Travel Visas, what you need to know


You land at Rome Fiumicino and you already have it in your hands. Or you leave for JFK in New York or Buenos Aires Airport and make sure it is in your pocket. The travel visa is an essential document for travellers. And it has a century-old history, in fact it refers to a nineteenth-century document drawn up in Latin with the name of charta visa (seen paper). It is a request and subsequent confirmation of permission to move and reside in a specific foreign territory for reasons to be specified. Once the document has been “seen”, the permit is issued. Or rejected. Usual travelers already know this, but … how many of you know how many types of visas do exist? And why ask for them?

How to apply for a visa

Today, in almost all countries of the world, a visa can be requested easily with quick online procedures. Even many African nations have equipped themselves with electronic visas or quick forms for requesting the document. Alternatively, you go to the consulate or embassy of the country you intend to visit and apply in front of an employee.

Personal data will be provided: name and surname, date of birth, job, addresses and contact numbers. To these will then be added, depending on the request, also a passport photo, the period of travel and stay, a contact address in the country to which you are going. Finally, the proper consular fees must be paid.

Sometimes, the visa can be paid directly upon arrival in the country you want to visit. In that case they are called VOA (visa on arrival) and are completed at the destination airport. The electronic visa (in America it is called ESTI) is instead a procedure that speeds up time: everything is done online, even remotely, and the visa is ready and printed at the arrival airport.

Types of Visa

What are the types of visas that can (or must) be requested when going abroad? First of all, we specify that not all countries require a visa. For example within the European Union, the countries of the Schengen Agreement do not deem it necessary for citizens from other Schengen countries. Even Americans are exempt from showing a visa when they move through their continent.
There are three main types of travel visa:

  • Tourist Visa – it is the most requested of all, the cheap est too, and can be obtained quickly and easily. It allows you to visit and stay in a foreign country for a period not exceeding 90 consecutive days. In short, it can be used for a holiday up to three months long, but it does not allow you to stay longer.
  • Study or Work Visa – it is also in great demand but less frequently than the first. It allows you to stay in a foreign country for a period ranging from six months to a whole year. You obtain it by following certain procedures which involve more checks. It is more expensive and is not always issued, in the end. Usually the person has to prove that he/she has accommodation and the ability to support himself in the country of arrival.
  • Transit Visa – do require it when you have to stay in a country for a few days (no more than a week). It is usually used by travelers who have to continue their trip with connections, or who have to attend business meetings.

Then, there are sub-types of visa, equally important, but which are required in the case of a particular trip. For example, there are visas for adoption, in case of adoption of foreign children; there are visas for medical treatment, if you have to undergo surgery or therapy in foreign countries; visas for immigration, in the case of transfers to be considered for an indefinite period. But there are also visas for religious reasons, for “family” reasons or for scientific research. Each consulate or embassy will be able to tell you more, depending on the specific case.

How to orient yourself among the various foreign visas

It is usually good to inquire carefully about the visa of the country you intend to visit at the moment you decide to visit it. And maybe read a lot about other countries’ visas for your future travel destinations. If you want a complete overview, and in several languages, on the various visas in the world, you can click HERE.