We explain that what is the difference between passport and travel document with table. In today’s busy and competitive world, traveling has almost become a necessity of the day. The globalization of the world economy has opened new frontiers leading to a massive movement of people between countries and cities. International travel has increased by leaps and bounds in recent decades.
International travel is subject to certain compliance formalities and one of them is the possession and presentation of a passport and a travel document. Many people sometimes use these terms interchangeably and may even think of them as synonyms. However, there is a big difference between a passport and a travel document.
The difference between a passport and a travel document is that the passport is an official document that identifies the traveler, their nationality and the necessary authorization to travel, while a travel document is a temporary document that is issued instead of the passport, especially in situations where the passport may have been expired or the person has applied for one but has not yet received it.
However, the above is not the only difference. A comparison between both terms on certain parameters can shed light on subtle aspects:
Comparison table between passport and travel document (in table form)
Comparison passport travel document parameter
|The passport is a document issued by the government or legal body of the traveler’s country of origin that indicates the traveler’s proof of citizenship.
|The travel document is a document issued in an emergency where a person wants to travel but does not have a passport or the passport is expired / lost or a new passport is applied but has not yet been received or for any other reason
|Reason for issue
|For international travel
|When the passport is lost or when the passport is requested but not yet obtained or the passport has expired and a new one has not yet been issued
|Yes, the passport is a type of travel document.
|The travel document is not a passport. The travel document can be considered as a mere identity card. However, the travel document can be considered as a passport if it is issued as an emergency passport.
|Proof of citizenship?
|The passport is more important
|The travel document is not very important
|The passport is valid for 10-15 years, so the validity can be considered long-term.
|The travel document is only valid for short-term purposes, however, if a travel document is issued for an extended period, which can be a rare situation, it will be valid.
|Mandatory or voluntary?
|The passport is mandatory for international travel.
|The travel document is not mandatory for international travel.
|Countries / interstate
|Passport is not required for domestic or interstate travel. Also, the passport may not be required to travel within certain group countries, such as the EU group.
|A travel document (in this case, an identity card such as PAN, electoral card) is required for domestic travel. Group countries may allow travel within the group based on an identity card which can be considered as a travel document.
|Identification documents such as PAN, electoral card, social security card are not considered passport
|Identification document such as PAN, electoral card, social security card can be considered as travel documents
|Ability to travel
|The passport does not indicate the ability to travel of any person. The passport is more of a necessary document to travel.
|The travel document indicates a person’s ability to travel.
|Passport issuance requires police verification
|The travel document may or may not require police verification depending on the type of document
|The passport is not issued by an international treaty organization
|The travel document can be issued by an international treaty organization
What is the passport?
The passport is an official document issued by a relevant legal authority of a country to its citizens. The Passport is issued with the purpose of serving as an important document for departure and re-entry into the country. In simple words, the passport allows a citizen to travel to a foreign country in accordance with the visa requirements.
The passport is proof of citizenship. That means that Passport is a protection for the citizen while living or studying abroad. The passport allows the identification of the country to which the person belongs and this can further help to obtain assistance from the local embassy in a foreign country in case of urgent situations.
The passport is also considered an identification document that travelers must carry when traveling abroad. The passport indicates the identity and nationality of the traveler. The passport also indicates the purpose of the person’s trip.
The passport will generally contain details such as the holder’s name, date of birth, address, signature, photograph, and any other information depending on the type of passport issued. The passport will have a limited validity of between 10 and 15 years after which it must be renewed. There are different types of passport like official passport, diplomatic passport, family passport and others.
What is the travel document?
The travel document is a type of passport. Travel document means the ability of a person to travel. The travel document can also be considered an identity document issued by a government authority or any international treaty organization.
Travel Documents are commonly issued to facilitate the movement of people across international borders to comply with certain treaties or for multiple other purposes. Travel Documents can also be issued for other reasons, such as passport expiration or loss of passport, or a new passport is not issued and the person has an immediate need to travel.
Travel documents can be considered a sufficient document, especially if traveling domestically or if traveling within group countries. For example, traveling to Nepal from India does not require a passport, and people can travel with valid identification documents. Furthermore, travel within certain EU countries may be based on appropriate proofs of identity provided by the traveler, in which case such identity cards serve as Travel Documents.
The travel document does not indicate proof of citizenship. Therefore, from this perspective, the travel document has fewer attached privileges. Certain countries may prohibit travel solely on the basis of a travel document and therefore this document may not be of much advantage to someone traveling or staying abroad, especially for a longer period.
Main differences between passport and travel document
- The passport is proof of citizenship. The travel document is not proof of citizenship.
- Passport may not be required, especially for domestic travel or within certain group countries. A travel document in the form of an identity card is required in case of domestic air travel and travel within countries that are part of a group.
- The passport takes some time to be issued. The travel document can be issued immediately or earlier.
- Passport is issued after police verification. Issuance of travel documents may not require police verification.
- The passport is issued for an extended period. The travel document is valid for the short term unless it is a regular identity card issued by the government of a country.
- The passport can be considered as a travel document. Not all travel documents can be considered passports.
Both the passport and the travel document have their importance when it comes to traveling. It is important to understand the difference between a passport and a travel document, especially in the situation of international air travel. This is to avoid any unpleasant situation of being rejected by the immigration authorities at the airport or in the receiving country.
Travelers’ best and prudent option would be to check passport validity, especially when traveling abroad to a country that has strict entry restrictions. In addition, for domestic travel or within group countries, the necessary identification, such as the PAN card, the electoral card and the social security cards, can be kept on hand to present to the relevant authorities when necessary.