Can foreigners own land in Cambodia? The short answer is No. But the Royal Government of Cambodia has eased on this restriction by allowing foreign nationals to own property via Strata Titles.
Strata title in Cambodia is a relatively new type of property ownership and the only one granted to a foreign national. This type of property title is presently restricted to condominiums and, more recently, office buildings because foreign nationals are not allowed to own landed properties in the country.
The question now is, how do you, as a foreigner, get a Strata Title?
DISCLAIMER: Foreign buyers, local buyers, foreign buyers with Cambodian citizenship and companies have to satisfy slightly different requirements to purchase a Strata Title. We strongly recommend consulting a real estate agent to walk you through the specifics of your case. For this guide, we will be walking you through the general steps for an individual foreign buyer.
How to obtain a Strata Title
Obtaining a Strata Title starts with the owner of the property. But before heading to the sales office of a condo, we advise buyers to first check with the local cadastral office and local commune council if the developer/owner does indeed have legal ownership of the original title.
In the case of property developers, this step is meant to verify their ownership of the Hard Title and its eligibility to be partitioned into Strata Titles.
Upon completing the above mentioned due diligence, buyers may proceed in dealing with the company itself.
While condo developers will likely have representatives to handle sales, we advise buyers to obtain a copy of their company/national ID as another layer of due diligence. This goes double for individual condo owners offering their unit(s) for resale.
Once that’s clear, the buyer and the owner of the hard title (or an authorised representative) must physically be present at the same time in the cadastral office to initiate the title transfer. Foreign buyers are required to be in Cambodia for the title transfer because their thumbprint is required to be affixed in the Vente Definitive and the Application for Ownership Transfer, both being standard documents provided by the land department.
It’s important to note that the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC) requires fully certified documentation of the identity and marital status of the buyer to be supplied and translated into Khmer. This includes the name of the buyer because English names are not permitted on property titles.
The requisite fees for title transfers are paid at the General Department of Taxation (GDT). Transfer taxes are paid after the land office reviews and certifies the submitted documents. These same documents will be submitted to the GDT who will then assess the value of the property based on a proprietary set of criteria and calculation methods. An officer from the GDT will then must perform the evaluation. This may take anywhere from one to two weeks. After the assessment, an invoice will be issued containing the transfer tax to be paid.
NOTE: It is common practice for sellers to pay the transfer tax, but this can go either way. Be sure to clarify this part of the transfer with the owner.
A receipt will be issued by the GDI as proof of payment to the party who made the payment. This receipt, along with the certified documents will be brought back to the Cadastral Authority at the MLMUPC. A new original title, with the name of the new owner, will be issued by the Cadastral Authority.
Other ownership methods
If you’ve assessed that Strata Titles do not meet your needs, there are other methods such as obtaining Cambodian citizenship, or a company lease, to own landed properties in Cambodia. But those involve completely different steps which are relatively more complicated. We highly recommend seeking the assistance of a Cambodian lawyer to properly guide you through the whole process of these alternative methods.
Ivan Fredriech Cano is a content writer at Realestate.com.kh