Concerned but satisfied

We had our first real run in with Cambodian bureaucracy this year and hopefully our last. We are now the experts in how to obtain a Cambodian birth certificate (and Canadian passport) for foreigner babies born in Cambodia. Here are the 17 simple steps to obtaining both for anyone else wanting to try.

1) Have a baby in Cambodia (a separate adventure entirely)

2) Realize the 'birth confirmation' issued by the obstetrician at the maternity clinic isn't a birth certificate and is little help in obtaining the government-issued document (the obstetrician will likely tell you the latter isn't necessary).

3) Ask the Canadian embassy in Bangkok if the birth confirmation will do; get rejected.

4) Google search expat forums for how to get a birth certificate in Cambodia.

5) Go to the local official responsible for your district (Sangkat) as instructed by expat forums; get rejected.

6) Go again to the Sangkat with your apartment rental contract as instructed by local official; get rejected.

7) Go again to the Sangkat with your landlord who is also a lawyer; get rejected.

8) Visit a shady character who (for a $400 service fee) offers to draft a fake rental contract for a district of the city with a more 'flexible' Sangkat.

9) Decide that this would be a stupid idea.

10) Hire a lawyer

11) Be nice to the lawyer, cry if necessary and receive help for free.

12) Pay $200 for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to instruct local Sangkat that they must issue a special foreigner birth certificate ('capacity building' fee).

13) Finally get the birth certificate.

14) Send paperwork with friends traveling to Bangkok, conveniently bypassing the need to DHL documents or procure a difficult and time-consuming Cambodian bank-issued money order.

15) Have Canadian embassy in Bangkok reject passport and citizen application because birth certificate not up to international standards.

16) Go back to lawyer and get him to draft a letter saying Cambodian protocol is different than all other countries and any international standards.

17) Submit final paperwork. Wait a couple weeks. And voila!

As a silver lining to the whole ordeal, there is a brand new foreigner baby register at the Tuol Tum Pong II Sangkat in Phnom Penh with Arwen as the first entry.


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