Smooth Economic Operators should aim for AEO to secure supply chain

There is little that can be confidently predicted about our fiscal relationship with the EU following 31st October this year, but businesses should take heart from one certainty – securing Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status will prove highly beneficial for those involved in the international supply chain.

AEO is an internationally recognised quality mark that is awarded to businesses which can prove firstly, that their place in the international supply chain is secure, and secondly, that their customs controls are efficient and compliant. There are three variations of AEO: AEOC – Customs Simplifications; AEOS status – safety and security of the international supply chain, as well as a combination of the two.

Running a business doesn’t leave time for inefficiencies, so is it worth your while putting in the effort to secure AEO status? Well, if you’re involved in an international supply chain, the simple answer is yes.
If you hold AEOC status, you could benefit from a faster application process for customs simplifications and authorisations, and reductions or waivers of comprehensive guarantees. Moreover, you could also qualify for a notification waiver when making an entry in a declarant’s records and a 70% reduction in a business’s deferment account guarantee.

With AEOS status you’ll benefit from a lower risk score (used to decide the how often customs carry out physical and documentary checks); consignments being fast-tracked through customs control; reduced requirements for the mandatory pre-arrival and pre-departure summary declarations, as well as reciprocal arrangements and mutual recognition with countries outside the EU (for example, USA or trading partners that adopt the World Customs Organisation safe framework).

At Bethan Customs Consultancy we work with a range of businesses across several different sectors, and we have spotted a notable trend whereby larger businesses are insisting on AEO accreditation in their contractual arrangements with trading partners. Understandably they wish to guarantee compliance and consistency across the entire supply chain.

I hesitate to mention the ‘B’ word, but…post-Brexit, AEO certification will become even more desirable to ensure that goods continue to travel smoothly across territories. We expect the EU and the UK to recognise each other’s AEO schemes, as ‘trusted traders’ following our exit from the EU. As more traders apply for AEO accreditation, the volume of those receiving priority Customs authorities will increase, meaning businesses without AEO accreditation may face further delays in goods being customs cleared.

Crucially, businesses with AEOS status will benefit from mutual recognition arrangements with countries outside the EU, paving the way for trade with nations such as the USA, China, Norway, Switzerland and Japan. Canada will soon be added to this list, with negotiations almost complete.

So, who is eligible to apply for AEO? Any business within the European Union, which is part of the international supply chain, has the potential to import or export, and is involved in Customs related operations. This could apply to businesses spanning a range of sectors, from companies involved in the drilling, extraction and production of oil and gas, to food and drink, as well as the electronics, textiles and aviation industries.

However, before applying, I would recommend that you ensure your business can meet the relevant compliance standards for AEO, you retain the necessary HMRC records and are financially solvent. The AEO application process is a great opportunity to introduce efficiencies and compliance into the business, resulting in a more secure supply chain and compliant internal controls.

With the government providing £500 million of additional funding to help businesses prepare for Brexit for 2019-20, on top of the £1.5 billion already announced, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of the support on offer.

Given that the Chancellor announced in the 2018 Budget that he would slash the timescale for processing AEO applications from 120 days to 60 days, there is still time for businesses to secure what will undoubtedly be a golden ticket following October 31st.

George’s appointment bolsters Bethan team

George Laing

An Oldmeldrum-based business which provides customs and supply chain support has doubled its team since the start of the year with a number of key appointments, the most recent being former HMRC Higher Officer, George Laing.

Bethan Customs Consultancy has appointed George to the role of Customs Consultant, where he joins fellow consultant and former HMRC colleague, Elaine Lownds and the firm’s director, Nicola Alexander.

Since January of this year, the team has doubled from three members of staff to six.

George’s addition to the team creates new opportunities for Bethan to meet the increasing demand for its bespoke and independent service offerings, as well as to expand its capacity for dedicated in-house and remote customs consultancy to clients.

Before taking up his role with Bethan, George enjoyed a very distinguished 43-year career within the civil service. He has held a number of roles within the Inland Revenue and HMRC in both Glasgow and the North East. Most recently he worked as a Higher Officer in Customs International Trade, where he specialised in Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) approval processes.

Director and founder of Bethan Customs Consultancy, Nicola Alexander, said: “George’s appointment comes at a very exciting time for Bethan, and we are absolutely thrilled to welcome him on board. With his experience and knowledge of customs compliance, I have no doubt he will be yet another asset in our team of consultants, all of whom apply their expertise in customs, logistics and supply chain management to help our clients grow their businesses.”

George added: “I am looking forward to building on my previous experience in my new role with Bethan. I see this as a natural progression from my previous role within HMRC – guiding and supporting clients to navigate the complexities of importation and exportation from a customs perspective, particularly during these unprecedented times.”

Bethan Customs Consultancy provides independent, clear and practical advice, as well as training and on-going support to businesses throughout the UK in relation to customs compliance and supply chain requirements. They offer a bespoke service, tailored to their clients’ business requirements, which span a range of sectors, from oil and gas to food and drink.

Bethan Customs Consultancy Team
L-R Aby Wilson, Stuart Wood, Elaine Lownds, George Laing, and Director, Nicola Alexander

HMRC has 120 days to approve a CCG – are you ready?

CCG HMRC Bethan Customs Consultancy

Under UCC (Union Customs Code), a CCG (Customs Comprehensive Guarantee) is required to apply for any new HMRC Authorisations allowing the entry of goods under a duty deferred customs procedure such as Customs Warehouse.


To get a CCG, you need to:

  • be established in the EU
  • have no serious or repeated infringements of customs or tax rules
  • have no record of serious criminal offences related to your business activities

From acceptance of your CCG application, HMRC has up to 120 days to approve the CCG.  As of 6th November 2018, 120 days for the actual approval to be granted would take us to 6th March 2019, not taking into account the time required to prepare the application and for HMRC to issue the initial acceptance.

Upon receipt of CCG, the new HMRC Application for the duty deferred regime would require to be submitted.  This can then take up to 60 days for HMRC to approve.  Taking the submission date as the 6th March 2019, 60 days for the actual authorisation approval to be granted would take us to 5th May 2019.

As UCC transitional arrangements are expected to expire on 29th April 2019, this would result in companies potentially having to duty pay at import due to authorisations not being in place by the end of the transitional deadline.

Are you ready?

For more information or for support with CCG applications, get in touch with us today.

Would you like to Join us on our Journey?

Join us on our journey Bethan Customs Consultancy

Bethan Customs Consultancy is a dynamic company with big ambitions and we’re ready to take on the next leg of our journey.
We love what we do!

We are passionate. We are professional. We are precise.

We do things differently. Bethan aims to make life easier for clients by helping them to deal with customs compliance, importing & exporting legislation. We give them the freedom to fly and grow their businesses through importing & exporting.

But, we want to share the journey…

The next stage of our growth plan is looming and we’re looking for talent to join us on the journey, so that we can climb the next mountain with even more passion and spirit in our backpack.

What you’ll need…

A suitcase full of customs knowledge, expertise, experience, passion and fun. We’re looking for dedicated and ambitious individuals who are ready to take on the world, as we map out the future.

What roles are we looking for?

We have a few roles in mind. But, how do you think you can help us? What can you bring to complement our team?

We want to hear from you

Get in touch by sending your CV with covering letter to Nicola Alexander at:




Upcoming Training Course: How to Import & Export

Upcoming Training Course: How to Import & Export

Bethan Customs Consultancy is running the following course on 14th August:

How to Import & Export

This course has been developed to support businesses looking to develop into the international market and is also suitable for those looking for a refresher on import and export requirements.  It will provide an overview as to the why, where, who, what and when of international trade obligations.


Tuesday 14th August


Bethan Customs Consultancy
Barra Suite
AB51 0FU


9am – 12.30pm


More information:

For more information or to book, please email Bethan Customs Consultancy directly on

Bethan launches new website

Bethan Customs Consultancy | New Website

Bethan launches new website!

Following on from the re-brand of Bethan Customs Consultancy in November last year, we are delighted to launch our new website.
Bethan Customs Consultancy was formed in 2015 and has enjoyed continued growth. Our new website helps to reflect the diversity of our client base and will be used to keep our clients and followers up to date with the latest customs news through our blog, which we will also use to share tips and advice on importing, exporting and compliance.

We’d like to thank Limetree for their help in developing our new website.

Please browse through our pages and let us know what you think.

We’re Hiring

We're hiring

We're hiring

Customs Consultant

Bethan Customs Consultancy is recruiting for a Customs Consultant. We’re looking for a self-motivated individual with a strong Logistics/Freight Forwarding/Customs background, to join our growing team in Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire.

This role requires excellent communication skills and presentation skills and the ideal candidate must be proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Interested candidates should email their CV with covering letter addressed to Nicola Alexander to: