I (Swedish citizen) was to board a flight to Vietnam but got stopped and they said I couldn't board due to my passport expiring in 5 months and that I need at least 6 months. My visit was for 15 days so I was under the visa exemption rule and had no visa.

Now, I checked the Vietnamese embassy in Sweden and on their site it says that there are new visa exemption rules that say you only need 3 months validity of passport. It even says this:

Due to the fact that this visa exemption rule is relatively new, the traveler may experience difficulties boarding on some airlines other than Vietnam Airlines who will require a Vietnam entry visa be presented before boarding a flight to Vietnam. The Vietnam authority has informed all major airlines of the new rules and hope that the problems will soon disappear, however if the traveler encounter such problem, please be patient and explain the new rule to the airliner's staffs.

The embassy in Sweden also said that we were good to go when we called them before our flight to see if we needed a Visa. I tried showing the airline this but they refused to read it and gave me a printed paper of the rules from Timatic-3.

What is the best course of action now? Is the airline correct with their rules or are they outdated? If they are outdated, can I complain somehow and get compensation and new flight booked ? I have been unable to reach their staff today anymore because they are closed.


1 Answer 1


Check-in staff go by Timatic, which is based on information provided to IATA by local immigration authorities. They won't change their mind even if you call an embassy in front of them.

Unfortunately there is a misunderstanding on your part: it is not the 3-month passport validity requirement in and of itself that was new, but the 15-day visa exemption altogether. This, however, has been around for a good while now and is definitely stated in Timatic

Regarding document validity, however, Timatic states:

Passports and other documents accepted for entry must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the arrival date.

In other words, the embassy website was outdated, which they often are, which is why I personally advise people, with a few exceptions, to never trust embassy info over Timatic.

Unfortunately, your chances of getting compensation are slim, because you did not comply with the requirements.

The truly annoying part is that the check-in staff is required to ensure you comply with the requirements, but not to inform you of what the requirements are. Instead, they say "we don't know, not our responsibility, ask the embassy", not giving a damn about the fact that the embassies' info may be (and often is) inconsistent with that in Timatic.

On the day of travel, as if by magic, suddenly they know exactly whether to let you board.

Like I said, they go by Timatic, which is why I always recommend travellers to familiarise themselves with it. Although it's only meant for professionals, I can't count the amount of times me being familiar with it has saved the day (most recently when boarding a Zurich-Kiev flight - they didn't want to let me board with my national ID card, but when I insisted that I can transit at Kiev and asked them to check Timatic, I got onboard)

Off-topic: the best way to get familiar with Timatic is through this interface (general search, individual search).

You'll end up with a great traveller tool that, for the most part, can safely be relied on. Because remember, whatever you see in there yourself, that's what check-in clerks will see as well

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 13:45
  • 1
    The "this interface" link seems to be broken.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 15:21
  • @phoog Fixed...
    – Crazydre
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 15:46
  • Check-in staff should go by Timatic. There have been incidents at minor airports where the agent was certain they knew the rules and wouldn't check Timatic and even cases where they did check it but incorrectly. Commented Aug 22, 2021 at 1:15

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