World Customs Organization Adopts Criteria for "Authorized Economic Operator" (AEO)

In June 2005, the World Customs Organization (WCO), adopted the Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade (the "SAFE Framework") a strategy aimed at securing international commerce against terrorism while allowing trade to move faster and more reliably. The SAFE Framework is voluntary and not binding upon members. The SAFE Framework supports customs-trade partnerships, such as C-TPAT.

In June 2006, WCO members adopted a definition of "authorized economic operator" (AEO). Companies that demonstrate a high degree of security guarantees and engage in best practices will be identified as AEOs and receive associated benefits. The hoped-for goal is that WCO members will recognize an AEO qualified in another WCO member as equivalent to its own certification and afford that AEO the same benefits as those compliant with its own national program.

AEO status benefits customs brokers, traders, manufacturers, importers, exporters, carriers, and consolidators because it has the potential to confer benefits by national customs administrations, beyond current processes, including:

  • measures to expedite cargo release, reduce transit time and lower storage costs;
  • access to information of value to AEO participants (such as lists of recognized security standards and best practices);
  • special measures related to periods of trade disruption or elevated threat level; and
  • first consideration for participation in new cargo processing programs.



For more information on the WCO Policy Commission, visit the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers Web site.