“Eén ei is géén ei”*

Purpose, existence, and operation form the basis of a well-organized AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) dossier and therefore also of the GRC AEO compliance tool ACT. It is a logical structure that directly follows and aligns with the customs audit strategy. While during the AEO application process, emphasis is mainly on purpose and existence, during a later audit by Customs, the functioning of your organization in meeting the AEO criteria, and thus the operation of the processes will be assessed. Purpose, existence, and operation are therefore inseparably linked!

The AEO management system

When a company aspires to AEO status, it essentially means committing to establishing, maintaining, and improving a system. The more structure and logic there is, the easier it is to keep such a system running.

Being an authorized economic operator is not a status where it suffices to conduct a reassessment once a year. It requires a continuous and ongoing process. During the process towards application , the focus is on drafting and implementing policies and processes. Keeping in mind the steps of purpose, existence, and operation makes this process much simpler. The more the permit is embedded in the organization, the easier control will ultimately be.


Purpose is demonstrated by elaborating, for example, a process into a process description or policy into a policy plan. This includes stating objectives and desired outcomes. Regarding policy, both policy aspects and short and long-term plans are important.


Determining existence involves the implementation of the purpose. This phase assesses the processes described in the first phase and whether additional measures are needed to improve the existence of the purpose. These measures can be preventive, continuous, or corrective.


The effectiveness and operation of the procedures and measures established during purpose and existence must be assessed annually. Are the processes actually being carried out, and is there interim evaluation?

The operation phase is where sustainable control is achieved, and it justifies the continuation of the AEO permit. Various tasks are set up in the GRC AEO compliance tool with the aim of making the operation as a whole visible. The company thus has an evidence dossier in hand. AEOs often underestimate this phase where the company must monitor the AEO permit. This underestimation is partly due to the not always strict approach of customs in the past, both in the application process and during audits to assess monitoring. However, developments at the European level, considering the EU Customs reform program and the introduction of Trust&Check, show that the trend is towards stricter requirements. Sufficient reasons to step up! The GRC AEO compliance tool assists in this process!

*This is a Dutch saying that means one is not enough, two is better, three is good. In this context, Purpose, existence, and operation must follow each other and belong together. Only when managed in conjunction this provides you with an advantage.”

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