An IATA accreditation is a seal of approval issued to qualified travel agents and cargo agents of the travel industry.‌ Approximately 60,000 agents worldwide are accredited with an official IATA number by the issuing body, International Air Transport Association. Founded in 1945, this industry trade association represents approximately 280 airlines in 120 countries.

Purpose of an IATA Number

IATA simplifies worldwide business relationships between certified agents and airlines. A travel agent with full IATA accreditation receives a unique numerical identifier code that authorizes the sale via credit card of international and/or domestic airline tickets. It provides the agent with access to IATA invoicing, billing and settlement plan arrangements between the agent, airlines and transport providers for air tickets. Without it, they can't issue airline tickets.

How to Apply for an IATA Number

Effective September 1, 2016, IATA accreditation applications from travel agents moved from paper to online. Any business registered as a travel agency is eligible to apply, pending disclosure and acceptance of certain criteria: general, financial, staff competence, safety and security.

Benefits of IATA Accreditation

Because IATA is a globally recognized seal of approval, it carries certain responsibilities. IATA travel agents must meet and maintain industry standards. As a result, consumer awareness and confidence is heightened when the IATA credential and branding is displayed on premises and websites. Without IATA accreditation, the travel or cargo agent cannot participate in most global distribution system (gds) transactions and ticketing.

Who May Apply for an IATA Identification Card

Travel professionals of an IATA accredited host agency are eligible to apply online for an IATA ID card, also known in the U.S. as an IATA/IATAN ID card, making them a IATA accredited agent. Eligible applicants must meet one or more criteria for IATA certification set by IATA in order to fill out the application form:

  • sole proprietors
  • partners
  • shareholders that own at least 20 percent of the shares in the company
  • any person holding a management position
  • any person working for the agency who is drawing a salary but does not fit into the above categories and is involved in the administration, marketing, finance, operations and/or sale of travel services
  • independent consultant who works for a travel agency pursuant to a written contract or agreement in compliance with applicable laws and regulations
  • owners of record with IATA who devote a minimum of 20 hours per week to the travel business
  • partners and stockholders who own 20 percent or more

With more than 125,000 IATA ID cards in circulation among bona fide travel professionals, suppliers verify cardholders using a system known as

Others May Qualify for IATA/IATAN

In the U.S., IATAN recognizes other types of travel professionals with a minimum of two years' documented experience:

  • Certified Travel Associate Program (CTA)
  • Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
  • Certification in Meeting Management (CMM)
  • Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)

Benefits of an IATA Identification Card

Agents and IATA travel agencies who qualify and pay fees of approximately $40 annually receive a photo ID card bearing the official IATA Numerical Code, verification number, name of the business and other details. Some airlines may offer an agent discount to card holders, although IATA points out that each airline's policy is determined solely by the airline. Other benefits of the agent experience may include eligibility for special offers for corporate travel, deals and working trips from suppliers. Benefits provided by IATA include discounts on travel agent training courses and travel insurance.