Visa & health entry requirements vary depending of the country where you live, the transit countries on your journey, and vaccinations you have had. It is really difficult to keep track of them. The embassies websites are often full of outdated information.
I got caught about these the other week when I was denied boarding South African Airways flight from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg because I didn’t have my Yellow fever vaccination booklet with me. I wrote a piece about the ordeal and about my vaccinations in Bangkok.
There is a terrific tool that is constantly updated and then used by the airlines to check passenger’s eligibility to enter countries. This service is called Timatic and it is part of IATA.
- Passport requirements and recommendations
- Visa requirements and recommendations
- Health requirements and recommendations
- Airport tax to be paid by the traveler at either departure or arrival airport
- Customs regulations relating to import/export of goods and small pets by a passenger
- Currency regulations relating to import and export by a passenger
Most of the airlines don’t have the whole version available on their websites. The health module is most of the time missing, although it is equally important as visas etc. If you don’t have i.e. yellow fever vaccination proof when entering South Africa from Brazil, your entry will be denies either by the airlines or by immigration.
Luckily, the Star Alliance has made this tool available on their website. You need to plug in your nationality, permanent residence, transit points, and the destination, and the system will split out the requirements for each and every step.
Here’s a typical display:
It is the traveler’s responsibility to ensure that they fulfill the entry requirements to any country in their journey. Alternatively, it is likely that the airline will catch this and will deny boarding as happened in my case. Denying boarding is better than immigration denying entry and putting you back to the country where you are coming from.
The tool that you can find on Star Alliance’s website is truly terrific. You should check the entry requirements to countries that you visit. Sometimes there are unexpected changes and vaccination requirements may depend of the transit countries in your journey even if you don’t leave the airport.