ATOL - Protecting holidaymakers since 1973
The law says your holiday must be protected if it is a package holiday. ATOL (which stands for Air Travel Organiser's License) is a UK financial protection scheme, and it covers most air package holidays sold by travel businesses. The system also applies to some flight bookings, usually those where you book flights (including UK domestic flights) but do not receive your tickets immediately. ATOL was first introduced in 1973, as the popularity of overseas holidays grew. After several high-profile travel business failures left people stranded overseas, the UK Government realised consumers required protection when travel providers fell into difficulties. ATOL currently protects around 20 million holidaymakers and travellers each year.
ATOL certificate (General)
When you book an ATOL protected holiday, you should be given an ATOL Certificate by your travel business as soon as you pay over any money for a holiday - even if this is only a deposit. Your ATOL Certificate is proof that the ATOL scheme protects the holiday you have booked. It will tell you:
- What's protected by ATOL
- Who's covered
- Who is providing this protection (the travel business's name and ATOL number)
Your ATOL Certificate will also tell you what to do if your travel business stops operating. Keep your ATOL Certificate somewhere safe and take it on holiday, so you know how to make an ATOL claim if you need to.
ATOL Certificate – Frequently Asked Question
What are the benefits of ATOL protection?
ATOL stops you from losing money or becoming stranded abroad if the travel business you booked with collapses: If the company ceases trading while on holiday, the scheme will provide support to minimise disruption to your holiday. If the business collapses before you travel, the system will provide a refund or replacement holiday.
What situations does ATOL cover?
UK law says your holiday must be protected if you book a package. ATOL is a UK financial protection scheme, and protection applies to most air package holidays sold by UK travel businesses. The law says your holiday must be protected if you book a holiday with a single travel firm that includes:
- Flights and accommodation (including a cruise), or
- Flights and car hire, or
- Flights, lodging, and car hire.
When does ATOL not protect flights?
If you purchase an airline ticket from an airline or travel business and receive a valid ticket in exchange for payment, ATOL does not cover this flight sale.
Should I book a holiday if the travel business cannot give me an ATOL Certificate?
UK law requires travel businesses to financially protect their air packages holidays under the ATOL scheme.
Most air holidays booked in the UK must be protected. There are several ways to check:
- Look before you book. Check for the ATOL logo on travel company websites, brochures and advertisements. Ask your travel company tour operator or agent to tell you about ATOL protection if you are unsure.
- Always check you will be given an ATOL Certificate before you book. It's your guarantee of protection. If your travel business says they cannot provide one, ask why and consider your options carefully before proceeding because you will be booking at your own risk.
My ATOL Certificate says "Package – Multi contract" on it. What does this mean?
Multi-contract Packages are those where you have more than one contract for all the travel services that are part of the package.
a) In the case of a consumer who is present, providing the ATOL Certificate to the consumer at the same time payment is made, or sending the ATOL Certificate to that consumer by electronic communication.
b) In the case of a consumer who is not present, immediately sending the ATOL Certificate by electronic communication; or
c) In the case of a consumer who makes a booking by telephone, either sending the ATOL Certificate by electronic communication or immediately posting the ATOL Certificate.
You (or your agent) may not accept any payment from a consumer until you (or your agent) can issue an ATOL Certificate.
What do I put under "number of passengers" if I have not confirmed these details when a deposit is paid?
Known passenger numbers (excluding infants) should be inserted on the ATOL Certificate at the time of issue. A new ATOL Certificate must then be supplied each time any of the details on the ATOL Certificate change, including changes in the number of passengers. The only exception is where details change within 72 hours of departure, in which case there is no requirement to supply an amended ATOL Certificate.
Infants should not be included in the "number of passengers" section of the certificate.
Does ATOL cover bookings made with travel agents?
Travel agents often act as agents for several businesses, including ATOL holders. When you book an ATOL protected air holiday with an agent, it must tell you which ATOL holder protects your travel arrangements and provide an ATOL Certificate when you pay.
Is ATOL protected if I book different parts of my holiday with different companies?
Not usually, unless your holiday is sold as a package, and you receive an ATOL Certificate confirming this. If you purchased the flight element of your trip with an ATOL holder, it may protect this part.
I booked my package holiday with a travel business, am I covered if the airline fails?
I booked my package holiday with a travel business, am I covered if the airline fails?
How can travelers sign up for exclusive offers and more information?
Travelers can easily sign up for exclusive offers and receive more information by subscribing to our email newsletter. By simply providing their email address, they can gain access to a wide range of benefits, including exclusive offers, special discounts, and updates on new promotions. To take advantage of this opportunity, all they have to do is visit our website and locate the sign-up form, where they can enter their email address and join our mailing list. By becoming a member, travelers will always stay informed about the latest news, offers, and exciting experiences available to them.
Are other services like hotels or flights on their own protected, and how can travelers find out about the available protection?
Other services like hotels or flights on their own may not be covered under ATOL protection, which applies to certain holiday and travel services. It is important for travelers to inquire about the available protection for these services. The website will provide information on the protection that applies to each holiday and travel service before you make your booking. To ensure clarity and peace of mind, it is recommended to contact the service provider and inquire about the protection measures in place for hotels or flights that are booked separately.
What should travelers do if their trip is not fully listed on the ATOL Certificate?
If travelers find that their trip is not fully listed on the ATOL Certificate, it is essential for them to take specific actions. According to the provided information, if all the parts of the journey are not mentioned on the certificate, those particular parts will not be protected by ATOL. Therefore, travelers should promptly address this situation by seeking clarification from the relevant ATOL-approved provider or travel agent. They may need to request an updated ATOL Certificate that includes all the components of their trip to ensure comprehensive protection.
Check an ATOL
Check whether a travel business is a current ATOL holder. Search by ATOL number registered business name or trading name. Check for details of ATOL holders with the most significant number of passengers on their license.
Warning for consumers - false ATOL protection claims on websites
We are aware that consumers are at risk of losing money when booking with businesses that offer cheap flight seats or cheap air holidays on websites and claim to hold ATOLs or offer ATOL protection. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), therefore, urges consumers to be extra vigilant when being offered affordable travel and check that websites that claim to provide ATOL Protection are operated either by a valid ATOL holder or by an agent appropriately acting on behalf of an ATOL holder.
Things to know that can help you reduce the risk:
- All Bona fide ATOL holders display the ATOL Protected logo and their unique license number. Some combine the number into the logo.
- Each unique license number is four to five digits long and may include a T at the start.
- ATOL holders' trading names and website addresses are registered with the CAA; these can be checked on the “Check an ATOL” facility.
Watch out for the following:
- A trading name is used in connection with an ATOL holder's business name or ATOL number but is not included on the ATOL holder's record on the ATOL website.
- Unusually cheap flight or holiday prices are quoted.
- The online enquiry or booking facility doesn't work.
- No postal address is shown on the website.
- Don't be fooled by a website address ending with .co.uk or a contact telephone number with a UK dialling code - both of these can be operated from outside of the UK.
- Although credit or debit card logos are shown on the website, there is no online payment facility, and consumers are asked to pay by bank transfer.
- You're asked to make a deposit payment only, but are offered a better deal later, providing that you pay in full.
- You receive a document or e-mail referring to a reservation but not issued by the airline or airline/s concerned.