Working in Cambodia?
Cambodia: Work Permits, Tax and Social Security
The Myth of the Cambodian Work Permit
Cambodian work permits are a confusing and mysterious affair, and one that is particularly poorly regulated. According to the 1997 Labor Law, every foreign employee is required to have a work permit. However, many expats live and work in Cambodia without a work permit, simply because they are not aware, or do not think, they need one. While you may have previously got away with this, officials have tightened up on enforcing this law. If you want to avoid a hefty fine, we recommend that you get a work permit — better safe than sorry.
If you want to learn more about Cambodian visa requirements, take a look at our guide article on moving to Cambodia.
The Development of Social Security in Cambodia
In the Cambodian constitution of 1993, the government laid out details of a social security system, to which all Cambodian citizens are entitled. The social security rights apply to all formal workers, and guarantee citizens social benefits such as access to pension schemes and compensation for work-related injuries or illnesses.
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF), which was introduced in 2008, is responsible for providing social security — including an employment injury scheme, a health insurance scheme, and a pension scheme — to registered members who work in the private sector. The NSSF currently covers 18 out of 24 of the Cambodian provinces.
The health insurance scheme was only introduced in late 2015, and the pension scheme in 2017, so it is yet to be seen to what extent they work. Civil servants are covered under the National Social Security Fund for Civil Servants (NSSF-C9), while Armed Forces personnel and the Police are covered by the National Fund for Veterans (NFV). Civil servants receive various benefits in the form of sick leave, paid maternity leave, old-age pension, and work injury coverage. In addition to these, employers are required to provide benefits to formal sector workers such as paid maternity leave or healthcare coverage. It is best to talk to your employer about the type of benefits they provide and ensure private coverage if necessary.
It’s Time To Talk about Taxes…
For tax purposes, you are considered a Cambodian resident if your principal place of abode is there, or if you are in the country for more than 182 days per calendar year.
As a resident, your worldwide salary is taxed, while non-residents are only taxed for salary from a Cambodian “source”. Your employer will withhold this tax from your salary and pay it to the tax administration on your behalf.
The tax rates for resident tax payers are as follows:
- 0% for a salary of up to KHR 1,000,000
- 5% for a salary of up to KHR 1,500,000
- 10% for a salary of up to KHR 8,500,000
- 15% for a salary of up to KHR 12,500,000
- 20% for a salary over KHR 12,500,000
In addition to salary tax, expats might have to pay taxes on profits or imports and exports. If you are unsure, you should contact the General Department of Taxation for more information.
Business Etiquette in Cambodia
When working in Cambodia, it is important to keep a few things in mind during meetings and negotiations. For instance, hierarchy might play a much bigger role there than in your home country. The most senior person in the office is usually the decision maker. Your Cambodian business partners will introduce people with the honorific title “Lok” (for men) or “Lok Srey” (for women).
When you exchange business cards, usually after the initial introduction, make sure that you present them with your right hand or both hands. Have one side of the card translated into Khmer and present it with that side up. Although it might sound strange, it is important that you treat business cards with respect. Give your business partners time to build up trust towards you.
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