19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA


When you’re applying for a visa, you may come across some new technical terms. To help you on your way, below we’ve provided a list of some of the most common terms and their meanings.

Consulate: A consulate is similar to an embassy, in that it’s a building hosting a country’s diplomatic mission abroad. However, whereas embassies tend to be located in capital cities, consulates are typically found in other large, often touristic cities.

Also, a consulate may carry out fewer diplomatic services than an embassy. So if you’re ineligible for an eVisa and must visit your destination country’s embassy or consulate, make sure that the consulate processes visa applications before you visit.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is when you hold the citizenship of 2 countries, and you may have a passport from both countries. For when you apply for an eVisa, this is important because you must ensure that you apply with an eligible nationality, and take that country’s passport with you when you travel. If both your nationalities are eligible, you can apply with either one.

Eligibility: In the context of travel visas, this refers to if you hold a nationality that’s allowed to apply for your destination country’s travel document. Importantly, some countries offer multiple types of travel documents you can enter with, for which the list of eligible nationalities can differ.

So if you plan to travel somewhere, first check to see if you’re eligible for the eVisa; if not, you might be allowed to apply for a Visa on Arrival (VoA) or even a traditional paper visa.

Embassy: An embassy is the headquarters of a country’s diplomatic mission abroad, typically located in the capital city. An embassy normally carries out a range of diplomatic services, including processing visas. If your destination country doesn’t offer an eVisa or you hold an ineligible nationality for one, you may have to visit the embassy or consulate to apply for your travel pass.

ePassport: This stands for ‘Electronic Passport’, and it’s synonymous with ‘biometric passport’. It means that your passport has an electronic microprocessor chip embedded to authenticate your identity. If your passport has the gold microprocessor chip motif on its front cover, it’s an ePassport.

As a traveller, the advantage for you of the ePassport is that you can use the ‘ePassport Gates’ at customs to enter a country faster, without dealing with a border official and often without queuing.

ESTA: This stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. It’s the USA’s online visa waiver, introduced in 2009 by the Visa Waiver Program. Eligible nationalities including the United Kingdom, Japan, and much of the European Union. You must apply for the ESTA prior to your arrival in the United States to gain entry, even though it’s a waiver rather than a full visa.

ETA: This stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation, and it’s the term used by some countries to describe their online travel passes. Notably, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Sri Lanka all offer ETAs.

ETIAS: ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System. This is the EU’s visa waiver program, for nationalities who were previously eligible to visit Europe without a travel pass. Although this is a visa waiver, you must still apply in advance.

eVisa: This stands for Electronic Visa. It’s an online method to apply for and obtain your travel pass to visit a country, considered quicker and easier than applying in person at an embassy. In recent years, dozens of countries worldwide have introduced eVisas to boost their economies and attract more international visitors.

EVUS: This stands for Electronic Visa Update System, the USA’s online registration system for Chinese nationals before you arrive in America. As well as enrolling on the EVUS, Chinese citizens require a US B1, B2 or B1/B2 visa to enter.

EVW: EVW stands for Electronic Visa Waiver. It’s one term for the UK’s online visa waiver system for EU citizens following Brexit. Citizens of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates are also eligible for the EVW. Alternatively, this pass is called the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) too.

Exempt: In the context of visas, you’re exempt when you don’t need to apply for a travel pass to enter a country, typically depending on your nationality. Of course, even if you’re visa exempt, you may still be only allowed to enter your destination country for a set period of time, so be sure to check this.

Expiry Date: This can refer to your visa’s expiry date. Typically, you must either leave your destination country before your visa’s expiry date or, if it’s permitted, renew or extend your travel pass.

This can also refer to your passport’s expiry date. Typically, if your passport expires while your visa remains valid, then you must first apply for a new passport, then a new visa, to return to your destination country. Most countries require you to have a passport that’s valid for at least 6 months after you enter, to ensure that your passport remains valid for the length of your stay.

Government Fee: Many countries charge a fee to apply for their eVisa. On Byevisa’s website, we call this the ‘government fee’. It varies both from country to country and the eVisa you’re applying for.

IATA: This stands for International Air Transport Association. It’s the organisation responsible for, among other things, assigning airports the 3-letter code you’ll see on your flight ticket and your boarding gate. For example, London Heathrow’s IATA 3-letter code is LHR.

Issue Date: In the context of visas, this refers to the date when your visa is issued. From this date, depending on your visa’s conditions, you may have a certain number of days during which your visa is valid to enter the country. For example, Russia’s eVisa is valid for 60 days from the issue date. As a rule, make sure that your travel dates coincide with your visa’s issue and expiry dates!

Machine Readable: This is the section at the bottom of your passport’s biometrics page with the <<< symbols. Some countries require your passport to be machine-readable to enter; normally, if you have an ePassport, it will be machine-readable.

Multiple Entry: If you have a Multiple Entry eVisa, it means you can repeatedly enter and exit your destination country during your permitted visiting period. This is useful if, for example, you’re visiting both your destination country and the surrounding region, as you can easily come and go.

Nationality: This is the country you’re a citizen of, and you normally have this country’s passport. Typically, each country’s visas are only eligible for people of certain nationalities.

Passport: This is a document issued by your country’s government, certifying your identity and allowing you to travel internationally. You must have a valid passport as a prerequisite to apply for virtually all visas; in most cases, your passport must have at least 6 months’ validity remaining to allow you to enter your destination country.

Passport Biometrics Page: This is the page on your passport with your photo and personal details, such as your name, date of birth, plus your passport’s number and issue and expiry dates. For many countries, to apply for an eVisa, you must upload a scanned copy of your passport’s biometrics page as part of your application.

Passport Strength: This refers to the number of countries your passport allows you to visit without applying for a visa. The stronger the passport, the more countries you’re allowed to travel to. The world’s strongest passports allow you to visit dozens of countries without a visa!

Processing Fee: Byevisa charges a processing fee to handle your eVisa application on your behalf. We offer 3 processing speeds (Standard, Rapid and Highly Rapid), and how much you pay depends on the speed you choose. So in total, you pay the government’s fee and Byevisa’s processing fee for your eVisa.

Processing Time: This is how long it takes Byevisa to handle your application and send you your eVisa. The processing time depends on which speed you select (Standard, Rapid or Highly Rapid) and varies from country to country.

Residence Permit: If you’re an immigrant living in another country, you may have a residence permit to be there. In many cases, if you plan to travel to another country, if your nationality isn’t eligible, then you may still be allowed to enter with the residence permit of the country where you live. So this is worth checking.

Schengen Area: This is the European Union’s travel bloc, inside of which internal borders have been abolished. It’s made up of 26 European countries, notably excluding the UK. As an international traveller, you can enter and journey freely inside the Schengen Area with either an ETIAS visa waiver or a Schengen visa, depending on your nationality.

Schengen Visa: The Schengen visa is a European Union travel pass. It allows the citizens of many countries who aren’t eligible for the ETIAS visa waiver to enter and journey within the Schengen Area. Eligible nationalities for the Schengen visa include China, India, Russia and South Africa.

Single Entry: Your eVisa is valid for a Single Entry if it only allows you to enter and exit your destination country once. This contrasts with a Multiple Entry eVisa, which allows you to come and go repeatedly during the validity period.

Supporting Documents: Depending on the eVisa you’re applying for, you may require supporting documents to accompany your application. These can include, for example, a scan of your passport’s biometrics page, a recent passport photo, proof of your return or onward ticket, a hotel booking, or proof of your financial means to support yourself during your stay. Be sure to check which supporting documents you need (if any) for the eVisa you’re applying for.

Vaccination Requirements: Many countries require you to be vaccinated against certain diseases to visit, both for your own safety and to prevent the spread of illnesses in your destination country. Be sure to check which vaccinations you require before you go, either by consulting your doctor or the World Health Organisation’s website.

Validity Period: This is the length of time your visa is valid for. Importantly, this differs from your visa’s permitted visit period. To explain, while a visa may be valid for (for instance) 60 days, meaning that you have 60 days to enter the country, your visit period may be just 30 days. For example, Russia’s eVisa has a validity period of 60 days, within which time you can enter the country, then it permits a visit of up to 16 days. So be sure to distinguish your visa’s validity period from its visit period, and confirm them both carefully.

Visa: This is a travel document giving you permission to enter another country. In the past, you could only obtain your visa by visiting your destination country’s embassy or applying for a Visa on Arrival (VoA). Fortunately, though, these days you can acquire an eVisa (Electronic Visa) online, which is much quicker and easier.

Visa on Arrival (VoA): This is a travel document you apply for and obtain once you’ve arrived in a country at customs. Typically, you apply for a VoA right after you’ve got off your flight. When you apply for a VoA, you may have to fill in a long form with pen and paper by hand, as well as wait in a long queue to submit your application. So it’s more convenient to obtain your eVisa online in advance. Plus, with an eVisa you’re reassured that you’ve got all your travel documents in order before you go.

Visa Extension: Some countries allow you to extend or renew your travel permit when you’re already there. You might do this, for example, if you like the country so much that you want to stay longer. The procedure to extend your visa differs from country to country, and only some destinations allow you to do so. So be sure to check in advance, if you think you might want to stay longer than your visa’s initial visit period allows.

Visa Requirements: To apply for your travel visa, you normally have to comply with certain requirements which differ from country to country. These can include, for example, having a passport that’s valid for at least 6 months from your intended date of entry. Also, your passport may require blank pages for the entry and exit stamps.

Be sure to check your visa’s requirements when you apply, to ensure your application is accepted first time and that you’re permitted entry to your destination when you arrive. Also, see our entry about ‘Supporting Documentation’ above for related information.

Visa Waiver: This is a travel document that you apply for when you’re exempt from applying for a full visa, yet you still require a waiver to enter your destination country. Typically, it’s more straightforward to apply for and obtain a waiver than a full visa. Countries and territories that offer visa waivers include the USA, UK and EU.

Visit Period: This is the length of stay that your visa permits. Importantly, this differs from your visa’s validity period. To explain, you may be allowed a certain number of days to enter a country (the validity period), and a different number of days in which to stay. For example, Egypt’s eVisa is valid for 90 days from the date of issue and allows a visit of up to 30 days. Be sure to distinguish these 2 things for when you travel.

WHO: This stands for World Health Organisation. As a traveller, the WHO provides useful information about the diseases you need to be vaccinated for to enter each country.