The concept of a passport and a visa is often confused with each other because of their close association. Thus, one can ask what is the difference between a passport and a visa. Are there types of passports and visas or not? In the following lines, we will answer these questions in detail.

Passport vs Visa: What’s the difference?

Despite the confusion between the passport and the visa because of the link between them, there is an essential difference.

What is a passport?

A passport is an official identity document that a country issues to its citizens to allow them to travel to other countries and international destinations.

The passport contains basic personal information such as full name, nationality, date of birth, and a recent photo, in addition to a number of pages that are stamped upon entry and exit from countries. The passport must be valid for travel and return to the country of residence.

What is the passport number?

It is a unique identification code that the Passport Office determines when issuing the document, and it is found on the personal information and photo page. In some countries, the passport number changes when it is renewed.

What are the types of passports?

– There are different types of passports, and these are the most used types:

  • Ordinary passport: It is also known as a tourist passport and is issued to citizens who plan to travel abroad.
  • Official passport: It is also known as the service passport and is issued to government employees who travel on business missions and work abroad for the benefit of the state.
  • Diplomatic passport: A document issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to diplomats, government officials, and their families who are sent abroad to attend conferences.
  • Temporary passport: A temporary travel document valid for a short period of time and issued in cases such as loss of passport, passport expiration, and deportation.

 What is a biometric passport?

It is a normal paper passport, but with a small digital chip (RFID) added to it that contains the holder’s information, it is also known as an ePassport or a digital passport. It began to be used in Malaysia in 1998, and then countries used it as an alternative to the ordinary passport in order to enhance security, and combat identity theft and illegal entry into countries.

The biometric passport contains information such as:

  • Full name and address
  • Date and place of birth
  • 3D face maps
  • Fingerprints or iris prints
  • Non-removable laser-printed photo

You can find out if your passport is biometric or not by checking for a small camera icon on the cover or on the center page.

What is a visa?

A visa is a document (stamped or glued) issued by a foreign government that permits its holder to legally travel to and enter its territory. The visa can be issued for a variety of purposes including business, tourism, transit, employment, study, and residence.

The strength of your passport in terms of mobility and the destination you plan to travel to is what determines your need for a visa or not. The country you will travel to may need a regular or electronic visa or not request a visa at all. When you need to obtain a visa, you must go to the embassy, consulate, or visa offices before departure, collect the visa at the border checkpoint, or apply for an electronic visa.

Note: You can check what type of visa you need to enter a country on your passport page on Top Passports.

What are the types of visas?

 – There are two main types of travel visas, immigrant and non-immigrant.

  1. Immigrant Visa: Allows its holder to reside permanently in a country.
  2. Non-immigrant visa: It allows its holder to temporarily reside in a country, and it has several forms, including:
  • Travel/Tourist Visa: A visa that allows its holders to enter a foreign country for the purpose of tourism and entertainment only, and for a specific period of time, and they cannot work or engage in any commercial activity in any form.
  • Work visa: A visa that allows its holders to work in a foreign country, and it varies according to the type of work and length of stay.
  • Business visa: A visa that allows its holders to engage in commercial activities in the host country without joining the labor market there, such as going to a conference without having to work for a specific company within the country.
  • Transit visa: A visa that allows its holders to stop and pass through a country that is not their destination, and is often a visa of very limited duration.
  • Spousal visa: A visa that allows its holder to visit a partner if they are not in the same country.
  • Student Visa: A visa that allows its holders to enroll in a higher educational institution in the host country.
  • Asylum visa: A visa granted to individuals fleeing war, disaster, persecution, and any event that puts their lives at risk.

Conclusion: the difference between a passport and a visa

  • The passport is issued by your country and allows you to exit and enter it.
  • A visa is issued by the authority of a foreign country that allows you to enter its territory for a specified period and for a specific purpose.
  • You must have a passport to apply for a visa.
  • Some countries do not require a visa to visit, or you only need an electronic travel authorization or an electronic visa, depending on your passport and your destination.
  • There are different types of passports as well as visas.
  • You need a valid passport and visa in order to travel.

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