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BETA Your feedback will help us improve the UK Plant Health Information Portal

Authorised Operator Status (AOS)

What is Authorised Operator Status (AOS)? 

One of the proposals within the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) is to explore the introduction of a delegated authority model for the checks of plants and plant products, which would allow eligible traders to manage their own SPS risks. This approach would be called ‘Authorised Operator Status (AOS). 

AOS proposes to give responsibility to Authorised Operators (AOs) to carry out their own physical and identity checks, provided they meet certain eligibility criteria such as completion of prescribed training. 

AOS would allow importers to have the opportunity to benefit from additional flexibility over the location and timing of their import checks.  

Piloting AOS 

AOS is a proposal, and the decision on whether to implement AOS will be taken following the completion of a successful pilot. Subject to successful testing, a live pilot with traders will commence Q2 2024, to test the end-to-end process of operating as an AO. 

What does the pilot involve?

During the pilot, AOs will be given thorough training. Once this is completed, they will carry out examinations of their imports to prescribed procedures under APHA/SASA’s supervision.  

There will be an auditing process to ensure that AOs are following the relevant Standard Operating Procedures and keeping appropriate records.  

The AOS pilot will include most plants and plant products apart from the commodity groups Potatoes (seed and ware) and Seeds. This is due to the training requirements for these inspections not being achievable within the pilot timescales. Wood and wood products are also out of scope. Further consideration will be given to these commodities following the pilot. 

See further guidance on the AOS pilot.

Overview of AOS timeline

  • Midday 8 March 2024: Deadline for businesses to submit EOI applications  
  • Before the end of April 2024: Businesses will be notified of whether they have been accepted onto the pilot 
  • 10 June - 20 December 2024: AOS pilot will launch, with training running until August. APs will begin conducting examinations of consignments in August. Audits will be led by the Competent Authority from September 2024.
  • December 2024 – February 2025: Post-pilot Evaluation  
  • June 2025: Estimated roll out of AOS

Eligibility criteria

The pilot will be open to GB businesses that trade with the European Union (EU) and Rest of World (ROW). Businesses must meet these criteria to apply for the pilot: 

  • Being established in the UK for Customs purposes, as well as registered with the relevant UK plant health service 

  • Being a Control Point (CP) designated premises and having associated Customs Authorisation  

Before applying for the AOS pilot, businesses should consider the following: 

What import option is most appropriate for your business? There are two options available for the checks of your goods: 

  1. Checks at Border Control Posts by plant health inspectors. 

  2. Checks at Control Points by plant health inspectors. 

The choice of option will depend on business specific factors such: 

  • The inspection rate of imports. 

  • Logistics arrangements and services offered.  

AOS is a proposal that will be tested and piloted. Wider roll out is subject to a successful Pilot being achieved. If the pilot is not successful, plant health checks at Control Points will be carried out by plant health inspectors.  

Not all applicants will form part of the pilot. There will be a selection process to ensure a range of businesses and sectors are included in the pilot. Applicants that are not selected will continue to have plant health checks carried out by a plant health inspector. Operational cover for Control Points is in the process of being confirmed. 

Important guidance on AOS

Pilot overview

How to apply and the selection process

Eligibility criteria

Pilot details

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)