Although an unlikely expat hotspot, Cambodia’s popularity as a destination for working and retiring has sky-rocketed over the past two years. Many expats who emigrate to the country have previously spent time living in neighbouring Thailand. The capital city of Phnom Penh is home to the majority of expats and around 3 million Cambodians. It is a buzzing metropolis sprinkled with crumbling colonial buildings. It is favoured by expats for its convenience; coffee shops, cinemas, grocery stores.
At the end of July, Cambodia revealed a change in its visa regime that is expected to ramp up the number of new expats even further. Currently, expats entering Cambodia must have a business visa. This straightforward necessity allows the individual a year’s stay and gives them permission to work, volunteer, or start a business. Expats are more than welcome to renew their business visa annually. Whether working, or in retirement, most expats are happy with the current system.
The new visa scheme is aimed at retirees who do not need or require the permission to work or volunteer as part of their existing annual visa. Expats who are simply in the country to live their golden years with no interest in work will need to prove that they are financially secure. Also, they will need to provide documentation from their home country cementing their retiree status.
Cambodia’s immigration chief, Major-General Veasna, comments that the new Category ER visa will allow expats to live in Cambodia provided they can support themselves financially. He also went on to explain that expats already settled in the country will be free to transfer to the new visa if they prefer.
The new Category ER visa was expected to launch on the 1st August, but there will be a delay due to the necessary task of informing the foreign embassies of the change. As it stands, there has been no public information about any cost associated with the new visa. The ER visa is expected to generate a lot of interest amongst retirees next door in Thailand, along with those considering a move to Cambodia from the West.
Little is currently known about the new ER visa, but here is what has been solidified so far:
- The new visa is renewable annually
- ER visa holders will not require a work permit
- To apply for the new visa, expats will need to show proof of financial stability and retiree status from their home country
- Those on the ER retirement visa will not be allowed to purchase houses or land
Relocating to Cambodia from Thailand became popular in 2014. With changes implemented in Thailand by the military government, and a perceived risk of civil unrest, many took the plunge and moved across the border to Cambodia. Also, Thai retirement visas stipulate that unpaid or volunteering work is forbidden. This rule is generally disliked by expats. Thai officials began clamping down on those holding a Thai retirement visa who were volunteering with groups supporting local hill tribes and people in need of help. The rules in Cambodia are a lot less stringent.