For many potential expats, the easy visa situation in Cambodia is one thing that makes moving to the country so appealing.
You can get a long-term visa for Cambodia easily and renew it indefinitely without being sponsored by a company (or having any particular qualifications to do anything, in fact). This is certain to tighten up eventually, but for now Cambodia is one of the easiest countries in the world to emigrate to, visa-wise.
As a visitor to Cambodia, there are two types of visas available to you.
Types of Cambodia visas
Cambodian tourist visa. The tourist visa (T class) is best for those who know they will be staying 30 days or less.
The 30-day tourist visa is available to travelers in advance or on arrival (for most nationalities) for a cost of $30. The tourist visa is single entry only, and can be renewed once for an additional 30 days for a fee of $45. After that, tourist visa holders must leave Cambodia and come back and obtain a new visa. If you are planning on staying in Cambodia, don’t bother with a tourist visa and start with an ordinary visa instead.
Cambodian “ordinary” visa. For anyone who is considering staying in Cambodia for an extended period of time, the ordinary visa (E class) is the best option. This visa used to be called the business visa but is now called the normal or ordinary visa. It is also valid for 30 days and costs $35. The difference between the ordinary visa and the tourist visa is that the ordinary one can be extended indefinitely. Be aware that although the “ordinary” visa is often called a “business visa,” it does not confer the right to work in Cambodia. In order to be legally employed, you will need a Cambodia work permit.
Once you have your first 30-day ordinary visa for Cambodia, you can extend it from inside the country for 1, 3, 6, or 12 months. It’s advisable to extend it for 6 or 12 months, as these visa types are multiple-entry. The 1- and 3-month ordinary visas are single-entry only, meaning that if you leave for a weekend trip to Vietnam, you’ll need to get a new Cambodian visa when you return.
It’s important to note that if you are planning on getting a visa on arrival, some airlines will not allow you to enter the country on a one-way ticket. If you are planning on getting a one-way ticket, give yourself extra time at the airport so that if your airline requires you to get a return flight you have time to either search for a cheap flight or bus ticket (try Giant Ibis to HCMC) or get a fully refundable ticket that you can then cancel once you arrive in Cambodia.
Applying for a Cambodia visa
What you need to apply for a visa to Cambodia:
- A passport that is valid for at least another three to six months (reports vary, but they aren’t usually very concerned about this) and has at least one blank page
- A passport-size photo (if you don’t have this, you can just pay a $2 fee)
Where to apply for a Cambodian visa:
At the airport. If you’re from most countries, you can get a visa on arrival at both of the Cambodian international airports, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. You do not need to do anything in advance–you’ll be given the paperwork on the plane and you just need to get in line on arrival with your passport photos, cash (in US dollars), and passport. There is an ATM at the airport in arrivals that dispenses US dollars if you don’t have any on hand.
At a Cambodian embassy. If you prefer to get your visa in advance–or if you are from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, or Sudan–you’ll need to visit the closest Cambodian embassy in your home country. (And if you are from one of those restricted countries, the visa requirements are far more onerous. At a minimum, you’ll need a return ticket and sponsor letter or letter of invitation from an employer or organization.)
At a land border crossing. You can also apply for a visa at the following Cambodia land border crossings:
1. Bavet International checkpoint
2. Kha Orm Sam Nor International checkpoint
1. Cham Yeam International checkpoint
2. Poipet International checkpoint
3. O’Smach International checkpoint
This isn’t recommended, though, as getting visas at land border crossings in Cambodia is generally a hassle, requiring numerous bribes and payments. It’s best to get a visa in advance, before attempting a land crossing. If that’s not possible, don’t worry, but expect to pay between $1 and $20 in extra “fees”. (Learn more about how to cross the Poipet land border without getting scammed.)
Online: the E-visa. One other option is the Cambodian E-visa, which can be obtained online. It is only available to citizens of the same countries for which visas on arrival are available (that is, everyone except citizens of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Sudan). It is only offered for the tourist (T class) visa and costs an extra $7 on top of the regular visa fees, and it is only available to those entering Cambodia at the Siem Reap and Phnom Penh airports and the Bavet, Poipet, and Cham Yeam land border crossings. You can get your Cambodian E-visa online. As of June, 2015, they have added an additional $3 processing fee, bringing the total up to $40. As it offers little additional benefit, the e-visa option is not recommended.
Extending or overstaying your visa
Extending your Cambodian visa
If you have a 30-day tourist visa, you can extend it one time for an additional 30 days for a fee of $45. If you have an ordinary visa (E class) you can extend it for 1, 3, 6, or 12 months for between $45 and $300.
Currently, Cambodian visas cannot be renewed online.
Technically there’s an official way to extend your visa by going to this address:
Department of Immigration
322 Russian Boulevard, Opposite Phnom Penh Airport
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Everyone who’s tried it this way recommends against it, though. The process can take ages, may require multiple bribes and is just generally a pain.
The easy way to extend your Cambodia visa is to use any of the hundreds of local travel agents in town. They’ll take care of the paperwork for you and it takes two business days.
A passport that is valid for at least another six months
A blank page in your passport
One passport-sized photo
Renewal fee in US dollars
A 12-month, multiple-entry visa costs $265 to $300, depending on the fee added by the agent. The agent’s fee is usually somewhat negotiable.
Overstaying your Cambodian visa
It’s not advisable, but you can overstay your Cambodian visa at a cost of $5 a day for the first 30 days and $6 a day after that, payable at Immigration on your way out of the country.
If you plan to only stay a few days more than 30, this is often cheaper than getting a visa extension. However, be warned that you’ll need exact change in US dollars. If you present them with a $20 bill for a $15 overstay, it’s very likely that you won’t be given change.
The Cambodia government immigration site says that overstayers are also liable to pay the cost of an extended visa, but in practice overstayers are only charged the $5- or $6-per-day fee.
This is an excerpt from Move to Cambodia: A guide to living and working in the Kingdom of Wonder. To learn more about 100+ topics that pertain to Cambodia expats, please consider buying the book.