Massive disclaimer – This is not to be taken as legal advice. These are casual views on visas gathered from various websites. For legal advice, please contact a qualified Indonesian immigration attorney.
In general only two visas are relevant for the average tourist or business person visiting Indonesia:
- the visit visa
- the free exemption visa
The Immigration Law in article 38 says: “A visit visa is granted to foreigners, who will travel into the Indonesian territory in order to perform government tasks, undertake educational, social or cultural activities, arrange tourism, handle business or family affairs, or are in transit to another country.”
This is a general description leading to various interpretations. Article 38 gives better insights into the possibilities. A visit visa can be given to a visitor when he wants to be involved in the following activities:
- Family visits
- Social activities
- Art and culture
- Government tasks
- Non-commercial sports
- Comparative study, short course, and short training
- Provide guidance, counselling and training in application and innovation of industrial technology in order to improve product quality and design of industry and collaboration in foreign marketing for Indonesia
- Emergency and urgent works
- Journalistic coverage, after a permit from the competent Ministry has been obtained
- Non-commercial film production, after a permit from the competent institute has been obtained
- Business negotiation, doing business talks
- Purchase of goods
- Giving lectures or participating in seminars
- Participate in international exhibitions or fairs
- Attend a conference held by head office or the representative office in Indonesia
- Auditing, production quality control, or inspection to subsidiaries in Indonesia up to one month
- Foreign labour (expats) candidates in a trial for their competence to work
- Proceed any travel to other countries
- Join the transport of tools that are present in the Indonesian territory
Note: The Manpower department ruled on 23.10.2015 in Regulation no. 35 that work related to the installation of machinery, electrical, after-sales service, or a product in the future exploration efforts needs a temporary work permit.
This visit visa, as described, can be obtained in three different ways.
- The Visit Visa on Arrival (VOA)
A foreigner can apply for this visit visa upon arrival in Indonesia, if their nationality is included on the current visa on arrival countries list (see below). It is valid for 30 days and can be extended in Immigration Office for one time, for 30 days.
The passport must be six months valid and the visitor must possess a return or through ticket. For the visitor on a business trip it is advisable to possess an invitation letter from the company as well.
- The Single Visit Visa
If a visitor wants to stay longer in Indonesia, a Single Visit Visa should be applied for at an Indonesian Embassy or Consulate abroad. This single Visit Visa is 60 days valid and can be extended five times for 30 days at an Immigration Office in Indonesia. Be careful, it is a single entry visa so don’t leave Indonesia or it expires.
The passport must be 6 months valid and the visitor must submit an application form, a request annex sponsor letter, a return ticket and a passport photo.
- The Multiple Visit Visa
A foreigner who wants to travel frequently to Indonesia for family or business matters are eligible to apply for a Multiple Visit Visa at an Indonesian Embassy or Consulate abroad. The sponsor (who needs to be a direct family member or a company) needs to apply for a telex approval with the Directorate General of Immigration in Jakarta first. A Multiple Visit Visa is valid for one year, to be used within three months after issuance. The visa allows the visitor to visit and leave Indonesia for a whole year as much as he wants, but each stay can last 60 days only. The passport must be 18 months valid and the visitor must submit the telex approval, an application form, a request annex sponsor letter, a return ticket, copy of a bank account statement and a passport photo.
Note: When sponsored by a company or direct family, the single and multiple visit visa is also called a business or social visa.
NOW BE ALERT AND AWARE
- The Free Exemption Visa
In early 2015, the Indonesian government, in an attempt to attract tourism, launched a marketing programme based on article 98 of the Immigration Regulation number 31 of 2013. Citizens of 75 countries can visit Indonesia for free, which means no fees are needed when entering Indonesia.
However, be very careful, this visa is only for tourist purposes! No family or social meetings and most of all; no business meetings or activities can be conducted whatsoever. When caught, an arrest and deportation will follow.
Unfortunately, a number of business people have been arrested for being on a work site in the possession of a free exemption visa only. In some cases the visitor didn’t have a clue and genuinely thought the customs issued him a visa on arrival.
So, if a visitor arrives at the airport other than for tourism, he must ask for a Visit Visa on Arrival and refuse the issuance of a Free Exemption Visa. The visitor should tell he is coming for a business meeting, social activity or family meeting and request a visit visa on arrival. See requirements above.
Visitors of 15 countries can use the free exemption visa for business as well (see overview below).