Are you struggling to navigate tax in the travel industry? At Alton & Co, we understand that every industry faces a unique set of challenges and opportunities, and the travel sector is no exception.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the specific tax considerations that UK travel agencies should keep in mind. Whether you’re a startup or an established business looking to grow, this article is your guide to understanding travel industry taxation.

Understanding the tax landscape for travel agencies

The travel industry is dynamic and diverse, which means it comes with its fair share of tax implications. Here are some key considerations for UK travel agencies:


As many transactions in the travel sector are international, businesses must comply with both UK and foreign tax legislation. As a result, navigating the complexities of VAT can be particularly challenging for travel agents and tour operators.

Understanding the tour operators margin scheme (TOMS) is therefore crucial. This scheme aims to simplify VAT for tour operators by treating a bundle of supplies delivered to the same person as a single supply made in the UK.

TOMS covers anyone who buys in and resells travel, accommodation or other specific services as an agent. You’ll need to comply with this scheme even if these are not your main business activities.

As travel accountants, we can advise you on how to manage your VAT obligations and ensure you stay compliant with Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT rules.

Commission and revenue regeneration

For travel agencies, revenue recognition can be tied to the completion of the service, making it vital to accurately track commission and payment timelines.

Implementing proper accounting practices can improve your cashflow management, helping you avoid potential cash shortages during quieter periods.

Payroll and employment taxes

If your travel agency employs staff, navigating employment taxes is crucial.

Ensure compliance with PAYE (Pay As You Earn) and ensure that you deduct the right income tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs). These obligations extend to seasonal or temporary staff employed during peak travel periods, so a good payroll management system is vital.

Furthermore, workplace perks you provide to staff, such as private travel or transport, will count as ‘benefits-in-kind’ (BIK) and may be subject to National Insurance contributions (NICs) and income tax.

Air passenger duty (APD)

As the owner of a UK travel agency, you may need to take air passenger duty (APD) into account. This duty is chargeable for any passenger flying from a UK airport and applies to both domestic and international flights.

You can find the latest APD rates on the Government website.

Expenses and allowances

Beyond meeting your obligations, there are opportunities within the tax landscape that can contribute to the growth of your travel agency.

Business expenses: Travel agencies often incur significant expenses, so make sure you account for these costs properly to maximise savings on your tax returns. This often includes business-related travel and overnight expenses such as industry conferences and site visits. Keeping meticulous records and leveraging available deductions can help optimise your tax position. Your accountant can also advise you on different expenses you can claim to minimise your tax liability.

Capital allowances: Capital allowances can provide tax relief on qualifying plant and machinery used in your travel business, offering a valuable avenue for reducing your tax bill.

Research and development: Innovating within the travel sector? Explore the possibility of claiming R&D tax credits. If your agency is engaged in activities that seek to improve processes, services, or technologies, you may be eligible for valuable tax incentives.

Partners in your business journey

Navigating tax in the travel sector requires a keen understanding of industry-specific challenges and opportunities. At Alton & Co, we are here to help guide you through these challenges of tax compliance and help you leverage growth opportunities.

Whether you’re a startup or a family-run agency with a rich legacy, we are dedicated to providing modern, focused, and direct support to ensure your travel agency not only meets its tax obligations but thrives in an ever-evolving industry.

For personalised advice tailored to your business, contact Alton & Co today. Your journey to financial success starts here.