3 Ways to Tell if a Home-Based Travel Agency is Registered

Travel is a global industry and like many other global industries, the trend of working out of home and being mobile has crossed over in a big way. In Ontario, the travel industry has experienced a dramatic increase in home-based travel agencies and travel counselors working as outside sales representatives on behalf of travel agencies. While registered home-based travel agencies are completely legal, consumers should take the same precautions they would when dealing with a brick and mortar or online travel agency. To ensure you are not forfeiting the consumer protection available in Ontario when booking with an out-of-home agency, you need to check to make sure they are TICO registered.   All travel agencies and websites located and operating in Ontario must be TICO registered and must follow specific legislated requirements. These include following trust accounting and other financial requirements, education standards, advertising standards, and rules around providing proper disclosure at the time of booking. There is also a Travel Compensation Fund, which provides consumer protection in the event of bankruptcy or insolvency.

Here Are 3 Questions to Ask to Make Sure a Home-Based Travel Agency is Registered:

1. Can the Home-Based Travel Agency Provide a TICO Registration Number?

As the travel industry in Ontario is regulated, all home-based travel agencies are required to be registered with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) and must follow the legislated consumer-protection provisions when selling travel services.  Selling travel services in and from the Province of Ontario without TICO registration is a violation of the Travel Industry Act, 2002 and may result in charges being laid. Once registered, each travel agency is given their own unique registration number. To find out if an agency is registered, look for the TICO logo and the agency’s Ontario registration number. You can also use TICO’s online travel agency search feature to find out if a particular home-based travel agency is a TICO registered agency or not.

2. Is Your Home-Based Travel Agent TICO Certified?

Anyone selling travel services, even if they are a home-based travel agent write and pass the legislated TICO Travel Counsellor Exam and become Certified prior to selling travel services on behalf of a registered Ontario travel agency or website. The exam tests the individual on the laws in Ontario that regulate the sale of travel services.  Be sure to ask your Travel Counsellor if they are TICO Certified.

3. Has Your Home-Based Travel Agent Provided You With Complete Disclosure?

Regardless of how and where the transaction takes place, all TICO registered travel agencies and TICO Certified Travel Counsellors are required by law to provide certain disclosures to you regarding the travel services you wish to purchase prior to accepting payment. These include:
  •       The total price of the travel services including all taxes and fees
  •       The travel dates
  •       A fair and accurate description of the travel services to be provided
  •       Cancellation penalties
  •       Availability of insurance
  •       Travel documents required for each person traveling

Book with a TICO Registered Travel Agency

To verify if a travel agency or website is TICO registered, checkour online directory.   Take theTICO Traveller Quizto see what type of traveller you are.   Sign up to receive quarterly travel consumer protection email updates. For more travel tips and information, visit the Smart Traveller Guide. All travel agencies and websites located and operating in Ontario are regulated by TICO. Registered travel agencies and websites provide additional consumer protection for your travel investment that may not be available when booking with travel agencies and websites based in other countries or provinces. For more information abouthow TICO helps, click here.   Any questions can be directed to tico@tico.ca or 1-888-451-TICO (8426).