Decree Law No. 61/2011
- Issuer: Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Development
- Diploma Type: Decree Law
- Number: 61/2011
- Pages: 2586 - 2597
Summary in plain english
What is it?
This decree-law defines new rules for opening and operating travel agencies.
What will change?
Simpler process to open a travel agency
To open a travel agency it is no longer required to obtain a license or start a company. However, it is mandatory to:
- be registered with the National Register of Travel and Tourism Agencies (RNAVT), available on the following websites: Portal do Turismo Portugal, Portal da Empresa, and Portal da Cidadão
- pay a contribution to the Travel and Tourism Guarantee Fund
- take out civil liability insurance covering damage to clients or others
- pay the Portuguese Tourism Institute (ITP) a fee of 1,500 euros (this amount is updated every year on 1 March).
Once these obligations have been fulfilled the travel agency may start its activity immediately.
Travel agencies that already have licenses are automatically entered in the RNAVT.
Agencies established in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway may do business in Portugal. In order to do so, they only need to show the ITP that they have provided guarantees equivalent to the ones required of Portuguese agencies (contribution to the Guarantee Fund and civil liability insurance).
Non-profit organizations (associations, charitable institutions, etc.) don’t need to be registered in the RNAVT as long as they organize no more than five tours per year, for their members only. Nevertheless, they must have civil liability insurance.
More guarantees for consumers
From now on consumers can access updated information on all travel agencies in the National Register of Travel and Tourism Agencies (RNAVT).
Also, the Travel and Tourism Guarantee Fund (FGVT) has been created to refund consumers if a travel agency breaches a contract.
Each agency contributes a certain amount to the Fund (see table below), which can be used to pay any consumer, not just their own clients.
|Agency type||Contribution to FGVT||Amount payable on registration with the RNAVT or within one year if an agency is already licensed||Amount paid in the following years|
|Agency that organizes or organizes and sells tours||10,000 euros||5,000 euros||0.1% of last year sales|
|Agency that only sells tours||6,000 euros||2,500 euros|
To claim the disputed amount, the consumer must contact the ITP. The consumer must submit one of the following:
- a verdict by the Ombudsman of the Portuguese Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies, stating the amount owed
- a court’s final decision, stating the amount owed
- a request for the ITP’s conflict resolution commission to intervene..
If the travel agency does not pay the amount owed, this will be paid by the Fund. The agency is then required to return that amount to the Fund within 60 days.
Whoever fails to comply with the rules defined by this decree-law may have to pay fines of:
- 200 to 3,740 euros, if they are individuals
- 250 to 30,000 euros, if they are companies.
If the offense is serious, the Authority for Economic and Food Safety (ASAE) may also:
- close the establishment and stop the agency doing business for up to two years
- stop the person who committed the offense from operating as a travel agent.
What are its benefits?
This decree-law is intended to:
- help travel agencies adapt to new market conditions (online booking, increased competition, etc.)
- reinforce consumer protection.
When does it come into effect?
This decree-law comes into effect 30 days after being published.
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