In this post, we’ll cover what it takes to become a travel agent in Florida. Here’s everything you need to know about Florida travel agency license requirements.
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Who Needs a Florida Travel Agent License?
Florida does not license travel agents, but all travel agents operating in Florida must go through a registration process, whether they are based in Florida or not. Specifically, they must register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) as sellers of travel, though there are some limited conditions under which an exemption may be granted. Considering the size of Florida’s tourism industry, it should be no surprise that Florida is one of only five states that have a registration or licensing requirement for travel agents.
What Are the Steps in the Registration Process?
The process established by FDACS for registering travel agents is straightforward. It involves:
- Completing a Florida Seller of Travel Registration form with information about the travel agency.
- If vacation certificates will be offered, additional supporting documents must be submitted.
- Purchasing a Florida seller of travel surety bond (also referred to as a travel agency or travel agent bond).
- Paying an application fee (currently $300). If offering vacation certificate, there is an additional $100 document fee.
Why is a Florida Travel Agency Bond Required?
The main purpose of a Florida travel agency bond is to ensure that travel agents operating in Florida comply with the Florida Sellers of Travel Act (Florida Statutes, Sections 559.926-559.939). Any violation that results in financial harm to a consumer may result in the injured party filing a claim against the bond. One common basis for a claim is a travel agent’s failure to turn over money collected from a client to a provider of travel services, such as an airline or hotel.
The bond indemnifies FDACS against legal liability for any such damages and provides a source of funds for paying claims. The required bond amount (the bond’s penal sum) is $50,000 for travel agents offering vacation certificates and $25,000 for all other travel agents. This is the maximum amount that will be paid out on a claim.
How Are Florida Travel Agency Bond Claims Paid?
The surety bond agreement, a legally binding contract between FDACS (the bond’s “obligee”), the travel agent (the bond’s “principal”), and the company authorizing the bond (the “surety”) makes the principal solely responsible for paying valid claims. But typically, the principal doesn’t make direct payment to the claimant. The surety makes the payment initially, and the principal later repays that debt to the surety.
How Much Does a Florida Travel Agency Bond Cost?
The annual premium for a Florida travel agency bond is a small percentage of the $25,000 or $50,000 penal sum. The exact percentage the surety establishes as the premium rate is based on the principal’s personal credit score. A high credit score indicates a low risk that the surety will have trouble getting reimbursed for claims paid on the principal’s behalf, earning the applicant a premium rate that could be as low as 1%. On the other hand, a lower credit score will result in a higher premium rate, perhaps as high as 10%. For a $25,000 Florida travel agency bond, that’s the difference between paying $250 or $2,500 a year.
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