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Or, can Timatic afford to be out of date at any point in time?

It is the database airlines and immigration consult to check current visa regulations and latest changes for all the nationalities travelling to every country in the world.

Someone claimed in another post that, in a certain case, the info on timatic was out of date by many months and possibly omitted certain visa requirements available to some nationalities but not recorded there.

Could anyone please elaborate on the workings of timatic and how it is updated and whether or not its real time info can be misleading/incomplete/unclear?

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    "It is the database airlines and immigration consult" Airlines maybe. Immigration, certainly not. Timatic has zero legal value.
    – fkraiem
    Nov 28 '17 at 0:17
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    It'd be helpful if you could include a link to the other post. Nov 28 '17 at 2:05
  • @fkraiem, I understand timatic has no legal value and isn't binding for immigration officials but I sometimes they consult it for third country nationals to get an idea of the regulations before stamping you out of the country.
    – Marbles
    Nov 28 '17 at 5:50
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Is Timatic always up to date?

YES, to the point where travellers should not worry about it. IATA tries really, really, really hard to keep Timatic current.

Here's a fun video describing some way they do this: Timatic Sourcing

Basically, they try to maintain close relationships with the agencies responsible for entry and transit requirements and encourage them to notify IATA before any change takes place.

Or, can Timatic afford to be out of date at any point in time?

NO. No one in the industry benefits in any way from Timatic being out of date. In fact, it's a huge liability for the airlines.

To be clear, try as they do, some random bureaucrat can forget to notify IATA and cause problems. There are also some wonky situations, such as the US Passport/Turkish visa thing.

info can be misleading/incomplete/unclear?

Here's the deal with this, it doesn't matter. Timatic can be flat out wrong but there is no way to convince an airline on the spot that is the case. You can be traveling with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson himself, but if Timatic says you need a visa and don't have one, you're not going anywhere.

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    Last year I hit a case where it was ambiguous and it took 3 agents to discuss and eventually agree that my interpretation was correct. I actually had never read the system before but that time I saw that the language they use seems deliberately ambiguous containing statements such as may be allowed.
    – Itai
    Nov 28 '17 at 3:58
  • @Itai that's probably because governments themselves use that language. As far as I'm aware, immigration officers in every country are able to deny entry to travelers even if they have all their documents in order. In any country where that's the case, careful writers avoid making absolute statements about the effect of a visa.
    – phoog
    Nov 28 '17 at 4:18
  • @JOHN-305, If there is no way to convince an airline that timatic is wrong, but is there a way to convince them that timatic is right?? There was a case when visa-free entry for certain nationalities was made available and duly updated in timatic but the dumb airline staff would not listen to the passenger pleas to consult it for up-to-date visa info and instead denied them boarding because they were not in possession of the old style sticker visa that is fast becoming obsolete. Can the passenger sue the airline?
    – Marbles
    Nov 28 '17 at 5:55
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    @Marbles If you can prove Timatic was current and demonstrate that the airline uses Timatic and the airline does not have their own policies, you at least have a case for a refund. Read the Contract of Carriage to see what it says about visas and such. A complaint to their national authority is also an option.
    – Johns-305
    Nov 28 '17 at 11:59
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    @Johns-305 There are unfortunately many cases of outdated/incomplete info, which is mostly their national sources' fault. Still, it's more reliable than anything short of e-mailing the actual border agency of the destination state. Also, contrary to popular belief, airlines have no business making up rules stricter than the destination country has (which is discerned using TIMATIC)
    – Crazydre
    Jan 29 '20 at 18:00
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Yes. The new Hungarian COVID rules were put in place in such a hurry (the new rules came into effect <12 hours after the decision) that TIMATIC was out of date for a few hours, between midnight and 4:30am or so. Good thing noone was flying within Europe to Hungary during those hours...

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    In April TIMATIC didn't show any Hungarian restrictions for weeks, so handling agents relied on directives from the airlines
    – Crazydre
    Jun 24 '20 at 15:56
  • @Crazydre I also remember them showing that all flights are suspended for Ukraine while they've already been reinstated for weeks
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 24 '20 at 17:01
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    @JonathanReez I can testify IATA's workload is inhuman atm, with many of their sources not doing good enough of a job. Regarding Swedish COVID-19 restrictions alone, I had the Swedish police request three TIMATIC corrections due to sloppy communication on their part
    – Crazydre
    Jun 24 '20 at 17:05
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TIMATIC / IATA information is NOT always correct. I am certain of this because Italy published new passenger restrictions related to Covid-19 on July 1, 2020. The change included 8 new exceptions to the restrictions such as family members of EU citizens and foreign students. Yet, TIMATIC never updated their information and that caused airlines to block passengers who had a right to travel and who had bought tickets based official information.

Quite a poor job by TIMATIC because the updated restrictions were widely available for weeks from embassies and foreign and health minister sources. Even worse, they ignore data errors that are reported directly to their office.

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    As someone who liaises with TIMATIC on an unofficial, volontary basis, I can tell you they're absolutely inundated with requests from all over. Don't bother trying to request a correction without a clear individual written confirmation of the error from the national border control unit or similar. That said, I agree it's far too common for info to be outdated or imprecise, which is usually not IATA's fault, but their sources'.
    – Crazydre
    Jul 16 '20 at 18:55
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    I was once denied boarding on a Pegasus flight Sabiha Gökcen-Bergamo due to TIMATIC briefly saying Italy only accepted non-Italian EU ID cards if arriving from within the EU/Schengen. Dunno what the hell their Italian sources had been smoking (!) but I called the Bergamo border police who sent a Telex clearance to Sabiha, whereby I was re-booked for free and got EUR 400 in compensation, and TIMATIC was later corrected.
    – Crazydre
    Jul 16 '20 at 18:57

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