What is Travel Agent Certification and how do you get it?
You can take classes to gain skills that will assist you in your job as a travel agency agent. You will be required to pass the TAP Test (Travel Agent Proficiency). After passing the test, you will officially be a Travel Agent Certification.
- Your Travel Agent Certification can be obtained online. Most programs take about two years.
- These are some of our favorite programs that you can join to become a licensed travel agent in the United States.
The Travel Institute Self guided classes. To be eligible, you will need to have worked as a travel agent for atleast one year. The cost is $450. It takes up to 12 months for you to complete the test and get a score of 70%. For your certification to be maintained, you’ll need to continue to take 50 credits per year.
ASTA VTA Program- Self-guided courses. It takes approximately 12 months to complete. It is $399 for ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors), and $598 for all non-members. Before you can enroll in the program, make sure that you are an ASTA member. Each renewal is required every 2 years. The $179 renewal fee applies.
Global Travel Professionals – Minimum 3 years’ experience in travel. It is $350 for GBTA members and $450 if you are not a member. The TAP Test date will dictate the time it takes to complete this course. The program will allow you to select a timeframe for the test. Your certification will need to be renewed every three year.
Are travel agents required by law to be certified
Each state has its own requirements for travel agent certification. There are different requirements for independent agents, host agencies, and employees of travel agencies.
This is a bit complicated. Please bear with me!
To become a travel agent certified, you must live in one of these four states and work with clients.
These are the four states that you will require a Seller of Travel License (SOT). Each state has its own requirements. Let’s look at the basics:
If you are an agent working through a host company and do not sell travel directly, you won’t need certification.
If you don’t sell directly through a agency but live or work in California, you will require a SOT. California Seller of Travel is the California license. Register here for a CST, which you’ll need to renew each year. Registering your travel agency business with the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation costs $275. Finally, you must register for a California state ID.
It sounds complicated, right? You might think it’s complicated. We’ll explain why being a certified travel agent is still worthwhile.
You will need a Florida SOT Number if you live in Florida and work with clients. This number must be paid each year at $300, unless your spouse has been in the military. A Florida Travel Agency Surety Bond is required. This can be anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 depending upon your total income.
You don’t have to become a travel agent in this one case. A Florida SOT number is required to work for a host agency. You must have a written agreement with the agency, not issue any travel documents to clients and not work directly with clients. If you are working for a host agency with a Florida SOT number, you can use that SOT number. You will have to submit this application in order to be an independent travel agent within the state. It costs $50 annually to fill out the form.
You will need an SOT if you or your clients reside in Hawaii. You can apply here for one. Stay with us here to learn more. The cost is $215 per year for the even-numbered year and $146 per year for the odd-numbered year. It would be cheaper to become a travel agent or sell trips to Hawaii in 2021 (an irregular-numbered years) than it would be in 2022 (20 an even-numbered years).
Also, you will need to register your company with the State of Hawaii. An Activity Desk license is required if you plan to sell bus tours or boat rides for your clients.
There’s one more! A bank in Hawaii is required to be an independent travel agent in Hawaii. If the host agency is not located in Hawaii but you handle client payments, you may apply for a waiver.
To be able to represent clients or yourself in Washington, you must apply for a state license as a travel agency. In Washington, you will need a bank account specifically designed for your travel business. A Surety Bond is also required, just like in Florida.
If you don’t reside or work in California, Florida, Hawaii or Washington, you don’t have to become certified as a travel agent.
Note that clients who live in New York, Delaware or Illinois may have to pay additional fees.
Delaware – You will need a Travel Agent Occupational License if you are not clients and live in Delaware. It costs $225 annually and can be renewed every year.
Illinois You will need to set up a trust banking account in order to receive direct payments from clients.
Louisiana To run a home-based travel agency you don’t need any special licensing! You will need a retail license if you operate out of an office.
Massachusetts. There are no licenses or fees to become a Massachusetts-based agent of travel. However, there are very specific rules for selling travel. You can find these rules here.
New York: Similar in Massachusetts, New York has no licensing or fees for travel agents. However, there are certain rules that you must adhere to.