Visa Vs. Passport – Know The Difference

The purpose of a visa and a passport can be quite confusing to some people. The difference between these two documents is a must-know and every person who wishes to travel overseas or to another country should be familiar with the use of each. Both of these documents are vital, and critical documents needed by travelers and one or both of these are required when crossing international borders.

Here are the 5 most significance details about the two documents to help differentiate them:

Purpose – Visa Vs. Passport

A passport is a document used to verify one’s identity when in a different country. This document is processed and issued by the country of origin of the person. Significant information such as nationality, name, gender, date, place of birth, and some basic physical descriptions are found in one’s passport and picture. A US citizen with a passport can travel to 127 foreign destinations without applying for a visa.

On the other hand, a visa is a document or a permission given by the country of destination to a person which allows and legally authorizes him or her to temporarily visit and stay in a foreign country. The visa can sometimes be a separate document or can just be a stamp on one’s passport.

Kinds – Visa Vs. Passport

Each document has different forms. Listed below are the most common types and forms of each. 

  • Ordinary passport – also known as a tourist passport and is issued by the government to people who wish to travel abroad.
  • Official passport – official passports are also called service passports and are used by government employees who travel overseas for work.
  • Diplomatic passport – this type of passport is issued to diplomats or to consuls for their work overseas. Having a diplomatic passport does not automatically entitle the holder diplomatic immunity and they should still obtain visas like other citizens.
  • Temporary passports – or emergency passports are issued to people who lost their official passport while they are still in another territory. This can only be used for a short period of time and is needed by the person to be able to return to his or her country of origin.
  • Family passport – this passport can be issued for the family as a whole and only one person is a holder.
  • Tourist visa – this is issued for tourist travel purposes.
  • Transit visa – this is only valid for 5 days or less and is just issued to a person who will pass through a certain country to get to their final destination.
  • Business visa – this type of visa is issued to businessmen who usually travel to foreign countries for commercialization.
  • Temporary working visa – as the name implies, this type of visa is only temporary and are issued to foreign workers from other countries .
  • Student visa – this is issued to people who are studying in a foreign country.

Processing – Visa Vs. Passport

Just like any other document application, both have application forms that need to be filled out and fees to be paid. It’s generally easier to process a passport because they only need your basic information. Visa application, on the other hand, is more meticulous and would require a number of supporting documents depending on the purpose of your visit.

Advantages – Visa Vs. Passport

As mentioned earlier, a US citizen with a passport can travel to 127 foreign destinations without having the need to apply for a visa. However, some countries still require a visa and the visa will help you determine the length of stay you are entitled to in the foreign country. The passport serves as your connection and proof of citizenship and can help you in case of problems in foreign countries because it will be your direct link to your country’s embassy.

Limitations – Visa Vs. Passport

Having a passport or a visa does not entitle people to inherent rights. This means you are still subjected and are bounded by the laws of the foreign country you are in. Visas expire and are only valid for a specific time, and you will be informed of this limitation depending on your purpose of visit and country of origin.

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