what is a passport vs a visa

Traveling to various parts of the world can be an exciting and life-changing experience filled with new adventures, sights, and tastes. Here's what you need to know about the differences between getting a passport and a visa. For most Americans we never worry about having the freedom to travel but this is beginning to change in direct response to the US immigration laws and tightening of our borders. As a result, other countries are responding with similar restrictions and visa requirements.




Whether you use a convenient online service like iVisa or choose to go the DIY route, you will need to obtain the essential documents such as a Visa and a passport before you begin your journey to travel outside the country. As both are essential for traveling to various countries, it is easy to get confused. They are different and distinct documents. The passport certifies your citizenship, while a visa permits you to enter a foreign country.

Purpose Certifies citizenship and identity Grants permission to enter a foreign country
Issued By National government of the individual's home country Government of the country being visited
When Needed Required for international travel and to enter foreign countries Needed depending on destination country's entry requirements
Application Process Submit personal identification, proof of citizenship, photo, and fee Submit visa application, valid passport, travel itinerary, and fee; may need to apply in advance
Validity Generally 5-10 years Varies; typically specific to trip duration

Now let's take a little deeper look.

So What Is A Passport?

A passport is an important document that is issued by national governments around the globe. It identifies and contains the individuals' date of birth, name, gender, address, and place of birth. The purpose of this document is to give identity to the holder of the document. It includes your photo and few blank pages for documentation when you arrive in other countries.

How Does A Visa Differ?

On the other hand, Visa is an official document offered by the country you wish to visit, which grants you are temporary permission to get into the country for a particular duration of time. Visas may vary depending on the purpose of your visit and length of stay. Depending on your home country, they can be documents or official stamp in your passport.

When You Need To Use A Passport, Visa Or Both

When traveling outside, mostly from Canada and its territories, you should provide your passport to enter another country. Your passport is checked when getting on an international flight. You will be needed to present an official visa, whether it's a document or a stamp in some countries. Countries such as the Caribbean, Western Europe, Mexico do not require Canadian citizens to have a Visa to visit for a certain amount of time off in 3 months or less. In this case, your passport will be marked with a date you ended or left by the immigration office.

If you are planning a larger trip, for instance maybe you were planning to go to the World Cup games in Brazil, then you'd want to probably get both a Visa and a Passport depending on what country you were coming from.

What You Need To Apply

To get a Canadian passport, you should print out and fill out the immigration department's application online. You should also have proof of identity, proof-of-citizenship like birth or naturalization, your passport photo, and the application fee. Requirements for visas vary greatly depending on the purpose and the country you're visiting.

At the very least, a visa to various countries, you will be required to fill out the visa application have a copy of your travel itinerary, a valid passport, and visa application fees. Depending on the country traveling, you may be required to apply for a visa in advance of your trip at any nearest consulate. Those who will opt to apply online should visit the ETIAS website to check the ETIAS application requirements.

How To Apply

When applying for a Canadian passport, you should submit your application documents at an authorized passport acceptance facility. Besides the passport fee, you need to pay the processing fee. If you opt to obtain a visa in advance, the visa application may vary from country to another. Most of the consulates and embassies provide detailed information about their visa procedures. Some will require you to submit the documents in person, while others will allow you to mail in. Either way, if approved, your passport will be returned to your attached visa document or with a stamp. Ensure that you apply in advance to ensure that you obtain the documents on time.