Time Frames For Setting Up a New Business

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It’s hard to put an exact number of days on how long it takes to set up a business in Cambodia.

There are a lot of variables involved, such as the size of an operation, licenses required, construction needs, equipment, etc. But in any event, it’s a relatively fast process, according to Jim Swander, executive director of AmCham, the American Cambodian Business Council.

“It’s a lot faster than any other country I’ve ever seen,” he says.

Twelve years ago, Arnaud Curtat opened up the first Blue Pumpkin café in Siem Reap in less than 24 hours. These days, things take a little longer.

A report from the World Bank and International Finance Corporation found that it takes 85 days to go through nine procedures to start a business in the Kingdom. AmCham’s Swander says that can apply to even bigger enterprises, citing the example of an investor who came to Cambodia to set up a manufacturing operation. Armed with a solid business plan and good advice on where to go for his licenses, he was up and running within 90 days.

Others business owners and experts say the process can be even quicker—from just one week to a month, especially for small and mid-sized companies.

All businesses will need a commercial registration certificate from the Ministry of Commerce, a patent tax certificate and VAT certificate from the Finance Ministry and an office registration certificate from the provincial or municipal Office of Commerce.

Other requirements vary by sector. The oil and gas sector, the tourism industry, telecommunications, banking, etc., will need additional licenses.

While things generally go smoothly, “if you’re not prepared, it can take a long time,” Swander adds. Walking everything through yourself might save you on consultant fees, but having professional advice, such as from a business chamber, an attorney to review your documents, and a Khmer speaker who might even have contacts at the ministries can simplify and expedite the process.

Abigail Gilbert, of BritCham, says some people think they don’t need to register with officials at the outset. It’s true that while waiting for VAT registration, which can take up to two months, a business can operate. But get all the ducks lined up in a row from the outset, she advises.

It might delay the grand opening slightly, “but it will save you time and money later,” she adds.

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