Indonesia Travel Information - Entry Formalities
Indonesia: Entry Formalities

Passport Onward Ticket Arrival / Departure Card Visa Visa Extensions Overstaying

PASSPORT

Your passport will have to be valid for 6 months beyond the planned date of entering Indonesia.
Make sure it is not too full yet - it is a formal/legal requirement for entering Indonesia that your passport should have 2 empty pages in it when you arrive (so that it has enough space for their stamps).


  ONWARD TICKET

Officially, every visitor must hold a ticket out of Indonesia to be allowed to enter the country. This may be checked at three places:

  • 1: By an Indonesian embassy, if applying for a visa in advance;
  • 2: By check-in staff at the airport where you are boarding your flight to Indonesia;
  • 3: By Indonesian immigration upon arrival.

If you don't have an onward ticket, check-in staff can refuse to let you board you flight, while Indonesian immigration officials may refuse to let you enter the country, or demand a bribe. You may also be offered the option of buying an onward ticket on the spot, at a price that is likely to be higher than what you could have found online. This is a nuisance for those who plan to leave Indonesia overland by taking a boat to Malaysia or crossing the border to Papua New Guinea, or for those who simply haven't decided how long they wish to stay and therefore would rather not buy their onward tickets well in advance. If you don't have one, you can of course try and risk catching your flight to the country hoping no one will check, but a safer, legal option is buying the cheapest online ticket out of Indonesia available (often costing only around US$ 20-30 with Air Asia) even if you are not planning to use it later. Onward tickets are rarely checked if entering Indonesia by sea, and virtually never if entering through a land border.

ARRIVAL / DEPARTURE CARD

Before queueing up at the immigration upon arrival, you will have to fill in an arrival/departure card, which is usually handed out to passengers arriving by air during their flight. One question on this will ask where you are going to stay in Indonesia - just write down a single hotel and its address from your guidebook. The immigration officer will give part of this card back to you - take good care of it, as you will need to hand it over when leaving the country!

VISAS

VISA-FREE ENTRY:

Nationals of the following 10 countries and territories can enter Indonesia without a visa, and will be given a free but non-extendable 30 day permit:

Brunei, Chile, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore

They still have to use the same entry points as those listed below for Visa on Arrival.

VISA ON ARRIVAL:

Nationals of 64 countries can get their Indonesian visas upon arrival so long as they enter Indonesia through one of the designated entry points. These visas will cost US$ 25 for a 30 day visa and are now extendable by another 30 days within the country. Cheaper 7 day visas for $10 are now only available to those only visiting the Riau islands of Batam and Bintan! You will not need any photos, nor to fill in any forms, but you should ideally have the right amount in hand in US$ cash, as other currencies will be accepted at a poorer rate, if at all.
Important! The day you enter is counted as your first day, the day you leave is your last. So if you enter on 1st January, you must leave on the 30th, not 31st!

List of eligible countries:

Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, East Timor, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America

List of designated entry points:

By Air:

  • Bali: Denpasar
  • Java: Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Solo
  • Nusa Tenggara: Kupang (Timor), Mataram (Lombok)
  • Sumatra: Banda Aceh, Medan, Pekanbaru, Padang, Palembang
  • Riau Islands: Batam
  • Kalimantan: Balikpapan, Pontianak
  • Sulawesi: Makassar, Manado

By Sea or Land:

  • Bali: Benoa, Padangbai
  • Java: Jakarta (Tanjung Priok), Semarang
  • Nusa Tenggara: Maumere (Flores), Tenau (near Kupang, Timor)
  • Sumatra: Belawan (near Medan), Dumai, Padang, Sibolga
  • Riau Islands: Batam (Batam Centre, Batu Ampar, Nongsa, Sekupang, Teluk Senimba), Bintan (Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Uban), Karimun (Tanjung Balai)
  • Kalimantan: Entikong (land border with Sarawak)
  • Sulawesi: Bitung, Makassar, Pare-pare
  • Papua: Jayapura (by sea only!)

Important! If you plan to use any other entry point to the country, you must get a visa in advance even if you would otherwise be eligible for a visa on arrival! This is most likely to affect those who plan to enter Indonesia by land from East Timor or Papua New Guinea, or by sea from Sabah.

VISA IN ADVANCE:

Nationals of countries not listed above, or anyone who plans to enter Indonesia through an entry point not designated to issue visas on arrival, must get a visa in advance from an Indonesian embassy or consulate abroad. Tourist visas obtained this way usually cost under US$ 50, are valid for entry within 3 months and then for a stay of 60 days, and are extendable! Anyone else planning to stay between  30-60 days is also advised to get  a 60 day visa in advance, as this will save the hassle of extending a 30 day visa on arrival within the country.

Applying for a visa in advance

Procedures and requirements vary from one Indonesian embassy or consulate to the other, so you will have to ask the one you are going to deal with about the specifics. If the embassy in your home country proves difficult to deal with (the one in London is notorious), remember that you could easily get a 60 day tourist visa from the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) if you fly there first on the way to Indonesia.

You will certainly need:

  • Passport, valid for 6 months beyond the planned date of entry
  • Passport photos
  • Filled-in visa application form

You may or may not need the following:

  • Round-trip air tickets
  • Bank statement
  • Employer's letter allowing you to leave
  • Letter detailing your planned itinerary

Important! On the visa application form, you will be asked to list places you plan to visit in Indonesia. What you put here is not binding in any way, so just list a few touristy places like Bali, Yogyakarta and Manado to save any further questions. Don't list any place in Papua, Maluku, Central Sulawesi or Aceh on your application form, or even worse, ask the staff about these regions. Years ago, foreigners required special permits obtained in advance to enter these regions, and while that requirement has been dropped many years ago (only Papua still requires permits, and these are issued once there), most Indonesian embassies have never been updated on this, and many still seem to believe permits are needed. They may even post this on their websites, and may refuse to issue you a visa if you tell them you want to visit these places. Don't worry, regardless of what they believe or tell you, you will still be able to visit any part of Indonesia once you have your visa and are inside the country. You may find this hard to believe, thinking an embassy should know these matters best, but Indonesia is Indonesia, and things don't follow Western logic!

VISA EXTENSIONS

Those taking advantage of visa-free entry apparently still can't extend their stay beyond the initial 30 days. 

The same used to be the case with the 30 day visas issued upon arrival, but this changed at the end of January 2010 and these visas can now be extended by another 30 days, but only once! The extensions can be a bit of a hassle to get, so anyone planning to stay longer than 30 days had better get a 60 day visa from an Indonesian embassy or consulate before arrival! Those who obtained a tourist visa from an Indonesian embassy before arrival can try and get  up to four extensions of 30 days at a time, which would allow you to stay nearly 6 months in total.

Extensions are handled by immigration offices throughout the country, usually found in the provincial capitals and at other international entry points, plus in some other major cities. You will need to dress up neatly, ask nicely, pay a fee of 250.000 Rp, fill in forms, take photocopies of your passport's biodata and Indonesian visa plus entry stamp pages, show your onward ticket (out of Indonesia) once again, possibly get your portrait and fingerprints taken, and may also require a local person or organization to "sponsor" you. Some people suggest the last 3 things are less likely to be necessary if extending a visa on arrival, though in my experience this varies from office to office. The whole procedure can take anything beween a few hours and a few days, and  remember that some offices/officers may not  like to do them at all so don't leave it till the very last moment! Then again, if you try to apply long before your current visa is about to expire, you may simply be told to come back closer to the date of expiry - you can always try and give them a reason why an early extension is necessary. Note that 3rd and 4th extensions (for a stay beyond 4 months) are more complicated to get, involving visits to an additional government department.

A popular alternative to extending a visa is doing a "visa-run" to a neighbouring country, which means leaving Indonesia on the last day of your initial visa for one of its neighbours, and picking up either a new 60 day "Visa in Advance" from an Indonesian embassy or consulate there, or a new 30 day "Visa on Arrival" when you come back. This can be easier than extending your visa within Indonesia, and this way you can get a new 60 days, whereas extensions only give 30 at a time. Visa-runs can be done either by crossing the land borders from Kalimantan to Malaysian Borneo, West Timor to East Timor or Papua to PNG (note that both East Timor and PNG require their own visas!), taking the frequent boats from Sumatra to West Malaysia or Singapore, and of course by taking a cheap flight on one of the budget airlines from Sumatra, Java, Bali, Kalimantan or Sulawesi to Malaysia or Singapore. Many people wonder how many such "visa-runs" they can do, but at least presently there seems to be no official limit on this! Nor is there a minimum amount of time you must stay outside Indonesia - you could even return the same day.

OVERSTAYING

If you overstay your visa by a few days, you will have to pay an official fine of 200.000 Rp per day when leaving. I have done this several times myself, and never encountered any additional troubles. Of course, you should still look polite and apologetic. Though the same rule officially applies for those overstaying up to 60 days, in practice overstaying by a longer period may well be taken more seriously -  better don't do it! In fact if you think there might be a chance you want to stay longer than 30 days, do get a 60 day visa in advance. If you want to stay longer than 60 days, extend that visa, or do a "visa-run" to a neighbouring country to get a new visa.