What is a Tourist Visa?

A quick guide to international travel documents

Flickr/Lip Jin Lee

Hong Kong International Airport

A Visa is a document, usually a stamp or sticker on a passport, which gives non-citizens permission to enter a country and stay there. Visas usually have requirements that dictate when you can enter a specific country, how long you can stay and what you can and cannot do while visiting.

 Visa conditions, requirements and types vary by country and visas can be revoked at any time. A visa does not guarantee access to a country; officials have the right to turn travelers away. A visa application gives the country an opportunity to review the applicant’s reason for applying and some of their history. The traveler might also be subject to health and security checks prior to entry.

Types of visas vary by country and the names of visas may vary as well, but most countries have similar categories. Common categories include transit visas, meant for passing through a country, short-stay visas, long-stay visas and immigrant visas. Tourist visas typically fall under the short-stay category and prohibit employment; some prohibit business activities of any kind. Long-stay visas usually include student visas, temporary work visas and asylum visas.

If you’re planning a visit to a foreign country, you can check visa requirements here. That website will also give you information on other entry and exit restrictions, vaccination requirements and other pertinent information about the country.

Should you need to apply for a tourist visa the process and cost depend on which country you’re planning to visit. Americans looking to obtain a tourist visa can get information on the process here or they can visit consulates located in the U.S. to obtain visas.

See Also: The 10 Least Dangerous Countries for Tourists

9 Mistakes that Could Ruin Your International Trip

10 Dos and DON’Ts When You Travel Abroad


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