Starting and running a business requires taking care of numerous logistics, including meeting governmental regulations. For travel advisors with clients residing in Florida, the state’s Seller of Travel licensing requirement must be met. In this article, we will delve into everything you need to know about the license and why opting for the full license, even if not necessary, might be a smart move.
What is the Florida Seller of Travel License?
According to Florida state law, anyone selling travel to Florida residents must register annually with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and obtain a Seller of Travel License, unless exempt. This license ensures compliance and protects consumers. In addition to an annual registration fee of $300, sellers of travel must provide proof of a surety bond, not exceeding $25,000.
Two Types of Florida Seller of Travel Licenses
The Florida Seller of Travel License comes in two types, depending on whether you own your own agency or work for one. Agency owners require a full license, except if they own a franchise. Individual advisors must hold an Independent Agent license associated with a full license. The Independent Agent version costs $50 per year and is necessary for advisors who are agency employees, independent contractors with a host agency, or franchise agency owners.
The main difference between the two licenses, apart from the price, is that advisors with an independent sales agent license cannot receive a fee or commission directly from clients. However, they can charge a fee that gets paid to the parent company.
Who Needs a Florida Seller of Travel License?
All travel agencies and advisors with clients living in Florida legally require either a Florida Seller of Travel License or an Independent Agent version. This applies to all travel advisors, regardless of agency ownership or employment status. Failure to obtain the license can result in fines of up to $5,000 and a cease and desist order.
Exemptions from the Requirement
There are three exemptions that travel agencies may qualify for:
Military: Active duty, honorably discharged veterans, military spouses, or surviving spouses may be eligible for a waiver of the initial or renewal registration fee. This exemption only applies to the full license and does not extend to Sellers of Travel Independent Sales Agents.
ARC-Contracted Agencies: Agencies that have contracted with the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) for three years or more, under the same ownership and control, are not required to register. However, they must obtain a statement of exception issued by FDACS to obtain an occupational license.
Long-Standing Agencies: Agencies that have been in the travel business for five or more consecutive years in compliance with Florida law may apply to FDACS for a waiver of the security requirement.
Why Opt for the Full Florida Seller of Travel License?
Franchise owners and hosted Independent Contractors (ICs) may benefit from obtaining a full FL Seller of Travel License, even if not legally required. Having this license enables them to charge service fees. While some host agencies or parent franchise companies offer mechanisms for charging fees, the fee is paid directly to the host or parent company, with only a portion passed on to the advisor. If the host or parent company does not provide this service, there is no legal way to charge a fee.
If you are a hosted IC or a franchise owner, consult with your host/parent company before considering a switch to a full license. Note that some, like Dream Vacations, do not recommend obtaining a separate seller of travel license.
For more information on Florida Seller of Travel License requirements and to ensure compliance, visit Ambassadeur Hotel.