Local laws and customs

If you’re arrested and convicted of a crime in Cambodia you can expect a long prison sentence. Pre-trial detention can also last many months.

The legal process in Cambodia is unpredictable, lacks transparency and is open to interference from powerful political and business interests. The investigation and trial process falls far below the standard expected in the UK. British nationals in Cambodia should be aware that there are limits to the assistance the British Embassy can offer to those with concerns about the fairness of their trial, as we are unable to interfere in the legal processes of a host country.

The conditions in Cambodian prisons are extremely poor and overcrowded. Medical facilities in prisons are also extremely poor. The UK has no prisoner transfer agreement with Cambodia so if you’re found guilty you can expect to serve your full prison term in Cambodia, have your visa revoked and be removed when released.

Sexual abuse against children is a serious crime. The UK and Cambodian authorities are committed to combating travelling child sex offenders. Those who commit sex offences against children abroad can also be prosecuted in the UK.

Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for possession, distribution or manufacture of drugs, including Class C, are severe. Drugs have also caused of a number of deaths of overseas visitors to Cambodia. These are suspected to be a result of purity issues, or adulteration by unknown substances.

Never take photographs in or near airports or military bases. Ask permission before taking pictures of people, especially monks and other religious figures.

The Cambodian authorities have issued an official code of conduct for visitors to Angkor Wat and other religious sites, including a dress code. You should not wear skirts or shorts above the knee or tops that reveal bare shoulders. If you don’t follow the dress code you may be refused admission to the sites.

There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual activity or the organisation of LGBT events in Cambodia, but public attitudes can be mixed. There is no legal protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, but the British Embassy has no recorded cases of discrimination towards LGBT travellers. The LGBT community is becoming more visible, including through gay clubs, club nights and the work of some human rights organisations. Pride events are held annually in Phnom Penh. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Marriage

There are new procedures for foreign and Cambodian citizens who wish to marry in Cambodia. More detailed information can be found in this guidance.

Adopting Cambodian children

The Department for Education (DfE) has suspended all adoptions of Cambodian children by UK residents. A new Inter-Country Adoption Law came into effect in Cambodia on 1 January 2013. The Department for Education will continue to monitor the adoption processes in Cambodia and review the suspension accordingly.

Commercial Surrogacy

Commercial surrogacy is banned in Cambodia and the commissioning of commercial surrogacy is subject to penalties including imprisonment and fines. The Foreign & Commonwealth and Home Office have produced guidance for anyone considering surrogacy overseas.