Travel Visas: Why are they key for international travel?

by Pilar Dujan | June 7, 2023
Travel visa application and a passport

A travel visa can make or break any trip. No matter the reason why, if we’re visiting a foreign country, chances are we’re going to need one.

Here’s all the information you need about the importance of a travel visa.

What is a visa for travel?

A travel visa is an official document that allows citizens of one country to travel to another. There are many kinds and they can allow stays of weeks, months or even years. 

Many countries have established an online visa system that works faster and is easier than getting a travel visa in person. 

Why do we need a travel visa: its main functions

A travel visa serves many functions. Primarily, it grants one access to a foreign country for a specific period of time and for various reasons. The traveler is identified and registered.

Since it’s an official, government-issued document, it helps the different states keep track of who enters their country to control illegal migration

Every traveler has to establish a reason for the trip and the specific duration, so that also helps maintain a hold on the amount of tourists entering one particular country. 

The most common types of travel visas

The type of travel visa necessary for traveling will mainly depend on the reason for the visit:

  • Travel visa or tourist visa: only for leisure travel and for a specific amount of time.
  • Business visa: only to do business, not to join the workforce of the destination of choice. 
  • Student visa: to grow your education in another country.
  • Work visa: to work or do business in another country. They usually need to be sponsored.
  • Transit visa: if you have a layover in a country different from the final destination.

They can also be classified by what they allow you to do in terms of leaving the country:

  • Single entry: you are only allowed to enter and leave the country once. If you had to leave for some reason, you would need to apply for a new visa to reenter the country. 
  • Multi-entry: you can leave and come back to a country more than once during the visa’s validity period. 

Woman at the airport holding passport

How to get a visa to travel

There are a few ways to apply for a visa, and the one you choose will depend on factors such as your nationality and the reason for the trip.

The most common ways to apply for a travel visa are:

  • Online, either through the government or a third party such as
  • On arrival at the airport
  • In person at the nearest Embassy or consulate 

In some cases it’s also possible to apply for a travel visa by mail.

It’s important to always do a thorough research of the current travel visa requirements for the destination of choice: they can change over time.

What are the travel visa requirements usually?

Even though the travel visa requirements can be different from one country to another, they usually share the following:

  • Having a valid passport. It usually has to have a validity of at least 6 months after the trip.
  • Completing an application form.
  • Providing a passport-sized photograph of the applicant. 

Make sure to check the travel visa requirements of your destination with anticipation: sometimes additional information or documentation is needed. Other types of travel visas will also likely have their own specific requirements.

What is the difference between the travel visa validity and length of stay?

These two travel visa’s characteristics establish for how long you can use the visa and for how long you can stay:

  • The validity of the visa indicates the time period in which you can travel. You can use the visa at any point during the time allowed.
  • The length of stay, as the name says, shows how many days or months you can stay in the destination country. The count starts on the day you enter the country. 

What is the difference between a visa and a passport?

Difference between a visa and a passport

A visa and a passport are two of the most common requisites for international travel.

A visa is a document that grants you entry to foreign countries for a specific period of time.

A passport is a unique, government-issued document that confirms your identity and nationality. 

Even though they’re both essential documents for traveling, the difference between a visa and a passport is that you will always need to carry your passport if you’re traveling internationally, where a visa may not be.

For example, if you’re from the European Union and you travel to another member country, you will have to bring your passport but you won’t need to get a travel visa.

Even if you’re not obligated to carry your passport to travel to some other countries, you can present that at the airport without issue. If you have to get a travel visa and you don’t have one, you will not be allowed to enter the destination country