The Cambodian Immigration Department is looking to get all foreign nationals, tourists and residents, registered on a new application and threatened on Monday to deny visa renewals for foreign nationals failing to comply.
The Interior Ministry’s Immigration Department on Monday issued a statement threatening to cease visa renewals starting July 1, 2020, if foreigners failed to register themselves on the “Foreigner Presence in Cambodia System” mobile phone application.
Starting early January, Cambodian police and immigration officials posted on Facebook meetings with guesthouse and hotel owners to explain the new system, which requires accommodation owners to register the date of check-in, check-out, and passport details. The same will apply to landlords and their foreign tenants.
An offline version of this reporting system is already present, whereby tourism accommodation owners have to weekly handover copies of passports of their guests, with landlords having to register the rental agreement at the local commune office.
Keo Vanthan, the deputy director-general of the General Department of Immigration, said the onus was on accommodation owners to register their foreign guests and tenants, but said foreigners would not get visa renewals if they were not registered.
“We asked [owners] to report this and if they don’t report the foreigners staying at their places, we will not extend their stay,” he said. “The foreigners may not be aware of that, but the owners must be responsible.”
The application, available on both Android and iOS, is called “FPCS-GDI” and was created around six months ago. On downloading the application, the user is expected to create an account, with foreigners also allowed to create an account in case they own the property they live in.
The user chooses the kind of accommodation, such as a rental house, casino, hotel or guesthouse, as well as inputting their address. Then accommodation owners can “Check-in” or “Check-out” their guests or tenants, with the former requiring a photo of the foreigner national’s passport.
The app allows a variety of access permissions to the user’s phone camera, fingerprint scanner, and “precise” location, among others.
Keo Vanthan said the application was developed using the existing Article 18 in the Law on Immigration, which requires owners to inform the competent authorities of a new “immigrant or non-immigrant alien” within 24 hours or risk a fine.
Uk Heisela, another deputy director-general at the General Department of Immigration, said the system made it easier to store data and for authorities to have a clear count of foreigners living in Cambodia.
“It is easier for us to manage foreigners. We just use via telephone,” he said
In response to privacy concerns, Uk Heisela said only authorities would have access to this data, such as high-ranking officials all the way down to the commune police chief.
While Keo Vanthan did not know the number of foreigners registered, Uk Heisela said more than 10,000 people have been registered.
Kampot’s provincial police chief, Mao Chanmathurith, said his team was working on registering foreigners on the new system but needed more time to do it.
“We can’t finish this work on time since we need to explain to [accommodation owners] and know how to fill the data,” he said, adding that there were problems with internet speeds and access.
Orm Tethvibol, general manager at LBN Asian Hotel in Kampong Cham province, said the hotel had not been introduced to the system as yet. He said previously reception staff saved physical documents, such as copies of passports with names and nationalities of the guests, and then the police would come to collect it weekly.
“It is good with digital [documents],” he said.