How to check for ATOL protection
UK law says your holiday must be protected if you book a package holiday. ATOL is a UK financial protection scheme and it protects most air package holidays sold by travel businesses that are licensed in the UK.
If you book a package holiday that is not ATOL protected, you are at risk of losing your money. There are various ways you can check if your holiday is ATOL protected before you book:
- Look for the ATOL logo on the travel company’s website, shop window or brochure. ATOL holders should display the ATOL logo along with their unique four or five-digit ATOL number.
- Speak to your holiday travel agent – whether you are booking direct with a travel company, through an agent or with a tour operator, they will be able to tell you if your holiday is ATOL protected.
- Search for the travel company on the ATOL database. You can search using the name or ATOL number for the company to confirm if they are a legitimate ATOL holder. Even if the company looks like an ATOL travel agent, with a UK web address, it’s always better to check before you book.
- Check the information on the booking. Most travel companies will advertise if the holiday is ATOL protected in the details of the booking.
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. 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 holidays or flights booked directly with scheduled airlines or to flights booked with airline ticket agents.
Travel companies must issue an ATOL Certificate as soon as you book an ATOL protected trip. This Certificate confirms the details of your protection.
It is important to keep a digital or paper copy of your ATOL Certificate with you while you’re abroad. If your travel company stops trading, your Certificate tells you what you need to do to continue your trip or submit a claim.
False ATOL protection claims
We are aware that consumers are at risk of losing money when booking with businesses that offer cheap flight seats or cheap air holidays on websites and which claim to hold ATOLs or to offer ATOL protection.
Many of these websites are operated from outside the UK, and while the CAA and other enforcement agencies are working to stop such websites, sadly it is not always possible to do so. Don’t be fooled by a website address ending with .co.uk or a contact telephone number that has a UK dialling code, as both of these can be operated from outside the UK.
We therefore urge consumers to be extra vigilant when being offered cheap travel and check that websites that claim to provide ATOL Protection are operated either by a valid ATOL holder or by agent properly acting on behalf of an ATOL holder
Genuine ATOL holders display their unique logo and ATOL number, and you can verify them on our database. Each ATOL number is four to five digits long, and may include a T at the start.
- The ATOL Protected logo is shown without a number
- When you check the ATOL number it does not appear in the database search results or the number refers to another travel company
- The travel company says they are owned by another ATOL holder but their name is not listed on our database as a registered trading name on the ATOL holder’s record
- Very cheap flight or holidays prices are quoted
- The online enquiry or booking facility doesn’t work
- No postal address is shown on the website
- Although credit and/or debit card logos are shown on the website there is no online payment facility, and you are asked to pay by bank transfer
- You’re asked to make a deposit payment only, but are then offered a better deal later if you pay in full
- After an initial payment is made, you’re told the booking cost has increased
- You receive a document or e-mail referring to a flight reservation, but this has not been sent by the airline/s.
Websites to avoid
The following websites have falsely claimed to hold an ATOL or that their holidays are ATOL protected (list updated June 2019):