Cambodia – the boring bits, visas

visa stamps

Hilariously, I just did a search for Cambodia Visa images with google, and loads of people seem to have not hesitated before uploading their passports with all their info and visas etc in all their glory for others to use in order to assume their identities!  And I thought I was naive!  Oh well, I’ve chosen a picture that I hope is fairly safe in terms of replicating identities but apt for this post.

I may come to rue the day with this one, but I’m trying to capture some of the logistical challenges and solutions as I come across them.  Of course, only when I try this advice out ‘for real’ will I find out if my knowledge is as robust as I think.  Never mind, here goes:

As I understand it, there are basically two visas (at the time of writing) for Cambodia.  The Tourist Visa and the Ordinary Visa.  The accepted wisdom is that it is easy to get this on arrival (take passport photos with you though), but it matters which you get.  There is advice on the Gov UK website for Cambodia about this.  Lonely Planet Visa advice for Cambodia also has this covered.

The Tourist Visa allows you to stay for one month, but cannot then be extended without leaving the country and re-entering, which is obviously a pain.  It is fractionally cheaper than the alternative ‘business’ or ‘ordinary’ visa.  A one-month tourist visa costs US$30 on arrival and requires one passport-sized photo (according to Lonely Planet).  If you over stay, you will be charged a penalty on exiting which is $5 a day.  You should also make sure you hang on to the paperwork you receive when the visa is issued, it is your departure form and if you lose it, you will again have to pay some extra to get an exit visa on leaving.

What I need, in view of my extended stay and because I’ll be working, is the ordinary visa.  This can apparently be renewed almost endlessly, and, critically without having to leave the country.  Although it is still only valid for one month on arrival, you can get longer extensions though.  CWF will help with the logistics of renewal, which is good.  They normally get a 3 month business visa extension (which does NOT allow you to leave and re-enter the country).  This costs currently $75 and requires another photo. Anyway, they tell me:

The easiest and most straightforward way to get the visa is to get it on arrival. With 35 USD and a visa photo in hand it is a breeze to go through immigration. Just make sure you check “ordinary visa” on the arrival card you will be given on the plane. The ordinary visa, which is only valid for one month, allows us to renew it for you from within the country. The “tourist” visa does not.

So this is what I intend to do.  I did look online about getting a visa in advance but a number of reasons put me off.  Firstly, there are scam sites a-plenty out there, so I don’t want to pay more than I should or worse find I’ve got the wrong visa and shared personal information with fraudsters; secondly, I’m worried I’d end up with tourist visa rather than the business/ordinary one I require, and thirdly, I just don’t think it’s necessary.  Hopefully my confidence in the visa on arrival situation is justified!

The tour company Intrepid suggested I try phoning an organisation called travcour on 0208 543 1846, they are apparently a reputable visa service, you can just phone them for advice as well, though they make their money by doing the work for you I guess.  I didn’t phone them in the end, as the advice I’m getting from CWF seems very clear, and if they have volunteers all the time without any issues then I think they should know.  They have issued me with an offer letter specifying the visa I need for me to show on entry, so presumably that helps.  For information, travcour had a speedy little search engine that means you can type in your nationality and destination and they give you an instant quote for visa sourcing.   It is expensive, but it looks slick.  This is travcour Cambodia link for UK nationals.   Don’t think I’ll need it this time, but might be handy to note here for future reference.

So note to self:

  • check passport – 6 months validity plus spare pages for visa stamps
  • offer letter from CWF to ensure you get the correct passport (and tick the right box on the plane for visa application before queuing up as well)
  • $35 cash on arrival further $75 for renewal to 3 month business extension
  • lots of passport size photos (one for each renewal plus spares)
  • scan passport and send copy to cloud and elsewhere in case it gets lost (done this already so feeling smug!)

Ooh, this is feeling real… Cambodia calling indeed!



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