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Difficulty of importing valuable personal effects to Cambodia?

Posted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:29 am
by des Esseintes
Hello all,

This is my first post, so I hope that I'm doing this correctly. Let me preface this by stating that I lived in Phnom Penh before, so this is not my first rodeo. I will soon be moving to Phnom Penh for a job that I have accepted, and I am considering moving most of my household there. In the good old days, I remember that Cambodian customs / douane could be a little "fast and loose" with valuable items. As I recall, back in the early aughts one of my foreign friends in Cambodia had his entire inheritance seized by customs in Sihanoukville, and essentially had to surrender everything to greedy officers. It appears at first blush that customs / douane have become more professional, but I wanted to get your collective personal wisdom on this matter.

I have a somewhat decent collection of art, antiques, books and media from various places around the world, and I am wondering whether there might be problems with importing them into the country? These are my own items, would not be for sale, and would be taken with me when my contract is finished (a number of years hence).

So, my questions are:
1) What are taxes / import costs like on original items like these?
2) Could there be problems in repatriating my personal effects when my contract is over?
3) Is there any chance of them being, *ahem*, appropriated by the authorities for their own pleasure / use?

Also, on a separate topic: Why aren't the Serbian and Montenegrin flags available as flag avatars on this forum? I had to go with one I didn't want.

Re: Difficulty of importing valuable personal effects to Cambodia?

Posted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:27 am
by General Mackevili
des Esseintes wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 4:29 am
Also, on a separate topic: Why aren't the Serbian and Montenegrin flags available as flag avatars on this forum? I had to go with one I didn't want.
Sorry about that! My only advice for that is try and search for other possible names for the flag you wanted. For example, I believe Brits have to find a flag called 'Great Britain' to get the Union Jack, etc.

Re: Difficulty of importing valuable personal effects to Cambodia?

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:28 pm
by TWY
My own experience is that there is NOT a "set of rules". Yes, there are rules but how they are applied (or even known) is random.

If shipping from overseas I'd personally recommend using DHL and sending a container. Make sure the manifest includes everything and the relevant codes. That way things that should be allowed for personal use are much more likely to sail through customs. Since DHL delivers in Cambodia they will handle custom clearance. Now I'd also add that they charge a small fortune - I got a quote for a small shipment from Bangkok to Cambodia and it was so outrageous I could only laugh.

If attempting to send by land you can expect great challenges as a foreigner. I've brought through some items, had printed copies of relevant duty codes/rules/etc in both Khmer and English and it didn't matter. No money paid, no goods entering the country. There is a reason that many Thai based businesses will not deliver to Cambodia.

There was a gentleman that lived close to us that sent a container of his furniture for a home they were building. I know he paid a duty fee but not how much. His stuff sat at customs for a few weeks so I assume he had some difficulty but eventually it was resolved.

Good Luck

Re: Difficulty of importing valuable personal effects to Cambodia?

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:45 pm
by Jerry Atrick
If you are importing personal effects, it's possible to declare them in advance at some office in the Vattanac Capital building and gain a total tax exemption.

Or so customs officer at PP Airport cargo terminal told me last week while I was cooling my heels there.

Re: Difficulty of importing valuable personal effects to Cambodia?

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:31 pm
by Bitte_Kein_Lexus
Don't do it. I've gone through nightmares before for small personal items. Unless you work for an embassy and get a container of your stuff shipped over (or your company does it for you), I wouldn't bother doing it. Just store the stuff.

Re: Difficulty of importing valuable personal effects to Cambodia?

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:06 pm
by des Esseintes
Thanks to all of you; I am investigating whether or not my office is able to assist me with this further, but your points stand that it may be more trouble than its worth. I will especially look into @Jerry Atrick 's advice that I declare the items in advance. I look forward to meeting some of you in person.

As to the Serbian / Montenegrin flags issue: @General Mackevili I did scroll through looking for the countries under various names (e.g. Republic of Serbia, etc.), but they were just not to be found. Which is weird, considering that other former Yugoslav countries (e.g. Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia) were all there. Perhaps this is a a function of the age of this forum program - are Serbia and Montenegro as separate countries younger than the age of this programme? I note that South Sudan is also not on the list, and that's a fairly new country as well.