Visa and Residency in Indonesia
Written by Josephine Brierley
The first thing to do when considering moving to Indonesia is to determine what type of visa you require. There are a few different types of visas and since Indonesian visa policy is often changing, it is important to remain up to date with the latest visa requirements to ensure the legality of your stay in Indonesia.
How Much is a Visa?
The cost of a visa will depend on the purpose of your visit and also the length of time you wish to spend in Indonesia, the longer you stay the costlier it will be. It’s possible to spend up to 30 days with no charge at all, but any stay longer than this will incur a fee.
Indonesian Visa for U.S. Citizens
To enter Indonesia there are some important points to note below:
- A free entry stamp is valid for 30 days and not a day longer. A list of countries (USA included) offering free entry is listed here.
- Two of your 30 days are taken by your arrival day and the day of your departure.
- You must have at least one free page on your passport.
- Your passport must be valid for at least six months.
- Visa on arrival is $35 per person. This is the only tourist visa which may be extended.
- If you overstay any visa, be prepared to pay the $70/IDR1, 000,000-per-day penalty.
It must be noted, if your passport does not meet these requirements, you’ll be denied entry into Indonesia. The Indonesian Government doesn’t recognize the 12-page U.S. emergency passport as a valid travel document for visa-free travel, and, if traveling on this emergency passport, you may be refused boarding and/or entry by immigration officials. If you travel on a limited validity passport, such as an emergency passport, you must obtain a visa prior to arriving in Indonesia.
What are the Different Forms of Visas?
Tourist Visa and Visa on Arrival
Tourist Visas are issued upon arrival in Bali but can also be organized prior to leaving home. Visa Exemption (tourist visa) is available for citizens of 169 countries which enables you a free visa stamp in your passport. However, it is non-extendable and is valid for 30 days exactly. If you plan to spend more than 30 days in Bali, you can obtain a Visa on Arrival (VOA). The cost of this visa is $35 and it is valid for 30 days but can be extended for another 30 days. Hence, the maximum stay with the VOA is 60 days.
Often people confuse the Tourist Visa and the VOA, but basically, the Tourist Visa is free and non-extendable. The way to tell the difference is the sticker of VOA, placed into your passport, which you’ll receive as a result of purchasing your VOA at the airport.
It is also possible to arrange this 60-day visa on arrival prior to departing. You’ll find all the details here—Indonesian Consulate. To apply for a 60-day Tourist Visa prior to leaving the United States, you’ll need a passport size photo, your flight itinerary, and evidence of funds to support your time in Indonesia. This will cost you $55 per person. If you are not able to apply at an Indonesian Consulate in person, you’ll be required to post your application, including your passports, to the nearest consulate to be processed.
Social-Cultural Visa (Sosial Budaya)
A Social Visa (Sosial Budaya) is a good option for those who may not have reached retirement age or still deciding which visa suits.
If you want to remain in Indonesia for longer than 60-days, you can apply for a 180-day Social Visa once you’ve arrived into Bali. To qualify, you will need a sponsor letter from an Indonesian sponsor, proof that you can support yourself during your stay, and a copy of the sponsor’s identity card. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds, many agents will help you collate what you need. You’ll also require two passport sized photos with a red or white background— this changes often.
To obtain the 180-day visa, it must be processed at an Indonesian Embassy outside Indonesia (as silly as that sounds). The simplest place to lodge your application is to fly to Singapore and use an agent to handle the formalities. They’ll take your passport and all necessary documents and return with a Social Budaya visa, most of the time on the same day. You’re initially granted a 60-day Social Visa which can then be renewed four times every 30 days, thus allowing you a 180-day stay within Indonesia.
It’s possible to process this Social Visa on your own, but you’ll spend a lot of time in and out of the immigration office. Using an agent the cost of the initial Social Visa is currently $180 including the agent’s fee in Singapore, then $80 per month utilizing a visa agent in Bali. This may sound expensive, but when you consider the cost of flights when having to leave every month or every 60 days, it’s a saving.
The Retirement Visa
The Indonesian Retirement Visa allows you to live in the country permanently for five years, then exit and enter when needed. You can also open a bank account, hire staff, and enjoy many other benefits. This visa doesn’t allow for employment of any kind in the country, not even volunteering, so before applying, ensure you intend to live a life of leisure. Of course, there are some pre-requisites, and you need to check these off to ensure you qualify.
The Retirement Visa requires:
- You are 55 years old or older.
- You have no plans to work within Indonesia.
- You can provide proof of valid medical insurance.
- A domicile form, to prove you are living in Bali.
- You have hired locals—housekeeper, gardener etc.
- Show proof of funds to support you while you’re in the country.
- A passport with more than 18 months validity.
- Sponsor letter, or an agent willing to provide one.
As you’ll need an Indonesian sponsor, don’t be concerned if you don’t have any contacts in Bali. There are agents who will do everything for you including provide a sponsor. It’s easy to find an agent—the best process is to ask around. Every expat has their own experience to share, and it’s best to use an agent who comes recommended. A reputable agent will not offer to provide you with shortcuts and you should be wary of any who do. It is also important to remember that unless you ask for a multiple entry visa, you are restricted to remaining within Indonesia for 12 months. A multi-exit visa allows you to come and go as you please. The initial cost of the Retirement Visa is under $1,000, and currently $800 to renew.
There are three steps to collecting your Retirement Visa.
- Together with your agent prepare all the necessary documentation as listed above. The agency will then review everything you’ve provided and process it at the local immigration office. Allow two weeks for this application and approval.
- Once your application is approved, you’ll receive a telex visa which you must take to an Indonesian embassy abroad. You can do this yourself, but again, using an agent in the country you’re visiting is much simpler. They’ll arrange to meet you once you land, take your passport to the embassy and process it. Then once complete they’ll hand over your completed visa, and you can return to Indonesia. At this stage, I’d suggest Singapore is by far the easiest location to visit and process, or you can use Kuala Lumpur or even Australia…it’s totally up to you. In our experience, by using an agent in Singapore, we’re assured that all documents are covered and you’re able to fly out and return in one day. Keep in mind time frames differ between embassies in different countries—most of the time one day will suffice, but other times it may require an overnight stay.
- Once you’ve returned to Indonesia, it’s up to your agent to convert your Retirement Visa into a Retirement KITAS and make it official. You’ll also have to visit the local immigration office for fingerprints and a photo. In addition to the KITAS, you’ll receive a certificate of registration of temporary residence (SKPPS & SKTT), a police report (STM) and a police card (SKLD).
The great bonus to having a KITAS are the benefits you receive:
- You can apply for a local driver’s license.
- You bypass all the long queues at the airport.
- You’re entitled to discounts for electricity and water.
- You can be treated by local doctors and hospitals.
- You can open an Indonesian bank account and apply for credit.
If you wish to leave Indonesia for any reason you’ll need to ensure you have a valid Exit and Re-entry Permit (ERP), valid for three months and allowing you to leave the country once; or a Multiple Exit and Re-entry Permit (MERP). These days, this is supplied with your Visa, and is valid for two years, allowing you to exit and re-enter as many times as you wish. Many visa holders have been caught out by this requirement so it’s advisable to plan ahead. The permit is basically telling the authorities that yes, you need to leave the country but you want to return. If you don’t have this document you’ll have no choice but to re-enter on a Tourist or Social Visa and begin the whole process again.
In the case of a couple, where for whatever reason one of you doesn’t qualify for the Retirement Visa, it won’t mean your dream of living in Bali together can’t become a reality. The partner who doesn’t qualify can apply for a dependent KITAS sponsored by the Retirement Visa holder. This will be valid for the same period of time and is extendable in the same way. The dependent KITAS can also be used for children under 18 years of age.
Permanent Stay Visa (KITAP)
After five years on a KITAS (retirement or working) you’re eligible for a KITAP—a Permanent Stay Visa for foreigners living in Indonesia.
Eligible candidates for KITAP in Indonesia are:
- Foreigners with an Indonesian spouse.
- Foreign investors, directors or commissioners in an Indonesian company (PT or PMA) who have worked in the same Indonesian company for at least four years.
- Retirees who have held a KITAS for four years in a row.
- Indonesians regaining their citizenship.
Applying for the KITAP can be quite detailed and I recommend using an agent to ensure all your bases are covered. It can take eight to 12 weeks to process and can cost up to $4,500, but costs do vary.
Once approved though, the benefits are great:
- A five-year valid stay permit.
- A two-year valid MERP (the travel permit).
- An Indonesian ID (KTP, five years valid).
- An Indonesian driver’s license (SIM, five years valid).
- Obtain bank accounts, credit cards and even loans.
- Get local prices when booking a 4- to 5-star hotel.
All of this information is current as of the time of writing, however social security entitlements are complex, and are changing regularly with new legislation in all countries. Your pension may also be affected by moving overseas, depending on your individual circumstances. Entitlements are also a function of numerous factors, including your assets and income, your period of residence in your home country during your working life, and your place of residence at retirement age.
The Indonesian government also likes to keep us on our toes, and rules can differ without much notice. Lastly, you may hear reports about people obtaining Retirement Visas without meeting all the above criteria, but to be safe and to ensure your visa is valid, it is advisable to go through the proper procedures. If someone offers to process it cheaper, faster, and without the required paperwork, be wary.
Renewing your Visa
For those who remain on a Social Visa, you are required to leave the country at certain times—30 days, 60 days, or 180 days. Most of the time this is done to renew a visa, and the simplest option is to travel to Singapore. Use an agent upon arrival and free yourself up to enjoy sightseeing. There are other areas to travel to, such as Kuala Lumpur or Penang in Malaysia, but they may take up to five days to process. This is fine if you’d like an extended holiday, do whatever suits you.
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