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Working in Cambodia

While many move to Cambodia in order to retire or pursue artistic endeavors, others come to pursue employment opportunities in the Kingdom of Wonder.

We’ll tell you all about employment in Cambodia, from how to find a job to how to start a business. Whether you’re working for someone else or for yourself, it’s important to know how Cambodian culture affects the way business is done here. If you’re running a business, there’s even more to learn. And of course we’ve covered work permits and income taxes. We’ve got a special section for those who are interested in teaching English, including how to find an English-teaching job in Cambodia. Additionally, we’ve got some advice on volunteering in Cambodia.

Employment in Cambodia

Whether you want to start a business, work with an NGO, or get a job in the private sector, employment opportunities abound in Cambodia.

Pay in Cambodia ranges from Western-scale wages to bartending gigs where you might get a couple bucks a night plus free drinks. Many expats come to Cambodia to volunteer or intern for a small stipend and get international development experience. While the number of private-sector and English-teaching jobs available to expats is quite large, most do not command a huge salary, but they still offer enough to allow you to live an easy life in an inexpensive country. Those who work for NGOs (nonprofit Non-Governmental Organizations) experience a greater range of salary, from the lowly volunteers to the well-paid country managers.

Another perk of working in Cambodia is the huge number of public holidays–there were 26 in the year 2012. Most expats will also get some regular vacation days as well. And one of the things that expats most appreciate about Cambodia, in addition to the country’s lax approach to visas, is its laissez-faire attitude toward work permits. Although technically work permits are required, in practice they are not needed for many jobs. If a permit is necessary, your employer should obtain one for you through the Ministry of the Interior.

Many expats who move to Cambodia choose to teach English. Teaching jobs are plentiful and, while most are low-paid, there are some plum posts at the genuine international schools for those with actual teaching qualifications. For those without such qualifications, never fear–there are jobs available to you, too.

Other expats choose to set up a business in Cambodia, whether a “lifestyle” business that aims only to break even or an ambitious enterprise that will build you a fortune in the Kingdom of Wonder.

Working Permits

It’s important to note that work permits and visas are not the same thing. In theory, although you may have gotten a year-long visa (often called a business visa), that doesn’t necessarily give you the right to work in Cambodia. In practice, Cambodia is one of the least regulated countries in the world when it comes to visas and employment, and many expats do not have the work permits that they ostensibly require.

There are two types of work permits in Cambodia: temporary and permanent. Temporary work permits are for most regular expats and last the length of the individual’s visa. Permanent work permits are reserved for major investors and friends of people in high places.

In order to get a work permit, your employer needs to apply for you through the Ministry of Interior. Essentially, this is entirely up to your employer, but if they do want you to have a work permit, you will have to provide the following:

  • 3 sets of Application Form as issued by the Ministry of Interior
  • Passport with valid visa
  • 3 photographs (4×6), taken from the front without hat or glasses
  • Certificate of Health from a physician in Cambodia
  • Written work contract
  • Insurance policy issued by employer or any insurance company
  • You will also have to pay a fee. Although the actual amount of the fee is not stated in Prakas 555, the document concerning Cambodia’s “Management of Foreigners’ Work Permits,” it’s generally known to be $100.

At the current time, work permits are essentially a non-issue. You do not, in practice, need a work permit to get hired at a company in Cambodia. Most expats do not have them and the government rarely asks about it. There have been more crackdowns recently–they usually last a few days and a few people are told they need to procure permits–but then everything goes back to business as usual.

Most English schools, for example, have a small percentage of teachers with work permits that can be shown to the police when they come by to ask. The schools don’t bother to obtain permits for the rest of the staff. Although this is the case at the time of writing, it is likely that at some point in the future laws about work permits for expats will be more vigorously enforced.

For those who are required to get one, a work permit usually costs $100 per year. However, be aware that in recent crackdowns foreigners have been required to pay $100 per year backdated for the entire time they’ve spent in Cambodia, not just the current year.

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