In general, a passenger list
refers to the listing of passengers aboard any mode of commercial transport. In genealogy, the term commonly refers to ship passenger lists, a record of those arriving or departing a country by sea. Of course, there may be passenger lists of those traveling the waterways, inland, as well. The terms "passenger list" and "passenger manifest" may be used synonymously, but there are differences between a passenger list and ship's manifest. The passenger list is record of the passengers on a ship and the ship's manifest as record of the ship's cargo, which in some cases may be human.
Earlier passenger lists recorded minimal information on individual passengers such as names, ages, nationalities, and possibly occupations. More recent passenger lists may include country of origin, destination, and who paid the fare. Passenger lists may also include a record of stowaways, births and deaths aboard ship, etc. Passenger lists are invaluable sources of information when researching immigrant ancestors. Many passenger lists have been digitized and are online.