|Do I Need a Licence?|
Consumer Protection BC issues travel services licences based on the requirements of the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act and the Travel Industry Regulation.
The following defined activities require a licence:
"Travel agent" means a person who engages in the business or occupation of selling or otherwise providing to the public travel services supplied by another person.
"Travel wholesaler" means a person who engages in the business or occupation of:
"Travel service" means:
Travel Agent Licencing and Location Clarification
Consumer Protection BC is offering some clarification to the way in which travel agents and travel wholesalers are licenced and where they can operate. This clarification is in response to a changing marketplace, and feedback from our businesses and stakeholder groups.
In 2009, the BC Travel Industry Regulation (TIR) was changed making it possible for BC licenced travel agents and travel wholesalers to operate from locations other than commercial/retail addresses. Since this change, there has been growing demand for even more flexibility in how businesses are licenced and where they may operate. Consumer Protection BC is working with businesses and with the Travel Industry Advisory Group (TIAG) to find solutions that benefit business, protect consumers, and are consistent with the law.
The following clarification is meant to assist travel agents with their understanding and interpretation of the law.
Who is a travel agent and how does licensing work?
According to BC law, a travel agent is “an entity engaged in the business or occupation of selling, or otherwise providing travel services to the public”. This includes proprietorships, partnerships and corporations.
People who work for licenced travel agents as employees or under independent contractor agreements on behalf of the licenced business may not require separate travel agency licences. These persons may operate under the licence of the employer/business under certain conditions. However, when they work outside of the retail location they may require a branch office licence.
The travel industry has many words to describe independent contractors and the arrangements between travel agents and these independent contractors often vary. Consumer Protection BC may require copies of the contracts or agreements to make a decision on who requires licencing. These agreements are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Anyone engaged to sell or provide travel services on behalf of licenced travel agents is not required to be independently licenced when they are under the control of the licensee and operating on their behalf. All activity related to their selling/advertising and marketing of travel services must identify that they are conducting business on behalf of the licensed travel agent. People in this category must use only the registered operational name, marketing, or business identity of the licenced travel agent. The licenced travel agent accepts all responsibility – including all liability - for the activities of those people when they sell or provide travel services to the public on behalf of the licensee.
When care travel agents operate from and what licenses do they need?
A licenced travel agent is required to have a licence for each location from which they conduct business in British Columbia. TIR (5). There has been no changes to this requirement for many years.
If employees or other “agents” (independent contractor, outside sales agents) of a travel agent work from a location other than the location licensed by Consumer Protection BC, a separate “branch office” licence is required.
Consumer Protection BC interprets “conducting business” to mean any activity where a business’s specific address, local phone number or person’s physical presence is established and therefore known to consumers or to other businesses.
Travel agents whose employees and independent contractors meet with consumers in person, advertise locally or otherwise conduct routine business from locations other than the licenced location, need to closely examine the nature of their employees' activities. Depending on their activities and presence, the travel agency may need to establish a licenced branch office in order to comply with the Regulations.
If the agent, independent contractor, or outside sales person has their own company or is trading/doing business as (DBA) a company different from the licenced travel agent company, they must apply for and obtain their own travel agency licence.