Even without the complications of the pandemic, the rules for getting a visa for Indonesia have always been ever-changing and confusing. But it's a welcome sign that things are returning to normal fact that we’re asking the same old questions again: Do I need a visa for Indonesia? Is it free? Can I get a visa on arrival, and if so where? How long does it last? Can I get an extension?­­

For many tourists, travel to Indonesia means one thing ­– a holiday in Bali, the Island of the Gods and one of Southeast Asia’s best-loved tropical islands. Around 6.2 million tourists visited Bali in 2019, but this dropped to just 45 in 2021. Now, after some tough years for somewhere that relies so intrinsically on tourism, Bali is back open for business, and with it the rest of the archipelago.

There is, however, a bit more red tape to navigate than usual. Here's what you need to know about getting a visa for Indonesia.

Getting a visa on arrival in Bali

If you want to travel to Indonesia right now, Bali is by far the easiest place to visit. Not only can you get a 30-day Visa on Arrival (VOA), but quarantine regulations have been eased so you can pretty much get straight on with relaxing from the get-go. This is currently the only place in Indonesia where you can get a visa when you arrive.

The Visa on Arrival scheme is currently limited to 23 countries, including the UK, most Western European nations, many Middle Eastern countries, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and most Southeast Asia nations. However, there are plans to expand it to other nationalities, and to offer visas on arrival at other points of entry into Indonesia.

Visas for Bali are issued on arrival at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, for a fee of IDR500,000 (US$35), which you'll need to pay before you start queuing at the immigration counter. The entry permit can later be extended for 30 days, giving a total stay of 60 days.

You'll need to show proof of a return ticket (or an onward ticket from Bali to another destination), and you need six months of validity remaining in your passport – it's worth double-checking the expiry date in your passport, given how long travel has been off the cards.

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Surfer riding a barrel wave at Padang Padang on Bali, Indonesia
With visas available on arrival, Bali is currently one of the easiest places to travel in Indonesia © Wonderful Nature / Shutterstock

Covid-19 rules for travel to Bali

There are also a few Covid regulations to follow if you're traveling to Bali. You need to be fully vaccinated to avoid quarantine; if you're only partially vaccinated, you’ll need to quarantine for six days. You also need proof of a negative PCR test from the country you’ve flown in from, along with travel insurance that covers Covid-related expenses.

On arrival, you must take a PCR test at the airport, before you’re whisked off to a pre-booked government-certified hotel. You’ll need to hang out in your room until you get your result (which hopefully will be the same day or the next day), but as soon as you’ve tested negative you’re free to hit the beach or trek up that volcano!

But before you get too excited, a second PCR test is required on the third day of your stay. You’ll be free to come and go as you please by day during that period, but you are required to stay at the same approved hotel for the first three nights. So long as you get a second negative result, you can check out and stay wherever you want to on Bali or across Indonesia.

This may sound a little convoluted, but it's part of a pilot program launched in March 2022. If all goes smoothly, the plan is for quarantine to be scrapped altogether.

Prambanan temple near Yogyakarta on Java island
Currently, the easiest way to visit Java is to first fly into Bali to obtain a visa on arrival © Alexander Mazurkevich / Shutterstock

Traveling to other parts of Indonesia

What about the rest of Indonesia? Java, Sumatra, Lombok…and all the other great places to visit in this beautiful country? Technically, Indonesia has been open for international travel since January 2022, but to visit, you'll need to obtain a B211A Tourism Visa. This is currently the only option beyond the visas being offered on arrival in Bali.

The B211A Tourism Visa must be arranged before you travel through an authorized Indonesian travel agent, who will act as a sponsor for your application. The fee is quite expensive – expect to pay US$150 to US$250 depending on the agency – but visas are valid for 60 days, and you can extend your stay for as long as six months through the same agency that arranged the visa. Even if you are eligible for a visa on arrival in Bali, if you’re planning on traveling long-term in Indonesia, you’ll need a B211A Tourism Visa.

For the application process, you need to supply a scanned copy of your passport ID pages and proof of at least one vaccination dose and travel insurance with coverage for Covid-related emergencies. Your passport should be valid for a year beyond the date of arrival if you're hoping to stay for the full six months.

Applications are filed using the immigration department's online e-visa portal – once you have your e-visa, you'll have to follow the same schedule of PCR tests and stays at government-certified hotels as for tourists arriving in Bali, before you can travel freely around the country.

Diver exploring a coral reef off the coast of Papua in Indonesia
Travel to Indonesia's beaches, jungles and reefs is getting easier all the time © Image Source / Stuart Westmorland

Visas for travel beyond Bali are likely to be reintroduced soon

If all that sounds like a lot of hard work, just sit tight, as further changes to entry rules are in the pipeline. The Visa on Arrival scheme is expected to be rolled out for more points of arrival beyond Bali in the coming weeks, with more nationalities expected to be added to the approved list, and quarantine requirements are likely to be simplified. For the latest info, check the Media Room link on the website of Indonesia's immigration department

In the meantime, if you're planning to travel around Indonesia, weigh up the price difference between flying direct to your favored destination and obtaining a B211A Tourism Visa versus flying into Bali to obtain a visa on arrival then taking a domestic flight or boat to reach other parts of the country.

If you’re lucky enough to be traveling to Indonesia for work, you'll need a business visa (actually a sub-class of the B211A visa), which must be arranged through an authorized agency or through your company. See the official immigration department website for the latest information.

You may also like:
Indonesia on a budget: The best ways to make the most of your money across the island nation
How to get around Indonesia (with less hassle)
The 11 best things to do in Indonesia, including orangutans, otherworldly architecture and oh-my-word views

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