The Cambodian Department of Immigration (part of the Ministry of Interior) ensures all foreign nationals obtain an official work permit/employment card to be eligible to work in the country.
We look at how you can obtain a work permit in Cambodia and apply for a long-term extension to their ordinary “business” visa (also known as an E visa).
Obtaining a Work Permit in Cambodia
New rules came into effect from Monday 4 September 2017 to enforce that a Cambodian Work Permit is required when foreigners apply for a six-month and one-year E visa extensions. Cambodian Labour Law, Articles 261, 264, 265 and Prakas No. 196, dated August 20, 2014; already stated that all foreign nationals working in the Kingdom are required to hold a work permit.
Article 261 states “No foreigner can work unless he possesses a work permit and an employment card issued by the Ministry in charge of labour”. Foreign nationals wishing to work in Cambodia must also meet the following conditions:
- Have a job offer from an employer compliant with relevant regulations regarding the employment of foreign nationals.
- Have legally entered the Kingdom of Cambodia.
- Possess a valid passport.
- Possess a valid residency permit.
- Be fit for the relevant job.
- Have no contagious diseases.
Three-month E visas for Cambodia can be obtained without a work permit/employment card, and extended indefinitely, however they are only single entry compared to the multiple entry six-month and one-year E visas.
All new foreign arrivals to Cambodia must purchase a one-month E-type visa, priced at $35 – not a tourist (T) visa – to be eligible for an “Extension Of Stay” (EOS) EB visa. Currently, a one-month EB extension costs $50, three months is $80, six months is $160, and one year is $290 when purchased through an agent.
You can also see this Expat Guide 2020 on living in Cambodia.
The visa fees are supposed to be less when dealing directly with the Department of Immigration, although some foreigners report that this route can be a long drawn out and frustrating process and accept that paying an agent to handle things is the best way.
New visitors to Cambodia are allowed to apply for their first six-month, or one-year EOS EB visa, without obtaining a work permit, thus allowing them sufficient time to find a job. However, the application for their second six-month or one-year EB visa, and all subsequent long-term EB visas, must be accompanied by proof of a valid work permit.
Non-working spouses can also apply for EB visas but must provide a letter from the company employing their partner confirming their status in Cambodia in their visa application.
The Immigration Department revealed two new types of visa in 2017 – retirement visas (ER) and student visas (ES).
Retirement Visa (ER) Cambodia
An ER requires absolutely no documentation from the retiree. However, if immigration officials catch an ER holder working in Cambodia, considerable fines and potentially jail time and deportation are to be imposed.
Student Visa (ES) Cambodia
The ES visa requires an official letter from the student’s educational institute confirming their enrolment.
EP Visa Cambodia
An EP visa is issued to foreign nationals looking for a job, or considering starting a business in Cambodia, after the expiry of their initial 30 days stay under the E-class visa.
The EP is extendable up to three months however foreigners unsuccessful in gaining employment within these three months are not permitted to continue their stay in the country.
Cambodian Work Permit applications
It is the responsibility of an employer to assist each of its foreign employees to request and secure a work permit and an employment card in Cambodia. However, if you do need to arrange for your own Cambodian work permit, see the information below.
It is advised to foreign workers in Cambodia to keep a copy of their work permit/employment card on their person at all times.
A work permit/employment card, are two separate documents but can be applied for at the same time and considered as one application.
The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MOLVT) upgraded from a manual to an online system (Central Management System) in 2017. The online processing system has been established in cooperation with a private company (E-Solution).
Applications must be made online via the Ministry of Labour’s Foreign Workers Centralized Management System.
The online system initially received substantial criticism, especially from foreigners frustrated with having their applications refused. Many of these expats were either self-employed or freelancing, although it is technically possible to successfully obtain a work permit/employment card for these types of workers. Individuals can get help with the application process from agents who charge a fee per application which varies on a case-by-case basis.
If you have applied for a work permit but have yet to receive your documentation, you can submit a copy of the receipt of your application when applying for an E visa extension.
Work Permit Renewal period
The official period for renewal of a work permit is between January and March each year.
Companies must submit their Foreign Worker Quota Requests to the Ministry of Labour between September and November each year.
The advised processing period for a Cambodian Work Permit is 15-20 working days after all supporting documents are submitted and the payment is completed.
How much does the Cambodian Work Permit cost?
As of 2020, the fees for the Cambodian work permit are approximately:
- USD 200 for Work Permit
- USD 80 for one-year penalty if you have never processed work permit.
- USD 35 for over quota per foreign staff (for companies).
*These could be subject to changes.
The minimum age for employment in Cambodia
In Cambodia, the minimum age for employment is 15 years, as set out in the Labour Law. Minors (under 18 years) cannot sign an employment contract without the consent of their parents or a guardian. A minor cannot be employed to perform night work either.
The Department of Immigration is located opposite the Phnom Penh International Airport and deals with visa extensions for foreigners.