The passport: all you need to know before traveling

by Visagov | January 26, 2023
passports and aeroplane on top

Are you considering travelling abroad for the first time? Then, you’ve landed in the right place! Travelling abroad is exciting and can be a magical adventure if you know how to plan for it properly. To assist you, we’ve highlighted everything you need to know about passports and how to prepare your trip. 

What is a passport and what is it for? 

A passport is an official document issued by a citizen’s country as a form of identification and proof of citizenship. This official document allows individuals to travel abroad and enter a foreign country. They are mandatory to travel to most countries. 

Without a passport, you won’t be able to board your plane or boat or cross the land border to enter a foreign country. You might not even be able to book your tickets online, as many airlines and travel companies require passport details for travellers to be able to book a seat. 

Besides, a passport is often required to apply for a visa, carry work abroad, and even buy a SIM card in a foreign country. A passport typically includes the following passport details:

  • The passport holder’s name.
  • Their date of birth.
  • Their birthplace.
  • Specific identifying features such as the color of their eyes and height.
  • The passport issued date and expiry date.
  • A photo of the holder.

What does a passport allow you to do? 

A passport is a critical official document allowing individuals to travel internationally and return to their country of origin. It serves as proof of your identity and citizenship and is required for most international travel (it won’t be required if you live in a specific country belonging to a free travel area such as the Schengen area). 

It’s also necessary to apply for visas, find work abroad, purchase a SIM card, rent accommodation, and carry out many other activities. 

What documents do you need for your passport?

Here’s a rundown of the supporting documents you will typically need to provide to apply for a passport:

  • Proof of identity (this includes a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license or a national identity card).
  • Proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. 
  • A passport-size photography.
  • Parental consent for minors.
  • A passport form specific to your country.

Depending on your personal circumstances, you might also be required to provide extra documents, such as a marriage certificate. Note that the supporting documents that will be required depend on your specific country and the type of passport you wish to apply for. Therefore, this list is only to be used as a reference. 

What are the three types of passports? 

  • Regular passport: a regular passport is typically issued by the government of a citizen’s country to allow a person to travel for leisure or business purposes.
  • Diplomatic passport: a diplomatic passport is issued to individuals representing their countries in a diplomatic capacity. This includes ambassadors, embassy staff, and any other foreign service officer working within a diplomatic framework. 
  • Official passport: an official passport is issued to individuals commissioned by their government to carry out official duties abroad. 

aeroplane and passport on top of a world map

How long are passports valid for? 

Passports are generally valid for ten years when it comes to adults and five years when it comes to children. Yet, the validity period of a passport can vary depending on the issuing country. Before booking your trip, always check the expiration date of your passport.

Many countries require six months of validity from the date of arrival. Therefore, they won’t let you enter the country if you have less than six months of validity on your passport at the time of arriving to the destination country. 

Where do I get a passport? 

Passport applications can be submitted through specialized passport agencies, government agencies, or at the embassy or consulate of your country of origin if you’re abroad. In some countries, you can also apply through specific post offices.

Always review the requirements before applying for your passport to avoid delays or prevent your application from being rejected.

Can you get a passport in a day? 

What happens if you lose your passport? What happens if you need to get one quickly? If you need to obtain your passport urgently, some countries and passport agencies will allow you to do so by paying an “expedite fee.” Naturally, this will cost you a lot more than the typical fee for a standard passport application. Besides, in most instances, it will require you to make an in-person appointment at the passport agency or local government agency. 

Can I travel without a passport? 

The short answer is that you need a passport to enter most countries on the planet. However, there are some exceptions. It all depends on your citizenship and the immigration rules that apply to your country of destination.

For example, some countries might allow travellers holding a valid government-issued ID and birth certificate to enter and exit the country for a specific period. Therefore, be sure to check the specific travel requirements for your country of destination before planning your trip.

Can I travel with my old passport while renewing it?

Some countries might allow you to travel on your old passport while renewing it, depending on the expiration date of your current passport. Once again, the answer depends on the regulation enforced in your country of destination when it comes to passport procedures. 

What can cause your passport application to be rejected? 

Your passport application could be rejected for many reasons, but here’s a list of the most common ones:

  • You have unpaid taxes.
  • There’s a warrant on your name.
  • You have criminal convictions.
  • You’re not meeting the requirements for your passport application.
  • You haven’t provided the necessary supporting documents.