Due to a recent experience with some clients and their challenge to get into a country that required a visa, I thought I would take this time to explain the difference between a visa and a passport. I have a feeling they thought that their passport was the visa – it is not.

“Generally speaking,” traveling to most European countries does not require a visa, but if you are planning to travel to an Asian, African or South America country, you should check to see if the specific country you will be traveling to requires a separate visa. Some do, some do not, and the list changes from time to time, so it’s important to check. You don’t want a surprise when you try to board the plane!

Here is the Wikipedia definition of both a passport and a visa:

A passport is a government-issued identification which allows the passenger to travel freely outside the home country (subject to regulations of other countries) and, with limited exceptions, is an essential requirement for international travel.For many country pairs, a passport alone is insufficient and must contain a visa issued by the destination country. Neither passport nor visas guarantee entry into a foreign country – this is always ultimately subject to the discretion of the immigration officer at the border.
A visa allows the person issued it to travel to a foreign country and there request entry into the alien country that issued it. Depending on that foreign country’s legal system, the visa may also be the legal basis for staying in and/or exiting from that country.In most cases, visas are affixed or rubber-stamped within a passport but, in some cases, they may be issued on separate sheets of paper.

Sample Chinese Visa