AEO in The Netherlands Today

AEO in The Netherlands Today

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Five people walking into work smiling.

The Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) initiative started in the EU in 2008, and has spread across the world as a benchmark for customs compliance in supply chains.

Compared to other EU countries, The Netherlands has the highest number of AEO certificates relative to the size of the country - Germany is 9 times larger, France is 13 times larger, and Italy is 7 times bigger than the Netherlands.


If we look at the type of licenses per type per EU country close to the Netherlands, we see that The Netherlands has higher Authorised Economic operators with both AEOC and AEOS licences. That is probably due to the fact that The Netherlands has higher-volume traders than other EU countries.

Source: Database of EU Authorised Economic Operators, European Commission. Jan 2022.

We see this trend also if we look at the number of AEO licences type through all European member states:

Source: Database of authorised economic operators in the EU, European Commission. January 2022

Find out more about the types of AEO licenses

Source: Database of EU Authorised Economic Operators, European Commission. Jan 2022.

At Customs Support Group, we have speculated that the reason why there is more demand for AEO licences in the Netherlands is due to:

1. The Increase of Goods flow in The Netherlands

Cargo flows have grown significantly in The Netherlands in the last 15 years – by approximately 1900%!

In addition to the physical increase in the volume of goods being moved, there is a larger amount of small shipments being sent due to e-commerce. This means that more custom clearance and administration work is required per ton, in comparison to when shipments were larger due to wholesale.

The increase in administration due to volume, Brexit, and changes to European regulations on Duty and Vat mean that there is more and more demand on Dutch customs officials, but they only have limited capacity to carry out these checks.

Using AEO and other factors, Dutch officials introduced the concept of “trusted lanes” in 2015, where trusted traders are allocated to the green lane, established but unvetted traders are allocated to the yellow lane, and newer or riskier enterprises are allocated to the blue lane.

This approach means that shipments that are more likely to be compliant are less likely to be selected for random checks, allowing customs to focus on shipments that are more likely to be non-compliant. It is anticipated that blue lane checks will become much stricter in the future, so it is essential that you get yourself audited to reduce your risk.

2. AEO applicants and holders see a benefit in customs simplification and its image as a trusted partner

According to a 2014 survey, 1345 AEO holders were surveyed to learn more about the main reasons for companies to apply for an AEO licence. This survey showed that the most important reason for applying for AEO status was “to maintain customs simplification and customs permits” (87% of respondents qualified this as a very important reason). 

The second most important reason was “to improve the image as a reliable business partner” (74% of the respondents qualified this as agree and totally agree).

As the AEO trust mark grows, more and more businesses are using it to reflect on their reputation as an established and compliant organisation, operating to a high standard.

Do you have questions on AEO in The Netherlands?

If you have questions about the effects of having AEO in The Netherlands, help obtaining an AEO certificate, support with your application, or with an AEO audit, please contact one of our specialists.