ATOL – A Simple Overview

What Is It


Is It The Same As ABTA

ATOL Protection

What is Protected

The Certificate

Search For Protected Companies


If you have booked a holiday through a Travel Agent or Tour Operator, you will probably have seen the ATOL logo displayed on their website, advertising, brochure, shop front or stationary. Although most people have heard about ATOL or seen their logo, the majority of people do not actually know how they are or what they stand for. This page is designed to provide you with a simple overview of ATOL and who they are.

What Is ATOL

ATOL stand for ‘Air Travel Organiser’s Licence’ and by law, any company that sells ‘Air Holidays’ in the UK is required to have a licence. ATOL is part of the Civil Aviation Authority which is a UK Government Agency. The ATOL scheme is designed to protect UK holidays in the event of the travel company they have booked through going bust or out of business. The scheme protect holiday makers from being stranded abroad or losing money in such events.

All UK travel companies that sell air holidays must be licenced by the Civil Aviation Authority. The good news for you as a customer is that a travel company is only issued with an ATOL licence once it has been checked out and the Civil Aviation Authority and they are satisfied that the travel company complies with all the requirements and guidelines. This then ensures that you as a customer can book your travel arrangement with the peace of mind that you are booking with a legitimate company and that you are covered in the event of that travel company going bust.

Interview With ATOL

Is ATOL The Same As ABTA

No, ATOL and ABTA are separate organisations. ATOL is a scheme managed by the Civil Aviation Authority and is in place to protect customers when purchasing ‘Air Holidays’ ABTA is the Travel Trade Association for Tour Operators and Travel Agents in the uK. ABTA is designed to protect customers and ensure they receive high standards of service from its members. To read more about ABTA, please click on the following link: ABTA 

Why Check For ATOL Protection

Most people go on holiday each year and this is not a cheap practice. Booking a holiday is an expensive process and when you book your holiday and hand over your hard earned cash, you want to know that your money is safe. The ATOL scheme is in place to provide you with peace of mind when you are booking your holiday and travel arrangements and allows you to know that your money is safe should the Travel Company you have book with go bust. It also gives you reassurance that in such events, you have professional assistance at hand.

ATOL Protection

What Does ATOL Protected Mean And Why Is This Important

Booking your travel arrangements with a Travel Company that is ATOL protected provides you with two levels of cover. The first being that ATOL tries its upmost to ensure that a Travel Company does not go bust or out of business but if the Travel Company did go bust or out of business, whilst you were abroad, ATOL would ensure you could complete your holiday and also get back to the UK at the end of your holiday. Secondly, if the Travel Company to which you booked your holiday through went bust or out of business before your departure date, resulting in you not being able to go on holiday, ATOL would ensure you received a full refund.

You should be aware that not all Travel Companies offer ATOL Protection and it is always best to ask before you book.

What is Protected

Most ‘Air Holidays’ that are booked in the UK are ATOL protected

How To Check Whether Your Holiday Is ATOL Protected and these include:

  • Flights and Accommodation, this also includes a cruise
  • Flights and Car Hire
  • Flights Accommodation and Car Hire
  • Flights Booked Through A Travel Company in Which You Do Not Receive Your Tickets Straightaway

Please Note: If you booked several different parts of your holiday at separate times, you may not be protected by ATOL. If you intend to book your travel arrangements separately, it is best to book them within a day of each other to receive ATOL protection.

There are several ways you can check to make sure that your holiday and travel arrangements are protected by ATOL.

  • When you are looking to book your holiday or travel arrangements, you should look for the ATOL logo and the unique ATOL licence number for the travel Company. This is usually displayed on the Travel Companies website, brochure, stationary or shop front.
  • You can also visit the ATOL website and check that the Travel Company you are wishing to book your holiday or travel arrangements with are actually ATOL registered. If you have the unique licence number of the Travel Company, you can enter the number into the search facility and it will clarify if that the licence number is for the Travel Company you are wishing to book with. If you do not have the unique licence number, simply enter the name of the Travel Company and it will tell you if that Travel Company is registered and ATOL protected.
  • From October 2012 any customer that books a holiday or travel arrangements through an ATOL registered Travel Company or Travel Agent should receive an ATOL certificate as soon as the customer has made payment, even if the payment is only a deposit. Once you have made payment, you should ensure you receive your copy of the ATOL certificate and read through it to see what protection you are entitled to.

ATOL Certificate

As mentioned above, from October 2012 legislation was introduced that the customer should be issued with an ATOL certificate once they have made payment (even if it is only a deposit) for a holiday or travel arrangements booked through a Travel Company or Travel Agent that is ATOL registered.

What Does The ATOL Certificate Represent

The ATOL certificate is proof that the holiday or travel arrangements you have booked are fully ATOL protected through the ATOL scheme.

The ATOL certificate also explains what is actually protected in your holiday and travel arrangements, who is covered through the ATOL scheme and it will also show the name and licence number of the Travel Company who is providing the protection.

Included in the ATOL certificate, there will be a instruction on what to do if the Travel Company you have booked through goes bust or goes out of business.

Once you receive your ATOL certificate, you should keep it in a safe place and then take it with you when you travel.

There are three different types of ATOL certificate and the are:

Flight Inclusive Package

Flight-Plus Sale

ATOL Protected Flight Only

ATOL Protected Companies

Booking with one of the many ATOL companies throughout the UK is definitely the safest policy and ensures you will be protected in the event of your Travel Company going bust or going out of business. If you are wanting to check to see if the Travel Company you are wanting to book with is one of the registered ATOL companies, you can do this by visiting the ATOL website.

Search For ATOL Registered Companies 

ATOL Address:

ATOL Department

3rd Floor

45-59 Kingsway



ATOL Telephone Number : 0207 453 6700 – 9am – 5pm.