What is Travel Agent Certification?

What is Travel Agent Certification?

The Travel Agent Certification program is a series of classes that you can enroll in to acquire skills that will benefit you as a travel agent. The program ends with the TAP (Travel Agent Proficiency Test). You will be officially certified as a travel agent once you have passed the test. Wahoo!

  • Online certification is possible for travel agents. Most programs take approximately two years, or less.
  • These are the top programs you can sign up for to become a travel agent certified in the USA:

The Travel Institute – Self-guided courses. Before you can apply, you must have been a travel agent at least one year. The test costs $450, and takes 12 months to complete. You must pass it with a score of 70%. To maintain your certification, you will need to take 50 credits of classes per year.

ASTA VTA Program – Self guided classes. It can take you up to 12 months to complete. The program costs $399 for ASTA members and $598 to non-members. Before enrolling in the program you must ensure that you are eligible for ASTA membership. The renewal fee for the program is $179.

Global Travel Professional- You must have at least 3 years experience in the travel industry. The course costs $350 for GBTA members, and $450 to non-members. The TAP Test will determine how long it takes to complete the course. When you sign up for the program, you will be able to choose a time period for the test. Your certification must be renewed every three years.

Are travel agents required to be certified

There are different requirements for travel agent certification in each state. You may need to be an independent travel agent or work for a host agency.

This is complicated so please bear with us!

You will need to be a certified travel agent if you reside in or work with clients in these four states.

  • California
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Washington

These are the states where you will need a Seller of Travel (SOT) license. Every state has its own requirements. Let’s take a look at it:


You don’t need to be certified if you work as a travel agent for a host agency but do not sell travel directly through that agency.

A SOT is required if you reside in California or work with California clients and do not sell through a host agency. California Seller of Travel (CST) is the license that applies to California. Register for a CST online. You will need to renew it every year. The Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation will charge $275 to register your business as a travel agent. You will also need to register for a California business ID.

Does that sound complicated? It sounds complicated? Later, we’ll talk about why it can be worthwhile to become a travel agent certified.


A Florida SOT number is required if you reside in Florida or work with clients there. It costs $300 per year and must be paid annually unless you are married or have a spouse who has served in the military. A Florida Travel Agency Surety Bond will be required. It can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on how much you make.

In one situation, you won’t need to become a certified travel agent. You do not need to be certified if you are working with a Florida SOT-numbering host agency. You will be allowed to use the SOT number for the agency you work for. To become an independent travel agent in Florida, however, you will need to complete this application. The fee for the application is $50 per year.


An SOT is required if you live in Hawaii with your clients. Apply for one here. You can apply for one here. If you’re interested in becoming a travel agent in Hawaii or selling Hawaii trips, it will be more affordable to do it now in 2021 (an unusual-numbered year) than in 2022 (an even year).

Your business will need to be registered with the state. You will need an Activity Desk license if you sell services such as bus tours or boat rides to clients.

Another thing! You will need a Hawaii bank to work as an independent agent for travel in Hawaii. You can request a waiver if you are working with a host agency not located in Hawaii and do not manage client payments yourself.


You will need to apply for a license as a travel agent if you are visiting Washington with clients. A Washington bank account that is dedicated to your travel business will be required. You will need to buy a Surety Bond, similar to Florida’s rules.

You don’t need to be a travel agent if you don’t live in or work with clients in California or Florida or Hawaii.


You should be aware that there might be additional fees if your clients are located in New York, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana or Massachusetts.

Delaware – If you live in Delaware (and not your clients), you will need a “Travel Agent Occupational License,” which costs $225 per year and is renewable annually.

Illinois – To receive direct payments from clients, you need to open a trust bank account for your business.

Louisiana – You don’t need to do much if you own a home-based agency. However, if your business is located in an office or retail location, you will need to apply for a retail license.

Massachusetts – While there are no licensing or fees for Massachusetts-based agents, there are strict rules about selling travel. These rules can be found here.

New York- A similar arrangement to Massachusetts, New York does not require a license or fee to become a travel agent. However, you will need to follow certain rules.

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