster of the benefits available to AEOs when the MCC is fully implemented – don’t get caught in the rush and have to tie up your cash in the MCC’s mandatory guarantee regime.
10/10/10AEO LEADS TO CASH FLOW BENEFIT FOR COMMUNITY TRANSIT GUARANTEES

HMRC have advised us that if you are now getting 50% or 70% waivers, once you obtain AEO status you can apply for a 100 per cent waiver. They are about to issue a Customs Information Paper (CIP) setting out the terms of these waivers. It will be an immediate cash flow benefit to Freight Agents, particularly those around the UK airports who move goods under CT guarantees, and ERTS or Bonded Warehouse operators.

For more information see our AEO page or contact us.
04/08/10Customs simplifications and full certificates: the EU are planning to add a requirement of professional competence within the implementation of the Modernised Customs Code. This will be an addition to the current requirements of compliance, record keeping and solvency! HMRC are seeking comments about the proposed new criterion.