What Is the Purpose of a Passport & Visa for Travel?

What Is the Purpose of a Passport & Visa for Travel?
Passports are government issued travel documents designed to prove the identity of the bearer. In many countries, an immigration officer will use the information on the passport to aid in his decision to allow the traveler over the border. Visas are also travel documents which are issued prior to travel by the foreign embassy and which give entry clearance--the right to enter--another country.

Getting A Passport

To apply for a passport, the applicant must hold citizenship in that country. This can be acquired at birth and proved by a birth certificate, or acquired by other means depending upon the country.

Expediting A Passport

In the United States, a passport application may be expedited by either using a courier service or paying an extra fee. Couriers may take the application directly to the passport processing office and receive a passport more quickly.

Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program is a reciprocal immigration policy which exists between several countries. As long as a citizen of these countries meets the requirements, they may enter any Visa Waiver country without applying for entry clearance prior to traveling.

Visa Waiver Problems

In some cases, the visa waiver program may not be open to a traveler. This applies to those who have been convicted of a crime (including drunk driving), or who have overstayed their allotted time on a previous visit.


Visas are applied for before traveling and can take several weeks to several months to process and receive. They are applied for at the Embassy of the foreign country and each nation has a different process for processing applications.

Article Written By Gwen Wark

Gwen Wark is a freelance writer working from London, Dublin, and New York. She has been a published writer since 1998 with works appearing in both university and local publications. Her current writing projects include SEO, web copy, print and advertising features. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in history from Rutgers University.

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