Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Programme | What is it?

In June 2005, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) Council adopted the SAFE Framework of Standards to secure and facilitate Global Trade that would act as a deterrent to international terrorism, secure revenue collections and promote trade facilitation internationally. The core concept of this international framework is the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Programme. An Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) is a party involved in the international movement of goods in whatever function that has been approved by, or on behalf of a national customs administration, to comply with WCO or equivalent supply chain security standards. AEO’s may include manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses, distributors, and freight forwarders.

The AEO Programme is widely acknowledged as a key driver for a solid customs-business partnership, transparent and predictable trading environment. In a wider context it leads to economic prosperity.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS), as a government department that controls and administers the international movement of goods are in a unique position to provide increased security to the global supply chain and contribute to socio-economic development through revenue collection and trade facilitation

What are the requirements if I want to apply to be an AEO?

To apply to be an AEO, applicants must meet the following requirements or criteria:

  1. Entity meets Preferred Trader standards for all activities, including licensing:
  • Customs compliance
  • Systems controls and accounting of goods
  • Financial viability and
  • Sufficient Customs Knowledge
  1. Entity meets Safety & Security and Compliance standards:
  • Cargo security
  • Personnel Security
  • Contractor security
  • Conveyance Security
  • Crisis management
  • Communication and training
  • Security education and
  • Information Technology security.
  • Corporate Governance.

 What are the benefits of the AEO programme?  

  • MRAs (Mutual Recognition Agreement ) with Partner Countries;
  • Partner Interventions with OGAs (Other Government Agencies);
  • Simplified Processes;
  • Electronic Warehouses;
  • Specialised Service Delivery;
  • Reduced Compliance Audits;
  • Expedited Refunds;
  • Reduced Deferment Bonds; and
  • No Special Attendance Fees.

How to apply?


Application for accredited client status must be made on form DA 186 as published on the SARS website, submitted –

(a) at any Customs and Excise Office where a Client Relationship Manager is located, as indicated on the SARS website; or

(b) by e-mail directed to the e-mail address indicated on the SARS website for receipt of such applications. 5

(2) An application referred to in subrule (1) must be supported by –

(a) the following documents, available on the SARS website and completed in accordance with any instructions provided on the website in this regard:

(i) A Customs Accreditation Self-Evaluation Questionnaire;

(ii) a Systems Questionnaire; and

(iii) an Accreditation Agreement;

(b) an application to make a booking for the competency assessment referred to in rule 64E.06; and

(c) any other supporting documents that may be necessary for proving compliance with the criteria prescribed in rule 64E.12 or 64E.13 for the relevant level of accredited client status, as may be required by the Commissioner or as indicated on the application form.