Cambodia is a magnet for digital nomads, remote workers and freelancers. Here’s our guide to finding a freelance job in Cambodia.
It’s not uncommon to see expats and young locals alike hunched over their laptop at one of the capital’s many coffee shops. For many freelancers in Cambodia, these air-conditioned space, accompanied by WiFi, double up as their office during the day.
Freelancers in Cambodia are a common sight – both foreign and local. Digital nomads, remote workers and freelancers are commonly attracted by the relatively low living costs and easy way of life. Then there’s the ease of entry and doing business, and abundance of opportunities that can arise.
Legalities of a Freelance Job in Cambodia
Legally, all foreign residents in Cambodia require an E-class visa and work permit. To acquire an E-class visa, a work permit is required. As a freelancer, you must apply independently through the Ministry of Immigration.
History has proven that this is either extremely easy or an absolute faff, depending on who is working that day. As always in Cambodia, for a little extra, there are many small travel companies that renew visas and work permits hassle-free and without the need for any paperwork.
There are many freelancers in Cambodia who work without a work permit. And, to be fair, they are rarely checked. However, it is advisable to get one as authorities are clamping down – and you face hefty fines if caught.
As the government also clamp down on tax collections, more companies are keeping it legal. So, if you’re freelancing in Cambodia with a legally-compliant Cambodian client, they may ask for a copy of your work permit before being able to process payment.
In addition, when Cambodia freelancers work for a registered Cambodian company, the company is required to pay 15 percent tax on your behalf in lieu of VAT. This is known as withholding tax and unlike VAT, the company cannot offset or claim this back, so it is an extra cost to them.
The company will either add 15 percent to your invoice, or ask you to subtract 15 percent from the total to pay this. The good thing is that as your client takes care of the tax for you, as a freelancer in Cambodia you can be tax compliant without having to do any tax returns yourself.
Where to Work as a Freelancer in Cambodia
The majority of foreign freelancers tend to set up shop in the capital, especially if their main source of freelancing income is locally-sourced as this is where all the main business takes place.
However, Siem Reap is growing in popularity, with some others heading straight to the quieter shores of Kampot. Rents outside Phnom Penh are, of course, cheaper. But amenities may not be as reliable, such as the internet.
Coffee shops are a popular option with the freelance crowd. The majority provide steady internet, air-conditioning and are happy to let people set up shop there all day. In Phnom Penh – and increasingly Siem Reap – co-working spaces are in abundance.
Factory Phnom Penh’s Workspace 1 has shared and private options, as well as meeting rooms, Sahaka Offices offers shared and private work space, and The Desk is another option for freelancers in Phnom Penh.
Alternatively, there are plenty of shared office options available that can be found posted on the various expat groups on Facebook, or – more likely – through word-of-mouth. Then there is always the option to set up shop at the pool or head to the beach.
Types of Freelance Jobs in Cambodia
Freelancing is common in certain industries, especially the creative sector. Common freelancers you can expect to meet include writers, graphic designers, web designers and developers, photographers and videographers, translators and social media marketers.
Cambodia is also awash with teachers, with some also able to work remotely, commonly teaching online in countries such as China. The pandemic’s online learning has seen the online teaching community in Cambodia grow.
While many freelancers work locally in Cambodia, a large portion live here but source the main bulk of their work from overseas. Another common trend for freelancers in Cambodia is to continue working for clients in their country of origin while slowly building up a local base.
And it’s not uncommon for freelancers in Cambodia to rely on international sites, such as Upwork, to find work. Thanks to Cambodia’s low cost of living, especially as prices skyrocket across Europe, living here can help you stay competitive with prices.
How to Find Work a Freelance Job in Cambodia
It’s a case of village life in Cambodia, and new arrivals will quickly discovery the tight-knit community that exists here. This makes networking essential, and there are plenty of events to attend. Most chambers of commerce hold monthly networking events, which are well worth attending for Cambodia freelancers. The most prominent are AmCham, EuroCham and BritCham.
Many of the international hotels, such as Raffles, Sofitel and Rosewood, also host regular events that are great for networking. And the capital is constantly hosting art exhibition openings, restaurant openings and other events that pose potential.
Name cards are king in Cambodia, so don’t forget to bring a bunch. They are cheap and quick to print at any of the many print shops that dot the country.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on job pages as they often post contract and freelance work. Bong Thom is popular.
It’s also worth noting that while there is sun, sea, sand, pools and parties, your clients are businesses operating in a conservative country so it pays to be professional at all times. Don’t, for example, turn up to a business meeting wearing shorts and flip flops – unless you are our co-founder.
Whether you’re a freelancer, digital nomad or remote worker, Cambodia is a great place to set up base – and there’s plenty to do in your spare time. Join the growing community of Cambodia freelancers today.