The requirements for becoming an ABTA Member will depend on whether you act as an agent and/or a principal

It is also subject to ABTA carrying out a risk assessment.

The following outlines ABTA’s normal financial criteria. Note that these are for guidance purposes only. 

Travel Agent

Financial criteria

Your latest set of accounts will need to demonstrate as a minimum:

  • Net current asset surplus of £15K (working capital)
  • Net asset surplus of £30k
  • Issued share capital of £30k

If you have been trading for more than three years, your business is profitable, with stable trading and no change of ownership, then the normal bond uplift of 50% for new Members may be reduced or removed and the following reduced criteria may apply*:

  • Net current asset surplus (working capital)
  • Net asset surplus
  • Issued share capital of £30k

Bonding and insurance premium

The bond is calculated by reference to the level of applicable risk turnover (ART). This is defined as gross retail turnover adjusted by various reliefs where ABTA’s financial risk is reduced. For example, up to 97.5% of flight-only sales made under IATA BSP will be exempt from bonding. A full list of bond reliefs are available upon request.

Minimum retail bond is £37,500 for the first £1m of ART under the new Member rate.

If you have been trading for more than three years, have no change of ownership, can show profitability and business strength the minimum retail bond is £25,000.*

You will also be required to pay a travel agent shortfall insurance premium of minimum £262.50 plus IPT***. The insurance scheme will be used to pay claims in the event that the bond is deficient in any way.

Costs

Application fee £550 plus VAT - payable with your completed application form
Joining fee £1,000 plus VAT - payable once offer had been made
The annual subscription fee of £1,015 will cover the first £500k of gross turnover. And for example £2m gross turnover will be £1,164**

All subject to VAT. 

* Subject to the decision of the Membership Committee of the ABTA Board
** Subscriptions are prorated from the time you join until 30 June as subscriptions are renewed 1 July
*** Please note IPT rate is 9.5%

General

If you are applying as a travel agent and a tour operator you only pay one set of joining fees.

Managed Branches

If your company does not currently meet the ABTA financial criteria to become a Member trading as an Agent or as a Principal in your own right, you may still be able to meet the requirements of one of our existing Members that offer ‘managed branch’ facilities to start ups and existing travel businesses.   

ABTA Managed branches are operated on behalf of an ABTA Member by another company or individuals, who have entered into a managed branch agreement with an ABTA Member and conduct business on behalf of that Member.

The Member is responsible for the customers, turnover and liabilities to customers of the managed branch. The operator of the managed branch does not require ABTA membership in its own right – the managed branch receives a branch ABTA number by virtue of the Member’s Membership. There are now over 470 Managed Branches within ABTA Membership with retail agents and tour operators participating.

This will provide you with your own ABTA number and provide access to our services. The various managed branch operators compete with each other and offer different commercial terms – so you should research your options with each of the following ABTA Members.

More details can be found on our Members’ websites who provide this business model. They include:

Principal (Tour operator)

Financial criteria

The following financial criteria is only applicable where a principal Member is protecting non-licensable (non-flight) packages and/or non-packages (e.g. accommodation only) with ABTA.

Your latest set of accounts will need to demonstrate as a minimum:

  • Issued share capital of £30k
  • Net asset surplus of £30k
  • Net recoverable current asset surplus of 4% of total principal turnover.

If you have been trading for more than three years, your business is profitable, with stable trading and no change of ownership, then the normal bond uplift of 50% for new Members may be reduced or removed and the following criteria can apply*.

  • Issued share capital of at least £30k
  • Net asset surplus
  • Net recoverable current asset surplus of at least 4% of the total principal turnover

Bonding, insurance premium and financial failure insurance

The minimum bond rate is 15% but may increase subject to an analysis of your terms of trade and booking pattern. If you have been trading for more than three years, have no change of ownership, can show profitability and business strength a minimum bond of 10% can apply.*

For travel businesses who have a high concentration of turnover within a short timeframe (for example winter sports tour operator) we may require an additional bond to cover the peak period.

You will also be required to pay a principal shortfall insurance premium of 36.8p per £1,000 of bonded turnover minimum £330.00 plus IPT***. The insurance scheme will be used to pay claims in the event that the bond is deficient in any way.
If you do not fulfil our standard financial criteria you can opt to financially protect by financial failure insurance and or by any other acceptable method (e.g. under an ATOL or with ABTOT) that fully protects consumers.

Costs

Application fee £550+VAT - payable with your completed application form
Joining fee £1,000+VAT - payable once offer had been made
The annual subscription fee of £1,015 will cover the first £500k of gross turnover. And for example £2m gross turnover will be £1,505**

All subject to VAT.

* Subject to the decision of the Membership Committee of the ABTA Board
** Subscriptions are prorated from the time you join until 30 June as subscriptions are renewed 1 July
*** Please note IPT rate is 9.5%

More Information

General – If you are applying as a travel agent and a tour operator you only pay one set of joining fees.

Applications – ABTA will do a search to verify your identity. This involves checking the details you supply against those held on any databases to which the credit reference agency for the time being instructed by ABTA has access. This includes the Electoral Register and fraud prevention agencies. We may seek verification from other organisations who request the information for reasons of fraud prevention or investigation of crime to protect ourselves and consumers from theft and fraud. If you give us false or inaccurate information and we suspect fraud, we will record this and may share this information with other organisations.

For further information contact: joining@abta.co.uk