If you’re opening and operating a business in Cambodia, then familiarising yourself with the relevant ministries is a must. Registering, licensing and gaining work permits for staff is an essential step in starting any business in the Kingdom, and it may be worth recruiting the skills of an interpreter if you do not speak Khmer.
Dealing with Ministers and Ministries
- The Council of Ministers is the equivalent of the Prime Minister’s cabinet and is made up of the ministries and their relevant heads. The remaining 26 ministries are all headquartered in Phnom Penh and in the majority of cases have departmental offices in the various provincial capitals.
- During the process of establishing operations in Cambodia, it will be necessary to register with and seek licences from various ministries, depending on the areas in which the business plans to operate. In some cases the ministries are responsible for the oversight of a particular industry sector, for instance Agriculture and Fisheries, Posts and Telecommunications, Tourism and so forth.
- Others, such as the Ministry of Environment, play a broader role and will interact with various industries.
- Publishing companies, for example, require a licence from the Ministry of Information, businesses involved in construction projects will require permits from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, while those engaged in the tourism and hospitality trade will require licences from the Ministry of Tourism.
- Knowing which licences and permits to apply for can be troublesome, especially for those embarking on new ventures in the country. It’s worth contacting the local industry association if there is one, as well as your national business chamber.
- Alternatively, there are many business and legal advisory firms that can assist with obtaining the required authorisation. If you choose not to use the services of a business advisory firm when dealing with the ministries, it is recommended you use a local, Khmer-speaking, intermediary, as the majority of the necessary paperwork will be written in Khmer and in many cases there will be no English translations available. If possible, this should be someone who has connections within, and familiarity with the workings of, the particular government department, which should ensure the process is completed in a timely manner.
- In many cases there will be no English translations available. If possible, this should be someone who has connections within, and familiarity with the workings of, the particular government department, which should ensure the process is completed in a timely manner.
- In recent times, encouraged by the Ministry of Commerce, some ministries have begun posting application forms online on their websites for download (in both Khmer and English language in some cases). This can make matters much easier, however, is yet to occur across all ministries, and for all forms.
- In every case the business will first need to be registered with the Ministry of Commerce, after which (in the case of a “real regime“ business) it will need to register with the Ministry of Economy and Finance to receive its tax identification number.
- The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training will also need to be notified of the opening of a new business.
- This Ministry conducts workplace inspections and requires proper registration of all employees; a process which should be updated monthly.
- The National Social Security Fund is administered by the Ministry of Labour and all businesses are required to enter their Cambodian employees into the fund.
- The cost is roughly 0.85 percent of the employee’s salary, with contributions payable monthly. The fund gives employees access to free medical treatment at designated government hospitals, for working-hours accidents and injuries, also covering them to and from work.