COVID-19 and travel refunds

Last updated: May 11, 2021

If your travel supplier (airline, tour operator, etc.) has a new process to get a refund for your cancelled travel, please follow that process and see it to completion before you come back to us.

If you’ve been denied a refund for travel that was cancelled by your supplier, as has been the case during COVID-19, BC’s consumer protection laws give you cancellation rights if you booked online, over the phone, by email, or by fax. These types of contracts are called distance sales contracts because they are not made in person. 

The distance sales rules apply to BC-based businesses and any business dealing with a BC consumer, including airlines and travel suppliers that have contracts with BC consumers. The duty to reverse charges under BC’s consumer protection laws applies to all credit card issuers that provide credit card services to consumers who live in BC.

Here’s some more information – please read everything very carefully and follow the steps exactly.


This applies to you if all the following are true:

  • You are a resident of BC or you dealt with a BC-based business.
  • Your travel service was not available to you, for example, your flight didn’t take off or your hotel was closed. (You are not eligible if the travel service was available to you but regardless of the reason, including COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closures, you decided not to travel.)
  • You have previously tried to get a refund from the supplier directly and were unsuccessful (please try again with their new process, if they have one).
  • You booked online, over the phone, by email, or by fax (not in person).

Overview of the required steps

By law, there are very specific things that you must do before you file a complaint with us. We always recommend trying to work it out with the supplier directly first. If your travel supplier has offered a new process to apply for a refund, please stop all other processes and take that route.

If you are unsuccessful in getting a refund, here is an overview of your next steps. All the details, including forms, are below.

  1. If you can’t work it out with the supplier, officially cancel your contract for services not rendered. (This process can only start once 30 days have passed from the day you were supposed to travel.)
  2. If you don’t hear back, request a reversal of charges from your credit card issuer.
  3. If still unsuccessful, file a complaint with our office.

The steps to getting a refund

Did you book online, by phone, email, or fax?

If you booked your travel online, by phone, email, or fax, and didn’t get your services, you can cancel your contract under BC’s distance sales contract laws and be entitled to a full refund from the supplier or a reversal of charges from your credit card issuer. A full refund means a refund in the original form of payment, and includes all fees, charges, taxes, and interest. (Vouchers are not a form of refund unless you originally paid using vouchers.)

There are several steps to this process, waiting periods, and the right to a refund only kicks in 30 days after you don’t get the service you bought (which means the date that you were supposed to travel). Please follow all these steps carefully. You will not be able to file a complaint with us until you have proof that you have taken these steps first.

Remember that these options apply to any transaction done online, over the phone, by email or fax, and are not limited to travel bookings.

For more context, read the “Problem with an online purchase” page on our website.
Read about distance sales in the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

Booking travel in the future?

When booking travel, always book with a licensed travel agent or wholesaler. If you aren’t sure if a travel agent or wholesaler is licensed with us, you can look it up.

Check a travel agent or wholesaler licence.

Still have questions?

Read through our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.