UK firms selling package holidays in the EU do not need to establish a business in the EU to comply with the Package Travel Regulations post-Brexit, but it is a lot easier if they do.

A leading industry lawyer in Germany, Klaus Siebert of law firm Engels Siebert Rechtsanwalte, argued last week: “You can start [work] as a non-EEA [European Economic Area] operator just with insolvency bonding.”

Speaking at an International Travel Law Network (ITLN) online conference, Siebert said: “You need only the insurance provider to be established in the EU and to follow the 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 sell across the EU.”

Siebert insisted: “You don’t need to change your business place of establishment. It’s a question of having valid European bonding insurance in place, not Abta bonding [and] not Atol.”

However, Abta head of legal services Simon Bunce told Travel Weekly that advice did not go far enough, saying: “You don’t need an establishment in the EU to sell in the EU, but even so it’s not straightforward.

“The point is, if you’re not an EU company you need to comply with the rules in every member state in which you’re selling.

“It might be that the insurance policy that works for Germany also works for Austria, and Greece might say ‘That works for us as well’. But you need to check.

“It’s specific and you need to check in every country.”

 

The source insisted: “If you do have an establishment in an EU country, you can sell anywhere in the EU as long as you comply with the insurance or bonding requirements in that country.

“So it’s not that easy. You can either establish [a base] in Ireland, say, and sell all over the EU, or remain established in the UK and check with every state in which you sell.”

The UK Department for Business (BEIS) advises UK travel businesses that they need an EU place of establishment to sell package holidays in EU markets.

Speaking at the same ITLN conference, Association of Bonded Tour Operators (ABTOT) membership director Samantha Bradbury said: “Our understanding following conversations with BEIS is that mutual recognition [of financial protection arrangements] no longer exists.”