UK travel firms selling package holidays in the EU do not need to establish a business in the EU to comply with Package Travel Regulations post-Brexit so long as they meet the necessary bonding or insurance requirements in at least one EU state.
That is according to EU lawyers specialising in package travel law, who insist there is no need to register a business formally in the EU despite the UK Department for Business (BEIS) advising UK travel businesses they need an EU place of establishment to sell package holidays in EU markets.
However, UK businesses can’t carry on selling into the EU under an Atol licence and financial protection arrangements they have in place in the UK as they could up until the end of last year.
Addressing a virtual conference of the International Travel Law Network (ITLN) of lawyers, Klaus Siebert of German law firm Engels Siebert Rechtsanwalte explained: “You can start [work] as a non-EEA [European Economic Area] operator just with insolvency bonding.
“You need only the insurance provider to be established in the EU and to follow the EU Package Travel Directive [PTD] rules. You don’t need your establishment to be anywhere in the EU. You need bonding and you need to honour the PTD. If you do that, you can do business as usual [and] you can sell across the EU.”
Siebert noted his firm “handles UK, US, Canadian and Australian operators who send customers to the EU”. He insisted: “It is a question of having European bonding insurance in place, not Abta bonding, not Atol.”
Samantha Bradbury, membership director of the UK’s Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (Abtot), told the conference: “That is not our understanding following conversations with BEIS – it is that mutual recognition [of financial protection arrangements] no longer exists.”
However, Michael Wukoschitz of Austrian law firm KWC, agreed with Siebert. He said: “In Austria, if a [non-EU] third-country holiday provider directs business into Austria it needs protection with an insolvency protection scheme valid for EU countries. You only need the [one] insolvency protection scheme.”
The ITLN network of lawyers includes UK law firm Travlaw.
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