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Difference between Passport and Visa

TeamAckoApr 30, 2024

If you are reading this, you might have wanted to learn the difference between a Passport and a Visa. Glad you did before buying your flight ticket. So, without delaying much, let us give you a quick overview of what they are and how they work with a small example.




Key differences between passport and visa

Every person in the world is born in a certain country. We know this not just because they say so, but because the government of the country itself says so. How do they say it? By adding your details to their books and handing you a small book with your details. Which is exactly what our passports are. An official ID proof issued by the government, allows us to travel internationally. Secure your trip with trip insurance

Now, what's a visa, then?

When a citizen of one country wants to visit another country, they'll first need to get permission. Which, if you have guessed correctly, is what a Visa is. A stamp from a foreign country’s embassy or consulate, permitting you to enter the country for a specific purpose and duration.

To better understand the differences between a passport and a visa, check out the table below.




Definition and purpose

A passport is your country's official ID that allows you to travel internationally.

A visa is a stamp from another country's embassy that lets you enter for a particular reason and time.

Issuing authority

Issued by your country of citizenship's government.

Issued by the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to visit.

Validity and expiration

Valid for a set number of years, usually 5 or 10, and must be renewed after its expiration.

Valid for the period and purpose of travel specified on the visa.

Usage and necessity for international travel

Essential for all international travel; it acts as the primary identification and travel document.

Required when travelling to a foreign country, depending on the destination and your nationality.

Renewal and extension

Must be renewed once expired, and the process usually involves obtaining a new passport.

Can often be extended or renewed within the host country if the purpose of travel changes or requires an extension.

Tip: Always check visa requirements before planning any international trip to ensure a smooth journey.

Scenarios and examples

To better grasp the practical application of passports and visas, let's explore various scenarios and examples that illustrate their significance in international travel.

Scenario 1: Travelling within the same country

Example: A UK citizen decides to take a domestic trip from London to Edinburgh. In this case, a passport is not required since both cities are part of the United Kingdom. A government-issued ID or driver's license would suffice for identification during the journey.

Scenario 2: International travel with visa-exempt countries

Example: An individual from the UK plans a short vacation in France. As both countries are part of the European Union's Schengen Area, UK citizens can travel visa-free to France for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Therefore, the UK passport alone is sufficient for entry and exit.

Scenario 3: International travel requiring a visa

Example: A UK citizen intends to visit China for tourism purposes. In this case, the traveler must apply for a Chinese tourist visa from the Chinese embassy or consulate in the UK before the trip. Once approved, the visa will be stamped inside the passport, allowing entry into China for the specified duration and purpose of travel.

Scenario 4: Long-term work assignment abroad

Example: An individual from the UK secures a job offer in the United States. To work legally in the US, the individual needs to obtain a work visa, such as an H-1B visa, from the US embassy or consulate in the UK. The work visa will be affixed to the passport and will determine the individual's authorized period of stay for employment.

Scenario 5: Student exchange programme

Example: A student from India is accepted into a university in the UK for a semester-long exchange program if the student obtains a UK student visa from the UK embassy or consulate in India before traveling. The student visa will be placed inside the passport, allowing the student to study in the UK for the specified period.

Explore More: Travel Insurance for UK

Let’s clear some common misconceptions

When it comes to international travel, passports and visas are pretty common. But sometimes, there are some misunderstandings that can cause problems. Let's go over some of the most common ones to help clear things up.

A passport replaces the need for a visa

No, your passport alone doesn't work like a universal key to all countries. It's a bit like your ID card for the world, but it doesn't automatically grant you entry everywhere. So always check the visa requirements of your destination country and apply for the right visa.

Visas are universal for all countries 

Visas are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each country has its own visa policies based on bilateral agreements, security concerns, and diplomatic relations. Visa requirements differ from one country to another, so it's essential to research and understand the specific visa regulations for your destination.

Passports and visas are permanent 

Passports and visas have expiration dates. If you are assuming that you can use it indefinitely- you are wrong! Passports are Valid for a set number of years and must be renewed after their expiration. However, visas have limited validity, and you must ensure that your visa remains valid throughout your stay in the destination country.

Overlooking transit visa requirements 

Travellers transiting through a country to reach their final destination may assume they don't need a visa. However, some countries require transit visas, even if you don't leave the airport. So, don’t forget to obtain the necessary transit visa, as it could lead to complications during your journey.

Assuming visa-free entry for all purposes 

Visa-free entry does not permit any type of activity in the destination country. For instance, a visa-free tourist stay may not allow you to work, study, or engage in business activities. Always verify the allowed activities under visa-free status to avoid violating the country's immigration rules.

Ignoring visa processing times 

Always apply for a visa well in advance. If you wait until the last minute, you might end up feeling stressed out. It can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to process a visa, depending on where you're going and what kind of visa you need. So, to avoid any complications, it's best to apply well in advance.

Expecting immediate approval 

Obtaining a visa is a formal process that must be carefully reviewed by immigration officials. It is subjected to rigorous scrutiny, and approval timelines can vary. So, if you think you will be able to get your visa right away, think again.

Now that you're aware of the difference between a passport and a visa, it's important to dispel these misconceptions and approach international travel with accurate and current information. You can always consult official government websites or reputable visa processing agencies for the latest visa requirements and regulations. By being well-informed and prepared, you can have a smooth and enjoyable journey overseas.

Happy travelling!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below-listed are answers to frequently asked questions on passport and visa differences.


What is a passport?

A passport is a tiny booklet that the government issues as official identification that allows us to travel abroad. It has all the details, such as our name, nationality, date of birth and a unique identification number.

What is a visa?

A visa is a stamp from a foreign country’s embassy or consulate that gives you the permit to enter the country for a specific duration. Visas are of many types and are given based on a person's purpose of visit.

How are passports and visas different?

Passports serve as an identity document and allow international travel, while visas grant entry permission to specific countries for designated purposes, such as tourism, work, or study.

Who issues passports and visas?

Passports are issued by the government of the holder's home country. Visas are issued by the consulates or embassies of the country the traveller wishes to visit.

Can I travel internationally with just a passport?

In most cases, no. While a passport is necessary for international travel, you may need a visa from the destination country, depending on your nationality and the purpose of your visit.

What are the types of visas available?

There are various types of visas, including tourist visas, business visas, student visas, and work visas. Each type has specific requirements and conditions.

How long is a visa valid for?

Visa validity varies depending on the type and the country issuing it. Some visas may be valid for single-entry within a specific period, while others can be multiple-entry visas with longer durations.

Can I renew or extend my visa?

Visa renewal and extension policies differ from country to country. Some visas can be renewed or extended under certain circumstances, while others may require the traveller to leave the country and apply for a new visa.

Do all countries require visas for entry?

No, not all countries require visas for entry. Some countries have visa exemption agreements with certain nations, allowing passport holders from those countries to visit visa-free for a limited duration.

Can I travel with an expired passport or visa?

No, both an expired passport and a visa are not valid for travel. Ensure your passport and visa are up-to-date before planning any international trip.

Are there any exceptions to visa requirements?

Yes, some countries offer visa waiver programs for short visits, allowing certain passport holders to enter without a visa. However, these waivers often have limitations and conditions.

Can I apply for a visa on arrival?

Some countries offer visas on arrival for specific nationalities. However, it's essential to check the visa requirements of your destination before travelling to avoid any issues.

Is it possible to have multiple valid visas in one passport?

Yes, in some cases, a passport can have multiple valid visas for different countries. However, it's crucial to understand the terms of each visa and the entry requirements of the respective countries.

What happens if my visa application is denied?

If your visa application is denied, you may need to reapply, address any issues identified by the consulate, or explore alternative travel destinations that don't require a visa.

Should I seek professional help for visa applications?

Yes! If you find the visa application process complex or confusing, seeking assistance from a professional visa service or immigration lawyer may be beneficial to ensure a successful application.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet and is subject to changes. Please consult an expert before making any related decisions.


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