A 5 Step Guide To Becoming A Travel Agent In Ontario, Canada Go Back Button

If you are living in the Province of Ontario Canada, and you are thinking about becoming a home-based travel agent, you may be wondering what the first step should be. Unlike other provinces and most American States, Ontario Canada is very highly regulated when it comes to the reselling and marketing of travel products and services. To become a travel agent working in the province of Ontario, it is critical that you follow the correct procedure or you may risk getting a “cease” letter from the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO). No need to be turned off or scared, there are more than enough resources to help make the process very easy for you, and if you follow the 5 steps provided below, you should have no problems getting through all the legal requirements and have your travel business up and running in no time.

1. Do Your Research

Being a frequent traveller and often helping your friends arrange travel plans does not automatically make you a travel professional. While those two things make you an ideal candidate to become a travel agent, there are a few more factors that need to be considered and covered before you are adequately qualified to promote yourself as a travel expert. This is why it is necessary to first do your research before you ultimately decide that this is the career path you want to take, whether part time or full time. The key things you need to find out are; what are your legal requirements for you to start selling travel in your current jurisdiction? What type of products and services do you plan on specialising in and will you need any additional training before you are qualified to offer such services? Knowing how you get paid and what the maximum earning potentials are for your niche market is also a good piece of knowledge to have. Most importantly, you need to know how exactly you go about completing all the steps necessary to take you from interested to the place where you are finally ready to start promoting yourself as a certified travel expert, and what are the costs and timelines associated with those steps if any.

2. Study The TICO Manual

There are no mandatory training courses of University degrees required in the Province Of Ontario for you to become a travel agent. When doing your research you will find many ads for courses and college degrees, but none of that is a requirement. If you think it is something you need for your personal knowledge, then doing a course is not a bad idea. However, there is one training program that all persons selling travel in the province of Ontario must complete and that is the TICO education standard manual. This training document is available to be downloaded for free on the TICO website, and it contains 9 modules and about 130 pages, covering everything from general industry knowledge to consumer etiquette, use of customer funds, general code of conduct and other information useful to the legal operation of a home-based travel agency. Downloading and studying this manual should be among your top priorities when preparing to set up your Ontario-based travel agency. Download it, print it and use your free time at work or before bed at nights to ensure you carefully cover all modules of this document.

3. Complete Your TICO Exam

Studying the TICO manual is not only necessary for general industry knowledge, but you also need to retain the content to complete the TICO exam. Without successfully completing that exam and earning the certificate of completion, you will be unable to legally promote yourself as a travel expert in the province of Ontario. The TICO exam is a closed book multiple choice exam done electronically under supervision at any of the TICO certified exam centres. Each exam is different and may contain anywhere between 50 to 90 questions taken from the information provided in the TICO training manual. The average passing grade is 70%, and the test can be redone multiple times if you do not pass the first time. There is a registration fee of $35 to do the exam. Click here to find all information related to writing the TICO Exam.

4. Register A Small Business

There are travel agents that work as Employees for travel agencies, airlines and tour companies. Those agents are known as “Inside Sales Agents”. If your goal is to be an employed travel agent, then this step does not apply to you. However, if you are looking to start your own home-based travel agency, then you will be required to register a small business with Service Ontario. Your small business name registration must be completed for any name that you will be using to promote your travel products and services. This could be; your personal name, a website domain name or a brand that you will be using to identify your travel business in your marketing. The Travel Industry Council Of Ontario will need a copy of your business registration, so it is logged into their system. Small business registrations can be done online on the Service Ontario website for $60 and the registration document sent to your email within 2 business days.

5. Find A Host Agency

Once you have successfully completed your TICO exam, and you have registered your business, there is still one step that is required before you can legally start promoting yourself or your brand as a travel expert in the province of Ontario. You will need to be associated with a TICO registered agency, holding a valid TICO registration number. Being TICO certified and TICO Registered are two different things. In order to obtain your own TICO registration number, you will need to have; at least two years of travel agent experience, successfully complete the TICO Office Managers' exam, complete the TICO registration application by paying the $2500 application fee and putting up the $10,000 bond, submit your credit score and personal finances to prove you have at least $5000 in operational funds, and you have excellent credit. Or, you can save yourself all that headache by joining an Ontario-based Host Agency. A host agency based in Ontario have already completed all the mandatory TICO requirements and have all the resources already setup for you to start doing business right away. They will allow you to run your travel business under their TICO registration number, as well as other industry registration ID’s like IATA, IATAN, and CLIA registrations. A Host Agency will also have established relationships with product vendors and tour operators that will be useful to you being able to provide your clients with competitive package pricing and unique offerings. Joining a host agency not only saves you a tonne of money but saves you a lot of time. Most host agency will charge a registration fee and a monthly fee to use their license. You will also share the commission you earn with your host agency. The standard commission split is 70% of the agent and 30% for the host agency. In addition to the above mentioned, your host agency will also handle all the administrative work behind commission payouts, registering you with vendors, providing you with all the tools needed to sell and operate your business.

Once you have completed all the steps listed above, you are now ready to start promoting your travel business in the Province of Ontario and helping clients with their travel plans. If you need help with getting your travel business started quickly, contact an Ontario certified host agency like The TravelNet and get assistance with everything you need to get your home based travel business up and running. Another useful resource to get information regarding becoming a travel agent in Ontario is the ACTA (Association Of Canadian Travel Agents) website.