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

schengenTraveling to a new country is nothing short of exciting. Along with the feelings of excitement comes a lot of paperwork. Paperwork to ensure that you can legally enter and travel without difficulties. Be sure to know the difference between a passport and visa. You also want to make sure you have a valid passport and visa for all your international trips.

Passports and Visas for Dummies


What is a passport anyways?
A passport is a legal document purchased from and issued by the government to prove your identity and citizenship. A passport is a collection of all your personal and legal information. Hence, this is why it is crucial that it is all accurate. Minor mistakes such as spelling errors or failure to meet photo requirements can cause you to not be able to travel.
How long is it valid?
For US citizens, if you obtained your passport when you were 16-years-old or older it is valid for 10 years. You can also renew your passport for an additional 10 years for $110. If one obtains their passport prior to 16 years of age then it is only valid for 5 years.


What is a visa?
Like a passport, a visa is an official document that is crucial to travels however its objective is very different. A passport is essential to enter a country, while a visa is necessary to grant you temporary admission in the country you desire to be in. Visa’s need to be applied for each particular country you wish to stay in for any time exceeding 90 days (for US citizens). There are multiple types of visas due to the purpose of the visit and the duration of your stay.
How long is a visa valid?
A visa is only good as long as you have approved to be in another country. For example, if you have a student visa then it is only valid until you stop paying enrollment to the accredited university.

What a passport and visa have in common:

They both are travel documents that allow for international travel. They both require photos that are simple in nature, but difficult to obtain correctly. The photograph is also crucial to the success of the document. Did you know that the top reason that people are not allow to enter a country is for a not valid photo on these documents? This includes no teeth smiles, no hair on your face, and as of November 1, 2016 no glasses in the photographs.
Regulations for CORRECT passport/ visa photo:
The dimensions and requirements for the position of the subject in the photo are to be with your head between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches, 22mm and 35 mm, or 50% and 69% of the image’s total height from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
…What does that mean? It means it is better to get your photo done by a certified place to ensure that you do not get rejected for a passport or visa. It is common to find photo booths in central train stations or airports to get several of these for anywhere from 4-8 euros.
Your photo must be in color and has a plain white or off-white background with your face directly facing the camera.
The DO NOT’s:
Do not take it in black and white for the photo must be in color. Also do not wear glasses, sunglasses, or wear your hair in your face. Also, teeth smiles are forbidden because they change the appearance of other features. The only “addition” that is acceptable in photos are a hearing device or small daily articles that you must wear besides glasses. You can also review the photo requirements by visiting the US Dept of State website.



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