About 85% of all legal problems for travellers in Bali are the result of a visa issue. Bali may be a relaxing and intoxicating holiday destination, but when it comes to the business of visas, there are rules and regulations in place.
Bali visas are most definitely not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of deal. So rather than being caught out in customs or deported, it’s much easier to spend a little time getting visa savvy.
Read on for everything you need to know about getting a Bali visa, but were too afraid/ lazy/ busy or disinterested to ask.
Indonesian visa protocols and requirements are subject to change, so its always a good idea to check with the Indonesian embassy or consulate, as failure to meet the requirements will purchase you a swift ticket back home.
And it doesn’t hurt to see what the custom regulations are either.
Do I need a visa for Bali?
Hells yes! Unless you are a foreign national from a few select countries, you will need an Indonesian visa to enter Bali.
According to Directorate General of Immigration Indonesia, citizens from the following regions can enter Indonesia visa free for short visits of up to 30 days.
- Brunei, Darussalam
- Hong Kong SAR
- Macau SAR
There is talk of China, Russia, Australia, South Korea and Japan being added to the list, but as yet this has not been finalised.
What type of Indonesian visa do I need?
What type of Indonesian visa you require depends on the nature of your trip.
If you are going for a quick holiday break, then a Visa On Arrival (VOA) is the one for you, whereas if you are planning on studying, have a work-related business trip or want to relocate permanently, you will need to plan your visa before booking your plane ticket.
Below is a breakdown of the different types of Indonesian visas on offer and what they require from your sweet self.
Visa On Arrival (VOA)
If you have your heart set on a relatively short Balinese getaway, filled with breathtaking beaches, exotic wildlife and unique culture, then a 30-day single entry VOA is for you.
The ever-popular VOA is available to over 60 nationalities and doesn’t require you to run around before your trip dealing with pesky paperwork.
There are usually no issues getting a VOA, other than having to queue up to get one after a long flight when all you want to do is throw your bags down and get to the beach. There are a few requirements to keep in mind, however, in order to make sure your journey through customs is a fuss-free one.
- Make sure your passport is valid for another six months – minimum.
- Have your immigration/arrival card filled out and ready to go.
- Have a print out of your confirmed flight out of the country handy. You rarely get asked for it, but it’s good to have one on hand just in case, as the more time you spend with airport customs, the less time you have to get your holiday on.
- You will need to front up US$35 during processing to enter the country. Yes, it was US$25, but things change. Having the right change in USD, AUD or EUR dollars will prove to be the most efficient option for you. If you require masses of change it will be handed to you in IDR.
- If you are sporting a derelict chic get-up or working a particularly scruffy look, it’s not unheard of to be asked for a copy of a bank statement or something that proves you can actually afford your holiday. To avoid this, do yourself a favour and run a comb through your hair, wear some shoes and make yourself look semi-presentable for the nice customs officials. Or, if no one is intervening with your sense of style – bring a copy of your bank statement.
A quiet word on your arrival and departure card
Let’s go back a bit and get acquainted with your necessary (but quite frankly annoying to fill out) arrival and departure card. You will receive this official bit of cardboard while you are on the plane.
You probably won’t feel like filling it out when you receive it from your smiling flight attendant.
You will most likely be a) watching a movie b) enjoying a mid-flight nap c) just too irritated by flying to fill in a form. But it’s better to do it before you land. On filling out said card you will probably have to have a rustle about in your bag for your passport details, flight details and the address of where you will be saying in Indonesia (you don’t need to go overboard with the location, a hotel name and city is enough).
Keeping these details written down and accessible will be easier than having to get up off your uncomfortable plane seat and crawl over strangers to get to your overhead luggage. Filling it out while on the plane also means you can benefit from the conveniently placed fold-down tray attached to the seat in front of you, rather than using your cocked up knee or friends bent back whilst in the customs queue.
Make sure you sign the card at the bottom of the second page.
You will also be given a tax card. All you need to do here is tick “no”, unless you need to declare something or are swag enough to be carrying over US$10,000 with you.
Sadly, most of us don’t seem to have this issue. Sigh. Keep the departure card for later when, you guessed it, you will be leaving fair Bali. Fill it out if you are on an administrative roll or tuck it in with your passport to get around to later. The customs officers will collect the card when you exit through customs.
Don’t be a damn fool and bring the following things into the country – as you might have guessed by now, immigration officials in Bali don’t take too kindly to contraband, with the most serious consequence being the death penalty:
- any more than 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars or 100 grams of sliced tobacco per passenger
- any more than one litre of alcohol per adult passenger
- any more than Rp 100,000,000 (or equivalent in other currencies)
- fire arms, knives, explosives or any weapons of mass destruction
You will need to pay a departure tax when leaving in IDR. The amount varies from airport to airport, but expect to pay about 200,000 IDR from Bali (Ngurah Rai) International airport.
Countries eligible for Visa on Arrival are:
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- Slovak Republic
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Taiwan, PRC
- Timor Leste
- Uni Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom (British)
- United States of America
What happens if I stay longer than 30 days?
Heed the fact that your VOA is only valid for 30 days – counted from the day of your arrival.
If you overstay your welcome, you will have to pay a penalty of about US$20 per day. If you REALLY overstay your welcome and keep living it up for another few sneaky weeks, you could face jail time.
There is a bit of a leeway if you overstay for three days or less, as lots of tourists automatically think of 30 days as a month and discard the fact that some months of the year have 31 days instead of 30. Whoops!
If you seriously don’t want to go home (who could blame you?), it is possible to extend a VOA for another 30 days from within Bali. You will need to consult a local visa/travel agent, which will cost you around US$50. Once your 60 days are up, it will be time to leave the country.
Other types of Indonesian visas (Visa in Advance)
If you want to stay more than 30 days or have something more lengthy in mind like starting a business or visiting family, you will need to apply for a visa in advance – as in before you leave for Bali. For this, you will need to apply through an Indonesian Embassy and/or Consulate in your home country.
You can apply for a visa in advance yourself, but it is significantly easier to get the help of a professional travel/ visa agent who knows exactly what to do and how to streamline the process a bit. If things get a bit messy, then you also have the added benefit of blaming someone else.
A Tourist Visa lasts up to 60 days and is perfect if you are planning some in-depth island hopping and want to go at your own relaxed pace. For this visa, you will need your passport to be valid for at least another six months and three blank pages left on your passport. No biggie.
Social/ Cultural Visa
If you have a decent reason for staying longer such as studying, visiting relatives or taking part in a foreign exchange program, you can apply for a Social/Cultural Visa. For this, you will need a valid passport and passport photo.
You will also need to obtain an application form from an Indonesian embassy or consulate, and a letter of introduction or promise of sponsorship from a trustworthy person or school in Indonesia. The visa is valid for 60 days, but it can be extended for one month at a time at an Indonesian immigration office for a period of up to six months. Expect some application and visa extension fees. Well worth it.
If you are visiting Bali for work (e.g. a conference or seminar), you can get a 60-day Single Entry Business Visa. If you need to extend your stay, you will need to pay a visit to the local immigration authorities or a visa agent. There is also the option of a Multiple Entry Business Visa that is valid for up to 12 months.
A Business Visa means that you will not be taking up employment in Indonesia, but are visiting for business purposes such as to meet overseas business partners etc. For a Business Visa, you will need to have a passport with at least six months left on it, a passport photograph, a completed visa application form and evidence that you have enough funds to cover the cost of your stay in Indonesia (usually in the form of a bank statement). You will also need two supporting letters that outline the nitty-gritty of your visit, one from your place of work and one from your guarantor in Indonesia.
Employment Visa / KITAS
An Employment Visa is for foreigners who will be employed while in Indonesia. For this, you will need to be sponsored by a company or organisation in Indonesia. This is sometimes referred to as a Temporary Stay Permit or KITAS, and is great for those seeking an extended work-play-stay visit to Indonesia.
If you are over 55 years old and looking to spend your twilight years amongst the tropical vistas of Bali, you can get yourself a renewable five-year visa. For this, your passport will need to be valid for at least 18 months and certain insurance standards such as financial capability will need to be proven.
60 Day Tourist Visa ‘211’
It seems many people don’t know about the 60-day tourist visa called “the 211” or “B-211 Tourist Visit Visa”. It can be obtained in embassies and consulates, and is also extendable for up to 6 months (costing about 550k for each month over the 60 days). It is effectively the same as the social visa, but much cheaper in comparison (costing about $50AUD, and there are usually no agent fees). Processing time varies from country to country and this option in particular seems to be quite elusive – it’s worth doing your own investigations.
And then there’s the Visa Run …
A long-time favourite jaunt for expats in Bali, a visa run is a quick return trip to a neighbouring country. This run is usually done on the day their Indonesian visa is set to expire (or in a couple of days before), with most popping across to Singapore in order to reset the visa clock and extend a stay.
Singapore is popular for a visa run as the Indonesian embassy in Singers is known to be quick and efficient. The visas take three days to process, but you can pay extra for an ‘express service’ and secure a new visa in the one day.
NOTE: The jig might be up for this beloved form of immigration exploitation however, with Thailand immigration officials declaring there will be no more visa runs in and out of Thailand from August 13, 2014. At this stage, there hasn’t been a crack down on Bali, but it’s good to keep in mind if this is something you’re interested in doing.
Travel tip: The Indonesian Embassy is an official organisation and has a dress code. Don’t be caught out wearing short shorts, singlet tops, sandals or anything that you would wear day-to-day in Bali. The embassy has standards people!
Good news for Australian travellers
The Indonesian Government has announced that it will cut its US$35 visa entry fee for Australian nationals from January 1 next year.
Indonesia is undoubtedly a popular holiday destination for Australians, with more than 704,000 Australian travellers visiting Indonesia between the start of 2014 and the end of August, according to recent Indonesian immigration figures.
There are even suggestions that a million Australians will visit by mid-December. So we can consider this a thank you for Australian’s dedicated Bali loving. Big yay!
Indonesian Embassy Singapore
No. 7 Chatsworth RoadSingapore 249761
Tel. (65) 6737 7422
Fax. (65) 6737 5037 / 6235 5783
If you want to extend your 30 day VOA for another 30 days, or run into any issues while in Bali, there are a number of places you can visit that will help you out for a fee.
Bali Expat Services
Jl. Kunti I No. 12, Seminyak, Bali.
Phone: +62 361 733744
Fax: +62 361 733744
If you want to DIY and extend your visa in Bali, there are two immigration offices in Bali. Even though ‘Bali time’ applies, it’s best to rock up at the office between 9am and 12pm. And don’t wear what you were wearing at the beach.
Immigration offices in Bali
Ngurah Rai International Airport
Jl. Ngurah Rai, Kuta.
Tel: (0361) 751038
Denpasar Immigration Office
Jl. Surapati 7, (in the Renon Complex), Niti Mandala, Denpasar.
Phone: (0361) 227828.
For anything else, you can also visit the friendly crew at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Pejambon No.6. Jakarta Pusat, 10110, Indonesia
Telephone: (+62 21) 344 15 08