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Guide to Customs Administration

About AEO

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What does AEO mean?

Korea AEO AEO stands for “Authorized Economic Operator”, and an AEO means a company that the Korea Customs Service has officially certified as an excellent business entity after examining its suitability as such in accordance with the authorization criteria of legal compliance, internal control system, financial solvency and security management.

When and how did the AEO concept emerge?

The World Customs Organization (WCO) had long discussed the security of international logistics flow, i.e. supply chain security, from producers to ultimate consumers. Meanwhile, the September 11 terrorist attacks hit the USA, thus claiming so many lives in 2001, which led the USA to implement a new logistics security system and regulations for trade security. As it focused on security intensively at the initial stage, this system started to work as a non-tariff barrier causing lead time delays. In order to improve this problem, WCO established the SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade (WCO SAFE Framework) in June 2005. The core concept of this international framework is the AEO program. Customs authorities certify companies as AEOs in accordance with the authorization criteria and perform risk management for AEOs differently from the way they do for non-AEOs. Among the World Customs Organization (WCO) members, over 170 countries have submitted letters of intent to implement the AEO system. This system is currently in operation in major advanced countries and regions such as the USA, Japan and the EU, and a growing number of countries are adopting it.

What is the current status of Korea’s AEO program?

In line with the changing global customs environment, Korea also implemented a full-fledged AEO program in April 2009 after going through a process of preparations that included performing research on the system, enacting laws and ordinances, and conducting a pilot project. There are a total of 9 categories of parties concerned: exporters, importers, customs brokers, (bonded) warehouse operators, (bonded) transporters, freight forwarders, sea carriers, air carriers and ground handlers. Legal bases are as follows:

  • Article 255-2 of the Customs Act
  • Article 259-2 and 259-3 of the Enforcement Decree of the Customs Act
  • Public Notification of AEO Authorization and Management Affairs
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