Passports & Visas

The terms “Passport and visa” are so frequently used together that it’s easy to wonder if there is a difference between the two. There is, and it’s a fairly simple distinction:

  • You MUST have a Passport to travel internationally
  • You MAY need a Visa when traveling to specific countries


PASSPORT is an official government document that confirms your citizenship. It contains your photo, date and location of birth, and other identifying information.

You can find out more at the U.S. Department of State Passport Services web site.


VISA is a written, pre-approved authorization to visit a foreign company. Most foreign countries do not require this pre-approved authorization for U.S. citizens.

Entry requirements change frequently, and it never hurts to check on the requirements when you make a reservation.

More information is available at the U.S. Department of State Visa Services web site.


The State Department has been known to move pages around before, so if either link is dead, try the Department of State Travel Site.