Long glossed over by would-be retirees to Asia in favor of the more visitor-friendly shores of Thailand and the Philippines, Cambodia is beginning to emerge as one of the region’s best places to retire. With a low cost of living and much more relaxed visa system than its neighbors, this emerging country in Southeast Asia could soon be the region’s number one retirement hotspot.
Cambodia’s visa system is still somewhat antique when compared to its neighbors, with long-term retirement visas unavailable and short-term visas typically taking their place for retirees. However, the country is making a great deal of progress in connecting to the outside world, with a recent visa deal with Thailand securing its position as a major capital of tourism and international living in the region.
A variety of visas are available for expatriates and retirees looking to move to Cambodia, of both the long and short-term variety. These visas are outlined in greater detail in the following section.
Does Cambodia Offer A Retirement Visa For Foreign Nationals?
Unfortunately, Cambodia does not currently offer a retirement visa for foreigners looking to live in the country long term. Cambodia’s economic emergence is fairly recent and the country’s immigration and visa system hasn’t quite caught up with the nation’s growing demand for foreign nationals and capital.
However, things are moving forward fairly quickly. Business visas, which allow for a one-year star upon being issued, are widely available and easy to apply for, allowing foreigners with potential business interests in Cambodia to enjoy their time in the country without being concerned about visa obligations.
Tourism visas, issued for ninety days of validity each, are also easily available, with all border checkpoints offering a simple visa on arrival service for citizens of most Western countries. These two relatively straightforward visa options make up for the lack of a formal retirement visa system in Cambodia.
Which Visa Is Best For Long-Term Retirees In Cambodia?
Most foreign retirees in Cambodia make use of the business visa system, which does not require a formal investment in Cambodia. Due to the informal nature of business and administration in Cambodia, numerous ‘fixers’ have emerged to help foreigners to apply for and receive business visas in the country.
The business visa has several advantages above and beyond those offered by tourist visas. The first is the length of stay – a business visa is valid for twelve months, while a tourism visa is only valid for ninety days. The business visa also does not require a re-entry during its validity period, which can be an issue with tourism visas.
How Can A Foreign Retiree Apply For A Cambodia Business Visa?
The visa application process for Cambodia can be somewhat inconsistent, with the information you read on official websites not always matching up with what occurs at the embassy. However, the process for acquiring a business visa in Cambodia is relatively straightforward and stress free, provided you allow it some time.
Cambodian business visas require a letter of invitation from a business in Cambodia. This is easy to acquire from a number of ‘fixers’ – Cambodian businesses that exist for the sole purpose of working with foreign nationals. These businesses charge a small fee to invite foreign nationals to work with them in order to qualify for a visa.
With this in hand, you can easily apply for a business visa at the local Cambodian embassy in your nearest city, or in any of the countries neighboring Cambodia. The business visas acquired from outside of Cambodia are typically assigned a validity of one to three months – don’t worry, this can easily be extended while in the country.
The business visa can be extended to allow for twelve months of validity by any one of a number of travel agents and visa services within Cambodia. The price for a visa extension ranges from $280 to $300, and allows you to expand your visa to twelve months of validity, allowing visitors to stay in Cambodia legally for one year.
What Other Visas Are Available For Foreigners In Cambodia?
There are relatively few visas available for foreigners outside of the tourism and business visas. However, Cambodia has recently reached a new agreement with Thailand to allow visitors to freely travel between the two countries using either a valid Cambodian or Thai tourism visa.
This means that retirees planning on living in Cambodia long term are able to do so using a Thai tourist visa. Thailand issues tourist visas for sixty days of validity, and all Thailand tourism visas can be extended to ninety days of validity from within Thailand. These visas are available in single, double, and triple entry form.
This allows for simple travel between Thailand and Cambodia for retirees that wish to travel in the region. It also allows those with issues gaining a Cambodian visa to live freely in Cambodia using a Thai tourism visa. Note that the policy does not allow visitors to live in Cambodia using a Thai business, retirement, or non-immigrant visa.
Despite its somewhat undeveloped visa system and informal approach to business visa applications, Cambodia is a promising destination for retirees seeking a quiet, fun, and interesting place to live. While the informal nature of the visa system may be off-putting for those used to formality and process, it’s a preferable alternative to the restrictive, often frustrating visa systems found in neighboring Thailand.