Visa vs. Passport: What Is the Difference?

Last Updated on October 18, 2023

Visa vs. passport. What is the difference?

If you’re traveling soon and need to know the difference between a passport and a visa, we have you covered. Before traveling, 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.

There are key differences between a passport and a visa.

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 before entering the country, and other visas are granted upon entering the country.
  • Certain countries require an interview or medical screening before applying for a visa.

To recap, there are critical distinctions between a passport and a visa. Learn more about U.S. visas or explore additional immigration resources from Envoy Global!

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Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an attorney at one of the two U.S. Law Firms working with the Envoy Platform or another qualified professional. On non-U.S. immigration issues, consult an Envoy global immigration service provider or another qualified representative.