To travel outside the U.S. you will need a passport. A passport is a must since it is use for identification and citizenship. However, some countries require a visa as well for entry. Since both are traveling documents, there is a big difference between both. In this article, we will discuss the purpose and differences between both documents. But before we do, what is a passport? What is a visa? How do we know there differences between each and when to use them?

What is a Passport?

A passport is issued to a country’s citizen for international travel and identification. It comes in the shape of a book or a card. The book contains pages which are use for official purposes, like a visa. Dates of entry and exits are also stamp on the book pages. Apart from entering another country, It is also used for entry back into the country of citizenship. A passport book includes the person’s photo, name, date of birth, gender, and physical characteristics.

A passport card is not accepted in every country like the passport book even though it serves the same purposes. Only countries like Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean accepts a passport card as identification. The card contains the same information as a passport, however, there is not space for stamps.

What is a Visa?

A visa is an endorsement placed in a passport that grants the holder permission to enter, leave, or stay for a specific time. There are different types of visas but the most common types are tourist, student, work, and transit visas. Some countries use single entry visas while others issue multiple entry visas. For some countries, you must apply for the a visa way in advance of your trip. Others will give you the visa the point of entry.

Applying for a Passport

You must complete the appropriate application form when you apply for a passport. New applicants will use Form DS-11. The form is use for a minor or adult passport. To renew a passport, complete and submit Form DS-82. Any application must include supporting documents.

You can submit your documents and fees to any acceptance facilities. Acceptance facilities include the post office, clerk of court’s office, public library, and a regional agency. The process takes 4-6 weeks but expedited processing is also available. Once the is over, you will get your new passport in the mail. Two weeks, you will get any original document you submit with the application.

Applying for a Visa

Each country has its rules and regulations when it comes to applying for a visa. To get all the information, visit the country’s Embassy or Consulate website. Most application can be done online and submit at the same time. You must pay the fee online with a credit or debit card.

Some embassies will accept walk ins or appointments to apply for a visa in person. The process is for visas that you must apply in advance of the trip. For others that issue the visa at a point of entry, you must apply when you are there.


So, if you have a passport it is valid for two reasons, for identification and provide proof of citizenship. For countries that do not require a visa for entry, a passport will be suffice for entry.

However, if a visa is required, then a passport will not gain you entrance. You must obtain the proper visa for entry. If you have the wrong visa, even though you have a visa, you will be denied entry.

So, do your research before you book your trip. Make sure you have a passport with enough validity and if you need a visa, apply in advance to avoid any problems. If you get the visa at entry, then you can only wait for the day of your trip to get it.