Say you have for example, a German passport, but you have US residency - so one of these:

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You're going to fly from, say, Asia back to the US. You reach the airport and the airline is about to decide if you are allowed to board or not for the flight to the US. ("Docs OK!") Can you use a photo of the card on your phone to board, per the Timatic rules airlines use?

(Note that it's well-known that in the US, they'll let you enter after some fuss - they just look up that you have one. This question is strictly about whether the airline will let you board).

There was once a question about a woman in this situation, BUT she actually boarded using an old tourist visa in per passport, which was just lucky. So as yet there's no real-life example here.)

I'm wondering whether the actual Timatic "rule" is that you need the plastic original? (Just as with driver's licenses, many folks just carry around only a copy of these, leaving the original safe somewhere.)

Maybe someone here does this all the time, answering the question.

  • 1
    A scan or copy would be trivially easy to fake.
    – phoog
    Apr 23, 2018 at 1:22
  • @phoog The only cases where I could see it working are 1. when travelling by land to a country where you enjoy freedom of movement (a scan of my lost ID card got me by coach from Switzerland to Sweden, with checks at every border); 2. when travelling by air, if Timatic explicitly allows copies in your specific case.
    – Crazydre
    Apr 23, 2018 at 1:34
  • @Coke in general a copy can be helpful in any situation where the authenticity of the copy could be verified by a database lookup. I presume that any situation where Timatic allows copies is such a situation. I doubt there are many of these.
    – phoog
    Apr 23, 2018 at 3:29
  • @phoog Or, most commonly, the copy is to be accompanied by something in original. As you say, copies are easy to fake, and at the risk of getting subjective, if it weren't for the fact that the rulers of Europe seek to virtually move the whole third world here, I doubt my ID scan would've been accepted as proof of nationality without further ado, especially as I don't look Nordic, even with me being fluent in the language at every border crossing.
    – Crazydre
    Apr 23, 2018 at 4:12
  • @phoog old bean, there are many cases where you show only an electronic copy of something (on your phone) to the checkin agent, to show that you are docs-ok. i's completely commonplace. actually very often you need only give the relevant ID number.
    – Fattie
    Apr 23, 2018 at 5:22

1 Answer 1


All documents mentioned in TIMATIC must be originals, unless it's explicitly stated that a copy is accepted. There's no such statement regarding green cards.

So no, a copy of a green card will not do. And the German passport will be useless, as firstly it's not needed for a US permanent resident, and secondly entering on the basis of it requires a visa or ESTA, which a permanent resident cannot get.

  • great - super information!
    – Fattie
    Apr 23, 2018 at 5:17
  • 4
    @Fattie To clarity one point, TIMATIC does not make any rules, they merely aggregate rules from the relevant agencies and publish them. If any agency allows 'copies' TIMATIC would merely reflect this.
    – DTRT
    Apr 23, 2018 at 5:36
  • 1
    @Johns-305 Exactly, they get their info from dedicated government sources on actual practice at airports, though I know that their sources in a few countries (such as Denmark) don't know what they're talking about with regards to specific regulations (which I once fell victim to - the culprit was Italy)
    – Crazydre
    Apr 23, 2018 at 6:25
  • 1
    quite, @Johns-305 - in practice Timatic is precisely what the checkin staff of airlines use to decide if you are "Docs-OK" to fly to your final destination.
    – Fattie
    Apr 23, 2018 at 6:41
  • 4
    @Fattie Yes, and it's hard to get them to override Timatic. I'm flying from Edinburgh to the Faroe Islands with a French citizen who only has an ID card, and IATA's Danish sources have erroneously informed them that non-Nordic EU ID cards aren't valid for the Faroes. As such I e-mailed the station manager of Swissport (the check-in company) at Edinburgh, asking if a signed confirmation e-mail from the Faroese police with contact details would suffice to make them override Timatic. Fortunately she replied in the positive. So in such cases, always contact the ground handler in advance
    – Crazydre
    Apr 23, 2018 at 8:58

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