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Passport vs. Travel Document: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 10, 2023
A passport is a specific travel document issued by a country to its citizens for international travel, whereas a travel document can include various forms of identification for travel purposes.

Key Differences

A passport is a government-issued document that certifies a person's identity and nationality for international travel. While, travel documents encompass a wider range of identification papers, including passports, visa permits, and refugee travel documents.
Passports typically contain a photograph, name, birth date, and nationality. Whereas, travel documents may vary in format and information, depending on their specific type and issuing authority.
A passport is universally recognized as the standard form of identification for international travel. Other travel documents like visas are often supplementary to passports and cater to specific travel purposes, such as temporary residency or humanitarian relief.
The issuance of a passport is usually exclusive to citizens of the issuing country. Travel documents, however, can be issued to non-citizens, such as stateless individuals or refugees, who may not have access to a national passport.
Passports generally have a standardized format following international guidelines. Travel documents can vary greatly in format and are not as universally standardized as passports.

Comparison Chart


Government-issued ID for international travel.
Various forms of ID used for travel.

Format and Information

Standardized format with photo and personal info.
Varies by type, may include visas, refugee documents.


Universally recognized and used.
Includes a variety of documents, not all universally recognized.


Issued to citizens of a country.
Issued to citizens and non-citizens, like refugees.


Mainly for entry and exit from countries.
Can include specific purposes like asylum or work permits.

Passport and Travel Document Definitions


It serves as official proof of one's nationality and identity when abroad.
His passport was checked at the border control.

Travel Document

It encompasses a range of documents like visas, passports, and refugee papers.
Her travel document included a student visa.


A passport is a formal document issued by a country to its citizens for international travel.
She renewed her passport before her trip to Europe.

Travel Document

Travel documents verify a traveler's identity and travel permissions.
The immigration officer checked her travel document carefully.


Passports contain vital information like name, date of birth, and photo.
The airport security verified the photo in her passport.

Travel Document

A travel document is any official paper that allows a person to travel.
He obtained a travel document to study abroad.


It is essential for international air travel and crossing borders.
He presented his passport to the airline staff during boarding.

Travel Document

They serve various purposes, from tourism to humanitarian aid.
He used a travel document for his humanitarian mission.


Passports often include visas and entry stamps from other countries.
Her passport had visas from several Asian countries.

Travel Document

Travel documents are issued by governments or international organizations.
The United Nations provided her with a travel document.


An official document issued by a government identifying a citizen, certifying that citizen's nationality, and formally requesting admittance and safe passage from foreign countries.


An official permit issued by a foreign country allowing one to transport goods or to travel through that country.


What is a passport?

A passport is a government-issued document for international travel and identity verification.

What is a travel document?

A travel document is any official paper that validates a person's identity and permits travel.

Is a visa considered a travel document?

Yes, a visa is a type of travel document usually attached to a passport.

How long is a passport valid?

Most passports are valid for 5 to 10 years, depending on the issuing country.

How does a passport differ from other travel documents?

A passport is specifically for international travel, while other travel documents can have varied purposes.

Who issues passports?

Passports are issued by the government of the traveler's home country.

Are travel documents required for domestic travel?

For domestic travel, other forms of ID may be sufficient, and travel documents like passports are not always necessary.

What is a refugee travel document?

It's a document issued to refugees allowing them to travel outside their resident country.

Can a passport be used for identification inside the country?

Yes, a passport can also serve as a form of identification domestically.

Can a travel document replace a passport?

In some cases, like for refugees, a travel document may replace a passport.

Who can get a travel document?

Anyone in need of identification for travel, including non-citizens and stateless persons, can get a travel document.

Do all countries accept all travel documents?

Not all travel documents are accepted universally; it varies by country and document type.

What are emergency travel documents?

Emergency travel documents are issued in urgent situations, like lost passports, for immediate travel needs.

Can minors have their own passports?

Yes, minors can have their own passports, often with different validity periods.

Do travel documents have biometric data?

Some travel documents, like biometric passports, contain biometric data for enhanced security.

How can one apply for a travel document?

Application processes for travel documents vary and usually involve applying through a government agency or international organization.

Is a driver's license a travel document?

A driver's license is not typically considered a travel document for international travel.

What information is found in a passport?

Passports typically include the holder's name, photo, date of birth, and nationality.

What is the purpose of a diplomatic passport?

A diplomatic passport is issued to government officials for official state business abroad.

What happens if a passport or travel document is lost abroad?

If lost abroad, one should report to the nearest embassy or consulate to obtain a replacement or emergency document.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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