Working and Living in Cambodia


Year by year, the number of tourists booking Cambodia travel packages is increasing but paying a visit to this fascinating country with its highlights such as Angkor is different from actually living in Cambodia and different again from working in Cambodia where it is necessary to comply with residency and working regulations.

Cambodia suffered under the Khmer Rouge forty years ago, and despite its reign being fairly short, the devastation it caused remains difficult to forget. It is now a stable country intent on growth.

You can get a visa to Cambodia on arrival at its two international airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap as long as you have a passport photograph. Tourist visas to Cambodia are also available online but there are extra conditions involved if you intend or live and work in Cambodia or even if you have picked the Country simply to retire.

Business visas are issued by the Immigration Department but it is almost always a matter of your potential employer applying to the Department of Labour and Social Affairs for it to examine the validity of your working status. The system is stricter than it used to be and there is even a chance that retrospective action will be taken against current workers who did not receive valid work permits in the past.

working and living in cambodia

There is always demand for skills in Cambodia. Certainly, language skills are sought after. There are a number of private language schools that may provide you with an opportunity to work in Cambodia. On the surface then, it is fairly simple, if also fairly frustrating, to arrange to live and work in Cambodia. Teaching opportunities are good but you should not expect the pay to be anything special. Further, the hours can regularly be long. You will earn enough to live without a problem but you cannot expect to save a great deal. The demand for English is certainly increasing and with tourism numbers rising, the job opportunities for locals to get employment in tourism are rising as well.

There are also multi-nationals in Cambodia who employ a certain number of expats. Cambodia’s economy is slowly growing. The Khmer Rouge was responsible for so many problems in the Country 40 years ago and its effects lasted for a while.  Now the most important manufacturing industry is garments, representing 80% of Cambodia’s exports, with 90% of the 700,000 works involved being women.

When you go travelling in Cambodia you will see its largely rural nature. Over 5 million overseas visitors came to Cambodia according to the last full year’s figures so there are opportunities in many service industries if you feel you have the necessary expertise to fill a vacancy that a local could not do. However, salaries are unlikely to be as high as in many other countries in Asia.

There is some scope to start your own business in Cambodia but you will have to satisfy the authorities in order to do so. It will always be easier to do that if you have lived in Cambodia and have become familiar with aspects of society, law, tax etc.

In recent years, the Cambodian Government has become increasingly amenable to issuing business visas in order to attract foreign investment. It is a realisation that it needs to strengthen its economy; increased tourism numbers have certainly helped but anything extra that can increase local employment is more than welcome.The main two population centres are Siem Reap and the capital, Phnom Penh. Certainly, if you are deciding on setting up a business, these are the two most likely places to do that.

visa to cambodia

A short-term visa is valid for a 30-day stay but it can be extended quite considerably with a year costing US$ 200 currently. Extending a visa does involve surrendering your passport for anything up to a month, and of course its validity must not be an issue.  There is plenty of paperwork involved but you can get the necessary advice to help you. There is a much quicker, unofficial route to extending a visa and there are few problems doing that time and again although it is more expensive.

You are not permitted to do voluntary work or teach English unless you have a business visa. Dual citizenship is available, if time consuming. It allows you to stay long term and own land but if you really want citizenship, be prepared to donate a figure in excess of US$300,000 for the benefit of Cambodian people. If you have already lived in Cambodia for 7 years, it may be possible but you will need to demonstrate your language skills, written as well as oral.

People are more adventurous these days. Some finish their education, get a wife and a mortgage and begin a career not far from home. Others decide to see the world which is increasingly easy given relatively cheap and readily available flights. Indochina has become a very interesting and popular destination with Angkor among the most recognisable photographs in travel literature. It follows that Cambodia has become a country that those yet to want to settle into a traditional career might want to spend more than just holiday time.

There are plenty of places that you can go to get more information on living and working in Cambodia and Cambodia travel agents will be more than happy to help as well. Do your research and see if it suits you to pick Cambodia as your next home. It will be an experience you will never forget if you take the plunge and sample life in this fascinating country.