What is an approved exporter?
An approved exporter is an entrepreneur with special privileges. The competent main customs office issues a licence for this purpose, with which goods can be exported under a simplified export procedure. This eliminates formalities such as the movement certificate EUR.1 or EUR-MED or A.TR.
The goods in question must meet certain requirements. Proof of origin and a preferential agreement are required. Proof can be provided, inter alia, by means of a movement certificate, whereby the competent inland customs office is required. These formalities are time-consuming and can therefore lead to delays due to the necessary coordination between exporter, inland customs office and customs office of exit. An approved exporter can avoid these delays by providing important services in a self-regulated manner and by fulfilling certain conditions. This includes an internal work and organization instruction (A&O or AuO), a doubtless proof of the country of origin of the goods to be exported and an authorization of the customs.
When Customs designates an exporter as an Approved Exporter, the exporter enjoys certain benefits but also bears a special responsibility.
Advantages of an approved exporter
A major advantage of an approved exporter is that it saves time, as the involvement of the inland customs office is no longer necessary when exporting.
Other special advantages are:
- the issue of proofs of preference and origin of goods
- the issuing of preferential proofs and proofs of origin irrespective of the value of the goods
- the independent, customs-independent preparation of goods for export
- the issue of movement certificates for exports to preferential countries
However, these advantages also have a disadvantage. The exporter thereby assumes the risk with all legal consequences. With the discontinuation of the involvement of the inland customs office, an official control authority is also eliminated. The sender of the goods may therefore no longer be able to detect errors in his own customs clearance in good time.
This also applies to checking the supplier declarations of upstream suppliers and subcontractors. The responsibility associated with privileges and these potential sources of error therefore lead to special scrutiny by customs. Accordingly, the authority sets high hurdles for the application.
Statement of work and organization (AuO)
In order to ensure the internal organisation of an approved exporter, the documentation of this organisation must be recorded in a statement of work and organisation so that the originating status can be verified and monitored without any doubt. Some minimum requirements must be met by the AuO.
- Assign overall responsibility with knowledge of preferential law
- Observe the type of business activity
- Record delivery of goods (with and without originating status) and observe physically separate storage of these goods
- Indicate the country of origin and the preferential arrangements applicable
- Ensure internal communication
- Requesting, checking and archiving supplier declarations and other relevant documents
- Check origin attribute, for example, for a costing sheet with value rules and when changing items
- Assigning the person responsible for the preparation of the preference documents
Interdepartmental processes must be defined to determine the preferential origin. Purchasing, production and sales must all be involved. A common database is mandatory, a common ERP system helpful.
An AuO is used for organisation and documentation vis-à-vis customs. Advantageous for this are a representation of the processes with the help of a flow chart, the integration of the quality management and process descriptions that have been created in the context of certifications.
With regard to cost savings, it makes sense to consider which products, trade goods or countries of origin can be dispensed with. In the case of value rules, the question arises of how to deal with fluctuating purchase and sales prices. This should be recorded in the AuO, as well as the handling of supplier declarations.
There can be no universally valid model A&O, because the operational requirements vary. The AuO that is issued must correspond to the respective operational processes or the processes must be adapted to the AuO. The specified contents must be checked by the responsible staff of the main customs offices when the authorisation is granted.
What are the requirements to become an approved exporter?
A company has to
- regularly export goods abroad that are entitled to preferential treatment
- have sufficiently qualified personnel who are familiar with list rules and preference calculation. Regular training seminars must be held
- be in a position to provide information at any time and without effort, at the request of customs, on preferential documents issued and whether the goods for which the preferential documents were issued were actually entitled to preference
For which countries is the authorisation valid?
Since 2014, the authorisation applies to all third countries. Authorisations concluded in the future are also covered if they include an approved exporter. This means that licence holders do not have to extend the range of countries. Existing authorisations should already have been converted if, for example, the holder of the authorisation issues changes to the content of operational procedures. Alternatively, an approved exporter may request the conversion to all third countries from his competent principal customs office.
More recent agreements (e.g. EU-Canada (CETA), EU-Japan and EU-Vietnam) often no longer provide for the Approved Exporter but for the Registered Exporter (“REX”). This means companies usually need both simplifications and, depending on the destination country, different wording and the correct registration number.
What should I do if I do not have an approved exporter?
In the case of preferential proofs, it is always important to pay attention to the total invoice value when handling consignments, because if certain value limits are exceeded, a movement certificate may have to be issued. This can cause delays in delivery as they have to be ordered, filled out, signed and physically authenticated at customs.
For invoice values below CHF 10,300 as well as EUR 6,000, the official wording of the declaration of origin may be printed on the invoice as proof of preference, but it must be signed in original and the name of the signatory must appear in block letters.