One of the most important deciding factors when it comes to choosing a travel destination is Visa Requirements. But the internet is rife with ambiguous information on visa regulations.
I hope you will agree with me that it is extremely hard to find a reliable source that can tell us in detail what are the visa regulations applicable to us Indians for various countries.
Add stuff like connecting flights and transit visa to the equation, and your mind starts spinning.
This tool we are talking about will basically give you the comfort that your documentation is sorted before you board your flight.
But before we get to that, Have you ever wondered how Airline officers figure out what documentation you need before boarding your International Flight?
The moment you give them your passport and tell them your destination, a slew of questions are directed at you. Give me your E-Visa copy sir, and what about the copy of your accommodation and your return tickets sir?.
How do they know what to ask? Well we did some investigation.
Turns out they have a software called TIMATIC which tells them in detail the visa requirements for different nationalities for entering each country.
Why do they have this? Well because if you are deported from a Foreign country due to documentation issues, the Airline that got you there will have to pay hefty penalties. So Airlines are extra careful about ensuring that you have everything you need to enter the country you are flying to.
Cool right. Can’t wait to get your hands on this software can you?
Unfortunately for us TIMATIC is not available in the public domain.
TIMATIC is a proprietary software of the International Air Travel Association (IATA) and is a paid subscription service used by Airlines, and Travel Agents.
But worry not. We have the next best thing.
The IATA Travel Centre
The IATA travel center is a tool by IATA (The same guys who own TIMATIC) that will tell you everything you need to know about Visa Requirements for your Foreign Trip.
To our knowledge, this is the most accurate public database there is with respect to Visa Regulations. Many Travel Agents too use this to help their clients.
How to use IATA to figure out Visa Requirements for your Foreign Trip.
Let us as an example, look at visa requirements for Brazil for Indian citizens.
Go to www.iatatravelcentre.com, choose you country of visit, and click on “Passport, Visa and Health Advice”
And that will take you to this page
You have to enter your journey information here.
Notice that apart from the basic details like date of travel, Airline carrier code, purpose of stay, and duration of stay, IATA also asks for details like Transit country and whether you hold a return ticket.
I know its too much details, but its very important. These are the things that tell you things such as whether you need a transit visa, and what documents you need for a visa on arrival etc.
In our case, lets assume that I am flying to Sao Polo in Brazil on an Ethiopian Airlines flight with connection through Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
I have entered here all the details like my transit date and time, and whether I hold return tickets from Brazil back to India.
You might be wondering why they are asking for details such as “countries visited in the past 6 days” .
Well certain countries are categorized as health risks (mostly in Africa), and you may require vaccination if you have travelled to such countries in the recent past.
After entering all the details, click the next button
And that will take you to this page
You have to enter your personal information here.
Basically you need to mention your passport validity period, your nationality , age etc. All the standard stuff
One you have entered the details click next next.
And Voila, here are the results
IATA results clearly tell me that I need a pre approved visa to enter Brazil.
Which means I cannot board a flight to Brazil from India without a Valid Visa in hand.
But that is not all,
Scroll down and IATA will also tell you the health risks associated with the country and the vaccinations you may need.
In my case, they indicate that if I ever leave the international area of Ethiopia (Transit zone), I may need a yellow fever vaccination, although this is not mandatory.
Want to know Transit visa requirements?
I checked the results for travelling to New Zealand with Transit Via Australia.
The tool told me that I need Visas for both New Zealand and Australia.
Don’t be surprised, Indians need a Transit Visa even if they are just transiting through an Airport in Australia (not entering Australia).
Well Brazil and New Zealand are complicated scenarios.
Lets look at something simpler thats closer to home.
Here are the results I got for my travel to Thailand.
The results clearly tell me that I need a Visa to enter Thailand and what documents I need to get a visa on arrival and for what duration its valid for.
Doubtful about the Info you get? Check out below the screen shot from the IATA website.
This is as good as it gets
I hope that I have made your travels easier by introducing you to this tool. So next time you want to know visa requirements for your trip, you can get it right from the horses mouth.
This tool should give you the comfort that you have taken care of all your documentation before you board the flight.
A word of caution; While IATA is the best source available for visa info, You don’t need to limit your research to it.