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Difference Between Passport and Visa

There’s always a first time for everything, and preparing your travel documents for a trip abroad is one of them. Many first-time travellers can get overwhelmed with all the technicalities and paperwork. Passports and visas are popular travel documents essential for international travel. It’s perfectly normal to not know about these two unless you need to arrange these documents. This page will help you understand everything about visas and passports and how they differ.

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What is the Difference Between Visa and Passport?

Both passports and visas share some similarities that can make it confusing for a lot of travellers. Both these documents are essential for travelling abroad. Without either of these, you can’t cross India’s border, unless you’re entering a country which does not require an Indian visa or passport. However, such countries are limited, and you must have a valid visa and a passport before you go to another country.

Both of these documents help identify and prove your nationality once you’re outside India. However, one is your national identity, proving your citizenship, while the other proves your legal permission to be in a foreign land. Let’s take a look at some key differences between a visa and a passport:

Passport Visa
Issued by the government of your own country. Issued by the authorities of the country you wish to visit.
Serves as your identification proof abroad. Serves as your lawful authorisation to enter and stay in the particular country.
Consists of a tiny booklet with your personal details, nationality etc. Visa is usually a sticker or a stamp put on your passport booklet.
Indian passport is valid for 5 or 10 years only. Visa validity can range from a few days to a decade.
Passport is mandatory for every foreign trip. Many visa-free countries only need a passport for entry.

Both passport and visa are non-negotiable while travelling outside India. However, there’s another document which is non-negotiable: travel insurance. As you prepare for your trip abroad, do not forget to buy the best international travel insurance for your trip as it will keep you financially safe throughout.

In fact, many countries have made it compulsory before they issue a visa to you. Now that we have covered some key information about these documents let us dive into more details in the sections below.

What is a Passport?

A passport is your identity proof outside India and is issued by the Ministry of External Affairs. While it may not be necessary within India, you must always have your passport outside the country. In fact, you need your passport details to book your flights or hotels.

You can easily apply for a passport in India online or offline. The procedure involves a form submission, a visit to the applicable Passport Seva Kendra and a police verification of your address. The fee for an Indian passport will vary with the number of pages in the booklet, scheme opted and validity.

Types of Passports for Indians

The Government of India issues various passports depending on their designation and purpose of travelling abroad. The most commonly issued Indian passport is the blue or Type P passport, which is issued to citizens travelling abroad for personal or business purposes. These are the different types of Indian passports issued to different persons:

  • Personal Passport (Blue)
  • Service Passport (White)
  • Diplomat Passport (Maroon)

There also used to be an Orange passport, which was recently discontinued. These passports are issued to Indians as per their designation and purpose of visit. A passport must be kept safe at all times and must be presented upon request. In case of a lost or damaged passport, you must apply for a re-issue.

What is a Visa?

Simply put, a visa is official permission for foreigners to visit any country legally. It is a crucial document that permits you to enter any country for the specific reason you stated. For example, if you wish to tour across Spain, you can’t pursue a job there. To work in Spain, you must get a valid work visa or permit issued by the Spanish government.

Most visas are issued directly by that country’s embassy or consulate. However, several countries outsource this task to intermediaries or visa application centres. They are responsible for collecting applications, supporting documents and fees, after which the concerned immigration authorities process them.

What’s more, visas come with a validity period. Some visas can be valid for a few days, meaning you must leave the country within the stipulated time limit. You will face serious consequences if you stay in that country beyond the mentioned period, which is considered illegal. These may include fines, eviction and even a ban from entering that country again.

If all these facts have made you anxious about visa procedures, then relax! There are plenty of countries with easier entry procedures. In fact, you can opt for one of the visa-free countries for Indians where no visa is required.

Types of Visas for Indians

Different countries issue different types of visas for foreigners. In fact, they may issue special visas for different nationalities depending on their popularity. Following are some of the most commonly issued visas for Indian travellers:

  • Tourist Visa: Issued to people travelling abroad for leisure, sightseeing and tourism
  • Transit Visa: Issued to people who have a layover in that country and need to pass through that country before reaching their final destination
  • Student Visa: Specially issued to students pursuing education abroad
  • Work Visa: Issued to employees of a multinational company or business in case of transfers to a foreign branch for a given period of time
  • Business Visa: Issued to businesspersons who wish to travel abroad for establishing or other business-related purpose
  • Diplomatic Visa: Issued to Indian diplomats travelling abroad for official purposes.

Other than these broad visa categories, many other categories are available. Some of these include journalist visas, pilgrimage visas, medical visas, family visas, conference visas, medical attendant visas, film crew visas, research visas etc.

How to Apply for a Visa?

Visa procedure varies by country and type of visa. Here are the most common methods of visa application:

  • Via Online Visa Application: This can be done for countries with online visa application facilities. You can visit that country’s official immigration website and create an ID. You can fill out an online visa application form, provide supporting documents, pay the visa application fees and follow any other instructions.
  • Via Offline Visa Application: As the name suggests, you can visit the concerned embassy or consulate to manually fill out the visa application form.
  • Via Authorised Services: Many countries authorise an external service provider to manage various non-judgmental aspects of the visa application. They assist you with the form submission, biometrics, fees etc., and serve as an intermediary for the process. For example, a Schengen visa application can be done through VFS Global or BLS International.

A visa application can be stressful if you are applying to a country with extremely strict immigration policies. Make sure to carefully read the instructions and fulfil all the requirements to avoid any visa rejection. Please note that getting a visa approved does not guarantee your entry into the country. The final say lies with the immigration authorities at the port of entry.

How to Apply for a Passport?

Indian passport applications can be made through many routes. All you need to do is to register on the Passport Seva Portal or do it through the mPassport Seva app for mobile. They can directly fill out their passport application form and schedule an appointment at the nearest PSK.

After the appointment, they can schedule their police verification and get their passport once they get police clearance. You can learn more about Indian passport application online and choose the method that suits you best.

Wrapping it Up,

A passport and visa are essential for any trip abroad. Almost every country you wish to visit requires both these documents. However, there’s another very important document that people tend to neglect. Travel insurance for international trips can be purchased quicker than the time taken to get your visa or passport. It is important to insure your upcoming trip with a suitable international trip insurance.

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*Price shown is for a 30 day trip to Thailand with 1 lakh dollar coverage for an adult of age 25 years

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