Refund Credit Note - Licensed Travel Agents and Tour Operators
For the attention of Licensed Travel Agents and Tour Operators
Important Changes to the Refund Credit Note scheme
As the wholesale disruption to travel is no longer evident, customers may no longer rely on COVID-19 related disruptions as evidence of extraordinary circumstances impacting their package travel to avail of full refunds as previously.
Statutory Instrument No. 644 of 2022 (amending SI No 105 of 2021) published by the Commission for Aviation Regulation puts into effect important changes to the Scheme. It introduces a regulation that Travel Agents and Tour Operators must no longer ask a customer to voluntarily accept a Refund Credit Note in place of a cash refund for a cancelled package holiday but certainly not after the 31 December 2022. In practice, no new Refund Credit Notes (RCN) should issue with immediate effect but not after the 31 December 2022 at the latest.
The Statutory Instrument No. 644 of 2022 also introduces the regulation that Refund Credit Notes will no longer be guaranteed by the State after 31 December 2024 if the issuing travel agent or tour operator goes out of business. This means that if a travel agent or tour operator goes out of business on or after 1 January 2025 any unused or uncashed Refund Credit Notes held by customers may not be accepted as evidence of a claim for reimbursement from the Irish Aviation Authority or the State.
What should I do as a licensed travel agent or tour operator as a result of these changes to the Scheme?
Travel agents and tour operators must clearly indicate in any correspondence with their customers who hold an RCN, from this point on, that there are important changes to the scheme which impacts the customer. The key messages, which are contained in the updated RCN Guidelines for Customers published to www.gov.ie are reproduced below and these should form part of communications issued by the agent/operator to their relevant customers.
Further, the travel agent or tour operator must also provide the customer holding an RCN with a copy of or a link to the updated Guidelines for Customers.
Tour operators and travel agents are also reminded that they must continue to contact the holder of RCNs not less than 4 weeks before the end of the RCNs validity due date to notify the customer of their options.
The updated Guide for Customers and Guide for Licensed Tour Operators and Travel Agents is available at gov.ie - Refund Credit Note