THE UK arm of logistics group BALtrans – recently acquired by Toll Holdings of Australia – has been awarded Authorised Economic Operator status by HM Customs and Revenue (HMRC).

The AEO concept is an EU-harmonised accreditation regime, under which applicants are vetted for customs compliance, financial solvency and the operation of appropriate security and safety standards. After strenuous auditing, successful applicants are then granted AEO certificates for either customs simplifications, security and safety, or (as in the case of BALtrans) both.

HMRC believes that AEOs will derive other benefits such as reduced incidences of theft or losses in transit, improved security and communication with partners in the supply chain, and improved customer confidence.

Although HMRC began accepting applications from 1 July 2007, it was unable to issue certificates until the customs authorities in other Member States had had an opportunity to comment on each application.

BALtrans managing director UK, Eddie Stroud, said: “AEO status provides businesses with an internationally-recognised quality mark, indicating that their activities in the international supply chain are secure, and that their customs controls and procedures are efficient and compliant.

“The applications process took six months, but in these highly-competitive times, any effort and investment that results in a further business advantage is worthwhile. As we are already ISO and Dft accredited, this simplified and eased the application process for us. Any agent who does not already have these standards, or equivalent in place, could find the AEO application very onerous. We are certainly pleased to be amongst the first to attain this recognition.”

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