AEO Outlines

Customs has implemented the following key elements for the review and issue of permits pursuant to the AEO outlines:

  • Customs’ principle – horizontal monitoring throughout the logistics chain – is based on organised trust
  • Customs makes maximum use of all assurances already offered by the business community, including their existing security and safety systems

Horizontal monitoring, organised trust

The traditional inspection method is based on vertical supervision and distrust: Customs selects and inspects.

Customs’ horizontal monitoring is based on trust – not blind trust, but trust based on:

  • past experience (the enterprise’s reputation with Customs) and
  • the enterprise’s personal responsibility

Pursuant to this responsibility, the enterprise monitors all its assurances and security and safety procedures. Customs decides whether to place its trust in an enterprise on the basis of its assessment of the existing assurances, security and safety aspects and formal elements of EU legislation. This forms the basis of the principle of organised trust.

Customs intends to adopt a sophisticated approach to its use of the existing assurances in place at the participants in the chain. These assurances encompass the enterprise’s internal control measures as well as, for example, relevant certification (such as ISPS, TAPA and ISO) and inspections by other agencies such as the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. This enables Customs to achieve a substantial improvement in the effectiveness of its inspections without increasing the burden that is imposed on the business community.

The entire logistics chain plays an important role in the European Commission’s security and safety philosophy. There are 3 important inspection points in the chain:

  • at the beginning of the chain (export)
  • at the end of the chain (import)
  • at the time the goods cross the EU’s borders


The AEO concept pivots on the entire logistics chain’s assurances for safe and secure trade. The concept is based on the principle of a general assessment of the assurances and security and safety procedures rather than focusing on inspections of individual goods transactions.

The AEO concept is based on the security and safety of the entire supply chain (chain approach). Pursuant to this approach the goods flow is monitored from producer to customer. Other systems comparable to the AEO concept are in use outside the EU. These systems can be compared using a standard developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO).

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