Agents hoping to get money back after ATOL-protected tour operator Travellers Cities ceased trading will have to prove the booking was made before April 30.
Independent travel agents were left thousands of pounds out of pocket when the tour operator collapsed on 15 October, see previous story.
Many claim they had paid Clive Allard who ran the Kent-based company for tickets up-front but the bookings failed to materialise.
However, in most cases the sales were made without an ATOL agreement in place - a system that came into force with the new ATOL regulations in April - and so are unlikely to be honoured by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Agents hoping to re-coup money will have to prove any tickets were paid for before the new regulations came into force, or produce an agency agreement.
A spokesman for the CAA said: "We are able to consider claims for bookings made before the new ATOL regulations came in.
"We would need to see an ATOL receipt in place from the ATOL holder as confirmation of payment being received before April 30."
Surrey-based agent Travel Sense, who booked before the new regulations, said the confusion just leads to distrust in the ATOL symbol.
Manager Jean Heymann said: "It really does make the ATOL mark not worth the paper it's written on.
"We actually had three bookings with Travellers Cities amounting to just over £10,000 and they were all booked before the end of April.
"None of his invoices actually show that payment was received but our bank statements will prove that.
"Fingers crossed we will get our money back as I have lost out big time as I have had to re-buy all of the flights which of course are now much more than they were in April - so I lose a fair amount whatever.
"The new regulations are so confusing for all agents and it's no wonder many don't have the exact paperwork as they don't advertise that along with the ATOL symbol."
Travellers Cities were unavailable for comment.
By Diane Evans
Thursday, November 1, 2012