Zimbabwe has implemented the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme in line with international best practices and the Customs and Excise Act [Chapter 23:02] Section 216B.

An “Authorized Economic Operator” is any entity involved in the movement of goods internationally in accordance with terms and conditions, as well as functions set and approved by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority as complying with World Customs Organisation (WCO) or equivalent supply chain security standards. Authorized Economic Operators include, inter alia manufacturers, importers, exporters, clearing agents, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses, distributors.

The AEO Programme was necessitated by the growing concern about the threat posed through misuse of channels of import and export and this created a need to ensure security in global supply chain in international movement of goods.

Benefits of AEO status

  1. General benefits
  • Faster movement of cargo through the border/port of entry
  • Priority in query resolution
  • Facilitation for movement of cargo during periods of trade disruptions
  • Reduced demurrage and other related costs
    • Access to dedicated Client Relationship Manager to help companies coordinate and resolve Customs issues and related matters
  • Benefit from future Mutual Recognition of AEOs with other countries
  • Use of AEO Logo and certificate
  • Recognition as a secure and safe business partner
  • Improved relations with ZIMRA
  1. Importers and Exporters specific benefits
  • Fewer physical and document-based controls
  • Choice of the place for physical examination
  • Priority in processing of refunds, drawback, and other permissions/authorizations;
  • Extended Customs services beyond normal working hours;
  • Priority response to request for rulings from Customs;
  1. Customs Brokers/Clearing Agents specific benefits
  • Priority treatment in cargo clearance chain – any consignment declared by an AEO Customs Clearing agent shall be processed prior to declarations for non AEO entities
  • Priority documentary examination entries selected for the YELLOW lane
  • Priority Physical Examination of cargo selected for the RED lane
  • Priority processing of Release Orders and Exit Notes
  • Extended Customs services beyond normal working hours;
  • Automatic renewal of license/ Extended validity of license conditional upon satisfactory performance in the year
  1. Transporters specific benefits
    • Access to dedicated fast lanes at land borders where possible
    • Priority processing of Road Manifest (where applicable)
    • Priority processing of Commercial Temporary Import Permits (CTIP) and Commercial Vehicle Guarantee (CVG), at Crew Desk, including acquittals;
    • Release of transport vessels without sealing 
  • Release at borders without cargo scanning and any physical examination of cargo where there is no consolidation with non-AEO consignments.
  • Extended Customs services beyond normal working hours;
    • Waiver of Customs escorts for movement of goods to another Customs station or Customs bonded warehouse
    • Priority to Customs Supervised transshipments including handover/ takeovers between persons in charge of the vehicles
    • Faster clearance at transit points and fewer checks en route
    • Improved relations with ZIMRA

Who can be an AEO?

Any manufacturers, importers, exporters, clearing agents, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses, and distributors who meet standards as outlined in the governing legislation.

Qualification Criteria

Any person interested in getting benefits of the AEO programme shall apply in writing to the Commissioner General for authorization which shall be granted by ZIMRA after detailed pre-certification verification and validation is done. The applicant shall meet the following conditions:

  • Be established in Zimbabwe;
  • Have appropriate record of compliance with Customs and other relevant laws;
  • Have a satisfactory system of managing commercial and, where appropriate, transport records;
  • Have proven financial solvency; and
  • Ensure that there is general maintenance of approved security and safety standards

The application shall be sent to the ZIMRA office nearest to the applicant.

Obligations of an AEO

The AEO is required to;

  • Keep proper records it terms of Section 223 of the Act; and
  • Ensure that members of its staff conduct their business in accordance with the procedures of the Act or any instructions given by the Commissioner General; or any of his officers; and
  • Ensure a relationship of good faith is maintained by his staff at all times in dealing with the Authority.
  • Maintain an accounting system which is in accordance with the Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP) and which facilitates audit based customs control.
  • Allow an officer physical and electronic access to the information and documents as provided for in terms of Section 223 of the Act
  • Use compatible e-systems for Customs procedures and commit to regularly upgrade the system.
  • Ensure that their premises are in conformity with the appropriate security and safety standards.


Important Notes

  • The application for AEO status shall only cover the legal entity of the applicant and will not automatically apply to a group of companies. This implies that if, for example, AEO status is granted to a clearing agent, this will not confer similar status on the agent’s clients being importers or exporters as they will be required to apply separately for that status.
  • For maximum benefits to be derived, it would be ideal to have the whole supply chain players obtain the AEO status, that is to say, for example, the clearing agent, the importer, the transporter, the transit shed operator/container depot operator, the distributor and the like.