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There's a tea money thing going on in Kampot over work permits; which, has been made worse by hysterical foreigners demanding to pay for work permits in fear of being busted. No, you can't get an agent to do a work permit - you have to do it yourself but... it does appear to be pretty easy to do so (unlike the visa). Work permits are processed locally and not centrally. The crazy part of all this is that the law requires a residence permit prior to getting a work permit. The Cambodian government admits - it has never issued a single residence permit but it has issued quite a lot of work permits....

Yes, you only need a work permit if you're employed in Cambodia. Yes, some of the hysterical folks in Kampot decided to pay even when they didn't need one.

The are occasional crackdowns on work permits in Snooky. I know people who have been caught in Phnom Penh but there seems to be no concerted effort to do so in the capital. In Siem Reap, to my knowledge, no-one's ever been asked for one.

OK so nothing to worry about then. Also, I have only ever stayed in hotels or short term apartments (they also accept long term residents but I have never stayed more than 2 nights) in Cambodia as my trips are too short to justify long term apartment rental. There was one time I was going to stay with friends but only for like 3 nights and I wouldn't have been registered anyway, just would have stayed over. I decided not to stay at that friends house because there was no bed for me only a sofa and looked too dirty and uncomfortable, so I decided to extend my stay at the hotel I was staying at. This was in Phnom Penh. The reason I brought this up is because I read that the expats in Kampot were staying in rented apartments or houses.

In the vast majority of cases, I stay only in Phnom Penh (or earlier this year, Koh Kong) and simply try to visit clients I have done business with in the past or intend to do business with or if I'm passing through on the way to Vietnam, I may or may not get the opportunity to visit friends if my trip is too short. I simply have the 1-year multiple entry visa to avoid having to apply for new visas all the time and after a few entries apart from saving space in your passport it may actually begin to be cheaper than applying for a whole set of new visas each time you enter. If Cambodia offered visa free visits for some nationalities like Laos does where I get 15 days visa free, I wouldn't even need the visa extension in the first place and would be more than happy just coming in on those visa exempt visits. Until that happens though, I'm sticking with the 1-year extension, which has worked for me in the past (well last time I only needed 6-months but ended up with nearly 8 since that extension expired on my birthday the following year).

If one tries to get a work permit themselves but has no job, I wonder how this would be done? An agent should still be able to assist right, at least go in with you? Especially for a foreigner who can't speak or read Khmer? I certainly wouldn't go to the work permit office myself, knowing only a tiny amount of Khmer and not knowing what to do, it would be a pretty intimidating and weird experience. Someone would surely be able to assist? It seems that agents can do just about anything for you in Cambodia.

I've lived here for 3 years and no-one has so much as suggested I might need a work permit. I don't; I don't work in Cambodia at all.

From what I hear, from friends who have permits, the process is absolutely painless and requires no agent or additional support. Forms in English, process conducted in English, zero hassle. They'll take anyone's money for a work permit - the vast majority of Cambodian businesses are unincorporated so paperwork is viewed with extreme leniency.

Thanks for your comments, they have been very useful. The reason I am asking is because apart from the immigration crackdown in Thailand that is worrying me (it shouldn't affect me personally at this point, but it could in the near future depending on how officers interpret my travel history) I am contemplating possibly opening a business over in Cambodia as doing so in Thailand would be too tedious and involved. Additionally, I believe that starting a business in Cambodia should be quite easy with the investment needed not being very high. However, for the time being I will simply be heading over to Cambodia, back and forth for business and short term travel as I have done so far. Once I get to the stage of opening the business I suppose I will look into the work permit requirement. Thanks for confirming that I probably don't have to worry about it for now, especially in my situation.

Cambodia allows expats to sole-trade without licensing of any kind. Incorporation takes time and is a bit of a pain from a paperwork perspective but it's cheap and anyone can open a Ltd. company in Cambodia - no requirement for local ownership at all. (Except for some NGOs).

There is some debate over whether a business owner needs a work-permit or not but if they do; it shouldn't be too hard to get one.

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Cambodia allows expats to sole-trade without licensing of any kind. Incorporation takes time and is a bit of a pain from a paperwork perspective but it's cheap and anyone can open a Ltd. company in Cambodia - no requirement for local ownership at all. (Except for some NGOs).

There is some debate over whether a business owner needs a work-permit or not but if they do; it shouldn't be too hard to get one.

Thanks again, your advice has been very useful. So opening a small factory all I would need is enough capital to open it, then I could just employ any number of locals I need and perhaps an expat or two if I want right? No need to worry about expat/local worker ratios or minimum capitalization (i.e. 2 million Baht) like in Thailand?

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Cambodia allows expats to sole-trade without licensing of any kind. Incorporation takes time and is a bit of a pain from a paperwork perspective but it's cheap and anyone can open a Ltd. company in Cambodia - no requirement for local ownership at all. (Except for some NGOs).

There is some debate over whether a business owner needs a work-permit or not but if they do; it shouldn't be too hard to get one.

Thanks again, your advice has been very useful. So opening a small factory all I would need is enough capital to open it, then I could just employ any number of locals I need and perhaps an expat or two if I want right? No need to worry about expat/local worker ratios or minimum capitalization (i.e. 2 million Baht) like in Thailand?

For a factory; you'd need to incorporate, pay the appropriate license fees and then yes, you can employ whomever you like and it's up to you how much you invest and when you invest it. This could change at some point in the future but that's how it is today. You would probably also find that you need to pay "tea money" to inspectors, etc. but that's true pretty much everywhere in Indochina and they won't be out to bankrupt you like they would in the Philippines.

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An important consideration is the unusually high cost of electricity in Cambodia which can make it hard to turn a profit.

And of course the incredibly erratic provision of electricity in Cambodia too... outside of Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap services are pretty dire and even in those cities; blackouts for 2-4 hours are semi-regular events.

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An important consideration is the unusually high cost of electricity in Cambodia which can make it hard to turn a profit.

And of course the incredibly erratic provision of electricity in Cambodia too... outside of Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap services are pretty dire and even in those cities; blackouts for 2-4 hours are semi-regular events.

Maybe that explains why the Koh Kong industrial zone has so few tenants? I've been past there a number of times over the past few months and have not identified one new tenant in any of the shop houses next to the industrial zone that are advertised to Thai and other international investors using both English and Thai in their advertising.

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An important consideration is the unusually high cost of electricity in Cambodia which can make it hard to turn a profit.

And of course the incredibly erratic provision of electricity in Cambodia too... outside of Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap services are pretty dire and even in those cities; blackouts for 2-4 hours are semi-regular events.

Maybe that explains why the Koh Kong industrial zone has so few tenants? I've been past there a number of times over the past few months and have not identified one new tenant in any of the shop houses next to the industrial zone that are advertised to Thai and other international investors using both English and Thai in their advertising.

I'd say that the number one deterrent to running a manufacturing business in Cambodia is the abysmal transport infrastructure. It's costly to move things around. You need to pay a lot of bribes to move freight down highways and there is a high-risk of an accident causing loss of life and/or products. It takes nearly 20 hours to drive from the Poi Pet border to the Saigon border - it should take around 6-7 hours if the roads were fit for purpose. Despite the huge amounts of "work" down the sides of this major arterial route for the country; the roads have actually deteriorated rather than improved.

Then there's the problem of sourcing raw materials. Then the problem of an appallingly uneducated population (even "graduates" have essentially just paid off their lecturers for passes). Then the problem of importing equipment (Cambodian customs are greedy for bribes and will keep your stuff for an age just for kicks - I had a developer friend who had so spend 5 days walking a mere $2k of equipment personally through customs). Then the problem of exporting your goods (those lovely customs folk again). And so on...

I love Cambodia but I don't think that if you won the lottery you could set up a successful manufacturing business here without being in with some very serious folks (okhna).

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