The 4 Things You Need to Become a Travel Agent

Travel agencies and travel management companies (TMCs) provide highly valuable services to their travelers. In addition to coordinating the logistics of travel, agencies serve as trusted advisors and partners in a wide variety of areas, from luxury destinations and hotels to effective travel policies.

Travel agencies are also profitable: Excluding online travel agencies, corporate and leisure agencies in the U.S. sold $67.9 billion in gross air bookings in 2018, and that number is projected to grow — amounting to $71.2 billion by 2021.

There are many elements to consider when starting a travel agency — but one of the most important is ARC accreditation. ARC Accreditation enables U.S. travel agencies to issue airline tickets. Before applying to become an ARC-accredited agency, here are four things new agents should know.

How to Become an ARC-Accredited Agency

Based in the U.S.: Your agency must be located in, and authorized to do business within, the U.S., the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and/or American Samoa.
Cost: There is a $2,300 application fee for new agencies. In addition, the agency must provide a bond, letter of credit or cash deposit in the minimum amount of $20,000.
Agency Staff: Every travel agency needs a designated agency manager and a designated ARC Specialist (who will need to complete an ARC exam before accreditation is granted). One person can fill both roles, but at least one must be a U.S. citizen or resident. See the Agent Reporting Agreement (ARA) for more information.
Documents: Agencies must provide entity papers (e.g., LLC, corporation or partnership), an Employer ID Number from the IRS and any licenses for their local jurisdictions. See the Industry Agents’ Handbook (IAH) for more information.

Download the ARC Application Checklist

If your agency isn’t ready to start ticketing through ARC, but wants the other benefits of participation, consider ARC’s Verified Travel Consultant (VTC) program.

The VTC program allows you to brand yourself as a travel agent and gain global recognition with an ARC Number. The VTC application fee is $195. Later, when you’re ready to add ticketing capabilities for your agency, you can apply to become an ARC-accredited agency.

Have questions? Reach out to ARC’s Customer Care Center at 855-816-8003 or [email protected] for more information about becoming an ARC-accredited travel agency.