Traveler's Glossary - Visa, eVisa, VOA, ETA, or ESTA?

Before leaving for the travel of your dreams, you must remember to prepare the essential documents. Sometimes, you may be required to obtain a visa. But did you know that there are a few types of visas issued for different countries?

Traveling is a wonderful idea to spend your free time in an active way. It allows you to encounter different cultures and get to know more about local customs from all around the world. However, before leaving for a trip abroad, you should remember about an important document - a travel visa.

An approved visa allows you to enter and stay in foreign countries. Sometimes, it is issued as a separate travel document, but it may also have a form of an official stamp in your passport. Without a valid visa, you will not be able to visit some destinations.

Standard Visa

A standard visa is a travel document that can be obtained at the diplomatic mission of a particular country. You must apply for a visa in person - schedule a visit at the embassy or consulate and provide the appropriate documents to the office. Sometimes, you may also be asked to take part in a consular interview when the immigration officers will verify your travel plans.

A great advantage of a standard visa is that it can be issued long-term, even up to a few years. Therefore, it is a suitable option for those planning foreign travel related to work or studies. 

As for the disadvantages, application for a standard visa may be time-consuming. A single visit to the office is not enough sometimes, and you may face lengthy queues while submitting the documents.

Electronic Visa (eVisa)

An electronic visa (eVisa, for short) is a visa that can be easily obtained online. Many countries worldwide have already decided to launch online visa systems in order to facilitate the application procedure for tourists and encourage more foreigners to visit these destinations.

The electronic visa has one specific advantage - it can be obtained from home. All formalities are completed online, and the visa-issuing process usually does not take more than a few working days.

However, online visas are only issued for purposes related to tourism, business, and transit. What is more, the validity period of an approved electronic visa does not usually exceed 90 days (3 months).

Visa on arrival (VOA)

A visa on arrival (also known as VOA) is a special type of visa that is issued by immigration officers once the traveler crosses the borders of a selected destination. It is said to provide great help in regulating border traffic and controlling all visitors entering and leaving the country. 

While traveling on a visa on arrival, you do not need to make any preparations in advance. The application procedure is generally uncomplicated and requires only the most essential documents.

Unfortunately, you must keep in mind that this visa is not available in every country. Check your eligibility prior to the trip. You should also make sure you meet the visa requirements beforehand.


The Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA or eTA) is not technically a visa, but it works similarly to the electronic visa. The online application is quite convenient as you can complete the formalities from home. Moreover, the ETA is only issued for short-term trips related to tourism, business, or transit.

Currently, there are a few countries offering Electronic Travel Authorization for international travelers. You can apply online for a Canada ETA or Australia ETA. The ETA scheme has also been introduced in the United Kingdom, South Korea, Kenya, and Sri Lanka.

Unfortunately, the Electronic Travel Authorization usually has a shorter validity of up to 30 days.


The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) was introduced in the United States in 2008. Since then, it has been a document required from most foreigners planning a short-term stay in the United States. As for the application, it is similar to the electronic visa and can be obtained online.

The process of applying for the US ESTA is intuitive and effortless. All you need to do is complete the registration form with essential information and pay for the processing. Everything is done online.

The ESTA system determines which travelers are eligible to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Program. Remember that the Travel Authorization is not granted to applicants of all nationalities. 

Dominika Adamkowska
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