I'm familiar with Timatic, which can be accessed through multiple portals, like this one (from IATA, which compiles Timatic), and this one (from Olympic Airlines).

A traveler carrying a Refugee Travel Document may — quite reasonably — not wish to show a passport from the traveler's country of origin. However, all the Timatic portals I've seen require one to enter a specific country for the traveler's citizenship. A Refugee Travel Document, of course, is not evidence of or an assertion of citizenship in the issuing country.

My experience with the portals mentioned above is that without entering a country of citizenship, Timatic doesn't return a report. Thus my question: how does one complete entering data for a refugee into Timatic so as to generate a report?

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    Eh? The IATA interface does allow entering refugee travel documents. Nov 28, 2019 at 5:07
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    You can’t just present a refugee document because many countries don’t base your eligibility on that but your citizenship, even if you aren’t travelling on that citizenships passport. For example, a Nigerian travelling on a Canadian refugee document to the UK will have to apply for a standard visitor visa as a Nigerian - travelling on the refugee document would not give them the visa-free access that a Canadian citizen would enjoy.
    – user29788
    Nov 28, 2019 at 5:11
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    @Moo That is indeed the issue which motivates this question. Nov 28, 2019 at 5:18
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    @MichaelHampton Yes, the IATA portal does list Refugee Travel Documents...but the webpage refuses to move forward to the next screen unless the "Nationality" line (first line, on Page 02) shows a country. Hence, the question. Nov 28, 2019 at 15:30

1 Answer 1


You cannot get around it, because many countries still base your entry eligibility on your original citizenship and not on documents issued by a country where you do not hold citizenship (ie refugee documents et al).

For example, a Nigerian citizen holding a Canadian refugee document travelling to the UK would not enjoy the visa-free entry that a Canadian citizen would enjoy, but instead would need to apply as a Nigerian citizen.

That does not mean the traveller would need to travel on their Nigerian passport, nor would it mean the traveller would have to present a Nigerian passport to the UK authorities, it just means that the issuing country of the travellers travel documents does not necessarily grant them the same status as citizens of that country.

Which is why Timatic and other travel status checking systems require citizenship info in addition to travel document info. The two are not necessarily equivalent and can determine different outcomes.

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    A refugee should not generally be attempting to use their original citizenship. As for entry, there is nothing that prohibits the Canadian refugee from obtaining a UK visa with that refugee travel document. That is, after all, the whole point of the document! Nov 28, 2019 at 6:40
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    @MichaelHampton no, that’s not how it works - a refugee should not place themselves under the protection of the government they are seeking refuge from by using the passport associated with that citizenship, that is true, but that is entirely different to stating a factual thing - a refugee doesn’t cease to be a citizen of the original country, that would be a stateless person (which is different). The very fact that countries require a visa on the basis of the original citizenship and not the refugee documents issuing country proves you very very wrong.
    – user29788
    Nov 28, 2019 at 6:53
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    @MichaelHampton and I never said the refugee would not receive a UK visa on the basis of the refugee document, I said they would not receive the same status as a Canadian citizen - namely visa free entry. During the visa application process, they will have to disclose their situation, which includes the fact that they are a Nigerian by birth, with Canadian refugee status, but not Canadian citizenship.
    – user29788
    Nov 28, 2019 at 6:57
  • @MichaelHampton So your downvote is unwarranted, because my post is correct.
    – user29788
    Nov 28, 2019 at 6:59
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    The part where you advise someone to "apply as a Nigerian citizen" is confusing at best, and dangerous at worst. The clarification should be made to your original answer, not in comments. Nov 28, 2019 at 7:01

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