Even in a good year, some airline passengers are denied entry at their destination’s border control for a variety of reasons. Constantly changing COVID pandemic regulations have added numerous problems to the list.

Whether it is rules implemented at the short notice, vaccination or testing papers presented in the wrong format or language, airlines are struggling to keep up with ever changing requirements.

IATA Timatic offers various solutions that can help airlines ensure they only board correctly documented passengers. IATA Timatic delivers personalized information based on the passenger's destination, transit points, nationality, travel document, country of residence, and many other factors.

To ensure that Timatic continues serving the needs of the airlines, COVID test requirements are part of the evaluation process to determine if a passenger can enter their destination. Information pertaining to COVID vaccinations is also being incorporated.

American Airlines has used Timatic since 2013. The tool is integrated into their in-house systems at airports, online and their reservation call center. And it has been crucial to the carrier maintaining its cost containment regime. “Our fines were approximately $1.3 million per year,” says Alison Anderson, Senior Analyst International Operations, American Airlines. “We had them down approximately to $250,000.”

Etihad Airways, meanwhile, uses IATA Timatic AutoCheck and has done since 2018. Essentially, when an international passenger checks-in and has his or her travel documents scanned, the data is instantly cross-checked with the latest entry requirements.

Lionel Mathias, Global Airports Network and Cargo Operations Department, Etihad Airways, says, the carrier has one of the highest “okay to board” rates in the industry as a result. “If IATA Timatic is not up to date it can have negative consequences,” he says. “I would request all government regulators and border authorities reach out to IATA Timatic and provide carriers notice [of regulation changes] well in time so we can prepare and inform our customers.”

Keeping Timatic updated during the constantly changing crisis has not been easy, however. The IATA Timatic team is in constant communication with governments and airlines around the world to ensure all travel documentation as well as health restriction checks requirements and rules are kept up to date on a real-time basis. A recent set of webinars organized by the Timatic team had government authorities from some 150 countries participating, all contributing their views and challenges. 

Martin Banz, Head of Border Policy Unit in Switzerland, says his government has been collaborating with IATA Timatic for over ten years. “The more complex the regulations, the higher the risk that passengers will be refused entry on arrival,” he says. “Rules can only be complied with if they are known. We need a dedicated communication channel to process our rules and make them available centrally available. And this is exactly what IATA Timatic does. We make sure every rule change is forwarded to IATA Timatic by default, if possible before it comes into force.”

IATA Timatic includes:

  • Passport requirements
  • Visa requirements
  • COVID-19 health requirements
  • Latest news on key regulation changes


IATA Timatic products are powered by a central database that contains the latest and accurate passenger travel document rules and regulations for over 220 countries. All changes are validated and confirmed by local government officials before being updated in the system.

Government representatives can contact the IATA Sourcing Network to create a direct line of communication with the IATA Timatic team. This will ensure that the latest passenger travel document requirements are communicated to the air transport industry. You can find more details on the IATA Timatic product portfolio webpage.


Credit | rikirisnandar_iStock