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

Apr 3, 2024

The most powerful passports


A passport verifies your identity and nationality and is necessary for international travel, while a visa grants permission to enter a specific country for a particular purpose and duration

Passport vs. Visa

A passport and a visa are both essential documents for international travel, but they serve different purposes:

  • Passport
    • A passport is an official government-issued document that certifies the identity and nationality of the holder.
    • It typically contains information such as the holder’s name, date of birth, photograph, signature, and nationality.
    • Passports are used for international travel as proof of identity and nationality. They are required for entry into foreign countries and re-entry into the holder’s home country.
  • Visa
    • A visa is a stamp or endorsement placed by the authorities of a foreign country on a passport that allows the holder to enter, stay, or leave that country for a specified period and purpose.
    • Visas are issued by the destination country’s embassy, consulate, or immigration authority and grant permission for the holder to enter the country for tourism, business, work, study, or other specific purposes.
    • There are different types of visas depending on the purpose of travel, such as tourist visas, student visas, work visas, and diplomatic visas.
    • Not all countries require visas for entry, and visa requirements vary depending on the nationality of the traveler and the destination country’s immigration policies.

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Purpose Behind the Document

PassportVerifies the identity and nationality of the passport-holder
VisaAllows the visa-holder to enter a specific country for a specific purpose and duration 

When is a Passport or Visa Needed?

PassportInternational travel
VisaTo enter a country for specific purposes, such as tourism, work, or study 

Who Issues Passports and Visas?

PassportGovernment of your country of citizenship or nationality 
VisaEmbassy, consulate, or immigration authority of the country you’re traveling to 

Boundless tip

We’ve put together a detailed guide on how to apply for a U.S. passport!

Boundless helps you build a tailored visa plan for every step of the process, from forms to your immigration interview.