Tour Guide ID Card

ETOA Tour Guide ID Card

ETOA’s Tour Guide ID Card is a photo-ID card available to professionals contracted by ETOA members. In 2019 we issued over 2,500 cards.  

Recent news

14 April 2021 | We have updated the Brexit guidance of this page, and are in final testing of an I.T. update to the applications process. We apologise for the continued delay in re-opening the system.

Practical information and application form

APPLICATIONS FOR 2021 ARE NOW OPEN.

Card validity runs until 31st March of the year following successful application. 2021 cards will be valid until 31 March 2022.

By arrangement, ETOA member companies may make bulk applications for their contracted tour guides directly (min. 10 cards per order). If you are an ETOA member interested in the ID cards but currently not registered in the system, please contact tourguide@etoa.org.

Individual tour guides working for an ETOA member can apply for or renew their card using our new online portal. In order to apply, you need to first create an account here. Select “Registering as a tour Guide” as your reason for creating an account.

Once you have created your account, you can follow the application process to request your card.

Charges, Refund and Cancellation Policy 2021
Charges for Tour Guide ID Cards are non-refundable; the cards are non-transferable.
The price of the card is €45.00 + VAT
The fee for re-issuing a lost card is €15.00 + VAT.

For any queries, please contact us.

Status and benefits of the ETOA Tour Guide ID card 

Recognition of the card in destination is growing. The main benefit is Proof of Status. An individual may carry a card if an operator has contracted them, or they offer their services via an intermediary such as a guiding agency, walking tour company, online platform or DMO. The card helps to distinguish the holder from individuals who offer services directly to clients in destination. Such informal street commerce is subject to increased scrutiny and enforcement.  

Recognition as a travel professional has practical benefits too. ETOA’s members focus largely on cultural tourism: various museums and attractions are pleased to offer a tour guide free entrance, and the card helps to identify them. Guides influence visitors, making free-time recommendations and advising about appropriate conduct. They are a vital element in destination management as well as the smooth running of a successful tour.  

A benefit for tour guides established outside the EU, holding the ID card confirms that the bearer is working as a professional tour guide conducting a closed-circuit tour. It serves as evidence that when accompanying a group, the tour guide is performing this activity as a business visitor, being contracted for a limited period to travel within the EU in order to perform this task. 

What you need to know

  • The ETOA ID card is neither a licence nor proof of qualification 
  • It is proof of status and provides valuable identification for travel professionals 
  • Some countries regulate guiding, and this has an impact on both operators and professionals. See Guiding Regulations. 

Please note: what follows does not constitute legal advice. It represents ETOA’s understanding of the consequences of the EU-UK agreement, which is still to be ratified. We are aware of guidance offered elsewhere which differs from what follows, and we welcome any well-supported divergent opinion at policy@etoa.org

ETOA’s interest is in minimising barriers to market access, with clients free to select the professional that best suits their needs. This section focuses on the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU as it poses more practical difficulties to UK citizens wishing to provide guiding services in the EU, as opposed to EU citizens wishing to provide services in the UK.

Professionals providing services on tours such as guides, translators and subject experts will, according to the agreement, need to fit within one of five categories of visitor: Short Term Business Visitor; Contractual Service Supplier; Independent Professional; Specialist; Translator and Interpreter. The barriers to market are most significant for independent professionals, and there is wide scope for national variation throughout the EU which may change over time.

  • For summary of key restrictions on UK citizens resident in UK providing services in the EU (excepting Ireland), click here.
  • For unofficial ETOA abridged version of the EU-UK agreement focusing on content affecting guiding, click here.

ETOA will share any information about detailed requirements for individual EU markets once they become clear.

For tour guides who are neither EU nor UK citizens, the position is unchanged, but the following should be noted. The EU-UK agreement requires that neither party provide more favourable terms to professionals from third countries than they do to each other’s citizens. In practice, services have been delivered by individuals who entered host countries as if they were leisure visitors. While ETOA can only offer guidance based on what appears to be the formal position, the most conspicuous and easily enforced limitation is duration of stay. Within that, the prospects of official scrutiny once in destination will vary enormously.

In countries where guiding is not a regulated profession, we consider it unlikely that the environment will become hostile to UK and other non-EU professionals. It is an open question whether, in countries that both regulate guiding and have reserved the right to impose a range of requirements on related activity and categories of visitor, the situation may change. The new arrangements have a profound impact not just on tourism but also performing arts and other seasonal activity.

UK and Switzerland

UK citizens wishing to provide services in Switzerland may do so for 90 days per calendar year, so a winter season of over 90 days remains practical. For Swiss citizens to UK, the limit is 12 months in any 24 month period. This is expected to be the case at least for 2021 and 2022. For further details the full text of the agreement is available here. For UK to CH, see Annex 1 Articles 2.1 and 5.1; for CH to UK, Annex 2 Articles 11 or 14.

UK citizens legally resident in the EU

UK citizens legally resident in the EU will be able to provide services in their country of residence subject to prevailing domestic requirements: if they reside in a country that regulates guiding, they will need the appropriate certification to be permitted to provide guiding services. Only EU citizens benefit from the principles of mutual recognition and freedom to provide professional services within single market arrangements such as the Professional Qualifications Directive, thus a UK citizen legally resident in the EU wishing to provide services in another EU country will have to comply with whatever requirements are imposed by that country on UK-resident UK citizens. This also includes UK citizens covered by the Withdrawal Agreement (i.e. resident in the EU prior to 1 January 2021).

Frequently Asked Questions

Guiding regulations

You can only apply for our Tour Guide ID card if the company you work for is an ETOA member. You can check if the company is a member here. If the company you work for is an ETOA member but does not appear on the list in the application form, please contact tourguide@etoa.org.

You can apply if you provide your services for a company who is a member of ETOA. Remember, the card will be sent directly to their office (the address the card will be sent to appears in the field below the Tour Operator name in the application form when the Tour Operator is chosen).

Yes, you can apply if you are providing services for an ETOA member. ETOA’s definition of a Tour Guide is that they may work with the same group over a period of days on a closed-circuit tour or/and on a specialist walking tour. Note that the ETOA Tour Guide ID card is NOT evidence of a qualification, thus it is neither a licence nor a certificate. It does not affect the holder’s rights to provide services. If you are providing services in countries where guiding is regulated, you will need to comply with the local regulation.

We aim to post the card via Royal Mail within 21 days from order date. Depending on the delivery country, the card may be held up in customs or delayed due to local service, which is out of our control. Cards sent to addresses outside the United Kingdom will be sent tracked and signed. Cards are sent directly to the company address. Please contact tourguide@etoa.org if you need the tracking number.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to send Tour Guide ID cards to your personal address. The address the card will be sent to appears in the field below the Tour Operator name in the application form when the Tour Operator is chosen. If you believe this address is incorrect, please contact tourguide@etoa.org before you apply for the card.

The Tour Guide ID cards are charged in EURO currency. Unfortunately, the invoice cannot be changed to other currencies.

If you have received the card and the information provided in the application form was incorrect, ETOA serves the right to charge an additional €15 +VAT fee for a reprint to cover the administration cost. If the error was made by ETOA, we apologise and will fast-track a new print and send the card with updated information free of charge.
While we do our best to double check all cards before printing, we may not spot errors in the application form. During our busiest period, we print 50-100 cards daily.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all information provided in the application form is correct. If you think you may have made a mistake on the form, please contact tourguide@etoa.org / +44 (0) 20 33255037 as soon as possible to check if the card has been printed yet and if the information provided is correct.

If you have lost your Tour Guide ID card valid for the current season, please contact tourguide@etoa.org. You will need to provide your full name and date of birth and we will reprint the card for a fee of €15+VAT. Please note that we are only able to process the reprint when the invoice has been paid in full.

Yes, it is. If you work for an ETOA member and would like to apply for more than 10 cards, please contact tourguide@etoa.org.

For ETOA members only: Further information about guiding regulations in Europe.

Learn more