Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson

Founder of Nomad Capitalist and the world’s most sought-after expert on global citizenship.

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How to Get Cambodian Citizenship: the “Weird” Investment Program


Cambodia, is a nation in Southeast Asia with low-lying areas, the Mekong Delta, mountains, and a coastline on the gulf. 

The Art Deco Central Market, the sparkling Royal Palace, and the archaeological and historical displays of the National Museum are some of Cambodia’s highlights found in Phnom Penh, the country’s capital.

Cambodia is an amazing country to visit.  While it may be one of the poorest countries in the world, Cambodia offers an interesting proposition to those who know to look for it.

So, what exactly does it offer? An intriguing frontier market with a lot of potentials. Ideal for young entrepreneurs and savvy foreign investors looking for an up-and-coming place to start investing. 

While there is a lot to commend about Cambodia, its citizenship isn’t exactly one of them. In fact, most people advise against it.

A Closer Look at Citizenship by Investment Programs
A Closer Look at Citizenship by Investment Programs

If you want to acquire Khmer citizenship, another name for Cambodia’s citizenship program, keep in mind that the program typically appeals to wealthy investors from richer countries. The investments brought into the country boost the economy, create more jobs and employment opportunities, and give the Cambodian government cash to spend on behalf of their citizens.

All the countries that have citizenship by investment programs also have proper rules and procedures for their implementation. They advertise their program extensively and detail all the requirements for applicants starting from indicating having a current valid visa.

Cambodia’s donation option of 10 billion KHR ($250,000) was canceled in December 2021. 

Now, Cambodia requires a 13 billion KHR ($320,000) investment in a company rather than a passive investment.

If the royal government requires investment in real estate or any other specific requirements, they advertise it. There is no mystery around their intentions. A Cambodian applicant has to submit relevant documents, as well as pass a test on Cambodian history. They have straightforward instructions on all aspects of the application process. All governments go through a due diligence process, screening and reviewing every detail for each candidate before deciding who to give citizenship to. 

What Makes the Kingdom of Cambodia Program Different?
What Makes the Kingdom of Cambodia Program Different

We understand why Cambodia has made this program.

Many countries offer legal citizenship by investment programs. Similar to Cambodia, most of these are in dire economic situations. 

These countries introduce citizenship by investment programs to strengthen their economies and create opportunities for the locals. 

How does the Cambodia Citizenship by Investment Program Work?
How does the Cambodia Citizenship by Investment Program Work

Until now the weirdest citizenship by investment program we’ve talked about has been Vanuatu citizenship by investment.  One strange thing about their program is that there are different prices for different applicants. Prices vary depending on who you are, who you know, and where you’re from. Quotes for citizenship can vary depending on your agent as well.

But the Cambodian citizenship by investment program takes it to a whole new level of weirdness.

There have also been various schemes and scams where people have claimed the service fee of $40,000 or $60,000 was the donation itself. We don’t think those people ever got passports.

How Can I Get A Cambodian Citizenship?
How Can I Get A Cambodian Citizenship  

Still wondering people obtain Cambodian citizenship? Get in line: you’re one of the thousands of people wondering the same thing as well. No one really knows how this program works.

The major criticism faced by the Cambodian citizenship program is its execution. While the program exists in theory, it’s extremely difficult to go through.

The government of Cambodia hasn’t provided any specifics on the program. Even the exact price is unknown.  To use this program you need to have connections to the King of Cambodia who has the power to grant citizenship to whoever he chooses, allowing you to get a letter of authorization for investment from the Cambodian Development Council.

This is what makes the process difficult. There is no official procedure. It isn’t clear if the payment is for citizenship or if it’s an indirect bribe. 

There are far better options available with much more clarity regarding the process and policy. 

However, Cambodia’s program is still relatively new. 

There are no set rules or investments so you can pretty much invest or donate as much money as you want. Again, your investment will be called payment for citizenship and that raises eyebrows.

Why Cambodian Citizenship?
Why Cambodian Citizenship

The biggest reason for getting Cambodian citizenship is not the travel benefits usually associated with second passports. Rather it’s the restrictive laws of the country that only allow Cambodian nationals to purchase land or on-ground property.

This leads to the question: what is your motivation behind pursuing a second passport?

If your answer is improving the passport portfolio, growing easy travel access, and finding tax-friendly places globally, then Cambodian citizenship isn’t the right option for you.

A Cambodian passport is only necessary if you are specifically looking to buy land in Cambodia. Generally, people leaving China or other restrictive countries in the region want this passport.

Those who opt for citizenship will be happy to know that they can choose to settle in the peaceful countryside of Cambodia, which permitted dual citizenship since 1996, or live abroad. If the country would grant its citizenship by other means, it can’t be to foreign parents. It has to be to those born to at least one Khmer parent having the Khmer nationality.

Traveling with a Cambodian Passport
Traveling with a Cambodian Passport 

The Cambodian passport is a relatively low-quality travel document and is therefore not the most sought-after for visa-free travel. It’s not very useful if you want to travel to the west.

It does allow for travel within the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region, but it doesn’t allow for visa-free travel outside this region. Even if you are traveling within the ASEAN region, it will be obvious that you aren’t a Khmer.

You might also be able to travel to some African countries visa-free with a Cambodian passport. 

Purchasing Land in Cambodia 

The most lucrative opportunity that Cambodian citizenship allows you is the ability to buy land in Cambodia. If you are looking to invest in Cambodia property, a Cambodian passport is the only fool-proof way to do so. 

The privilege of buying land is exclusively reserved for Cambodian citizens, or Khmer citizens, and citizenship holders. If you get a Cambodian passport, you can buy agricultural land and own ground floor properties in all parts of the country directly or through a Cambodian company. 

We say ‘ground floor’ because, in most Southeast Asian countries, foreigners are legally allowed to own apartments. The catch is that they cannot buy the land it sits on or houses. 

Other Southeast Asian countries don’t even allow foreigners to buy an apartment. 

Should You Get Cambodian Citizenship?
Should You Get Cambodian Citizenship 

The only use you could have for Cambodian citizenship is if you are planning to buy farmland for agricultural purposes. So if you want to continue owning land until Cambodia changes its laws and allows foreigners to buy land in the country this is your best bet.

Interestingly the economy has gotten better on its own, and as projected, prices in Southeast Asia doubled. In the case of Cambodia, the prices have quadrupled.

Cambodia is one of the few countries that have avoided global and regional recessions in the past few decades. But these exponential increases in property prices aren’t necessarily sustainable.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Cambodian citizen?

The Cambodian citizenship by investment program is highly overpriced compared to the benefits it offers. But other high-priced investment programs have gotten a handful of investors. 

Jordan is a good example. Their passport is in the same league as Cambodia’s. It got quite a good response from investors even though it had a $1.5 million investment requirement to qualify for citizenship.

On the other hand, when you compare Cambodia with countries in the Caribbean, Cambodia doesn’t have much to offer.

  • The countries in the Caribbean are nicer and have higher standards of living.
  • They offer excellent visa-free travel to numerous locations and are even tax-havens.
    The price is much lower. Caribbean citizenship by investment programs starts at $100,000, compared to Cambodia’s $250,000.
  • Caribbean countries have straightforward procedures in place for their programs.

While Cambodia remains a great country to visit, their citizenship by investment program is somewhat lacking and the price for citizenship is not great at all.

Cambodia has overestimated its passport value.

How Can I Get Cambodian Citizenship? 

The path for Cambodian citizenship by investment program isn’t clear. There are no official Cambodian citizenship requirements.

We don’t know how the passport process is going to go. There’s no information regarding the thought process behind this program. We also don’t know how to fill out the Cambodian citizenship application or if there even is one.

Everything we’ve talked about so far is hearsay. 

What we do know is that the process is risky. There’s no transparency or clarity offered to any valid passport applicant, so there’s no way of knowing if the officials you contact are legitimate. 

People close to the King of Cambodia can help you. But as we know, there are scammers out there.

The Cambodian citizenship by investment program is definitely not right for you if you do not plan on living in the country. As one of the poorest countries in the world, there really isn’t much to offer.

All this aside, depending on your intentions this could be a beneficial program for you.

Better Citizenship by Investment Programs Are Available
Better Citizenship by Investment Programs Are Available  

Cambodia might not have an investment program that we would recommend, but other countries offer more attractive citizenship by investment programs with plenty of benefits.

Our team will work with you to strategize and invest in citizenship perfect for you.

Get in touch with us today.

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