An Overview On Travel Agent Licensing Requirements In The USA and Canada Go Back Button

You are considering becoming a professional travel agent, so you start doing your research on all the things you need to start selling travel. One of the things you may research or come across is licensing. Do you need licensing to start selling travel? The answer to that question is broken down below to hopefully provide you with the clarity you need to move forward.

Travel Agent Licensing Requirements For Travel Agents In The United States

The licensing requirements in the US for travel agents is not much of a licensing process. There are no testing, training or qualification process needed. All that is required is to complete a simple form, pay a small fee and just like that, you can start selling travel in the USA. There are certain states however that have their individual "Seller Of Travel Requirements." These states are California, Florida, Iowa, Washington and Hawaii. We will look at the individual licensing requirements for those later on in this article for those looking to trade in travel products and services in any of those 5 states. 

Travel Agent Licensing Requirements For Travel Agents In Canada

Selling travel legally in Canada is not so easy as in the US. This is especially so for those living in the province of Ontario. Anyone selling travel products and services in the Province of Ontario must be a registered member of the Travel Industry Council Of Ontario (TICO) or affiliated with a registered member of TICO. There are two different types of TICO registration requirements. If you are looking to start your own travel agency, you must complete the TICO application, qualification, training and registration process to obtain a TICO registration number. If you are looking to simply sell travel, you must first complete the TICO Exam then join a TICO registered travel agency.

So here are the requirements for Travel Agents and Agencies In Ontario

A) Travel Agency must be TICO registered with a TICO number to employ or host travel agents.

B) All members of that Travel Agency, selling or giving advice for travel services, must complete the TICO Exam.

To write the TICO Exam, you must first download and read the TICO education standard manual. This manual provides you with a list of rules, guidelines and etiquette you must follow when selling travel in the province of Ontario. Once you have completed the manual, which should take no longer than one to two weeks, you then need to register for exam at one of the approved centers. You can find a list of upcoming exams on the ACTA (Association Of Canadian Travel Agents) website. The course registration fee is only $35, and there are a few courses you can take. You can either take the Travel Counselors course of if you have and can show experience in the industry you can take the travel manager/supervisor course. The combined courses will cost you $50.

To run your own TICO registered travel agency is not as easy and cost friendly as completing the exam to sell travel through an agency that is already certified. If you are thinking of starting your own TICO registered travel agency, here are the list of requirements:

-   You will need to come up with an application fee of $3000 CDN

-   You must provide your tax returns to show proof of financial stability

-   You will need to show evidence of a minimum $5000 in working capital

-   You will need to provide a $10,000 bond that TICO will hold for two years

-   You will need to open a trust account where all funds you collect for travel must be held.

-   You will need to register your travel business with Service Ontario

TICO registration numbers are non-transferable, so there are no options to buy out an already existing TICO certified travel agency. Starting a travel agency in the province of Ontario is among the hardest if not the hardest in the industry, so if you are new to the business and you are living in Ontario, the easiest thing to do is work through a host agency that is already TICO certified.

British Colombia Travel Agency Licensing Requirements

To start a travel agency in British Columbia, Canada, you are required by the Insurance Council of British Colombian to take a travel insurance exam for a fee of $225 per year. That licensing will be tied to the Agency, and each agent will be required to take the exam once, and then maintain by taking a 2-hour course each year. A 2-year lapse or non-activity will require the agency to start the process all over again.

There are some additional fees and certification requirements for sellers of travel residing in British Columbia.

-   You must register with the BC Corporate Registry

-   You must register with Consumer Protection BC

If you are a hosted agent working under an Agency located in BC, you will need to apply for a branch location of your host agency in British Columbia.

Saskatchewan Colombia Travel Agency Licensing Requirements

Similarly to British Colombia, getting licensed to sell travel in Saskatchewan Canada is insurance based. The tow exams that’s required to be written and passed are the General Insurance Council of Saskatchewan (GICS)—the Qualifying Exam (online: $109 CAD + taxes) and the Travel Bylaw Exam (online: $55 CAD + taxes). The bylaw exam is an open book exam, so you do not need to worry too much about passing it.

US Travel Agency Licensing Requirements Per State

Even though getting your travel business up and running on the national level in the United States is pretty much hassle free, some states have implemented their own registration procedures that may make things a little bit more complicated. 5 States have their own Seller of Travel laws in place. Those states are California, Florida, Washington, Iowa, and Hawaii. These laws are what is called extraterritorial laws that do not just apply to those residing in the above-mentioned states, but those outside of the states selling travel to the residents of those states.

In the State of Delaware, if you plan on opening your travel agency there, you will need an occupational license that can be obtained for the nominal fee of $25. The same procedure is said to be in Lousiana but does not seem to be enforced. When it comes to Seller Of Travel licensing requirements, Louisiana and Delaware are hardly mentioned. It is the 5 primary states mentioned above that is worth paying close attention to.

Hawaii Seller Of Travel Requirements

Hawaii Seller of travel laws states that anyone acting as an intermediary between a person looking to buy travel products and services, and anyone that wishes sell travel products and services, must first register with the Hawaii Travel Agent Licensing Program. All travel agencies, chartered tour operators residing in Hawaii is required to register at the end of each odd-numbered year. The bi-annual registration fee is $140. For those living outside of the State of Hawaii but wish to do business in Hawaii, must apply for a Certificate of Authority to sell trade in travel products and services in the state of Hawaii. The registration cost is $25 per year. For full details of these and other requirements, contact the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

California Seller Of Travel Requirements

Anyone that sells, offers consultation, or offers travel products and travel-related services in the state of California or from n office located in California, is required to be registered as a California Seller Of Travel. This is also including anyone selling or distributing travel certificates, a coupon, vouchers, passes, are all required to comply with the California State Seller Of Travel Laws. Failing to register may result in penalties, a cease and desist order and the possibility of criminal charges.

There are two registration programs for travel businesses located in California. Once is the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation which manages the handling of customer funds and the other is the California Seller Of Travel Program (CST) that is administered and upheld by the California Attorney General. Out of state agencies are only required to register for the CST. The California seller of travel law is strictly enforced and travel agencies conducting business are required to display their CST number on any marketing material promoting of offering travel services in the State of California.

Florida Seller Of Travel Requirements

In the sate of Florida, anyone seeking to sell travel products or travel related services must register with the Department of Agriculture of Consumer Services. The Seller Of Travel registration requirements applies to all persons offering pre-arranged travel packages, tourist related services, guided tours for Land, Air and Sea.

The state requires a bond of $50,000 and extensive disclosures in order to obtain a Seller Of Travel license. Independent travel agents are not required to post the bond but must meet the other mandatory requirements.

Iowa Seller of Travel Requirements

It is a requirement in the state of Iowa that all sellers of travel register with the department of Economic Development. This applies to anyone selling or offer consultation for travel products and travel-related services.

Washington Seller Of Travel Requirements

The State of Washington has a seller of travel registration requirement done through the Department of Licensing. There are also certain financial requirements and securities that needs to be in place. A travel business can become exempt from these fees is certain business standards are met and funds and consumer funds collected for travel are being held properly.


When looking to get licensing to sell travel, the best thing to do is thoroughly research the laws in your local area. This is another place where the value of a Host Agency comes in. By contacting a host agency, they will not only be able to save you time and money of the licensing and registration process; they will be able to provide you with a lot of the information you are looking for.