Cambodia Visa guidance

 

Obtaining the correct visa to enter Cambodia can be tricky. You might be surprised to learn that it’s not the paperwork you often encounter when applying for a visa to enter a country that’s tricky. Instead, it’s the name given to the two main visa categories – the T Class Visa and the Ordinary Visa (E class) – and what’s allowed under each category that people often find confusing. Who is eligible for a visa on arrival is also confusing. Here are five points that commonly cause confusion:

1) T Class Visa, E Class Visa – the names look and sound similar – and don’t shed light on the specific purpose

2) There is nothing in the name of the T Class Visa that lets people know it’s available electronically

3) ‘Ordinary’ in the name of the E Class Visa implies that it’s for general purposes, which is incorrect

4) ‘E’ in the name of the Ordinary Visa (E class) implies that it’s available electronically, when it’s not

5) Not all countries are eligible for a visa on arrival in Cambodia

On this page, I’ll remove the confusion about the two most common visa categories people use to enter Cambodia. I’ll touch on what’s involved with getting a Work Permit and a medium to long term visa – and the associated costs. I’ll also demystify what’s involved in a ‘border run’.

Cambodia Visa AVSE-TESOL

T Class: The T Class (Tourist) Visa to enter Cambodia costs US $30.00 and entitles the holder to remain in the country for 30-days. This visa class is used for tourism purposes. It can be renewed once for a further 30-days, without leaving the country. The T Class Visa can be obtained via a simple online application before you leave your home country. It can also be obtained at most ports of entry to Cambodia, provided your country is approved by the Cambodian Government for the visa-on-arrival option – it’s best to check beforehand.

If you don’t plan to teach in Cambodia after your TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL or to travel in the country for more than 30 days after your course finishes, the T Class Visa should be sufficient. Conversely, if you plan to stay in Cambodia for more than 30 days after your TESOL course finishes (initial 30 days + one in-country renewal 30 days = 60 days max), you’ll need to exit Cambodia before being eligible for a new visa.

 

 

Ordinary Visa (E Class): The Ordinary Visa (E Class) costs US $35.00 and provides coverage for an initial period of 30-days. If you plan to remain in Cambodia for an extended period after your TESOL course finishes, you should enter the country on an Ordinary Visa (E Class). Why? There’s a good chance you won’t have to do a border run (exit the country) while your Work Permit application is being processed. In addition, this visa can be extended once for one, three, six or twelve months. Taking either the six- or twelve-month extension option is advisable. Both options come with multiple entry entitlement and meet a core requirement for opening a bank account.

It’s important to note that the Ordinary Visa (E Class) is not available online. It can only be obtained at a port of entry or from the Cambodian Embassy in your home country. This will be a problem for people: 1. who come from a country that hasn’t been given a tick of approval by the Cambodian Government for visa on arrival, and 2 whose country is not serviced by a Cambodian Embassy. Problem? Yes! Confusing? Yes! Deal breaker? I don’t think so. I’ll return to this in the ‘border run’ section.

The necessary documentation (and the process) for a Work Permit in Cambodia is similar to what’s required in neighbouring countries, with two exceptions. Cambodian Work Permit officials aren’t especially fussed if 1. you don’t hold a university degree and 2. if your documents aren’t notarised and legalised. If you have a degree, it will certainly be well received. You will need government regulated TESOL, TEFL or CELTA certification and a background check from your home country that’s not more than six months old on the date it’s presented.

While Cambodia has no lawful requirement for your key documents to be notarised and legalised, I’d encourage you to do it anyway. What’s in vogue today may not be in vogue tomorrow. Visa regulations in Southeast Asian countries change frequently and often without notice. So, it’s best to ‘cover all bases’.

Remember, if you wish to obtain a Work Permit in Cambodia, post TESOL course – and give yourself the best shot at avoiding a border run – it’s wise to enter the country in the first instance, with what’s called an ‘Ordinary Visa (E class)’. 

 

Cambodia Visa AVSE-TESOL

 

Cost: Work Permit + twelve-month visa

The total cost of a twelve-month Work Permit and a twelve-month visa (they’re two separate documents) in Cambodia is US $530.00 (+/-). Here is a breakdown of the cost: A) twelve-month Work Permit – US $200.00 to US $220.00, and B) twelve-month visa – US $290.00 to US $310.00. The costs that are stated here are ‘best estimates’ and are subject to variation. Factors including the length of the visa (for example, six months rather than twelve months), the availability of all core documents – and what the Agent you engage chooses to charge in an unregulated market, can impact the final price.

Do employers (schools) reimburse foreign teachers for the cost of a Work Permit and related visa? Some do, some don’t. Having the matter clarified in your employment contract from the beginning is imperative.

Border runs:

If you’ve spent time checking out teaching in Cambodia Facebook groups and other platforms that focus on ‘everything and anything’ related to Cambodia, you will have come across the term ‘border run’. In plain English, a border run is a trip to the closest border; you exit the country and re-enter with a new visa, restarting the clock on how long you’re allowed there. Depending on the efficiency of the entity that sponsors your Work Permit – the school that employs you after the TESOL course at AVSE-TESOL – and the efficiency of the Public Servants who process the application, you may have to do one or two border runs before your Work Permit and related six- or twelve-month visa are processed. Doing a border run from Phnom Penh to the Vietnam border costs around US $120.00 (+/-), including the fee for the visa and a return bus fare. The whole process will take the better part of an entire day. Ideally, you’ll never have to do a border run, but forewarned is forearmed, as the old expression goes.

I mentioned earlier on this page that obtaining the correct visa for Cambodia from the outset can be a problem if your country hasn’t been given the tick of approval for a visa on arrival – and isn’t serviced by a Cambodian Embassy. In this instance, you’d enter the country on a T Class (Tourist Visa) knowing that at least one, possibly two border runs will be required before you nail down a Work Permit and related six- or twelve-month visa. Yep, it’s painful, but it’s manageable, and you can be assured that the AVSE-TESOL team on the ground in Phnom Penh will be by your side every step of the way.

Reach out

1300 Quang Trung Street
Go Vap District (Ward 14)
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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