How to avoid international travel restrictions ruining your trip

These free online services keep track of frequently-changing travel rules around the world.

By Matt Lennon, June 22 2022
How to avoid international travel restrictions ruining your trip

Planning an overseas adventure is always exciting – but while the world continues to reopen, travel is far more difficult than in those easy pre-pandemic days thanks to a  raft of documents, checks and authorisations needed to ensure safety and compliance with local rules.

Those lurking pitfalls range from required or recommended vaccinations and pre-departure tests to digital passenger declarations, travel passes and visas.

It’s clearly never been more important to be fully informed before making your travel plans and locking in those flights, cruises and hotel stays, but that in itself can be a complex task.

To take the headache and hassle out of your planning, there are several online resources which draw on global data streams to accurately inform travellers of up-to-the-minute rules for every country around the world.

Here are two of the biggest and most trusted information sources available today.

Head through the airport knowing you've done your research.
Head through the airport knowing you've done your research.

IATA TravelCentre

You may have seen the IATA name before, either on your airline ticket or in the window of your local travel agency. It stands for the International Air Transport Association, which regulates airlines all over the world and supports the development of global standards.

IATA Travel Centre is a global destination database which draws on data from its wholly-owned Timatic system

 When you check in for your international flight, Timatic is the system which ensures your travel documentation meets government entry requirements for your destination and allows you to get on the plane.

Countries are colour-coded based on current travel restrictions.
Countries are colour-coded based on current travel restrictions.

In 2019, over 700 million checks were performed to help travellers everywhere get where they wanted to go.

Information is based on your country of departure, destination, intended travel dates and importantly, how restrictions relate to the passport you will be travelling with.

Even if you reside elsewhere, passport holders from certain countries may have more restrictions on them, even if you don’t ordinarily reside there.

Click on a country and the most up-to-date rules are displayed.
Click on a country and the most up-to-date rules are displayed.

Timatic data is used in the IATA Travel Pass app, a fairly simple app which lets you check entry requirements for your destination, locate a nearby lab if you need a negative test result prior to flying, and to upload your vaccination certificates.

Over 200 rule changes are processed and verified every day. Updates are performed manually after being checked and validated from over 2,000 government and airline sources.

Sherpa

Another major resource is Sherpa – a privately-owned Canadian outfit founded in 2015 which has built a more interactive and user-friendly platform to provide the information travellers need to ensure their trips proceed smoothly. 

The company says it aims to simplify travel identification and to help travel providers move their customers to their destinations as efficiently as possible in the current travel environment.

Sherpa's map is a lot more colourful and user-friendly.
Sherpa's map is a lot more colourful and user-friendly.

Sherpa utilises a universal connection which it licences to airlines and online travel booking websites such as Expedia which allow users of those websites to learn about entry requirements and travel rules prior to making their bookings.

Users can tailor information based on the country of their passport and individual vaccination status. The Sherpa website also provides direct links or access to download official documents sourced from government websites should you need any more information or proof from an official source. 

There’s a handy FAQ section and links to government websites where travel intentions can be registered, and information submitted to expedite your border clearance if needed.

Sherpa lets you input your trip details for personalised advice.
Sherpa lets you input your trip details for personalised advice.

The company lists many of the world’s biggest airlines and travel retailers as partners plugged into its data including American Airlines, British Airways, Star Alliance and Expedia.

While it doesn’t quite have the reach of IATA Travel Centre, it is still a highly robust portal, connected to more than 60 government systems to ensure changes are quickly and accurately conveyed to users.

Sherpa also aims to avoid industry jargon to ensure it speaks to travellers in a language they can understand.

Know before you go

While a quick Google search will present you with tens of thousands, maybe millions or websites and pages which claim to have the most accurate information, using IATA Travel Centre or Sherpa will deliver just one result which can be relied upon.

A more prudent search will help you weed out the posers and ensure your trip goes off without a hitch.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Sep 2021

Total posts 1

I will continue to postpone any  intended planned trips to Europe or USA until flights are completely mask less both ways.

No domestic trips of more that 1.5hrs either i.e. trips From SYD to PER, DAR, ADL or NQ.

It's my personal choice at this time.

Maybe next year ? 

I guess it's up to our "gong" recipient CHO's with "health advice" not provided.

China Airlines - Dynasty Flyer

22 Sep 2012

Total posts 79

The first app which says China is partially restricted and on the same level as Australia is an amazing description. (The original impression from the map)

14 day quarantine, 1 to 2 week home restrictions (or at a hotel you want to stay at). Yes some reductions in some cities but it is still atleast over 2 weeks of restrictions.

Then good luck getting a visa from the local Chinese consulate. They have so many conditions it will be months before you potentially get permission

Anyway 3 years since i last went overseas and I do not risk leaving China as I might not be able to get back in even with my resisdency being valid for the next year.

Just living here long term still requires us to do either daily covid testing or every 48 to 72hrs testing. Sounds fun ?

Sharpa looks like the better app.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2019

Total posts 6

The IATA Travel Pass seems to have vanished from the App Store at present. 


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on How to avoid international travel restrictions ruining your trip