If you’re having trouble remembering the difference between passport vs. visa, check our handy guide to get a better understanding of both types of travel documents
The words “passport” and “visa” tend to get used interchangeably, but they’re actually very different things. If you’re having trouble remembering the difference between passport vs. visa, check our handy guide below to get a better understanding of both types of documents.
What is a Passport?
A passport is a document that usually looks like a small book (it’s blue if you’re an American) which you can use to visit other countries. If you’re going to visit anywhere outside of the United States, including Canada or Mexico, you need to have a current US passport.
Some countries require that your passport be valid for at least three months after entering their country. Others require at least six months until your passport expires. Before leaving on any sort of international trip, make sure that your passport is up to date and that it will expire well after your trip is done.
In some cases, if you’re going to travel to Canada or Mexico, you can also obtain a US passport card or an enhanced driver’s license (EDL) to help you get in and out of those countries quickly. These types of special passports are ideal for people who live in one country but work in the other.
If you don’t have a passport or need to get your passport renewed, you can do that through a company like Swift Passport Services or at any local post office that has a passport department.
What is a Visa?
Wherever you travel outside of the United States, you will definitely need a passport. In some countries, you will also need a visa. Visas are special
documents that allow you to enter specific countries at specific times. Most countries do not require Americans to have visas in order to enter them. Some require you to purchase a visa or sign up for one once you enter the country so that they can keep track of your visit.
A handful of countries require Americans to apply for visas before visiting. Countries that require you to have a visa before visiting include China, India, Vietnam, Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Australia, Brazil, and Iran.
Each of these countries has their own process for visa applications. For example, to get a tourist visa to Australia, you simply need to pay a $20 fee and fill out a form online. To get a tourist visa to China, on the other hand, you will need to visit a Chinese consulate office in the United States.
Still Having Trouble?
If you have more questions about the visa vs. passport misunderstanding, call the Swift Passport Services team today at (877) 917-9438. We can help ensure that wherever you are traveling, you have the appropriate travel documents in place. We can also help expedite your visa or passport applications if you need to get somewhere in a hurry.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.