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.

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