sábado, 24 de março de 2012

How to get the Cambodian visa?

How to get the Cambodian visa it's a classical question of who's coming here. The classic answer would be "you don't need it, just apply for visa on arrival". However, as everything that sounds too simple it's worthy not to take that as 100% sure, since:

- People from Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos and Philippines shouldn't worry about that since they all have free pass to Cambodia as per international agreements of the ASEAN members.

- All the other nationals need a VOA (Visa on Arrival) which is automatically granted through payment of the issuance fee, except those from:

 *Afghanistan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, which have broader requirements as: letter of sponsor from the company which they will work for, return ticket and photocopy of ID card and need to have the visa issued prior to arrival, thus in one of the Cambodian embassies spreadout through the world. (You can find the list at this Wikipedia article). There are not so many and mostly located in East and Southeast Asia so could be quite a hassle to sort this out since all the nationals required to have pre-issued visa are located in Middle-East or Africa.

The information about the countries and which are exempt of visa and the ones that are required to  have pre-issued visa were taken from Cambodia-Travel website.

Well, assuming that you are likely to get a VOA, which I think is the majority of the cases, below I have some tips for you:


Case 1 - Closed trip (you have the return ticket):

Your boarding in your home country should be ok and after long hours and some 2 connecting flights depending from where you are departuring you will arrive at Cambodia's immigration lounge, in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. If Phnom Penh, just after the stairs in the left corner there will be many forms to fill. Just fill one of those, put a passport style picture attached, pay the issuance fee and you're done.

Case 2 - Open trip (you don't have the return ticket):

Your problem won't be how to get the visa but the airline company to let you get on board in your home country. It's a rare case (but it was my case) and could happen for those that are coming for a long journey and thus don't have the return ticket. Since you still don't have the visa neither the return ticket the airline company (in my case, Singapore Airlines) will understand that you are very likely do have your entrance denied in your destination country and being deported. When something like that happens the airline companies get heavily fined and are responsible for your proper deportation, so they won't give a shit if you are going to loose your flight because you don't have the return tickets and will try to refuse your boarding. Well, the solution for that is that you should get in contact with the company to know beforehand which is the procedure and what you should present in that case. Probably they will tell you that the return ticket is required, however (and that makes no sense at all), you can buy the return from anywhere to your home country. It means that for their crazy purposes if you're American and you're going to Cambodia, a return ticket Mexico-USA it's enough. But you're still not safe. Some airlines, especially the German and low cost ones, do not issue an e-ticket number at the reservation what could be understood by the other airlines (and it was in fact) as a non-confirmed reservation. To solve all that mess remaining only 10 min to finish boarding I had to sign a tricky piece of paper saying that I'd be responsible for ANYTHING that could go wrong with my acceptance anywhere including the connecting flights. Believe me, travelling with a potential liability of some thousands of dollars it's not comfortable AT ALL.


This case will happen only to backpackers coming from the neighbor countries Vietnam, Thailand or Laos. Basically your bus ticket that was bought Bangkok-Phnom Penh (or Siem Reap) or Saigon-Phnom Penh (or Siem Reap) will stop at the border for immigration clearing. The process will take around 30 minutes varying according to the amount of people crossing the border at that time.

You will have to leave the bus and walk through the international area between the two countries (do not forget your bag or anything of value), folllow the flow, fill the form, drop the passport style picture. Pay the fee and you're done. The immigration does not process people one by one but by batches so all the passports of everyone who were with you will get mixed and then the official in charge will call you to get it. That's not a good way to do that because obviously they won't be able to spell correctly the non-khmer names.

Atention: scams are famous regarding overcharging foreigners for the visa. DO NOT pay anything else besides what's written. In case they insist for anything else you should ask for a receipt or pretend you are not understanding what they are saying. 


The issuance price depends of which kind of visa you are requiring. The majority of people that plan to stay longer usually choose for the wrong visa (not my case). That leads to desperate and unplanned trips  to Bangkok or Saigon to solve the mess. All the visas are initially valid for 30 days.

Tourist visa ($20) is for single entry and cannot be renewed for more than once and for more than 30 days. Ordinary visa or business visa type-E ($25) is also for single entry but can be renewed for 3 months, 6 months or 1 year and in the multiple entry category. Therefore, it's clear, if you're staying up to 1 month it's more interesting for you the tourist visa and probably all the other stays you should take an ordinary visa since you are very likely to travel abroad in that time.

If you don't have passport pictures they will scan our passport photo for a $1-2 fee. 

Online Visa (e-Visa)

I have never heard of someone who had tried this way but according to the website  of the Ministry of External Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, the visa is valid for 3 months of the issuance date and are taken 3 business days to process. The cost is basically the same as the ordinary visa type-E, $25. There's a list of land borders specifying those that do and those that do not accept this kind of visa. After completing your request your visa will be sent to you by email in pdf format. 

If I kenw the stress that the airline company would make me go through when boarding I'd have taken the only visa, BUT.. well, here's your chance of making everything right! :D

Update: As of March, 2012 I had information that the e-visa system was taking 1 hour to confirm the payment and less than 5 minutes to issue the visa. A Chinese friend had no problems to leave China and transit through Malaysia before coming to Cambodia.

This is the standard email received after completing the process:

We are pleased to inform you that your e-visa application to the Kingdom of Cambodia has been approved. Please kindly check on the reminder below before departing on your journey.


  1. Please check all the information on your e-Visa Certificate to make sure they are correct. Contact us at http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/enquiry.aspx if there is any error.
  2. You will see the label of "Cambodia E-VISA" in your credit card statement for this transaction.
  3. Your e-Visa is only valid for a single (1) entry.
  4. No sticker will be issued to you for e-Visa. Please print out 2 copies of this e-Visa certificate. Pass one (1) copy to immigration as your travel Visa at entry and one (1) copy upon departure. For your convenience, you may cut your printed e-Visa and staple to your passport.
  5. e-Visa printout in black and white is acceptable.
  6. All your information will be checked on arrival at the immigration Online System.
  7. At the checkpoint, please go directly to the e-Visa immigration counter for processing. Look for e-Visa signboard. If not sure, please approach the officer for instructions to avoid unnecessary delay. For Siem Reap Airport, please go to any counter from 02- 08. For Phnom Penh Airport, please go to any counter from 03 - 09.
  8. You are required to fill out departure and arrival cards at the entry and exit point.
  9. Entry to invalid e-Visa ports is prohibited. Please refer to our website at Http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa for the valid point of entry using e-Visa
  10. e-Visa fee is non-refundable.
  11. Please check the attachment to this email for your approval e-Visa certificate.
  12. If you would like to change any travelling information (eg: entry date, entry port and etc), please visit the "Check and Change" at http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/CheckChange.aspx
  13. If you receive an email but cannot received your e-Visa approved certificate, please contact us at

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