Financial protection for holidays

In the event of the financial failure of your travel company you will be pleased to know there are several associations to help protect and support you.

Holiday cashRemember to always book your holiday abroad through a reputable travel company.

Good travel agents and tour operators will give you security through an Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL)

They may also give you security through membership with an approved body such as ABTA (the association of British travel agents); the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT); the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO); Bonded Coach Holidays (BCH); or the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO).

Many of the travel arrangements provided by these organisations are protected by law in case of the financial failure of the travel company. You should, however, always ask your travel company if financial protection applies to your travel arrangements. If it doesn’t, the company may be able to offer suitable insurance to cover you.

Package holidays (usually a combination of transport and accommodation) booked in the UK are protected by the Package Travel Regulations, giving consumers special protection if things go wrong or circumstances change in the period after the booking has been made.

Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing

ATOL is a consumer protection scheme managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), for overseas holidays.

How ATOL protects you

The purpose of the scheme is to protect you from being stranded abroad or losing money when a travel firm goes out of business.

All travel firms in the UK that sell overseas holidays and flights must hold an ATOL licence. The firm has to have met the CAA’s criteria for the licence to be issued. The Air Travel Trust (ATT) manage a financial protection fund which the licensed travel firms must contribute to. This fund is then used by the CAA in the event of an ATOL travel firm's failure, to ensure people abroad are able to finish their holidays and fly home, while those unable to travel are able to receive a refund in the event of an ATOL travel firm failure

How you can get ATOL protection

When booking your holiday make sure the travel firm you are booking with has a licence. If the firm is licensed they are required to display their ATOL licence number on websites and in brochures. As soon as you pay the travel firm any money (including deposits) for an overseas holiday or flight, the ATOL holder or their agent must give you an ATOL Certificate confirming you are ATOL protected. This should include the name of the licensed firm you’ve booked with, their ATOL number and details of what’s protected. You should take these documents with you when you travel.

For more information about the ATOL scheme and to check whether your travel firm is licensed, visit the ATOL website.

Details of how the Foreign Office can provide support to British nationals when things go wrong abroad are outlined in the publication 'Support for British Nationals Abroad'.

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