If you thought that passengers traveling with the incorrect documentation was a minor issue for the world’s carriers, think again. The 60,000 travelers turned back at destination or transfer points by immigration authorities each year cause stressful and frustrating situations for travelers. They also cost the world’s airlines a substantial amount of money in fines and associated costs
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped the situation either. Whether it is rules implemented at a short notice, vaccination or testing papers presented in the wrong format or language, passengers and airlines are struggling to keep up with ever changing requirements. This is why it’s more important than ever to be well prepared for your trip and to make sure that you have the correct travel documents, especially when traveling internationally.
The travel and health documents required for your trip can vary based on your itinerary and personal situation. This is why it is important to prepare in advance and use tools such as the IATA Travel Centre to get personalized travel advice. The IATA immigration specialists consistently update this information, but rules and regulations change on a daily basis. Nonetheless, you can be certain that these documents will be useful for any trip:
Proper identification is the foundation of international travel. As a result, you should ensure to always have an official identification document with you. You can even consider having multiple documents such as your passport, national ID card or driver’s licence. If you don’t feel comfortable bringing several documents, you can consider bringing copies. These can be especially useful if you lose your passport and must take steps to prove your citizenship at your country’s ambassy or consulate.
When traveling abroad, it is also essential to have a valid passport. Many travelers don’t realize that most countries apply rules in regard to the passport expiration date. For most countries, visitors must have a valid passport for six-months after they plan to arrive at their destination, however this period can vary. Either way, if you are planning a trip abroad, always make sure to check the passport validity requirements and the expiry date of your passport. This will help avoid unfortunate issues at the airport or at immigration at your destination country.
Health travel documents are not new to international travel. Certain countries have long lasting entry requirements such as yellow fever vaccination certificates, however this was limited to specific countries whereas the COVID-19 travel document entry requirements have been enforced by the majority of countries around the world. It has been especially difficult to follow these entry requirements as rules are implemented at a short notice, the vaccination or testing requirements vary from one country to another and often documentation must be presented in specific languages. As a result, travelers and airlines are struggling to keep up with these ever-changing requirements.
IATA has put in place several solutions such as the IATA Travel Centre to help travelers and the IATA Travel Pass or IATA Timatic Widget to help businesses navigate this ever changing environment. The common platform (database) used to verify the latest COVID-19 travel document requirements is IATA Timatic. Timatic is powered by human-validated data, meaning a team of immigration specialists checks each update manually with IATA’s Sourcing Network of official sources to make sure the information is correct. An update is only done once one of the 2,000 government or airline officials from the respective country confirms the change. The team also verifies conflicting reports and make updates only when they’re 100% sure they’re accurate.
Flight ticket details, accommodation reservations, car rental confirmation, all are important for your trip. Keeping up with all your reservations can be difficult and having copies of your itinerary and reservations with you can make your trip go much smoother. It can help sort out any issues during check-in at the airport or hotel and it’s a simple way of helping you keep track of your travel plans. You can have these as printed copies or use one of the several Travel Planner apps or tools that you can find online. You can even set yourself a reminder for a COVID-19 test that is often required within 72- or 48-hours before departure along with the address of the testing center closest to your hotel.
Unforeseen situations can occur and they can be especially stressful when you are abroad. That is why travel insurance is important. Travel insurance can be summed up in two main categories:
It is important to have a copy of your travel insurance certificate with you. Insurance companies often provide a printer-friendly card or summary that includes emergency contact details which you should always have with you or you can use their mobile app so that you have all the required information at your fingertips. With all the interruptions and changes in international travel caused by COVID-19, it’s also recommended to you contact your insurance provider to verify what exactly is covered under your insurance plan.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic several countries have introduced passenger locator forms which must be presented at check-in or at immigration. After filling the form, travelers are often provided with a QR code or a reference number. Other documents could also be required, that is why it is always important to check what is required for your trip when planning your holiday and ideally verifying the requirements once again closer to your departure date as entry rules and regulations change on a daily basis.
Flying remains one of the safest travel alternatives during COVID-19. Find answers to other questions you may have to prepare your trip.
When planning a trip, use the IATA Travel Centre for personalized passport, visa and health requirements advice based on your personal details and itinerary. The COVID-19 travel regulations map will also guide you in relation with the the latest COVID-19 requirements. Both tools are powered by IATA Timatic. Since 1963, Timatic has been providing the latest travel document and regulation rules for over 220 countries collected from over 2,000 sources and updated in real-time up to 200 times a day. The database covers the following areas:
No matter which way you choose to access Timatic -online, API or integrated with your DCS - you get the most accurate data on the market.
Every year, airline staff and ground handlers use Timatic to check over 700 million passengers. Travel agents of all sizes use the tool to make sure their customers arrive at the airport with a valid passport, the correct visa and the necessary health documents.
Many Timatic customers use the solutions as part of their check-in operations such as self-check-in kiosks or on their websites. Timatic can easily be added in your operations as it’s already integrated with Amadeus, Sabre and Navitaire as well as all other major Departure Control Systems (DCSs).