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Cambodia has historically been one of the easiest countries in the world for expats and digital nomads to live indefinitely with hassle-free, year long visas. The recent changes have confused the issue.
I’m on the ground and have (at great effort) figured it all out. Fortunately, everything is cool. You can still obtain 6-month and 1-year multiple entry visas even if not employed.
I hold a US Passport, but these rules are the same for passport holders from most countries.
(Note: The rules did NOT change for the shorter term, single entry visas (3 months or less). This article is only focused on the more desirable 6-month and 1-year MULTIPLE entry visas.)
Pre 10/2017 you could obtain a 6-month or 1-year multiple entry “EB” business visa without any formal employment or business documentation. Then you were free to live cheaply, travel in and out at will, and get on with your work. You could renew these visas every year.
Now, the government requires a work permit or letter from an employer to get such a visa.
At first glance it appears that these long term visas are now off limits to freelancers or internet entrepreneurs if not formerly employed by a Cambodian business.
Fear not, you can still make it work
It is still possible to get one of these visas even if you don’t actually work for a Cambodian business.
Method #1 is completely by the book.
Method #2 possibly treads lightly into a gray area of the rules. At the time of publishing, both options work.
Read the following approaches carefully to see which way suits your needs.
Method #1: The 6 month, multiple entry “EG” visa
This visa is intended for people who are in Cambodia for the first time. Its purpose is to give the visa holder time to to find employment. You need no documentation aside from your passport and a short letter saying you are looking for work.
How to get the 6-month “EG” visa:
Step 1: Obtain an “E-Ordinary” visa on arrival at the Cambodian airport or border crossing.
The E-ordinary visa costs $35 dollars and takes about 15 minutes to process at the airport
They hand out the applications in the airplane before landing. Here is what the application looks like:
Here is what the E-ordinary visa looks like:
Step 2: Apply for a 6-month EG visa at a travel agency in Cambodia.
The application costs $160 and takes about 5 days to process.
You need to provide your passport, the fee, and a very simple letter that says:
“I [name], passport # [xxxxxxxx], would like to stay in Cambodia 6 months to look for work.”
Pros and Cons of EG Visa
Pros: The EG visa is straightforward, by the book, lasts 6 months and is multiple entry. Although the visa is intended for visitors that are looking for employment, you do not have to provide any proof that you actually are.
Cons: The EG visa is only for first time visitors to Cambodia. Therefore if you already have Cambodian stamps in your passport from previous trips – it probably will not work. If you did travel to Cambodia in the past, but have since gotten a new passport (therefore it has no Cambodian stamps in it), I think it will work.
The other downside is that the EG visa is a one time deal. You cannot renew it or apply for a second one if you want to stay longer than 6 months.
If you want to continue your stay after your EG visa expires, you should apply for an “EB” business visa. See Method #2 below.
Method #2: The 6-month or 1-year, multiple entry “EB” business visa
This is the best visa. It can be as long as a year and you can extend it over and over again. The 6 month costs $160 and the 1 year costs $290.
You now need a work permit or letter of employment from a Cambodian business or NGO to obtain this visa.
On its face, this appears off limits to freelancers because they neither have a work permit nor are they an employee of a Cambodian business.
I did some digging and found out how to satisfy the employment letter requirement. It lets the bureaucrats check the right boxes and issue you the visa. I verified this information with several visa agencies and observed several travelers successfully do this.
How to get the 6-month or 1-year EB visa:
Step 1: Same as before. Get an E-Ordinary visa on arrival at the airport or border crossing. (If you are already in the country on another visa, you can skip this step.)
Step 2: Obtain a letter of “employment” from a Cambodian Business. (Note: You do NOT actually have to be working for any Cambodian company. There is a bit of a loophole, read on.)
Here is the specific wording for the letter of employment that satisfies the visa requirements (even if you don’t actually work for a Cambodian company):
“John Doe, passport number xxxxxxxx, is working as a freelancer for me, part time for one year.”
The letter must have a Cambodian business/organization name and address in the upper left corner, the simple phrasing above, and a signature at the bottom.
Here is an example:
How to get letter of employment (even if not employed)?
This is where you need to be a little bit third-world savvy.
I recommend getting to know some English speaking business owners in the area (this isn’t difficult in major city in Cambodia). This could be as simple as getting to know a restaurant owner.
After getting rapport, explain your situation, show them the example letter above and ask if they would be willing to fill it out and sign. For such a favor, I’d give a gift (maybe $20-$50).
The wording of this letter doesn’t run either party afoul of the law. You both have plenty of plausible deniability. The business could have hired you as a freelancer to build them a website, translate their menu, do some promotions, etc. You could have actually done the work. Who can prove or disprove this? Nobody. That’s the point.
Cambodians are accustomed to working in gray areas and won’t be offended if you ask. Of course, they may not understand or decline. If so, just try again somewhere else.
As a last resort you could take the riskier approach and just make the letter yourself with some made up business.
I really, really doubt they check these things. I also doubt they’d throw you in jail if they caught you. You could claim that you were scammed by someone that gave you the letter – they would likely believe this since scams are common.
Nothing is clear, things can change
Like I said earlier, the government hasn’t published any clear guidelines. Maybe they eventually will, maybe not.
At present, the “freelancer loophole letter” template I gave works for obtaining the 1-year EB visa without actually being employed.
This could always change. However, I have a good feeling that it will continue to work. The government makes more money if they issue more visas. I am also optimistic that a more legit/easier workaround will emerge in the future.
I will update this post if I learn of changes. Please post your experiences in the comments to add to the body of knowledge.
Move To Cambodia is the best blog about all things Cambodia. Here is a link to their page on visas. At the time of my post, they did not have clear information on the rule changes. I imagine it will be updated soon.
A decent article about visas from b2b-cambodia
Here are two forum threads that are trying to address the rule changes. These will be sources of the real world results people are experiencing going into the future: Khmer440.com and Expat.com.
Great article, thank you.
Glad it helped!
Hi! Thanks for the useful information. Do you know about the step 2, EG visa, can I apply for if I’ve been before in Cambodia?
My understanding is that it is only for people visiting Cambodia for the first time. If you have gotten a new passport since the last time you visited, and have no Cambodia stamps in it, you will be fine.
Ok. I will do that. Thank you very much. Great article ??
Wondering how this will effect me. I spent two months in Cambodia in 2017. Did the paperwork on the plane and got the ordinary visa at the airport when I arrived in Cambodia, then took my passport to a tourist agency which sent it in and had it extended for six months, but I returned to Canada after two months.
I will be arriving back in Cambodia first half of 2019. So I have two past Cambodian visas and stamps in my passport… the ordinary visa and the Extension visa and stamps.
What do I do in my case to get six month or 1 year visa now ?
Thanks for your info…. Take care.
As the article states, the EG visa does not work if you already have Cambodian stamps in your passport. You will want the EB visa.
Could I possibly get some clarification on this? I have been to Cambodia only once in my life. I came in on a tourist visa in 2017, stayed for 2 weeks then went back home. Does that mean I can no longer get an EG visa? Or does this only apply if I had an E-ordinary visa? It just kind of feels illogical that they would prevent a former tourist who liked the country from legally coming back and finding work.
My understanding is that you cannot get an EG visa if you already have Cambodian stamps in your passport. “It feels illogical” – this is Cambodia, it is the norm! Good luck, if you find that you can indeed get an EG visa with previous stamps, please let me know and I will update the article.
Well, I’ll find out in March I guess. I’ll be going there to rent an apartment so that I have somewhere to send all my stuff. Hopefully there are no special visa restrictions on renting an apartment……. are there?
No restrictions. You just need to be in the country legally (doesn’t matter what kind of visa). Of course, it is Cambodia, many places will just take your cash and ask no questions.
Cheers man, I appreciate all your knowledge. I hope everything goes smoothly. I live in Beijing at the moment so I’m paranoid about having every document for every little thing.
Hey Frank, I have been reading through your articles and about the EG and EB visas. I have a question. I am going to Cambodia next week. Will the immigration officer grand me a E-ordinary visa at the airport if I already have 2 tourist visa stamps in my passport and then change to a EB visa if I get a job in the 1st 30 days?
Yep, you should have no problem getting an E-ordinary visa at the airport. Your plan sounds solid. Have a good trip!
Even if I am South African, I should not have a problem?
I met several South African guys when I was living in Cambodia – great guys! While I’m not sure about the specific requirements for every country, I think it will work. Do a little googling and you’ll get it sorted. Best of luck!
Thanks, Frank. Finally some actually clear info on an unclear situation. One question: On the 1 year visa do you need to report in every 90 days, the way it’s done in Thailand? Thanks again for your excellent article.
No, you do not have to report like in Thailand. Much easier!
Do you know if this approach is still working now? September 2018?
From everything I’ve heard, yes. Also check the forum links at the bottom of my article. They might have additional, on the ground info.
I’m actually working for school 25 hours a week. They are in the process of applying for a working quota and said I would need to apply for a freelance visa. I’m flying out to Kuala Lampur, hoping to get a business visa. What do I need to get a business visa? I have a Zimbabwe passport (it is exceptionally weak) and I’m worried that I will be rejected if I try for a business visa at the border. Would a letter from the school help in getting the business visa?
I will then apply for a freelance working permit using that school (even though they don’t have a working quota yet. I hope this is possible. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
The school should be able to give you instructions for your specific situation. As far as applying at the border, there are only two options “tourist” and “E-ordinary” – which I explained in the article. To my knowledge you cannot apply for a “business visa” at the border. I wish I could help more, but I don’t know the specifics for every country and unique situation.
Zimbabwean passport holder here. Did you have any hassles getting your business visa?
with this one year business visa can I open bank account in Cambodia?
Hello. I am moving to Cambodia in 3 weeks. I was wondering if you can switch to an EB visa from a EG visa after aquiring work? From what I have read on other sites that seems to be the case. However, this point isn’t made very clear in your article.
Yes, this is exactly what you would do.
Do you need to produce the loop hole letter to immigration at the boarder when arriving in Cambodia or only when submitting the visa application with the travel agency?
only when submitting at the visa agency
Could a business owner put 5 or 10 years instead of one year? Would that work?
No, you need to renew visas yearly.
Hi Frank, I’m a Brit, freelancer, coming from Vietnam. I’ll arrive on an E visa and look to convert to an EB visa as soon as I can find someone to write me a letter of employment. My main concern is opening a bank account and ABA seems to be the best for this. On their website they say I’ll need one of three things:
1. House rental contract (hotel bill) indicating at least 6-month tenor, or
2. Proof of employment (employment contract, certificate of employment, or business license for self-employed) indicating at least 6-month employment, or
3. Multiple visas with consecutive 182 days or more from one visa to another.
For #2 they say, “employment contract, certificate of employment”. Will a simple letter of employment suffice, or do I need something more substantial?
I’m not sure what #3 means – example, if I arrive on an E and after a couple of weeks change to a 6-month EB, I’ll have multiple visas with more than 182 days. But do I need to have lived in Cambodia for more than 182 days or just have visa’s stating that I can?
Great article – many thanks!
Wish I could help, but I don’t have any experience regarding opening bank accounts in Cambodia. However, are you sure you need a Cambodian bank account? You don’t need one for the visa and I’ve done all my freelancing in Cambodia without needing one.
Hi, do you know of the best websites for applying for teaching jobs in Cambodia? I’m Australian with a Master’s Degree in Education. Cheers.
I asked a buddy of mine that teaches in Siem Reap, Cambodia. He recommended the following Facebook groups: Expats and locals living in Siem Reap, Teaching in Cambodia, English teaching jobs, ESL jobs Cambodia. Good luck! Also, Facebook is basically the internet for Cambodia, so Facebook groups are likely your best source for any other local Cambodia info you seek.
Hi Frank, I didn’t it mentioned in your article, so can you tell me if you need a work permit in addition to a letter of employment to obtain an EB-Visa? I’ve read on other websites (up-to-date 2019 information) that it’s necessary, which makes sense to me, seeing as one will be officially working in Cambodia (on paper at least) and in order to do this one would need a valid work permit. So if I showed up with my letter of employment and tried to get an EB-Visa, I would get turned around because I wouldn’t be able to provide a valid work permit, right? Is there a way around this, or that just the way it is?
Can you link to the sources that are saying you now need a work permit?
Thank you for such a great article! If we show up as a family would just my husband obtain the EB-VIsa with a job offer ahead of time. Myself and the two elementary age kids will not be working. Is there a family version of this? We were there a year ago for 10 days and planned to come back to work which is coming up in 2020. Thanks for all of your help! (no official employment yet but can obtain one for visa)
Great information, and as of March 2020 it is still accurate.
We (US passport holders) got the “ordinary visa” at the airport (NOT the tourist one!) and 10 days before it expired we went to a visa extension agency (EMC CambodiaVisa Extension, they have 2 offices. one in BKK1 which we used and one in TTP1)
and got the EG 6Month multiple entry.
We did not know if the wording on our LETTER OF INTENTwould suffice so we paid them their fee to do it for us. (Yah, it was $15usd and a totally ridiculous expense but we saw it as a fair compromise for all the money we save on EVERYTHING else :D)
They were friendly, helpful, talked us through other options, and it took about 10 minutes total.
If we decide to do the EB 6 or 12 Month visa after this one, buying a stamp/making letterhead and registering business name or our own names through MoC we will update our comment.