Visa vs. Passport - What is the difference?

When it comes to traveling abroad, one of the most important things to take with you is a passport, and depending on your destination, you will need a visa. For some places, you may not need a visa. In this content, you will briefly learn about Visa and Passport. Have you ever wondered what these things are and why they are crucial for traveling?

What is a passport?

Suppose when you enter or leave a country, you are required to have an official document that identifies you as a citizen of any specific country, which works as your National Identity. Your official document cum identity is known as your Passport. It is issued by the government of your country. A passport can be given to citizens and non-citizen nationals, and it contains information like your name, gender, address, Date of Birth, photo, and unique passport number. 

Nowadays, many passports come with an electronic chip that stores your information and signature digitally, which reduces chances to fake or alter. There are also a few types, like a normal citizen who has a regular passport, but people who are traveling for government businesses have diplomatic passports.

When do you need a passport?

You most likely require a passport when you travel out of the country. Air travel always requires a necessity of Passport. For the citizens of the United States, if they are going to Canada or Mexico via Land, then they have alternatives to passports. Still, almost all international travel will demand a passport.

How long does it take to get a passport?

The time period to get a passport in processing and delivering includes both the processing and mailing time. It can take up to 2 weeks to arrive at the passport agency by mail or receive it after they print it. The current processing time for 

  • Normal routine process: 8 to 11 weeks 
  • If you opted for an expedited: 5-7 weeks
  • Expedited by any agency: within a week but must have international travel in the upcoming 14 calendar days.

How long is a passport good for?

In the scenario where an applicant is a minor, then the validity of the Passport is five years or till they achieve 16 of their age, whichever is earlier. If the applicant is 16 or over, then the passport validity is ten years.

What do I need to get a US passport?

Suppose you are applying for a first-time Passport, then these are the things that an applicant must be required & to go through to get a US passport.

  1. Filling of Form DS-11
  2. Any proof of US citizenship
  3. Any proof of Identity
  4. A Passport-size Photo in US format color
  5. Photocopies of proof of Citizenship, identity document, and any other relevant documentation
  6. Passport Application Fee

How much does a U.S. passport cost?

The cost of a US Passport is dependent upon factors like your age, type of Passport, and whether you've had a passport before. The amount varies if:

  • Any adult is applying for the first time. The costs range from $65-$195 + service fee.
  • Any adult is renewing their Passport. Cost ranges from $30-$160 + service fee.
  • Passport for children under 16. Charge ranges from $50-$150 + service fee.

What is a visa, and what is its purpose?

A visa is a kind of document that gives you permission to enter another country for a defined time period and purpose. Whether a Visa is required or not depends on your country of Citizenship, your traveling reason, the duration of your visit, and some other factors. 

A country might issue dozens of different types of visas. Some of the most common visa types are Tourist Visas, Student Visa, Work Visa, Transit Visa, and many others. 

We can understand the purpose of the Visa by its full form, VISA: Visitors International Stay Admission. To give you approval to stay for a specific period of time for any particular reason. On the other hand, for countries, the purpose is to check and control the visitors' flow, whether in or out of the country, and prevent illegal immigration and criminal activities.

The process of getting a visa

Getting a visa can be a time-consuming process, and sometimes, it may take a few days to more than a month. Countries will ask you to send some documentation, including your passport details, to an embassy. Usually, they are required to provide evidence of your visiting purpose, travel bookings, and proof of residence. 

The process to get a visa is described below, which can be followed by you if you are required.

Checking the validity of your Passport: Check your Passport's validity, and it must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond your stay period. If not, you must apply for a new one.

Filling the Visa Application form: You need to complete the visa application form by visiting the US Embassy website. 

Attachment of Supporting Documentation: Passport, Visa application confirmation, passport-size photograph(maximum six months old), evidence of the purpose of your trip, ability to pay all costs of the trip, and others.

Scheduling of an Interview, if necessary: After filling out the visa application, you are required to schedule an appointment with the Embassy for the further process.

Paying of VISA Fee: You will have to pay an appropriate fee at the Embassy. The cost of the VISA fee depends on the class of Visa for which you're applying. It ranges from $160 to $315 and may include some additional fees.

Collection of your VISA and Passport: when your Visa is approved by the Embassy, you can visit the Embassy on working days and collect your Passport and Visa. The Embassy will send you an email or make a call to you when the Visa is ready for delivery.

Do I need a visa if I have a passport?

Not necessarily. You don't require a visa to travel in a Visa-free country. If you are traveling to a country where a visa is a must, then at that time, it becomes essential. In contrast, a passport is required in most cases when you enter any foreign country. If there is a visa facilitation agreement established between any two countries, you don't require a visa to travel but may require a passport.