What’s going on with work permits in Cambodia?

Update Apr 5, 2018:

They’ve extended the deadline for work permit applications until April 30th. This is handy because they never officially announced the previous deadline. Unfortunately, the extension does not include an amnesty for previous years’ fines as it did in 2017. They have also announced that employers will be fined $630 for employees who do not have a work permit and employees will be fined $10 per day for overdue work permit extensions.

So if you haven’t gotten a work permit, now is probably the time to do it. The cost is $100 per calendar year that you have had an EB visa (formerly the “ordinary” or “business” visa) and $100 for the current year. If you work for an employer, they need to have applied for a quota for foreign workers. If your employer neglected to do this, you will need to apply as a self-employed worker.

Those who are self-employed report that their applications are being rejected multiple times for not having a business license. Those who persevere have reported that on the fifth or tenth attempt, they have gotten approved. So keep trying. If you are self-employed, do not list a business name or they will (understandably) request a business license. Those who have been approved report entering “freelance/freelance/salary 0/category X (other) 100 (other)” on their application.

I can’t keep up with the changing work permit information or with emails I get from readers asking for advice on their situation, so if you have questions or need updates, please visit the Cambodia Visa and Work Permit Group on Facebook.

Update Mar 8, 2018:

The deadline to apply for a 2018 work permit is either the end of March or the start of Khmer New Year (April 14th). Both have been reported, so take your pick. If you applied last year using the online system, you can login using the same username/password and click “renew.” You’ll need to provide a new “physical aptitude certificate” and a copy of your current visa, but other than that, everything will be saved in your application from last year.

If you’re in Phnom Penh, you’ll need to get your health certificate from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training. Go early in the day and do it soon; it can take up to two weeks to get your certificate. The cost is $25. If you’re in Siem Reap you can get one at Neak Tep clinic in less than an hour for the same price.

Update Oct 11, 2017:

New, unofficial and often contradictory memos about immigration and work permits are being released by the various ministries on a near-daily basis. Today, it’s being said that you cannot get a 6- or 12-month EB visa extension even if you have a work permit, and will need a letter from an employer. For those who are self-employed, they need a residency letter from immigration, letter from police, and three months of bank statements to show they can support themselves.

Unless your visa needs to be renewed this week, I would suggest waiting for the dust to settle. It’s clear that they haven’t decided what the “rules” are or how they will be enforced, so there’s no point in getting into a panic today, because the information may be entirely different by tomorrow. I’ll update this post once something more substantial is released.

Update Oct 5, 2017:

As reported in the Phnom Penh Post, from the start of the month work permits are now needed to renew most 6- and 12-month EB visa extensions. (EB visa extensions are the ones that most expats are on, also called the ‘ordinary’ or ‘business’ visa.) Although there has not been a government announcement, the new rules are already being enforced. Wondering if there are any exceptions? Keep reading.

Cambodia work permits

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re going to need a work permit.

Those who want to to extend their 6- or 12-month EB visa need to bring a copy of their work permit with them, which will then be submitted with their passport to the Ministry of Immigration. If you do not yet have a work permit you can bring a formal letter from your employer, which should include your full name, passport number, job title, and dates of employment. Letters must be signed and stamped.

“The stamp is important. Required,” one agent told me. She also said that before issuing the visa they will check to make sure that the company issuing the employment letter is registered in Cambodia, and presumably, has the quota available to hire foreigners.

The names of dependent spouses and children, along with their passport numbers, should also be included in this letter. Non-working spouses and children can be granted an EB visa without a work permit if their name is included on the employment letter of the employed spouse.

Work permit application receipts or evidence of application will not be accepted in lieu of a work permit, so if you have already applied but haven’t gotten the permit back, you will need a letter from your employer.

This, of course, leaves self-employed people who have already applied for a work permit but have not yet been approved in limbo. The Post article says “the law did not specifically address freelance employees but that the department would try to accommodate them,” and requested that self-employed people provide evidence of self-employment (good luck figuring out what that means).

The first exception to thisyes, dear reader, there are two small exceptions—is that those who have entered the country on the one-month ordinary visa for the first time are entitled to one extension of stay without a work permit. It does not matter if you get a 1-, 3-, 6-, or 12-month visa extension, the first one does not require evidence of employment. (On Friday, Oct 6th a document has been circulating suggesting the government has had another think about this and have removed 12-month extensions from this list, but I haven’t been able to confirm this yet.)

The second exception is that at the current time, a work permit is not required for 1- and 3-month EB visa extensions. Before you get too excited, these visas are single entry, so you will need to get a new one every time you re-enter Cambodia (so they take up a lot of passport pages). And, a little bird at the embassy told me that this is not a permanent solution, because they will not continue to issue even short-term visa extensions indefinitely to someone without a work permit. It’s a temporary reprieve, nothing more.

Your next question is probably going to be “where can I find an agent to process my work permit?” The answer: you don’t need one. The Cambodia work permit system has been designed for foreigners to apply online directly, without an agent. Agents who are offering to help people with “difficult” applications should not be trusted.

Another agent told me this week that foreigners should beware of agents charging for work permits. “They are using counterfeit documents in the applications,” she said. “Later it is the foreigner who will pay the price for using bad documents, and the agent will be gone.”

So…take a deep breath and apply for a work permit on your own. It’s not that difficult.

If you are a business owner: You must register your business, get a tax patent, and employee quota registration. The quota registration is what allows your employees to apply for a work permit. If you have not applied for this, your employees cannot get a work permit.

If you are an employee: You can apply online. You will need to submit a residency certificate which you can get from the immigration police (bring a few passport photos and a copy of your lease), your first long-stay visa from when you entered Cambodia, your current long-stay visa (extension of stay), a passport photo, a medical certification. In Phnom Penh the medical test can be done at the Ministry of Labor clinic, and in Siem Reap several private clinics such as RHAC or Neak Tep and issue the certificate.

If you are self-employed (or your employer has not registered): You can also apply online; there is a separate login for the self-employed. You will need all of the information above, minus the employer information. If you are a freelancer, you should enter “freelance” as your occupation and employer and your salary as zero. Most have had their work permits approved with no business certificate or letter, but others have been asked to provide a business registration. If asked, you can try to resubmit the application with “freelance” as your occupation and it has a decent chance of being approved the second time around.

Cambodia work permit costs:

  • $100 (400,000 riel) per calendar year from your first visa extension in Cambodia,  even if you were not working
  • $25 (100,000 riel) medical certificate
  • $5 (20,000 riel) medical certificate verification (presumably for those who don’t get their certificate directly from the Ministry of Labor)
  • $33.75 (135,300 riel) online application fee
  • $125 fine for not applying (this is only levied on people who are caught without a work permit, if you voluntarily apply for one you will not be fined, according to my source at one of the western embassies)

After applying, once you’re approved you’ll get an email with an invoice that needs to be paid in riel at any ACLEDA bank. A few weeks or months later, your work permit will be mailed to you, or to your nearest post office where it will be waiting for you.

A small caveat which is that these rules, which are being enforced and have been confirmed to me by several travel agents and an embassy employee who met with the Ministry of Labor about it, have not been officially released or included in any prakhas or sub-decrees. So as per usual, this may change.

For more information on Cambodia visa types and the requirements for each, check out our All About Cambodia Visas page.

Still have questions? Join the Cambodia Visas and Work Permits group on Facebook and ask other confused people questions.

Update Sept 2, 2017:

If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ll probably have heard the rumors that in a few days Cambodia will be requiring a work permit in order to renew long-stay EB visa extensions. Although there have been several articles in the Phnom Penh Post and the Cambodia Daily, to date, nothing has been confirmed.

According to the reports, work permits will be required to renew 6-month and 12-month EB visa extensions, but a work permit will not be needed to renew single-entry 1-month and 3-month extensions. It is rumored that at least for a while, foreigners will be able to submit a letter from an employer in lieu of a work permit stating their intention to procure a work permit in the immediate future.

Many websites and agents are pretending that this requirement is a certainty starting this month, however none have actually confirmed this with the Ministry of Immigration, who have only given answers that waffle on about what the requirements are and when they will be implemented. Expats are getting themselves into a sky-is-falling tizzy over what may be nothing (at least for now).

Remember, in 2015 it was reported in the Cambodia Daily that the work permit requirement would be strictly enforced, and the Khmer Times reported that those without work permits would be fined at the airport. Neither of these things came to pass (and as the Cambodia Daily didn’t get work permits for their foreign employees, even they didn’t seem to have a lot of faith in their reporting).

It is my personal opinion, based on past history, that work permits being required to renew long-stay visa extensions will not be implemented immediately or another work permit amnesty will be offered. It also appears that the prahkas regarding visas will need to be amended to implement the work permit requirement legally, which will take time (whether they do this at all is another story).

That said, it is very clear which way the wind is blowing. Cambodia no longer wants expats who are not working or are otherwise undesirable. No amount of expat whining and complaining will change that, so for those who are here it’s best to figure out a way that you can qualify for a work permit. At the current time it is still possible for self-employed expats to apply, but that may change in the future.

Another rumor that has not been confirmed is that the ER retirement visa extension has strict age requirements. This is not true, although it may be in the near future. Foreigners in their 40s have successfully applied and been granted the ER retirement visa extension.

For more information on Cambodia visa types and the requirements for each, check out our All About Cambodia Visas page.

In conclusion, you probably need a work permit and the sooner you deal with it, the better. 

Please see the previous update for information on applying for a Cambodia work permit.

Update June 6, 2017:

I haven’t updated this post in a while because “rules” regarding work permits have still not been officially released, and what little we know has been difficult to confirm and haphazardly enforced. With that caveat…

work permit cambodia

A real life Cambodia work permit (pre-2017 style).

First, the regular E-type visa has been split into several sub-types. (Read all about them here). For those who are on the most common type, the EB visa, you are required to have a work permit. Right now the requirement is not being enforced across the board, so many foreigners in Cambodia do not have work permits, and many will say they are not necessary. I have begrudgingly come to the conclusion that the work permit issue is not going away, and that everyone who is working in Cambodia should become compliant.

If you are a business owner: You must register your business, get a tax patent, and employee quota registration. The quota registration is what allows your employees to apply for a work permit. If you have not applied for this, your employees cannot get a work permit.

If you are an employee: You can apply online. You will need to submit a residency certificate which you can get from the immigration police, your first long-stay visa, your current long-stay visa (extension of stay), a passport photo, a medical certification (the test consists of getting your temperature taken, a blood test if you are in Phnom Penh, and for women in Siem Reap, a surprisingly thorough breast examination).

If you are self-employed (or your employer has not registered): You can also apply online; there is a separate login for the self-employed. You will need all of the information above, minus the employer information. If you are a freelancer, you should enter “freelance” as your occupation and employer. Some who have registered as self-employed have been required to register themselves as a business, or to get a letter from a government ministry stating they are self-employed (which is obviously impossible). Others have had their work permits approved with no business certificate or letter.

Unfortunately it appears that they are not very well equipped to deal with the self-employed yet and the process can be onerous. Very few countries allow work permits for freelancers, and it appears that Cambodia may go that way as well and require everyone to register as a business.

If you apply for a work permit you will be required to pay for every year from your first E-visa, whether you were working or not. This is not negotiable anymore.

The cost for a Cambodia work permit is $30 for a medical certificate, $100 for each prior year, and $130 for 2017. Once your application is approved, you will be sent an email confirmation and asked to make payment at an Acleda Bank.

If you let your work permit lapse the fines can be substantial, although how substantial is still unconfirmed. I have heard around $650 or $10 per day (plus the cost of the work permit) but this has not been confirmed.

All of the above information is not set in stone and can vary from person to person, town to town, etc. Some people have a smooth and painless application, others do not.

I’m sorry because I know this is not what most of you want to hear. It is my belief (uncorroborated, admittedly) that at some point in the not-so-distant future they will tie work permits to immigration status and those who do not have them will not be able to get visas or re-enter the country. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, but the last time I flew into the country I was asked by the immigration officer if I was working in Cambodia…seemed like a precursor of things to come.

For more discussion on what’s happening with work permits, have a look at the Cambodia Visa and Work Permit group on Facebook.

Update Aug 31, 2016:

A few new developments with work permits in Cambodia. The government has announced that tomorrow, September 1st, they will be launching online work permit applications for foreigners. If the site actually works, this seems like great news because the rules will have to become clear (mostly), and people will stop being taken advantage of by dishonest agents, which seems to be happening quite a bit in Phnom Penh and Kampot.

The costs will be streamlined, although there is an extra $30 fee paid to the company contracted to process the applications, and a health check-up will be required. Additionally, applicants are required to submit their work contract and certificate of employment. I’m going to take a wild guess that this means employees are going to be required to pay taxes in the future. Overall, although the process is onerous, being able to keep track of foreign workers is probably in Cambodia’s best interests. I guess.

The site is up and running but has several glitches that render it unusable. The registration form is worth having a look at, though.

Update July 28, 2016:

It’s been announced today that Cambodia will begin to offer a retirement visa that waives the work permit requirement for retirees. Read our full update about the Cambodia retirement visa here.

Since my last update, not much has happened in the work permit world. Most expats do not have work permits, and the crackdown seems to have ended. The only foreigners who have been required to get work permits are those working at large businesses and schools, although there are periodic crackdowns in areas with primarily foreign workers, such as Koh Rong. For the time being, there does not seem to be reason to worry about the issue.

Update Aug 13, 2015:

Several readers have sent me this article from the Khmer Times on July 30th stating that those without work permits will be fined at the airport if they attempt to leave the country. No one has reported having their work permits checked at the airport, including people I know who have departed Cambodia this week. I do not consider the Khmer Times to be a credible source of information, and until I see it reported elsewhere, I will assume that this report is not based on anything real.

Update June 16, 2015:

Although there is not a lot of news to report on the work permit front, I thought I would update this post with the current situation, ie. the current rumors. After applying for a work permit at the start of the year, I finally got my work book five months later.

I used SmartUp Cambodia, based in Siem Reap for my permit. The fee for this service was $60 in addition to the $100 per year for the permit. Remember, the year means calendar year, so even if you arrived in December of 2014, you’ll need to pay for 2014. I have heard reports of agents in Phnom Penh asking hundreds of dollars for processing work permits. Do not pay an exorbitant rate! Using an agent was helpful, but if your application is straightforward, it’s not necessary. The real benefit to using an agent is that they can help negotiate you negotiate a lower price if you’ve been here a long time — think 10+ years. If you’ve only been here a few years, you’re going to pay $100 per year; I haven’t heard of anyone paying less. You can apply yourself by going to the Ministry of Labor.

They do not seem to be enforcing with the fervor that they were earlier this year and only seem to be focusing on low-hanging fruit, large companies with several foreign staff. The reason for the lack of recent action might be because they are backlogged with applications, so it’s likely the crackdown will start up again, eventually. However, the alleged list of foreigners that were going to be hunted down and fined seems to have been shelved.

If you have a public facing job, it makes sense to get your work permit sooner rather than later. If they (and by they, I mean the Ministry of Immigration who are doing the enforcement for the Ministry of Labor) show up at your place of business and demand to see your work permit, you will be forced to get one, plus pay a $125 fine.

There is still a lot of confusion about what the laws mean and how they should be enforced. There have been reports of people being stopped on the street and having money demanded if they could not produce a work permit, but I suspect that these are just rogue officers asking for bribes. If you are confronted in this way, just refuse to pay and head to the Ministry of Labor to apply for your work permit. You’ll be given a receipt that you can keep while you wait for your actual workbook and card. The cost will be $100 per year, plus an extra couple of bucks to have someone help you translate the forms. Everyone who reports doing it themselves says it is simple and painless.

The situation for the retired and volunteers is still up in the air. Personally, if I was a member of one of these groups I might take my chances, because I still think it’s possible that once the laws are clarified (and they are still very, very unclear) that there may be a retirement visa or an agreement that those not drawing a salary in Cambodia will not need a work permit.

Overall, the situation does not seem as dire as it did in the previous update below.

Update Jan 8, 2015:

It seems that the long-promised enforcement work permit is finally happening.  In yesterday’s Cambodia Daily, an article declares: Government to strictly enforce work permit law from next week. For those naysayers who say they’ve heard this before, this time we think they’re for real. The rules are still very unclear and are being enforced different in different cities, but this is what is generally true:

All foreigners on long-stay “ordinary” or “business” visas need a work permit, regardless of their actual work status. Those on NGO visas are exempt.

In the future, retirees may have a special visa, but for now, they need a work permit.

Employers are responsible for obtaining a work permit for their employees, but in practice this is not always happening. If you have a formal employer, you should speak to them about your situation.

Business owners, the self-employed and freelancers need a work permit, but they can sponsor their own. Technically you need to register your business (and get your taxes set up) to do so, but you can start the work permit process before actually completing your business registration.

If you’re self-employed without a visible business, it’s likely that you will be able to avoid the requirements some time while they look for more visible foreigners. However, it’s my personal opinion that the requirements are going to get more stringent and it will be harder to get a work permit in the future without a “real job.” Therefore it may make sense to bite the bullet and do it sooner rather than later.

In many cities, businesses that employ foreigners are being told they must get work permits. If you wait until you are asked for one, you will be fined $125, plus the regular costs. Therefore, it makes sense to get your paperwork in order before you end up on their hit list.

Those who apply for work permits are required to pay $100 for each calendar year from their first long-stay visa. This means if you arrive in September, 2013 and apply for a work permit today, you will need to pay $300, for years 2013, 2014, and 2015. Most long-term expats are able to negotiate a lower rate — it’s been the case that they will generally settle for 5 years ($500) regardless of the length of your actual stay. Previous (French) reports of them waiving the back years entirely have been unsubstantiated.

Although a residence card is also required, they have not started issuing them yet.

Another requirement is that foreigners submit to a blood test each year, to test for unspecified communicable diseases. A fee can be paid to avoid the test, and if you, like I, are terrified due to the recent HIV outbreak in Battambang that was quite possibly deliberately spread by a local doctor, I would just pay the fee.

It’s important to note that at the current time, work permits are not tied to visas. So even if you are on a “business” visa, you do not have a work permit. Moreover, it’s an entirely different department that is is issuing work permits than the one that issues visas. This means that even if you do not have a work permit, you will be able to renew your visa at a travel agent (but not at the immigration office), and you won’t be stopped coming in to or leaving Cambodia if you don’t have a work permit. For now.

There are a number of businesses and consultants offering to do the work permit paperwork for fees ranging from $20 to $60. I’ll get a list together if anyone is interested. I’m testing out SmartUp Cambodia in Siem Reap, and will let you know in 4-6 weeks how it goes.

Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger. It’s possible this will all blow over as in years past, but personally, I don’t think it will.

Update Aug 28, 2014:

In today’s Cambodia Daily, there’s an article entitled Work Permits Now Required for Foreigners. “The Labor Ministry has begun to enforce a long-neglected law that requires foreigners employed in Cambodia to have work permits, according to ministry officials.
Teams of inspectors have begun scouring the country to ensure that foreign employees and businesspeople have the proper documentation, with employers and workers facing hefty fines in the event that they are not certified.” The article also mentions large retroactive fines and payments for prior years.

Elsewhere, the French Embassy has been advising its citizens that they should get work permits, but pay for 2014 only, ie. no retroactive fines for previous years.

In Francophone Cambodge Mag, Anthony Galliano of Cambodia Investment Management reports back from his recent meeting with the Ministry of Labor. He reports that they have clearly stated that volunteers, retirees, and the unemployed will not need work permits. Anyone drawing an income in Cambodia will need a work permit from a registered business. If you are a shareholder in a licensed, registered business, you do not need a work permit. If you are self-employed or are a shareholder in a non-registered business, it would behoove you to register your business, although it seems unlikely that the self-employed will be one of the first groups targeted. Galliano suggests using this reprieve as a chance to quietly get all necessary paperwork in order.

Update: Aug 22, 2014 

The Cambodia Daily has published an article saying the Ministries of Labor and Interior “met on Thursday to outline the government’s plan to more strictly enforce measures for employers of foreign nationals to ensure that their staff has proper documentation.” It looks like they will be asking all employers to get work permits for their employees. There is no mention of any other class of visa holder such as volunteers, self-employed, retirees, etc.

Aug 8, 2014

You may have heard that the situation with Cambodia work permits has changed recently. That’s half true. In order to work in Cambodia, one has always needed a work permit. However, it was very rarely enforced and the great majority of people didn’t bother. In the last few weeks, however, there have been several announcements that the work permit requirement is now going to be enforced.

Here’s what you need to know.

First, this announcement has happened every few years for a long, long time. Most of the time, they crack down on a few expats and then the issue is dropped. This time the threats seem more serious, but it is still very much up in the air. There have been a few crackdowns this year, most notably in Kampot, but nothing has changed yet for the great majority of expats in Cambodia.

It appears that if you work for a company in Cambodia you will, at some point in the near future, need to get a work permit. They are going after the largest and most visible companies first.

Expats who have been in Cambodia the longest have the most to worry about. Work permits cost $100 per year, and they are checking passports and counting how many years you have in Cambodia and charging for the previous years. They also add fines into the mix–which are, of course, not listed in the prakas and are subject to the whims and financial solvency of those collecting. This means that those with newer passports will pay less.

Thus far, it seems that Kampot has been the only city to be seriously affected. Even in Kampot, while many people were told to get work permits, many more were ignored. In other cities, there have been reports of police going door to door asking foreigners for a copy of their passport and visa. It’s possible that this is a prelude to a work permit crackdown later in the year, or it’s possible that the sangkats are just getting their records up-to-date, as they are supposed to keep track of where all foreigners live, anyway.

At the present time it is the employer’s responsibility to secure the work permit for their employees, although this may be changing. Any foreign employee of a registered business will need to get a work permit, although there is probably no need to do it until the Ministry of Labor demands it. However, many large employers are finally getting the message and registering their foreign employees, so you may be one of the lucky ones that gets your work permit quickly and without any hassle.

It’s important to note that at the current time, work permits are not tied to visas. So even if you are on a “business” visa, you do not have a work permit. Moreover, it’s an entirely different department that is is issuing work permits than the one that issues visas. This means that even if you do not have a work permit, you will be able to renew your visa, and you won’t be stopped coming in to or leaving Cambodia if you don’t have a work permit.

And then there’s the residency card. According to the prakas, foreigners need a visa, work permit and residency card. Thus far there has been no proof that any residency card has ever been issued to a foreigner, so for the moment, this point can be ignored.

But I’m a volunteer, retiree or unemployed?!

The status of volunteers, retirees, the unemployed is still very much up in the air. Work permits may be required for all holders of long-term visas. However, a recent visitor to the Ministry of Labor says that those not drawing a salary in Cambodia will not be affected.

So what should I do?

Probably nothing. This may, as it has many times before, blow over. If you work for a large organization, your employer will secure a work permit for you. If you work for a small organization, it’s likely that you will not be asked for a work permit for at least a while. It is my personal opinion that marching into ministries and waving cash around trying to solve problems that have yet to be clarified or put on paper is a bad idea. So I wouldn’t advise doing anything until the rules become more clear, unless your employer has already brought it up.

But, but, but…

These rules have been on the books since 1995, and there’s nothing wrong with Cambodia finally deciding to enforce them. Of course it’s not ideal that are choosing to retroactively punish expats for not having work permits when it was often not possible to get work permits in years past. But it’s important to remember that Cambodia, even with an extra $100 a year tacked on for a work permit, still offers one of the easiest and cheapest visa/work permits in the world.

This is all of the information that is available to date. Clear as mud, right? Remain calm and let’s see what happens. We’ll update this blog if anything changes.

Looking for more information? Check out our page about Cambodia visas and our page about Cambodia work permits.

161 Responses to What’s going on with work permits in Cambodia?

← Older Comments
  1. Wah says:

    Hello, just a quick question. We arrived in Cambodia last August 2017. Got the eb 3-month eb extension twice. Last January 2018 we left cambodia. Last Feb 2018 we got back in Cambodia — now with a 3 months eg extension. Do we need to pay for last year’s work permit? We will leave Cambodia this June and will most likely not be returning for awhile. Will we get fined as we leave the airport? I was confused and just heard that not paying for work permit will have a penalty of 10usd per day.. will we pay 10 USD per day for our stay here from August 2017 to Jan 2018? I know it doesn’t matter, but we don’t work here. And foolish for us to sort of let this whole thing get passed us.. looking forward to your reply. thank you in advance.

      • Vincent says:

        This will not apply to all as I am retired.
        I did go for an annual visa renewal today. They did ask for a letter from employer and work permit. I said, I am not working.
        They printed form in English and Khmer with my name and passport info stating that I have been in KH for ….. years and not working but retired. My thumb print on document along with the agents print processing the application
        Cost up from $290 to $302. Now wait. Because of KH New Year takes longer then normal.

      • Wah says:

        Hello, thanks for the link and quick response. I don’t have Facebook though :( will find a way and manage. Thanks once again.

  2. Alberto says:

    Question about the 2018 WP deadline. Does it mean that I won’t be able to get a Work Permit after this deadline?
    My intention was to arrive to Cambodia in April and, then, ask for the Work Permit and register as a sole proprietorship to legally do my work as a freelance working for companies located outside Cambodia.

    I guess that am confused as to which cases does this deadline apply.

  3. Billy says:

    Hi – thanks for all this very helpful information. I have a couple of questions, as I am currently deciding whether to take a job with an employer or go freelance.

    First, “Another requirement is that foreigners submit to a blood test each year, to test for unspecified communicable diseases. A fee can be paid to avoid the test, and if you, like I, are terrified due to the recent HIV outbreak in Battambang that was quite possibly deliberately spread by a local doctor, I would just pay the fee.”

    Do you mean you pay the fee directly to the department issuing the work permits and just skip the medical to avoid the risk of communicable diseases? Thats officially allowed?

    Also, what about if i have an employer. If they are seeking a work permit on your behalf, do you still need to get a medical done for them?

    Many thanks again

  4. Hi, Lina! Love your book and recommend it regularly in the Facebook community about visas and work permits. I just saw your 11-October update, and I have a question: I got my first 12-month EB in late August but I’m freelance and have not yet applied for a work permit and I’m traveling out of the country in early November. I’d rather not spend the money on a WP that apparently won’t do me any good (per your 11-Oct update), but I don’t want to be fined when I re-enter Cambodia at the conclusion of my November trip, either. Any advice?

  5. Casey says:

    Hi, is anyone able to tell me whether a work permit is required for a B type visa? I believe that’s the visa issued to ngo employees. Thank you

  6. Izakaya says:

    Hi Lina,

    Are you able to go into more detail on the employee quota? Does it just refer to foreign employees and do you know what the number of people alllwed is?

  7. Matt says:

    I have a one year business visa which expires in the beginning of November. I would need to travel out of Cambodia at the end of October and then back again mid-November and staying for about a month before leaving for good. Does anyone know if it would be possible to get a single entry three month extension, i.e. can I get an extension and then travel in and out or is the single entry already used if I am in Cambodia when I get the extension?

  8. Lucy says:

    Hi Lina
    Apologies if this information is included somewhere already but I missed it. I know you have to cobble together information from many sources and none of them are 100% reliable, but anyway I’ll ask……I would like to know the source of information for this paragraph in your very helpful June 2017 update:”If you let your work permit lapse the fines can be substantial, although how substantial is still unconfirmed. I have heard around $650 or $10 per day (plus the cost of the work permit).”. Currently my Intl NGO applied for a work permit for me for a contract I had with them 2016 and now again for another contract 2017. As yet the work permit has not appeared and MoLVT is finding a dozen new reasons a day not to process the application. I am worried that my 2015 work permit has therefore ‘lapsed’ (although the reason is that MoLVT just won’t process the application, not because we did not make an application in the years for which I needed a work permit). So I wonder who had the experience of paying fines for lapsed permits and who said it was $10 a day? And is the $650 you mention for one year…or?

    Hope that question makes sense? Also have you heard of a rule that MoLVT will not process applications if the work contract has less than 3 months left to run?! (This is the most recent ‘reason’ MoLVT officials refuse to process the application, even saying my organisation should draw up a new contract with a more current starting date…..)



    • Lina says:

      Hi Lucy, I was given the $650 number by an agent who processes work permits, but that was usually in regards to people who had several years of unpaid work permits. There are no set rules, unfortunately. I have not heard of anyone being denied due to the contract not having enough time on it. What are the other reasons they haven’t processed your application?

      • Lucy says:

        Hi Lina…an update…MoLVT charged my Intl NGO $630 for 2017 because they did not apply in the first three months of 2017 Jan-March (although they tried to but met obstacles – would not pay bribes) – and another $630 penalty for not having a permit in 2016 although my NGO-employer had made first moves to get work permit soon after my contract started with them in June 2016. I had bought a work permit via P Hogg previously for 2015 and backdated many years before 2015. (My NGO passed the cost of the permit in 2016 for the period I was not contracted to them onto me).H

        Do you know about the rule that if you do not apply in first few months of the year then the $630 penalty is applied ? (What if a person arrives in Cambodia and is contracted to start work any day after the last day of March?)

  9. John says:

    This is about a specific incident with a group of foreign teachers without permits at a private high school in kampot.

    I was invited to work as manager of foreign teachers at a private high school in Kampot, but after reviewing their documents I discovered that none of their foreign staff had work permits. I was offerred the job because i can speak and read Khmer fluently. But the side effect was that I found Khmer docs showing the school was not in compliance with Cambodian labor law.

    This is an aspect which foreigners on the subject of work permits don’t realize: the businesses (and schools here are private limited companies, by the way) often do not have the legal permission to hire foreigners and offer contracts necessary to create a work permit. They are regularly fined just as you are! The reason you don’t know about this is in large part a matter of priority, interest, and language barrier.

    In particular, the Kampot school did not have license to contract foreign labor. This was one of the reasons the foreign teachers were actually discouraged by the director from applying for permits. The school was fined $1000 in 2015 when immigration found several foreigners working without permits.

    as i sat in the director’s office reading some of these docs, he called a friend at the labor ministry and asked if/when immigration would visit his school. i heard him say, “let’s not do each other any harm here.” But this was a strange repetition of the damage control he did the previous year which failed. Some people never learn.

    My conclusion was that I could not feel condifent working with such uncertainty. I informed the other teachers of the situation. Some left and others stayed. My association with the school was brief. I received a document from immigration actually stating the date and time of their inspection.

    The director could not fathom a plan to resolve this problem and suggested foreign staff could stay home from work on that day. But then immigation changed the date and it became a guessing game. One foreign teacher messaged me and begged me to delete all his paperwork from the office – evidence of his employment.

    I left that situation with a great sigh of relief.

    Now, I received a knock on my door in March this year and it was a foreign teacher working at the same school, same director, but with another foreign manager of foreign teachers. Facing the same problem the new manager told all the foreign teachers not to worry about the permit, but as you all know this is absurd advice from a careless counselor. She had heard from neighbors and friends who were inspected, and she was concerned. She eventually quit the job, and wisely so.

    I believe that the law is in fact well defined, but the communication and enforcement are chaos. It’s a guessing game wihout merit or benefit. Don’t play it. If you need extra money register with a freelance site and work online. (Don’t freelance for a Khmmer interest, or you will have the same problems).

    Good luck to you all!

  10. Sergejs says:

    I think it is worth to mention that getting declared yourself self-employed to Cambodian authorities will likely lead to be liable for Cambodian income tax.

    I don’t have real understanding whether only established as a business (sole prorouator) self-employed are liable for income tax or not. In my opinion, it would be logical if those un established would be under the same tax regime as sole proprietors.

    DFDL says – subject to the characteristic local vagueness and lack of clarity of legal norms – that sole proprietors with sales under 5kUSD per month are exempt from any tax – income tax, patent tax or VAT.

    I would be happy to get input on this subject.

    It’s worth to note that Cambodia has Double Taxation Avoidance treaty only with Singapore, so if you still keep tax resident status in your home country, and domestic tax law of that country doesn’t stipulate credit in any form of income tax paid abroad, then you may be liable to pay cumulative income tax your on your self-employed income both in Cambodia and that country.

    • Sergejs says:

      Hi, Lina :)

      “It would appear that those sole proprietors whose turnover does not exceed on average USD5k per month will not be required to pay any tax – be it corporate or patent tax. If a sole proprietor or partnerships annual turnover exceeds USD175k per year then it will be classified as a medium taxpayer.”

      Can you please comment how do you see income/patent tax taxation of self-employed established as a sole proprietors, and not established ones? In terms how do you see current legal situation/ current practice?

      Thanks :)

      • Lina says:

        Apologies for the delay in responding! I think all of this is still very much up in the air, but at the current time it appears that self-employed persons do not need to register their business (at least, they do not in order to get a work permit). What the threshold is, I do not know–probably 5k turnover or an employee. There are very few actually self-employed people, I think, but the government clearly doesn’t know what to do with them. What do you think?

  11. Dionne says:

    Hello everyone. I have a little concern about my work permit. I already signed a contract early this month and will start working on august s.y 2017-2018. I was planning to return home to my country for important matters for it will be 3mos b4 start working. I secured my business visa valid until november this year.The case is, my company will provide our working permit on august,it will be very hard to exit from my homeland without my work permit. My question is, is it ok to ask my employer for a visa guarantee letter as a assurance that i will get soon my work permit? I need some of your advices and experience regarding this. A lot of Thanks in advance.

    • Vincent says:

      My best guess would be ,seeing as you have a business visa good until, November, you can come and go multiple times and work permit will not be necessary. AFTER you start working then yes, it would be good to get the work permit.
      The two are not connected at this time. Not sure where your homeland is
      BUT follow Lina’s advice.

  12. Alex says:

    Hi! I wonder if I lived in Cambodia for several years, then went and canceled the visa, and then issued a new one, I will need to pay for the previous year or the count will stay on the new?

    • Lina says:

      If you got a new passport at the same time and the visa was a entirely new one, not an extension of the old one, I think you might away with it.

  13. angela says:

    hi! am looking at moving to cambodia to work and i will appreciate if you could explain some things to me.
    i went to the website for the work permit and it seems like i need to have a job in cambodia first before i can get the work permit.
    could you possibly give a guideline on that please? do i need to have a job before getting the permit?
    do i need to be in cambodia to get a job?
    do i have to come to cambodia on the ordinary visa then get a job and apply for the work permit?
    please help with answers as soon as possible. i really appreciate it!

  14. Bahodur says:

    The other puzzling issue is the past due of the actual work permit term. If say I got it last year and was not able to pay the renewal fee at the end of the year and need to extend it now. I wonder how they would calculate the penalty fee for the time you have not extended it. Any ideas?

  15. Raj says:


    I’m bascially a digital nomad and am planning on living in PP for the next year or so.

    From what I understand, I now need a work permit with my business/long stay visa? How would I go about applying for this?

    Or should I just come over and stay for a year or so and then worry about the work permit issue when its time for renewal?


  16. Susyn says:

    As far as retirees, medical pensions, volunteers and the unemployed are concerned, an Ordinary visa E gives you the right to stay in Cambodia to work. This means have the good intention of starting a small business (eg. Coffee shop, bar, crochet work and thus Business Registration, no need work permit), working for an NGO ( unpaid but may still get a work permit), digital nomad (not drawing salary in the country, get work as a Consultant (no fees – work permit), or if unemployed, be actively looking for work. Work permit or business registration required to open a local bank account, or get loans and licences plus residence permit or ID card so very useful. Cheers.

    • Vincent says:

      Thanks Susyn for the info. Could you provide more details as to the Agency (phone) and people you got this info from. Thanks very much.

  17. Iain says:

    Such bad information in places. You cannot obtain a WP without an employer reference number. Fact. So how can unemployed/retirees get one?

    • Lina says:

      It is possible to get one without an employee reference number, acually. The issue is that the rules are not clear, and are being enforced differently in different parts of the country. As I said in the most recent update, I believe that once the rules are clarified retirees and volunteers won’t need work permits, but at the moment it’s still up on the air.

    • Vincent says:

      Try referencing Mr. Heng Sour from the Ministry of Labor who stated that retirees and volunteers do not need a work permit.
      If challenged it will work and you can even make up a phone number for them to call. Immigration has no idea of the rules either but not above trying to get a few bucks.

    • Amanda Coffin says:

      Iain, for what it’s worth, a friend of mine, also retired, went to the Immigration office in Pochentong in late March. He had heard that they are now issuing actual retirement visas. The official there (and I regret to say I don’t have the official’s name at hand) told my friend that there is still no retirement visa. We retirees should simply carry on renewing our ordinary visas as we’ve been doing. Now, this is in Phnom Penh — as Lina pointed out, officials elsewhere may be singing a different tune. If challenged, I’d be inclined to use the name Vincent supplied, but the official line for retirees seems to be no work permit required, just keep your ordinary visa up-to-date.

  18. Stephen LLoyd says:

    Thank you for that but
    Has anybody got any for update to date news on my question.
    Could someone recommend an agency in Phnom Penh for arranging the Work Permit?

    -And what would be the price for setting up the permit for this and next year?

    -How long would it take?

    • Vincent says:

      If what you are calling an “ordinary” visa is a 30 day tourist visa the answer is no. If it is a 3 month business visa the answer is yes.
      The electronic visa (E-Visa) is still confusing to me as I always thought it was just an electronic tourist visa.
      Sorry can’t help with your work permit questions. I do not believe there is a multi-year work permit so you would need to do one for 2016 and then get it renewed for 2017.

  19. Stephen LLoyd says:


    -Could someone recommend an agency in Phnom Penh for arranging the Work Permit?

    -And what would be the price for setting up the permit for this and next year?

    -How long would it take?


  20. Bill Charlton says:

    I have worked and traveled world wide extensively. I was interested in a job offer in Cambodia but suspicious that I was required to obtain a drugs free certificate…Just another scam?

    • Vincent says:

      Sounds to me like a reputable employer with legit criterea. Thailand requires a Thai Cultural Certificate. Now if that does not sound like a scam…… But it is real and necessary.
      Goood luck.

  21. Ben says:

    My company is currently applying for the work permits for 2016 and I would like to share my experiences.

    Thankfully my company employs a large number of foreigners, which is why they take care of all the paperwork and deal with the ministry of labor. Here’s how the process worked so far:

    Everyone had to go to the ministry of labour for a health check. The cost is 25$ and they basically confirm that you have a heartbeat and your body temperature is below 40°C. 3 or 4 passport pictures were required for this and they asked for some dubious questions (e.g. they wanted to know the name of both parents).

    Some more forms needed to be filled in and submitted together with an additional 3 pictures as part of the actual application. The ministry of labor also requires you bring in your original passport to check on which date you got your first e-visa. I now have to pay an additional 75$ on top of the 100$ fee for 2016, because I entered Cambodia in early December 2015, even though I haven’t started working until January 2016.
    I was told by our HR departments that the employment cards could be expected to arrive by June or July, so let’s see how long it actually takes.

    I hope this information is helpful.


    • Vincent says:

      Thanks Ben, Very informative for those seeking work permits. Being retired, I think I will be permanently retired before they get things together. 1/2 joking.

  22. steve says:

    Hi Amanda Coffin..

    I have to agree with what you say because its all true…and I am checking other countries rite now..
    My problem is that I retire in April so I don’t need a work permit…and I am sure I am not the only one in this position…

    Best Regards…

    • Amanda Coffin says:

      Hi Steve, if you are retired, no longer working, then you will no longer need a work permit in Cambodia. The Minister of Labor announced this in a Khmer Times article last year, and a friend of mine was told the same thing at the Immigration Department in Pochentong last week.

      They are considering implementing a retirement visa, but it’s not in place yet. The official told my friend that he should get an ordinary visa (E-visa) and simply renew it every year. The cost for a one-year multiple-entry e-visa is just shy of $300. For the time being, at least, this is what they’re telling retirees.

      • Vincent says:

        I am fairly certain you can not enter Cambodia with an e-visa/tourist visa and then convert it to a 6 mo. or 1 year visa. You need to enter with a business visa and then get a long term visa in Phnom Penh. $290 is currently the correct price for one year if you use a travel agent to handle it for you which is the easiest way.

        • Amanda Coffin says:

          Yes, Vincent, that’s right. You cannot convert a tourist visa to an e-visa. The confusion is all in the terminology. The e-visa used to be called the business visa; now it’s called an ordinary visa. But yes, if you ask for the business/ordinary/e-visa on arrival, you can then get it extended to a one-year visa for $290. I also agree that the travel agent is easiest. Cheers!

          • Vincent says:

            Thanks for the update as I was under the impression an e-visa was just an online version of a tourist visa. I am outdated but there was a 3 month business visa. Be aware, even if it said 3 months, the 3 months meant little as the STAMP date in and leave by date is what mattered. Check closely.
            Happy St. Patricks Day and lift a pint or 2…

            • Amanda Coffin says:

              Ha! You’re right, Vincent — there is now an e-visa that’s the electronic tourist visa. They also refer to the business-now-ordinary visa as an E visa because these visa numbers all begin with “E”. I assume the retirement visa when they issue it will be an o-visa. O for old, over the hill, out-of-date. But no, that too will likely be another kind of e-visa — e for exhausted, elderly or end-of-life. Happy St. Pat’s to you, too. Cheers!

      • steve says:

        Hi Amanda..

        looks like you know your stuff…
        I hope they get the retirement visa sorted at some point in time so I can be legal..

        Best Regards and Thanks for your time and info.

  23. steve says:


    • Amanda Coffin says:

      Steve, I don’t equate work permits with extortion. Realistically, what country allows foreigners to enter and stay without proper documentation? I’ve lived in several countries at this point, and I’ve always been required to pay for visas, permits, and so on. Cambodia has been very relaxed about documentation in the past, and this work permit requirement doesn’t strike me as either excessive or onerous. It just caused quite a bit of confusion when they announced the enforcement,because they didn’t communicate the details clearly.

      Maybe it’s time to consider shifting to a country where you don’t feel like a “hated white monkey.” Switzerland, say? (But I suspect you might have to pay for a work permit there, too.) Good luck, Steve.

      • Vincent says:

        My words would be less polite. Cambodia, today, is really only 20 years old after the illegal bombings of the Vietnam War era and the subsequent rise of the Khmer Rouge. Took the Vietnam army to put an end to it as the West deserted them. Yet they still love us and yes they also like our money, so what. The ‘rich’ Khmer look down on their own people so not many buying new cars but dream of a new motorbike.
        Think of your home Country at 20 or 25 years old. Where were they??
        Time you go home if you hate it so much.

  24. ace wayner says:

    Hi! I already have a work permit with my previous company and it expired on the 31st of December, 2015. Now, I am with a new employer and I would like to ask how is the process of extending my work permit. Do I need to apply for another work permit book? or just head to the labor to change the employer?

    Thanks in advance.


  25. vincent says:

    I literally just returned ,2 hours ago, from a long weekend in BKK and had no questions asked and I must have 10 expired Cambodian visas in my passport.
    Off topic, but I will add there had to be 100 people tring to get VOA’s not sure why these people don’t use the evisa service or maybe just no plans.

  26. Peter Bergmans says:

    Hi! Great info here. Still got some questions.

    -Could someone recommend an agency in Phnom Penh for arranging the Work Permit?

    -And what would be the price for setting up the permit for this and next year?

    -How long would it take?


← Older Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *