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Frequently Asked Questions

Our FAQs address the following topics and seeks to help answer questions you may have about changes to the travel industry and the introduction of the new AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS) – what it is, how it benefits you, when it’s available and how to apply.


ATAS accreditation scheme

1. Is a travel agent still required to hold a licence?

No, a travel agent licence is not be required to operate a travel agency. For information on accreditation click here.


2. I'm thinking of becoming a travel agent. When is a good time to start?

If you are considering trading as a travel agent, please seek independent legal and commercial advice about how to enter the industry. General information on starting a travel agent can be found here.


3. What is the new ATAS accreditation scheme for Travel Intermediaries?

The peak industry body for travel agents, the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), has developed a new voluntary accreditation scheme known as the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme, or ATAS, for travel intermediaries.

An intermediary includes a travel agent, travel management company, aggregator, distributor, online travel agent, inbound tour operator,  wholesaler and consolidator.

To become an ATAS accredited agent, applicants must be found to comply with a range of criteria. Accredited agents will be assigned an ATAS participant number and be given access to the ATAS brand – a mark of quality and professionalism.

Travel agents with ATAS accreditation can choose to take out a range of optional insurance products that protects both their business and their customers if an end supplier or travel agent becomes insolvent and cannot deliver on the service paid by the customer. See 'Insurance protection for my business and customers'.


4. Who can become ATAS participants?

To be eligible to apply for ATAS accreditation, you must meet the ATAS definition of a 'Travel Intermediary'.

A 'travel intermediary' is an entity, domiciled, registered or incorporated in Australia, who sells a travel product on behalf of a travel supplier. This includes, but is not limited to, a travel agent, Travel Management Company, aggregator, distributor, online travel agent, inbound tour operator, wholesaler and a consolidator.

An 'entity' is a sole trader, partnership, trust or company (proprietary limited or limited). An ‘entity' does not include independent contractors, sub-agents, branch offices, or persons employed by an entity.


5. Why should my business be ATAS accredited?

An ATAS accredited agent is a symbol of quality. AFTA is active in educating the consumers about ATAS –accredited agents who operate trusted, professional and ethical businesses. When planning a holiday, a consumer will actively seek ATAS – accredited agents over non-accredited agents.


6. What are the ATAS participant benefits?

Become an ATAS participant and receive the following benefits:

ATAS Member Benefits Flyer

National Accreditation

Join ATAS and receive national industry accreditation backed by AFTA. Be recognised as a credible, professional business and offer your clients peace of mind.

Participants are required to annually meet the compliance benchmarks to uphold their accreditation. In return, they receive the right to use the ATAS logo – a mark of industry quality.

ATAS Accreditation Certificate

ATAS participants receive an ATAS Certificate of Accreditation and number to acknowledge successful compliance with the accreditation scheme. This includes a digital signature emblem for use on websites, emails and other electronic communications with consumers.

Business Support

ATAS participants have direct access to ATAS governance and business support documents via the ‘Participant Zone’ – a secure area within AFTA’s website dedicated to the ongoing support of ATAS participants. It is here that accredited individuals also have access to the ATAS logos and brand guidelines.

National Consumer Campaign

Ongoing commitment to increase consumer awareness of the ATAS scheme and benefits of booking through an ATAS accredited travel agent via a national, multi-channel campaign.

Industry Support

As an ATAS participant, keep you informed of all relevant updates and changes to the Australian Consumer Law which is a key plank of the ATAS scheme.


7. How do I apply for ATAS?

We've made it easy for you. Simply, register to become an ATAS participant and complete our easy step-by-step process online.

Become Travel accredited


8. What's involved in the application process?

The application process to become an ATAS participant and hold ATAS Accreditation, involves completing an online application which will vet your business against 8 benchmark criteria.

Measures include business compliance, commercial safeguards, workforce development, dispute resolution and complaints handling processes. Once you have satisfied the selection criteria, an annual fee will apply.

ATAS Application Guideline

We have outlined each step of the application process, under ATAS Scheme Criteria to assist in making the process as seamless as possible.

To apply, simply create a login here to get started.



9. Is accreditation mandatory?

It is not compulsory for travel agents to be accredited. In addition to ATAS accreditation, travel agents can be accredited by a number of other organisations within their industry, such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) or the Cruise Lines International Association of Australasia (CLIA).

However in some instances, only an accredited agent will be able to provide particular services, such as issuing air tickets.

Contact the relevant organisations for more information about these accreditation schemes.


10. Why is ATAS not mandatory?

The Australian Government's Travel Industry Transition Plan 2012 calls for a voluntary industry-led accreditation scheme.


11. What are the categories and fees associated with ATAS participation?

ATAS participation is subject to an annual fee and based on an entity's annual gross 'Total Transaction Value' or TTV, as per the category levels indicated below. There is a different annual participation fee for AFTA Full Members and Non AFTA Members.

ATAS Participant ANNUAL Fees

 CATEGORY      1
        2
        3
       4
       5
       6
         7
 TTV<$1m$1m - $2.5m$2.5m - $5m $5m - 10m $10m - $100m $100m - $250m > $250m
AFTA
MEMBER
$475
$525 $650 $750 $950 $5,000 On Applic.
NON-AFTA MEMBER
$1,350
$1,400
$1,550
$1,670
$1,900
$20,000

On Applic.



  • Start-up businesses will pay the applicable Participant Fee upon becoming accredited.

  • A start-up business is defined as a business that is in the first stages of its operation, and has either recently started trading or is about to commence trading.

  • Total Transaction Value (TTV) equals the gross annual turnover of the entity applying. If your entity has multiple selling locations then the TTV is the gross annual turnover of all locations under the single entity's ABN.


12. What is the difference between AFTA membership and ATAS participation?

AFTA has been representing the travel and tourism industry for nearly 60 years.

AFTA membership provides members with representation when addressing policy issues at both state and federal government levels and other regulatory bodies.

Alongside industry representation, AFTA membership offers a range of business support tools for Marketing, Financial, Legal and Education & Training.

AFTA is charged with hosting the National Travel Industry Awards annual Gala event to acknowledge and reward those who demonstrate excellence within the travel and tourism industry.

ATAS accreditation will offer participants a nationally recognised industry accreditation backed by AFTA. The scheme will provide participants with an Accreditation Certificate, business training support, and on-going commitment to a national consumer campaign, industry support and exclusive access to a range of insolvency insurance products for business protection.



ATAS participation scheme criteria

13. Who can become ATAS participants?

To be eligible to apply for ATAS accreditation, you must meet the ATAS definition of a 'travel intermediary'.

A 'travel intermediary' is an entity, domiciled, registered or incorporated in Australia, who sells a travel product on behalf of a travel supplier. This includes, but is not limited to, a travel agent, Travel Management Company, aggregator, distributor, online travel agent, inbound tour operator, wholesaler and a consolidator.

An 'entity' is a sole trader, partnership, trust or company (proprietary limited or limited). An ‘entity' does not include independent contractors, sub-agents, branch offices, or persons employed by an entity.


14. What are the eligibility criteria for ATAS participation?

ATAS participant applications will be vetted against 8 selection criteria including business compliance, commercial safeguards, workforce development, dispute resolution and complaints handling processes. The 8 selection criteria are outlined below.

1. Eligible Business Entity
To be eligible to apply for ATAS accreditation, you must meet the ATAS definition of a ‘travel intermediary', as outlined above.

2. Abide by the ATAS Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct will outline the minimum standards of good practice for travel intermediaries to follow and offer a consistent approach to all participants.

View ATAS Code of Conduct

3. Consumer Protection and Engagement
ATAS participants will need to ensure they are fulfilling a complete duty of care for their clients by adhering to the below:

  • Comply with Australian Consumer Law with respect to the way they carry out their business
  • Ensure that all marketing and advertising material complies with Australian Consumer Law
  • Deed Poll will need to be signed by the travel intermediary

4. Business Compliance
ATAS participants will be required to provide evidence that they are a fit and proper entity with the following documentation upon first-time application and annual renewal applications.

  • Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Provide financial information to ATAS
  • Provide a declaration of solvency

5. Commercial Safeguards
Insurance provides customers with greater confidence in the travel intermediary, and the travel intermediary with a level of protection and minimising risk exposure.

ATAS participants are required to hold both Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance as a commercial safeguard. A copy of the insurance policy and expiration date will be required as part of the application documentation.

6. Workforce Development
Adequately skilled employees are important to assist in providing a quality service to customers. Travel consultants that hold qualifications can provide customers with greater confidence in the travel agent.

ATAS participants are required to have 30% of front line travel selling positions (TSP) qualified with a Certificate III in Travel or equivalent, OR recognition of prior learning (RPL), for a minimum period of two (2) years in a front line TSP.

Front line selling positions includes those employees that are directly selling travel bookings to consumers.

7. Complaint Handling and Customer Dispute Resolution
In order to provide a level of comfort to customers to ensure any problems are addressed appropriately, participants are required to have an internal process for handling disputes and complaints by customers, which is free and accessible. Don't have a Complaint Handling policy? read more here

8. Participation Fee
An annual fee is payable to ATAS for the accreditation scheme.

To see ATAS participation fees, review Q19.

9. Start-up Business Supporting Documentation
For any start-up businesses wishing to apply for ATAS accreditation, there are a number of additional documents that are required to establish if the applicant is fit and proper and financially solvent.

  • A forecast operational budget (12 month minimum) – outlining cash reserves, borrowing capacity or details of other means available to meet operational expenses and the estimated timing of revenues and expenses
  • Business Plan – including start-up business information
  • A copy of your Business Name Registration/ABN Registration
  • A copy of your most recent bank account statement of your Client Account

Where the documentation fails to demonstrate the company is solvent you may be asked to provide additional information. We may seek an increase in working capital to ensure funding is available for the first year of trading.

A start-up business is defined as a business that is in the first stages of its operation, and has either recently started trading or is about to commence trading.


15. I am a start-up business, what additional documentation do I need to provide?

A majority of start-up businesses are likely to experience a period where expenses exceed revenue. Therefore, when reviewing an application for ATAS accreditation from a start-up company, AFTA will consider the following:

  • Whether the applicant is fit and proper;
  • The track record (if any) of the principals of the company;
  • The structure of the applicant company; and
  • Financial solvency – the applicant will need to demonstrate how the full financial resources and solvency requirements will be met.

Start up businesses will also need to meet special Criteria 9:
The following documentation must be provided with an application:

  • A forecast operational budget (12 month minimum) – outlining cash reserves, borrowing capacity or details of other means available to meet operational expenses and the estimated timing of revenues and expenses.
  • Business Plan – including start-up business information
  • A copy of your Business Name Registration/ABN Registration
  • Most recent bank account statement for your Client Account (or Trust Account)

Where the documentation fails to demonstrate the company is solvent, you may be asked to provide additional information. We may seek an increase in working capital to ensure funding is available for the first year of trading. 

A start-up business is defined as a business that is in the first stages of its operation, and has either recently started trading or is about to commence trading.

Note – AFTA does not expect that start-up businesses will have all systems, controls, procedures and resources in place prior to trading commencing.

However, it is expected that an appropriate start-up plan has been developed, and can be articulated, to demonstrate a creditable timeline for identifying and setting out how systems, controls, procedures and resources, that will be required by the time the applicant commences trading, will be established and implemented.


16. What financial information is required for ATAS participation?

To ensure ATAS participants are operating in a sound financial position and able to meet the commitments of clients, suppliers and other creditors when they are due and have minimum risk of collapse, ATAS will require applications to include financial information to demonstrate the travel intermediary's current position.

Financial information provided to ATAS will vary depending on whether the participant is subject to an audit or not.

YES - The participant is to provide a copy of the audited financial report to ATAS annually.

NO - The participant is required to provide a Balance Sheet and Income Statement certified by a duly authorised person within the entity annually.


17. Will my financial documentation be kept private and confidential?

Your information will at all times be treated as commercial in confidence and is both private and secure. AFTA recognises that commercial confidentially is important to you and will at all ensure your commercial situations are kept confidential. 

For more information visit our Privacy Statement.


18. Can I be an ATAS participant if my business is not registered, incorporated or domiciled in Australia?

No, ATAS accreditation is only available to Australian registered businesses, incorporated or domiciled in Australia.


19. Can online travel agents be ATAS participants?

Yes, all business entities that sell travel on behalf of a travel supplier are eligible to become an ATAS participant.


20. What is the ATAS deed poll?

The ATAS Deed Poll is an important part of the application process and is a legally binding declaration that the participant understands and accepts the conditions of ATAS participation.

The deed poll includes:

  • A declaration that they will comply with the Code and will use its best endeavours to ensure that its employees comply with the ATAS Code of Conduct 
  • Understand that accreditation under ATAS is subject to the Charter
  • Declaration that the participant agrees to comply with Australian Consumer Law and will use its best endeavours to ensure its employees comply with the ACL
  • An acceptance that through its corporate policies and procedures it will provide a level of staff education and training which is consistent with the eligibility criteria 
  • Releases and indemnifies AFTA and the ATAS Code Compliance and Monitoring Committee (ACCMC) with respect to ATAS. 
  • Provides a declaration of solvency to accompany financial information provided under criteria 4 - business compliance.

ATAS Deed Poll


21. Who can certify accounts and agree to the Deed Poll?

A duly authorised individual from the applying entity is responsible for agreeing to the terms and conditions outlined in the deed poll and certifying financial information provided to AFTA.


22. Where can I obtain a copy of the Code of Conduct and / or Charter?

Please see below to review the ATAS Code of Conduct and ATAS Charter.

ATAS CODE OF CONDUCT

ATAS CHARTER


23. I am a member of IATA do I still need to do a financial audit?

Yes, you still need to complete a financial audit for IATA purposes.

IATA is a separate organisation, operated independently of AFTA. If you are IATA accredited you may choose to submit your IATA audit to comply with ATAS application criteria 4 – business compliance, where you are required to provide proof of solvency. This is just to make life easier for you!


24. Is my business required to keep a client account?

ATAS participants are not required to keep a client account. However, AFTA believes it is good business practice.


25. What duration is the accreditation valid for?

ATAS accreditation is valid for from the date your application is approved to 30 June the following year. Renewal for the accreditation scheme is required annually to ensure participants meet the selection criteria.


26. How long will it take to have my application approved?

Once an application has been submitted, permitting all appropriate documentation are provided and there is no followup required, applications will be assessed within 4-6 weeks.


27. If my application is declined, can I appeal the decision?

Yes, for any declined application the applicant may appeal the decision. Our Compliance Manager will provide you with the reason for your declined application and work with you, where possible, to be in a position where your application may be approved.


28. What happens if someone makes a complaint against my business?

If a complaint is made against your business, AFTA will act as a moderator between the two parties to facilitate a resolution.


29. What defines a business as solvent?

A participant is solvent if it reasonably expects to be able to pay its debts when they are due to be paid.


30. What insurances do I need to hold?

As a minimum ATAS participants are required to hold both Public Liability Insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance to be an eligible participant.

However there are several available optional insurances that are available as additional business safeguard. Please refer to your Insurance provider for more information.


31. What minimum training requirements are involved?

ATAS participants must have a minimum of 30% of front line travel selling positions (TSP) qualified with a Certificate III in Travel or equivalent. Recognition of prior learning from previous years of experience selling travel will also be accepted.


32. Will my application require a background check?

In most circumstances a background check is required. Changes to the ATAS Charter to bolster the scheme’s integrity resulted in certain background checks becoming necessary. The areas of interest in the checks will be bankruptcy, business interests, credit default, financial regulatory and a national police check. These checks are used to determine that the information provided in an ATAS application are correct and to ensure that important information relevant to the review of the application has been included by the applicant.

The checks cost approximately $225 per person and details regarding completion of the checks will be sent to an applicant once all other scheme criteria have been met.

Note: may not be required for directors of publicly listed companies due to ASX rules or those who have had applications for ATAS accreditation previously granted.



33. What insurance is available to protect my business and customers?

Gow-Gates Insurance Brokers (ABN 12 000 837 785 / AFSL 245432) have a dedicated team for the travel industry who can assist with your company insurance needs. For more information or a no-obligation quote, please contact one of the team below;

Rebecca Fleming
Manager - Special Programs
T 02 8267 9919
M 0438 690 377
rfleming@gowgates.com.au


Participant helpline
Do you have an unanswered question? Please call the ATAS team on
02 9287 9900 or email atas@afta.com.au


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