What is the Difference Between a Passport and a Visa?

November 11, 2014 Jamie Gilpin

Traveling soon and need to know the difference between a passport and a visa? Before traveling, be sure you know the differences between a passport and a visa because you may need both. 

What is a Passport?

The main difference between a passport and a visa is that a passport is issued to a country’s citizens for international travel and identification.

  • A passport is used to verify one’s country of citizenship. If traveling outside your country, it is used to regain entry into your country of citizenship.
  • Passports include your photo, name, birth date, gender and physical characteristics.
  • For U.S. citizens, some countries only require a passport for re-entry. Other countries may require a visa before entry. You should confirm if a country-specific visa* is required before traveling.
  • Diplomats and government officials are granted different passports than what's given to regular travelers.

difference between a passport and a visa CTA

What is a Visa?

The main difference between a visa and a passport is that a visa is an endorsement placed within a passport that grants the holder official permission to enter, leave or stay in a country for a specified time period. 

  • The most common visa types are tourist, student, work and transit visas.
  • Depending on where you are traveling, a visa can be valid for single or multiple visits.
  • Some visas require an application to be filed prior to entering the country and other visas are granted upon entering the country.
  • Certain countries require an interview or medical screening prior to applying for a visa.

Seeking immigration services for individuals? Follow this link to learn more about acquiring non-employment-based visas. Have questions about how to obtain an international travel visa? Contact us to discuss how Envoy can help.

*For more information about country specific visas, click here.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-retained attorney or another qualified professional.

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