You may have seen the IATA name before, either on your airline ticket or in the window of your local travel agency. It stands for the International Air Transport Association, which regulates airlines all over the world and supports the development of global standards.
IATA Travel Center is a global destination database which draws on data from its wholly-owned Timatic system
When you check in for your international flight, Timatic is the system which ensures your travel documentation meets government entry requirements for your destination and allows you to get on the plane.
In 2019, over 700 million checks were performed to help travelers everywhere get where they wanted to go.
Information is based on your country of departure, destination, intended travel dates and importantly, how restrictions relate to the passport you will be traveling with.
Even if you reside elsewhere, passport holders from certain countries may have more restrictions on them, even if you do not ordinarily reside there.
Timatic data is used in the IATA Travel Pass app, a fairly simple app which lets you check entry requirements for your destination, locate a nearby lab if you need a negative test result prior to flying, and to upload your vaccination certificates.
Over 200 rule changes are processed and verified every day. Updates are performed manually after being checked and validated from over 2,000 government and airline sources.
Another major resource is Sherpa – a privately-owned Canadian outfit founded in 2015 which has built a more interactive and user-friendly platform to provide the information travelers need to ensure their trips proceed smoothly.
The company says it aims to simplify travel identification and to help travel providers move their customers to their destinations as efficiently as possible in the current travel environment.
Sherpa utilizes a universal connection which it licenses to airlines and online travel booking websites such as Expedia which allow users of those websites to learn about entry requirements and travel rules prior to making their bookings.
Users can tailor information based on the country of their passport and individual vaccination status. The Sherpa website also provides direct links or access to download official documents sourced from government websites should you need any more information or proof from an official source.
There’s a handy FAQ section and links to government websites where travel intentions can be registered, and information submitted to expedite your border clearance if needed.
The company lists many of the world’s biggest airlines and travel retailers as partners plugged into its data including American Airlines, British Airways, Star Alliance and Expedia.
While it does not quite have the reach of IATA Travel Center, it is still a highly robust portal, connected to more than 60 government systems to ensure changes are quickly and accurately conveyed to users.
Sherpa also aims to avoid industry jargon to ensure it speaks to travelers in a language they can understand.
Know before you go
While a quick Google search will present you with tens of thousands, maybe millions or websites and pages which claim to have the most accurate information, using IATA Travel Center or Sherpa will deliver just one result which can be relied upon.
A more prudent search will help you weed out the posers and ensure your trip goes off without a hitch.