Introducing the Authorised Economic Operator in Abu Dhabi


What is an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Programme?

A global customs programme recommended by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), implemented by many Customs Administrations globally; based on a partnership between the private sector and the Customs Administration and it is based on the voluntary compliance to the criteria and requirements approved for the programme by the companies involved in the global supply chain operating in international trade and thus benefiting from the facilities and incentives granted to certified companies

What is the Authorized Economic Operator - United Arab Emirates programme - UAEO?

A customs programme implemented in the UAE, similar to global AEO programmes, according to which customs requirements are voluntary complied with by a supply  chain companies operating across the nation, as companies and institutions adhering to these standards are granted membership of the programme and thus obtain all approved facilities and privileges .

What is the objective of the Authorized Economic Operator Programme (AEO)?

The main objective of the AEO programme is to provide support and strengthen the partnership between Customs Administrations and the business community through the enhancement of compliance, security measures and trade facilitation by identifying compliant and secured “Operators” within the business community. Hence, encouraging best practices at all levels across the international supply chain. 

What is the criteria of eligibility for the UAEO programme?

The below criteria must be met in order to apply for joining the AEO Program:

  • Acceptable record of compliance with laws and regulations
  • System in place to manage commercial records and, if required, transport records, allowing for appropriate Customs Controls
  • The Financial viability and solvency of the business entity seeking to join the programme
  • Conducts business activities and operations in the United Arab Emirates and particularly in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi
  • The business entity conducts legal Customs activities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi
  • The business entity has a Customs code issued by the Abu Dhabi Customs Administration
  • One Application for Entirety of each legal business entity
  • No financial or other formal thresholds
  • No convictions in court for a serious criminal offence


What are the entity types that are eligible to apply for the UAEO programme?

Applicants should be a part of the global supply chain, which includes:

  • Transportation companies or carriers,
  • Import companies
  • Export companies
  • Manufacturers
  • Courriers, postal companies, express transport and logistics services
  • Customs Clearance companies (brokers)
  • storage companies


What are the expected benefits of the UAEO programme that companies will enjoy?

  • No need to submit supporting documents
  • Reduction of number of declarations selected for control
  • Elimination of post filing submission of supporting paper documents
  • Faster clearance
  • Low or zero risk score for importers
  • Inspection prioritization
  • Flexible inspection location
  • Reduced post clearance audit
  • AEO MRA Benefits
  • AEO Self-guarantee
  • Award of AEO certificate
  • Publication of Customs AEO website
  • Free use of UAEO in marketing
  • Training assistance
  • Dedicated key account manager


What are the steps to joining the UAEO programme?

  • Submit application to the Abu Dhabi Customs Administration to join the UAEO programme
  • After assessing the application and approving it by the UAEO validator team, the business entity is provided with a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) to complete the information required by the Abu Dhabi Customs Administration
  • The SAQ is analyzed and once approved, the business entity that applied is contacted by the UAEO validator team to coordinate the field validation visit
  • The business entity is notified after the field verification visit of its eligibility to join the UAEO programme in the event that all conditions and requirements have been met, or it is provided with a correction plan for the gaps identified during the field verification visit to work on improving them.  and coordinate another field verification visit
  • Admitted companies to the programme are provided with the UAEO certificate


Frequently Asked Questions About the Authorised Economic Operator

Who will carry out the validation of UAEO applications?

The validation of UAEO applications and associated site validation visits will be carried out by the dedicated UAEO validation team within Abu Dhabi Customs Administration

Is UAEO participation mandatory for businesses involved in the supply chain?

UAEO is a voluntary programme. Applying for UAEO status is a decision taken by operators to leverage the benefits offered by the UAEO programme to improve their business.

Is the UAEO validation considered as an audit?

The validation of the UAEO application will not constitute a regular Customs Audit, but will include a detailed process review and site validation visits to verify eligibility

What is the cost of joining / participating in the UAEO programme?

There is no fee involved in participation. However, businesses may need to invest for necessary improvements at their end in order to comply with the programme security requirements.

Can Companies/entities withdraw their UAEO applications?

Yes, businesses may withdraw their UAEO application for any reason at any time during the process, especially if they require more time to comply with the criteria for obtaining the UAEO status. Applications may be resubmitted when the business is ready to do so.

What happens if a UAEO Application is rejected?

If a business is found unable to satisfy all the criteria for UAEO, Customs will advise the criteria not being met and provide time for the business to adapt their procedures to meet any deficiency (correction plan). If the business is unable to make the required changes within the specified time limits, a decision will be issued to reject the UAEO application, explaining the reason(s) for rejection.

How long is the UAEO status valid for?

The UAEO status issued will be valid for a period of 5 years. Operators need to renew their UAEO status by going through a re-validation process.

Can the UAEO certification be revoked?
Yes, the UAEO certification status can be revoked in case of non-compliance with the stipulated rules. As such companies will not be able to apply or re-join the programme for two years.

What is a Mutual Recognition Agreement in the Context of the UAEO programme?

A mutual recognition agreement is an international agreement by which two or more countries agree to recognize one another’s AEO programme and provide reciprocal or comparable benefits to AEO certified companies.
Each part agrees to treat AEO operators authorized under the other Customs Administration’s programme in a manner comparable to the way it treats AEO operators in its own programme, to the extent practicable and possible

What impact will the UAEO programme have on non-UAEO companies?

There will be no impact to non-UAEO companies, except that they would not be able to enjoy the premier benefit package that is offered by the UAEO programme

Are there any indirect benefits to having UAEO status?

UAEO is an internationally recognized certification that provides a competitive edge to companies through commitment to secure and compliant global trade. UAEO accreditation demonstrates that a company is safe and reliable to do business with, strengthening their market position over their competition.


For more information or for submitting applications please contact the Authorized Economic Validator - UAEO team on the following email:

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