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Travel Agent Resources

What is a Travel Agent License?

By Courtney Eisen

February 22, 2024

So, what is a travel agent license anyway? Essentially, travel agent licenses are Seller of Travel Licenses required by specific states. These licenses are incredibly important because, without them, you cannot legally sell to residents in these states or operate legally out of these states, if you've created a travel agency within their borders. Currently, only four states require a seller of travel license. These are Florida, California, Hawaii, and Washington State.

Do you need a Travel Agent License?

Most agents have their licenses covered by their host agencies. However, it is important to make sure that your host agency has the appropriate licenses and follows each state's regulations. For example, we cover all of the licensing for our agents; they don't even have to think about it. Florida, for example, requires independent contractors to pay annual fees, even if their host already has a seller of travel license. We send the state of Florida a list of our agents regularly to maintain compliance.

Always Check Official Government Sites

It must be disclosed that I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. It is always good to do your own homework. You can check with each state to learn about their Seller of Travel requirements. This will ensure you have the most up-to-date and accurate information. Here are some quick links to help you get information straight from the source!

Florida Sellers of Travel

California Sellers of Travel

Washington State Sellers of Travel

Hawaii Sellers of Travel

You may also want to check with your state to see if there are any additional legal regulations for conducting business or ask your host agency for guidance. To further point you in the right direction, let's look at some additional regulations in states which do not require Seller of Travel Licenses.

Beyond the Seller of Travel License, Things to Know

Here are some examples of additional state-level regulations that are different from Seller of Travel licenses. This is not exhaustive, so check with your own state to ensure you are meeting all requirements.

  1. New York: NY also has stringent laws governing sellers of travel. If you are an agent based in New York, I you should read NY's Article 10-A Truth in Travel Act. Make sure to thoroughly review Chapter Section 157-A, as it provides a specific outline of the disclosures you must provide to your travel clients.

  2. Illinois: A trust account may be required to comply with the Illinois Travel Promotion Consumer Protection. From what we've read, this requirement applies specifically to agents who accept payments from clients, as opposed to paying the supplier directly. However, there are exemptions available if you meet the following criteria: a) have at least $1 million liability coverage through Errors and Omissions Insurance, and b) possess a surety bond of $100,000 or more.

  3. Delaware: If you operate a travel agency in Delaware (refer to No. 24), you are required to register for an occupational license. The current cost of this license is $225 USD. It's important to note that this requirement is slightly different from the state travel agency licensing laws mentioned earlier. In Delaware, you only need to obtain this license if you plan to open a travel agency within the state, rather than if you intend to sell to Delaware residents.

  4. Louisiana: Louisiana requires retail travel agencies (meaning they have physical storefronts) to pay an annual licensing fee. However, if you operate a home-based agency in Louisiana, you are exempt from this requirement. The cost of the licensing fee depends on your gross sales. To determine the specific fee applicable to you, I recommend referring to this resource on Louisiana travel agency licensing fees.

  5. Massachusetts: In Massachusetts (MA), selling travel without conducting due diligence is not permissible. By due diligence, I mean familiarizing yourself with the details outlined in section 15:07 of MA's 940 CMR. If you operate a travel agency in MA, it is crucial to understand and comply with these regulations.

The Flow of Funds Matters

You may be feeling a little confused after reading all of that. Hopefully this tip, though not legal advice, will help ease some of your concerns. The flow of funds matters. If you are charging service fees, then you are holding money. If you do not charge service fees, then your host agency is the only one holding money. Holding money from clients when selling travel matters. Our agents, for example, are banned from charging service fees and are therefore covered under our licenses, along with our proactive cooperation with States, like Florida, by sending a list of our active agents to the state regularly.

Talk to a Lawyer and/or Your Host Agency

If you are still feeling a bit anxious about compliance, it would be wise to discuss your situation with your host agency, or prospective host agency. Again, with hosts like ours, we cover all licensing costs for our agents and it's not something they need to worry about. Getting feedback from your host will give you further guidance. Of course, speaking with a lawyer is the final way to remove all doubt and concern. We have had many in-depth conversations with our lawyer to ensure our host agency and independent contractors are in compliance with travel license laws. Before speaking with our lawyer though, we had many questions. Government websites can be a little vague and hard to navigate. If you charge fees or accept payments from your clients in any way where the money is going into your company and not to your host, and your host agency isn't providing clear answers, talking with a lawyer would be a wise move.

Don't Want to Worry About Travel Agent Licensing? Join us.

We pride ourselves in shortening the learning curve for our agents. We want our team selling, not doing administrative tasks. Why? Because we don't make money until our new recruits sell. In fact, we take a loss on new agents, since we cover their errors and ommissions insurance, licensing fees, training, mentorship etc. Our agents earn far more than the average, so we know we will eventually recoup our investment. Fair warning though, our host agency is not for everyone. We are looking for people who want to make real money versus those just looking for a hobby.

Learn more about our free travel agent training, and see if our host agency is right for you.

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