What’s the Difference Between a Passport and a Visa?

If you’re getting ready to go on a big international trip, the first thing that you’ll always want to do is make sure that your travel documents are in order. Without a passport and a visa, there is a very good chance that you won’t actually be able to go on that journey that you’ve been looking forward to. When preparing these documents, however, it’s important to understand that a passport and a visa are not the same thing, nor should they be treated as such.

A United States Passport

A United States passport is typically used for two distinct purposes: it is used to verify that you are a citizen of the United States while traveling and it is also used to confirm your identity to officials in foreign countries. It includes a current photo of your face, information about your birthday, your gender, your full legal name and other pieces of information that are necessary for these purposes.

A Visa

A visa, on the other hand, is a completely different type of document. It is officially seen as permission, given to you by the government of your destination country, that says that you are actually allowed to enter the country for the purposes of business or pleasure. A visa typically indicates how long you’re going to be staying and what you’re visiting for. A visa is typically tucked inside your passport booklet and both are submitted at the same time.