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The government last week announced changes to trade procedures for UK businesses starting from 1 January 2021 that experts describe as “significant”.

Following the end of the Brexit transition period – assuming it is not extended as result of COVID-19 disruption – the UK will no longer be required to operate under EU rules, impacting how the UK trades with the EU and the rest of the world.

The announcements made on the gov.uk site on 9 April include:

  • Removal of the requirement for bank guarantees for customs special procedures applications
  • Changes to how UK parent companies can operate and trade on behalf of UK subsidiary companies
  • A new UK AEO (authorised economic operator) status

Of all the changes announced, the advent of a new UK AEO status is particularly noteworthy.

AEO status is an internationally recognised quality mark that shows an exporter or importer’s secure role in the international supply chain. It also indicates that a business observes customs controls and procedures to UK and EU standards.

Having AEO status gives quicker access to simplified customs procedures and, in some cases, the right to fast-track shipments.

Currently, AEO status granted by an EU customs authority covers operations in the UK.

However, guidance issued by the EU says AEO authorisations issued by the UK will no longer be valid in the EU. On the UK side, AEO status issued by an EU customs authority will also not be recognised.

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