How to become a licensed travel agent in India? By Athulya - November 6, 2019 Last Updated at: May 26, 2020 4437 How to become a licensed travel agent in India? On 13th March, Piyush Goel, the Union Railway Minister announced the plan to end the system of booking train tickets through travel agents. This is to encourage ticket booking through mobile phones, using the IRCTC App. India is growing a spike in the number of new businesses and start-ups sprouting with reports stating that over 10,500 start-ups will have been founded by 2020. The travel and tourism sector is one that will greatly benefit due to this increase in growth rate and is expected to contribute over $11,512.9 billion to our GDP by 2027. Therefore, everyone in this space is looking forward to a bright future in the next decade or so. But before they reap the benefits of their efforts, they need to ensure that they fulfil all the legal requirements. Making your travel business legal and operational has never been more critical than now. That is why, this time around, we will be taking a look at how travel agencies can register themselves in India to function legally within our country. Who is a travel agent? As per the laws, a travel agent is any individual or organisation who helps make arrangements related to: Tickets for travel whether it be via rail, road, air or waterways, Accommodation around the country or abroad Customized tour and entertainment packages Any tourism-related services. Recognition from the government To be a valid agent in India, the person must be recognised by the Ministry of Tourism, through their Additional Director-General, and this recognition is valid for five years initially. An inspection and preliminary report must be submitted and reviewed by the concerned Regional Director and five-member TAAI team before this recognition is awarded. Following the initial period, a request must be filed to get the recognition renewed or extended. Once the request has been made, the concerned Regional Director and one TAAI member will review the documents and then extend the recognition for another five years. The documents submitted will also be reviewed by the Travel Trade Division before the renewal is processed. The entire process will take around 60 working days to complete. Get FREE legal advice now Conditions to be fulfilled The application for recognition must be filed in the prescribed format, and a duplicate form must also be attached along with the documents. The agency must have a minimum capital of Rs.3.00 lakh. The agency must have Audited Balance Sheets and a certificate from a Chartered Accountant regarding its capital investment. The International Air Transport Association must approve the agency, or it must be a General or Passenger Sales agent for any IATA approved airline. The agency must have worked for a minimum of one year before applying. The company must have a neat, clean and well-maintained office occupying at least 150 sq. ft in India and at least 100 sq. ft in areas which are over 1000 meters above sea level. Employee requirements The agency must be owned or run by an experienced and well-qualified full-time member. Great emphasis must be laid out, building efficient and effective communication skills. It must have at least four employees, with at least one employee having a degree in Tourism and Travel Management from an establishment accredited by the AICTE. In case, the staff is exceptionally experienced and has worked for at least three years under an IATA or UFTA agency; then the academic criteria may be relaxed. Fees and taxation The agency must have filed its IT return for the year in which it is applying. A fee of INR 3000 must be paid while applying for recognition. Miscellaneous The Certificate of Approval must always be displayed in the agency’s office. In all matters relating to recognition and renewal of licenses, the decision taken by the Ministry of Tourism will be final. The Ministry of Tourism also has the right to cancel a license if it deems the step necessary. However, a Show Cause Notice will be issued before doing so, to inform the company about the impending decision. For further guidelines related to filing the application form, visit this website. The Travel and Tourism sector is one of the most extensive industries in India and hence play a massive role in helping the country prosper. Around 7% of the world’s entire job opportunity comes from this service sector, and even more, people are employed by this sector indirectly. With the industry cited to grow at over 7.8% in India in the next five years, the time is right for more people to become aware of the legalities behind this sector.