Import and Export Procedures in Cambodia – Best Practices

Posted by Reading Time: 6 minutes
By Bradley Dunseith

Cambodia is strategically positioned within South East Asia. With a major port on the Gulf of Thailand, the country also shares land borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

In 2015, Cambodia exported US$16.1 billion worth of goods and imported US$15.3 billion. Cambodia’s top export destinations include the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and Vietnam. Cambodia’s top import sources include Thailand, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Furthermore, many goods traveling through South East Asia go through Cambodia to reach their final destination.

In this article we explain best practices for import into and exporting out of Cambodia, while highlighting the unique procedures required to ship imported goods through the country on transit clearance.

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Both importers and exporters first need to register with Cambodia’s Department of Business Registration, under the Ministry of Commerce.

Cambodia uses the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) created under the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). To register with ASYCUDA, importers and exports require a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). To acquire a TIN, importers and exporters must register with the General Department of Taxation, under the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Finally, importers and exports must register with the General Department of Customs and Excise.

Subsequently, importers and exporters need to register their value added tax (VAT) accounts with the General Department of Taxation (Ministry of Economy and Finance).

Importers and exporters operating out of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) must apply with the Free Zone Management Department of the General Department of Customs and Excise in Phnom Penh.

Required Documents

For importers

Businesses importing into Cambodia must provide the following documents when their goods arrive:

  • Customs Import Declaration;
  • Commercial Invoice;
  • Packing List;
  • Road Transport Document (if arriving by land);
  • Bill of Lading (if arriving by sea);
  • Import Permit;
  • Insurance Certificate;
  • Tax Certificate;
  • Certificate of Origin; and
  • Company Registration.

 For exporters

 Businesses exporting out of Cambodia must provide the following documents before their goods depart:

  • Customs Export Declaration;
  • Commercial Invoice;
  • Packing List;
  • Road Transport Document (if departing by land);
  • Bill of Lading (if departing by sea);
  • Terminal Handling Receipts (if departing by sea);
  • Insurance Certificate;
  • Export Permit; and
  • Certificate of Origin.

 Additional documents for certain imports and exports

All foodstuff, chemicals, drugs, and electrical (or electronic) equipment imported into Cambodia requires a pre-arrival assessment. This assessment is conducted by Camcontrol – the Cambodian Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate-General.

All animals (live or dead) as well as animal by-products require permission from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.

All plants and plant products require a phytosanitary certificate issues by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.

A complete list of import and export goods with proper HS Codes, tariff rates, and additional measures can be found here.

For goods in transit

Goods which traverse into Cambodia en route to subsequent destinations must provide an import declaration under Cambodia’s transit regime (under the General Department of Customs and Excise).

To transit goods through Cambodia, the follow documents are necessary:

  • Commercial Invoice;
  • Packing list;
  • Certificate of Insurance; and
  • Certificate of Origin.

Transitory goods do not incur import tariffs. But, either a check or letter of guarantee issued by a financial institution must be provided as security. Goods in transit must follow the route through Cambodia dictated by customs officials.

Tariffs and Taxes

Cambodia follows the 8-digit Harmonized System (HS) Code under the World Customs Organization (WCO). Cambodia’s tariff classifications confirm with Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN).

For importers

Cambodia applies tariff rates between 0 and 35 percent. Typically, primary goods and raw materials incur a tariff rate of 7 percent; capital goods and locally available raw materials a tariff rate of 15 percent and; finished products as well as alcohol, petroleum, vehicles, and precious metals a tariff rate of 35 percent.

For a complete good-by-good breakdown of tariff rates visit the website of the Cambodia National Trade Repository. Goods such as agricultural equipment, school material, pharmaceutical products, and sport equipment are exempt from import tariffs.

Cambodia charges a flat 10 percent value added tax (VAT) on all imported goods. Cambodia also charges a special tax on certain imported goods.

For exporters

Cambodia levies an export tax on goods leaving the country which ranges between 0 and 50 percent.

Special Economic Zones (SEZs)

Cambodia has established 14 SEZs to date – including at the port of Sihanoukville. Businesses operating out of these SEZs can import raw material and production equipment without paying import duties and are exempt from VAT on both imports and exports. 

As mentioned above, importers and exporters operating in SEZs require additional documentation.

Free trade agreements

Cambodia is a partner to the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement and a member of five regional FTAs through the ASEAN with:

  • Australia;
  • China;
  • India;
  • Japan; and
  • Korea.

In order to avail to the benefits of these FTAs, exports and importers must apply for a Certificate of Origin for their goods from the Export-Import Department.

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Cambodia is an important manufacture-for-export destination for both the US and Europe with growing importance with the ASEAN. As the country continues to comply with ASEAN-wide economic integration, opportunities for both importers and exporters will continue to grow.

Utilizing experts with up-to-date local knowledge can help exporters and importers to not only avoid customs-related delays and frustrations but also ensure import and export activity occurs quickly and remains profitable. Local experts at Dezan Shira & Associates possess years of experience supporting the establishment and growth of businesses across ASEAN, and are well situated to guide companies through Cambodia’s constantly evolving regulatory landscape. 

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