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UK travel: Time is running out to claim your COVID refund vouchers

Brits must claim COVID travel cancellation voucher by end of September
Brits must claim COVID travel cancellation voucher by end of September   -   Copyright  Julio Cortez/Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Giulia Grimaldi

After travel plans were cancelled during the height of the COVID pandemic, partial comfort was given by the issue of vouchers and credit notes.

But if you haven't redeemed them yet, you might lose your money by September 30th.

What are refund credit notes?

When travel bans and COVID restrictions caused journeys to be cancelled, many asked for refunds from airlines and travel companies. Facing financial worries as no one was going on holiday, companies responded by giving out travel vouchers.

But with money tight due to the extension of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis few people have actually used their vouchers.That's why both the EU and the UK Civil Aviation Authority (“CAA”) have now adopted refund schemes.

You have time until 30th september to get your money back

The CAA, which runs the Atol scheme ( the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence is a UK financial protection scheme that protects most air package holidays sold by travel businesses) said more than £132 million (€152 million) worth of refund credit notes were issued by Atol holders to customers. More than £50 million (€57 million) of refund credit notes still remain unused.

Of course, each travel company has set their own terms, but if you haven’t used your credit notes yet, you’ll have to either redeem them or cash them in before 30 September 2022.

After that date you are no longer financially protected if the company selling the trip cannot deliver it, or it goes out of business.

How long are travel vouchers valid in Europe?

Within the EU, travel companies can refund customers both in money or in the form of a voucher. But, reimbursement by means of a voucher is only possible if the passenger agrees.

Everyone is entitled to receive their money back, but national regulations really make a difference. Czech Republic,Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Croatia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia have made it possible for travel organisers to issue travel vouchers, rather than cash refunds or to postpone reimbursement well beyond the initial 14-day period.

In France the deadline was extended to 18 months from the date they were issued, so all refunds expired in June.

In Italy, the timeframe for using the voucher has been extended to 30 months from their issue and only after that time it is possible to ask for a cash refund.

The variation in time frames means you should check the regulations in your own country before trying to get your money back.