What is the difference between a passport and a visa?

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Are passports and visas the same thing? You may be surprised to find out that a visa and a passport are two entirely different documents. 

What is a passport? A Passport is the official Government issued travel document that allows its citizens to travel outside of the country. A passport is most commonly issued in the form of a book that consists of a traveler data page and pages for visas, entry and exit stamps. 

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A sample US passport data page

 

What is a visa? A Visa is issued to the traveler by the foreign country they wish to travel to. Visas have restrictions and will specify when a traveler is allowed to enter the country, how long they may stay at one time, how many entries the traveler is permitted and when the traveler must leave. Visas will also vary in purpose. There are different classes of visas based on what you plan to do in your foreign destination. Some examples are Business, Tourist, Conference, Student and Fiancée visa. Visas are issued in the form of a sticker that is attached to one of your passport pages, some are printed out and carried with your passport and some are entirely digital. 

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A sample Chinese visa 

 

In conclusion: Passports are from your country and visas are from a foreign country. The two documents work together to help you travel from your country into another. Not all countries require a visa, but you must have a passport in order to travel outside of your country. 

 

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