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From early in 2015, the Cambodian government has mandated that all foreigners who are in the country on a business visa must have a work permit. The laws have been on the books since 1997, but have been irregularly enforced since then. The newfound zeal for enforcing the laws is thought to be due to the upcoming integration of the ASEAN countries into the ASEAN Economic Community.


The previously unenforced laws apply to people working for any company in the Kingdom, as well as those volunteering for NGOs, and freelancers. However, some details remain unclear: Currently spouses and children living in Cambodia do so under a business visa, even in cases where they do not work. Many retirees are in the same situation. Their status is unclear. Will the Ministry of Labour create a new type of visa for these expatriates?

Before applying for the permits, employers must first submit quotas of foreign workers to the Ministry of Labour for approval. After receiving permission to formally employ the foreigners, employers must pay a fee to apply for the necessary documents, thus legitimising their employment here in Cambodia. Applications must be accompanied by passport-sized photos of the employee, copies of passport and visa, proof of insurance and a medical certificate issued by the Labour Ministry’s health department.

Under the 1997 Labour Law, there are actually two documents that foreign workers are required to hold: a work permit and an employment card. Work permits are theoretically held within the human resources department of the employing company, while the worker retains the employment card and can use it as identification in Cambodia.

Businesses as well as individuals that do not comply with the directive will reportedly face fines of up to $180.

The work permits are also thought to have a retrospective aspect, whereby expats on a business visa are required to pay $100 for each year they have been in Cambodia on a business visa. All these details have emerged piecemeal from the relevant authorities, and the exact situation remains unclear.

The US Embassy has advised its citizens in the Kingdom to seek assistance over the issuance of work permits. Management Insider will continue to research the issue and give updates when possible.





 Photograph supplied