• ATOL - Protecting holidaymakers since 1973

    The law says your holiday must be protected if it is a package holiday.   ATOL (which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) is a UK financial protection scheme and it protects most air package holidays sold by travel businesses that are based in the UK.   The scheme also applies to some flight bookings, usually those where you book flights (including UK domestic flights) but do not receive your tickets immediately.

    ATOL was first introduced in 1973, as the popularity of overseas holidays grew. After a number of high profile travel business failures left people stranded overseas.  ATOL currently protects around 20 million holidaymakers and travellers each year.
    If a travel business with an ATOL ceases trading, the ATOL scheme protects consumers who had booked holidays with the firm. It ensures they can return home and do not lose their money.
    The scheme is designed to reassure consumers that their money is safe, and will provide assistance in the event of a travel business failure.

    Funding and administration

    ATOL is run by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It is funded by contributions from ATOL holders, who must pay £2.50 into the schemes back up fund, the Air Travel Trust, for each person they book on a holiday.
    This money creates a fund that is used by the CAA to ensure consumers either complete their holiday or – if they cannot get away – receive a full refund.

    What does ATOL cover?

    Frequently asked questions

  • ATOL is the UK's financial protection scheme and protects you when you book a holiday with a UK ATOL holder. It ensures you do not lose money or become stranded abroad if your ATOL holder collapses.

    ATOL stands for Air Travel Organiser's Licence and is backed by the UK Government.

    ATOL was first introduced in 1973, as the popularity of overseas holidays grew. After a number of travel business failures left people stranded, the UK Government realised consumers required protection when their travel providers fell into difficulties.

    The scheme was designed to cover charter flights and package holidays, and functioned well for years. However, the holiday market changed considerably and the scheme was overhauled in 2012 and again in 2018 to keep pace with these changes.

    ATOL stops you losing money or becoming stranded abroad if your travel business collapses:

    • If the business collapses while you are on holiday, the scheme will make sure you can finish your holiday and return home.
    • If the business collapses before you travel, the scheme will provide a refund.  

    What situations does ATOL cover?

    UK and European law says your holiday must be protected if you book a package holiday. ATOL is a UK financial protection scheme and protection applies to most air package holidays sold by UK travel businesses. The law says your holiday must be protected if you book a holiday with a single travel firm that includes:

    • flights and accommodation (including a cruise), or
    • flights and car hire, or
    • flights, accommodation and car hire.

    The scheme also applies to some flight only bookings - usually those where you book flights (including UK domestic flights) but do not receive your tickets immediately. This is most common with charter flights, but can also apply to discounted scheduled flights or where you pay for flights in installments. Please note that ATOL does not apply to flights booked directly with scheduled airlines or to flights booked with airline ticket agents.

    If you purchase an airline ticket from an airline or travel business and you receive a valid ticket in exchange for payment, ATOL does not cover this flight sale. 

    LTA's are formed when a business “facilitates” the sale of two or more travel services (e.g. a flight and hotel booking) but does so in a way that it is not classed as a package.  

    As an LTA does not constitute a package it does not, need to be protected under ATOL.  However, an LTA may include an ATOL protected element within it, such as an ATOL protected Flight-Only or an ATOL protected flight inclusive package.

    If a travel business sell an LTA, it must inform you that this is the case and what protection you may have. 

    UK and European law requires travel businesses to financially protect their package holidays in the countries in which they are established.  Businesses based in the UK provide their protection under the ATOL scheme while those based in other European Member States provide their own financial protection schemes.   Travel businesses are required to tell you which country will be responsible for financially protecting your booking.     

    You can also check to see if your booking is ATOL protected by: 

    Making sure you check for the ATOL logo on travel websites, brochures and advertisements. If you are not sure, ask your tour operator or agent to tell if they offer ATOL protection.  If they offer protection in a different country then you might find the information in Booking with European travel firms who do not offer ATOL protection helpful. 

    Use our Check an ATOL facility. This allows you to check that the travel business you are booking with is part of ATOL.

    Make sure you are given an ATOL Certificate. The law says you should be given a certificate to show if you are covered by ATOL as soon as you have booked and paid any money towards a holiday or flight.

    It is important that you book your holidays with a reputable travel business. If you book with a business that is not a member of ATOL then you will not be covered by ATOL protection. 

    Your ATOL Certificate is proof the holiday or flight you have booked is protected by ATOL. It explains what protection you have and what to do if your travel business collapses. Keep it somewhere safe and take it on holiday so you know how to make an ATOL claim if you need to.

    We are confident the travel industry has implemented procedures and systems to issue ATOL Certificates as required by law.

    However, if you do not receive a certificate and believe you should have done, first contact your tour operator or travel agent. If you are unhappy with their response, please email ATOL Certificates.

    UK and European law requires travel businesses to financially protect their packages holidays in the countries in which they are established.  Businesses based in the UK provide their protection under the ATOL scheme while those based in other European Member States provide their own financial protection schemes.   Travel businesses are required to tell you which country will be responsible for financially protecting your booking.     

    Most overseas air holidays booked with UK travel companies must be protected. There are several ways to check:

    Look before you book. Check for the ATOL logo on travel company websites, brochures and advertisements. If you are not sure, ask your travel company tour operator or agent to tell if they offer you about ATOL protection.  

    If they offer protection in a different country then you might find the information in Booking with European travel businesses helpful. UK based travel businesses are legally required to provide an ATOL Certificate as soon as any money is taken for a booking. 

    Always check you will be given an ATOL Certificate before you book. It's your guarantee of protection. If your travel business says they cannot provide one, ask why and consider your options carefully before proceeding, because you will be booking at your own risk. 

    UK travel companies are legally required to issue ATOL Certificates, this is your guarantee of protection. However we consider all claims on a case-by-case basis.

    **Please note that Flight-Plus bookings stopped on 1 July 2018 but if you booked a Flight-Plus before this date, your protection remains in place.**  

    A Flight-Plus holiday is one where you have booked your flights and accommodation with the same travel business, but not as a package holiday. For instance, your travel agent might have purchased flights and booked a hotel for you.

    You still have the same ATOL protection if the travel business you booked with fails. If one of the suppliers they have used fails, the travel business must make alternative arrangements for you. 


    Multi-contract Packages are those where the consumer has more than one contract for all the travel services that together are part of the package 

    You still have the same ATOL protection if the travel business you booked with fails. If one of the suppliers they have used fails, the travel business must make alternative arrangements for you. You also benefit from the same rights with the package organiser if something goes wrong.   

    ATOL is funded by travel businesses, which are required to pay £2.50 per consumer into a central ATOL fund. This money is used to allow consumers to complete their holidays or issue refunds should a travel business collapse.

    This charge is not a tax on individuals or an insurance premium - the law requires travel businesses to pay it, not consumers. However, some travel companies choose to highlight the ATOL scheme cost by showing it separately on receipts and invoices.