No matter how old I get, the start of September will always retain a “back to school” feel about it. After a long summer holiday, the start of term was a day of mixed emotions. Old friends and new pencil cases. Heavy backpacks and writing cramp.
For the travel sector returning from holidays this week, there’s also a packed timetable to deal with. After trying to remember their passwords, one of the first tasks will be renewing their ATOL and ABTA licenses.
Leaving renewals till September is always a bit risky. The equivalent of doing your homework the night before term starts. However, this year there are some added complications that mean you can’t just copy what you did last year on the morning bus.
Firstly, the CAA has a new IT system to contend with. After running some sample tests last March, all ATOL holders must renew their applications online. The CAA are using the new IT system as an opportunity to cleanse all of the information they hold on ATOL holders, and so none of the old historic data has been transferred over. You will therefore need to locate a lot of detailed information on your company, directors and shareholders the first time you log on. Its definitely not a quick process, so be warned.
Secondly, there is a new set of rules to contend with, after the new Package Travel Regulations came into force, and the ATOL Regulations were updated in July this year. The wider definition of a package may mean you need to protect more bookings this time round. Meanwhile, the new “place of establishment” rules mean that you may need to include your European Package sales on your UK licence.
In both cases, you may need a licence for a larger amount of revenue, which may mean you need to inject more cash into your business or provide bonding or other security.
If your company is established overseas, you might find you have a different problem. The CAA are refusing to renew ATOLs from companies who are not established in the UK. Instead they must protect their UK package sales in the country where they are based. We’ve already seen several examples, leaving the companies affected with no UK licence and some serious legal and commercial issues to contend with.
Renewing your licences is a bit like the blister from your new school shoes. You know it has to happen. You know it will be painful. You just have to get through it. Good luck.
Travel Trade Consultancy provides advice, services and support to businesses in the travel sector specialising in matters related to ATOL. Next time, why not join over 100 other ATOL holders and let Travel Trade Consultancy handle your renewal for you? For more information,contact us.