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What is ATOL?

ATOL is the UK’s financial protection scheme and protects you when you book a holiday with a UK ATOL holder. It ensures you do not lose money or become stranded abroad if your ATOL holder collapses.

ATOL stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence and is backed by the UK Government.

ATOL was first introduced in 1973, as the popularity of overseas holidays grew. After a number of travel business failures left people stranded, the UK Government realised consumers required protection when their travel providers fell into difficulties.

The scheme was designed to cover charter flights and package holidays, and functioned well for years. However, the holiday market changed considerably and the scheme was overhauled in 2012 and again in 2018 to keep pace with these changes.

ATOL Protection applies to most overseas air holidays booked in the UK. This includes:

  • flights and accommodation (including a cruise), or 
  • flights and car hire, or
  • flights, accommodation and car hire, or
  • flights booked with a travel company and you don’t get a valid airline ticket straightaway.

Be aware that not all travel companies offer ATOL protection.

ATOL Certificate

When you book an ATOL protected holiday, you should be given an ATOL Certificate by your travel business as soon as you pay over any money for the holiday – even if this is only a deposit.

Your ATOL Certificate is proof that the holiday you have booked is protected by the ATOL scheme. It will tell you:

  • What’s protected by ATOL
  • Who’s covered
  • Who is providing this protection (the travel business’s name and ATOL number)

Your ATOL Certificate will also tell you what to do if your travel business stops operating. Read the full terms of the Air Travel Trust Payment Policy.

Keep your ATOL Certificate somewhere safe and take it on holiday so you know how to make an ATOL claim if you need to.

atol certifcate


There are three kinds of ATOL Certificate:

For trips sold up to midnight 30 June 2018

For trips sold on or after 1 July 2018