A common question from our mission trip participants is — “What is a travel visa and why do I need one?” It’s a great question to ask before you go on an international mission trip. Here’s a list of the most frequently asked questions about visas and how to obtain the ones you need to visit the countries you will be doing mission work in.

Do I need a visa to visit a foreign country?

Yes! In most cases you will. A travel visa is a stamp or sticker placed by officials of a foreign country on a passport that allows the bearer to visit that country. Visas are obtained from the proper embassy or local consulates of the country to be visited. “Visit” is further defined as the reason for entry, usually business, tourist or transitory. There are over 270 countries that offer travel visas and literally thousands of different types of visas available based upon country, type of visit, and length of visit.

What is the difference between a passport and a travel visa?

A passport is an official government document that certifies one’s identity and citizenship. The passport serves two purposes: to regain entry to the country of citizenship (i.e. the United States) and is a requirement by many countries to gain entry to the country you are visiting. A travel visa is an official government document that temporarily authorizes you to be in the country you are visiting. Many countries require a visa to gain entry. The visa usually is in the form of a stamp or sticker placed IN the passport and is obtained from the country you are visiting.

When do I need a travel visa?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is subject to change almost on a daily basis, especially in second and third world countries, where summer mission trips are most popular. Mission Discovery’s amazing team organize your travel visas ahead of your time as a volunteer abroad. It’s part of the service we provide to our mission trip groups. Whether you are heading to HaitiJamaica or any of our international mission trips, we make sure you and your group have the correct travel documents to ensure a hassle free mission trip.

If you are headed outside the US for your trip, remember to ask Mission Discovery before your trip about what you will need to do for your travel visa, and remember to bring your passport! Your time on a mission trip as a volunteer abroad will be a life changing experience. Mission Discovery can help you prepare in practical ways, to make your mission work safer and memorable.