In contrast to neighbouring Thailand, westerners do not get a free tourist visa when they arrive in Cambodia. When it comes to business visas however, Cambodia is one of the easiest countries to acquire one and the purpose of this article is to guide anyone who wants a Cambodia business visa through the process. Do not be misled by the Cambodian e-visas widely advertised as these are for tourist visas only, business travellers must apply in person unless the company you are working for has acquired one on your behalf.
If you do have to get one for yourself the process is pretty simple. The business visa is for those who intend to work in Cambodia or who are staying for more than 2 months. You can get an initial business visa from Phnom Penh airport and it will cost you $25. You must have ticked the relevant box on the visa application normally provided by the airline and present it with your passport and a spare passport size photo. Your passport must have at least 6 months remaining and at least one empty page.
Many make the mistake of thinking that proof of actual or intended employment is enough to secure a business visa but it isn’t. Your initial business visa is valid for one month but can then be extended for periods of one, three, six and 12 months. Please note, however, that the one and three month extensions are only available on single entry whilst the six and twelve month extension allow multiple entry and exits without the visa becoming invalid.
Even though you can apply for your initial business visa in person at Phnom Penh airport, it may be worth your while to engage the services of an agent to do it on your behalf. They charge a modest fee for this but it is stress free and if you go through a travel agent they will usually have you passport back to you, complete with visa, within 24 hours. These agents can also deal with visa extensions if you need them.
A visa isn’t the only documentation you need that allows you to work legally in Cambodia; you will also need a work permit and an employment card that has been issued by the Ministry of Labour. The latter should be obtained on your behalf of your prospective employer. It is also up to the employers to make sure that these work permits are renewed on a yearly basis.
There are two work permits available that allow foreigners to work in Cambodia. There is a temporary one for those whose intended work falls into the categories of management and staff specialists, technical staff, skilled workers and service providers.
Foreigners should apply for a permanent work permit if they are immigrants who are recognised by the Interior Minister and if they are foreign investors, or spouses or dependants of foreign investors, as recognised by the Council for the Development of Cambodia. Neither work permit can be issued to children under the age of 18, whatever their sex. If anyone under 18 intends to work in Cambodia they must be registered on their parents or guardians work permits.
The way you apply for the two work permits differs, so here is the process for each one. For the temporary work permit you need to get 3 sets of application forms from the Ministry of Interior and return them there when completed. Attach any required passports or documents and your visa. Also send 3 4×6 photographs taken from the front without glasses or a hat. You also need to send a health certificate from your doctor, a written work contract, an insurance policy from either your employer or an insurance company and your fees.
For a permanent work permit you once again send all documentation to the Ministry of Interior but these differ from the temporary one. You will need to send a photocopy of a document that proves you are an immigrant or an investor along with passport, any required documents and your visa. You must also send 3 4×6 photos without glasses or hat, a certified statement from any Cambodian bank verifying a bank deposit and your work permit fee.
Police stations within provinces and municipalities will take your work permit applications and forward them to the Ministry of Interior on your behalf. A temporary work permit will be valid for the same length of time as your visa whereas a permanent work permit will be approved initially for 2 years and this can be renewed for 2 years at a time. You must apply to renew work permits at least 3 months before they run out to ensure you are covered.