Travel agent licensing requirements
Any individual or corporation (including general sales agents, wholesalers, consolidators, retail agents and some tour operators) who carries on business as a travel agent is required to be licensed.
You are carrying on business as a travel agent if you:
sell tickets allowing another person to travel, or arrange approval for another person to travel
sell, arrange or make available the right for another person to travel to a place and be accommodated at that place
purchase for the purpose of reselling the right of passage on a conveyance.
If you act as a tour operator rather than as an agent, you may need to apply to the Department of Transport to be an 'accredited operator'.
Employees of licensed agents do not have to hold a licence in their own right.
Travel industry reforms
National reforms to the travel industry will take place throughout 2013 and 2014 and until then, NSW travel agencies need to maintain their travel agent licences and Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) membership.
A transition plan for the reforms, which includes removing licensing requirements and winding up the TCF, was approved on 7 December 2012 by most state and territory consumer affairs ministers. Under the plan, financial supervision provided by the TCF will be removed in mid-2013 and travel agents’ legislation repealed by mid-2014 – unless there are unforeseen delays.
Current licensing, fund membership and compliance requirements continue to apply until further notice. The TCF will also continue normal services to consumers during this time.
NSW Fair Trading will give NSW travel businesses, associations, other industry participants and consumers advance notice of any changes as implementation progresses.
View the transition plan and an overview of the reforms on the Australian Consumer Law website.
There are two classes of licence:
International travel: arranging the sale of tickets, or arranging rights of passage, for international travel or international travel and accommodation.
Domestic travel: arranging the sale of tickets, or arranging rights of passage, for travel or travel and accommodation within Australia.
Who can apply and what are the prerequisites?
To be eligible for this licence, you must:
be 18 years old or over
be considered fit and proper for the purposes of the licence
ensure the manager of the business has the necessary educational qualifications and experience
be eligible to be a member of the Travel Compensation Fund.
Exemption from the need to be licensed
If your business is restricted to either arranging travel or arranging travel and accommodation within Australia and, at any day, the gross turnover of your business as a travel agent during that financial year, excluding the value of any business in respect of a conveyance or accommodation owned by you, has not exceeded $50,000, you do not need a travel agents licence.
You do not need a travel agents licence to sell or arrange day trips (trips that leave from and arrive at the same place on the same day) or to sell tickets or arrange travel on a conveyance that you own.
Applying for a licence
You must make two applications: one to NSW Fair Trading for the licence and the other to the trustees of the Travel Compensation Fund ('the TCF') to be admitted as a contributor to the Fund.
NSW Fair Trading will make a number of character related checks against your application and will check the qualifications of the person (whether the licensee or someone else) who will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the business.
The TCF is concerned with establishing that your proposed business will meet their financial standards.
An application may be made by an individual or a company. It is possible to carry on business in partnership with another person or company, but each partner needs a licence.
Travel compensation fund
To be the holder of a licence you must be eligible to be a contributor to the TCF. Eligibility depends on your ability to show at any time that you are financially viable.
The main objectives of the TCF are to compensate persons who have suffered financial loss where a licensed travel agent has failed to account for monies received and to ensure that all licensees have sufficient financial resources to carry on the business of a travel agent.
For further information about the TCF, visit their website at the bottom of the page or call them on Tel: (02) 8227 3500.
Notice to be displayed by travel agents
You have to clearly display a notice showing that the agency is licensed at the front of each premises at which you conduct the business of a travel agent.
Notices for use at each business premises are supplied to new licensees by NSW Fair Trading.
Advertisements, other than on radio or television, must specify the licence number and the name of the licensee. Where the licensee is authorised by the licence to carry on business under a business name, the licence number and the name of the licensee followed by the words "trading as" and the business name or names under which the licensee is authorised to carry on business must be displayed in the ad.
No particular educational qualifications are necessary to hold a licence.
The main requirement is that you are a fit and proper person to hold a travel agent's licence. However, you must have a suitably qualified person in charge of each place at which business is conducted. This person may be the licensee or can be a person employed by the licensee.
Where the travel agent's business involves the sale of tickets or the arrangement of rights of passage for international travel or international travel and accommodation, the person in charge of the day-to-day business must have the following prescribed qualifications and/or experience.
Successful completion of Unit of Competency THTSOP20A or SITTTSL013A provided or assessed by a registered provider within the meaning of the Vocational Education and Training Accreditation Act 2005 or
A total of 1 years' experience over the preceding 5 years in:
selling tickets or arranging rights of passage for international travel or international travel and accommodation
employed as the person in charge of the day-to-day conduct of a place of business of a travel agent licensed under the Act or a corresponding Act that involves the selling of tickets, or the arrangement of rights of passage, for international travel or international travel and accommodation.
There is no need for the person in charge of the day-to-day business to have any qualifications and/or experience if the travel agent's business only involves travel arrangements within Australia.