Visas

Timor-Leste Visa Run

Crossing the border into Timor-Leste is not nearly as complicated or lengthy as it used to be. You can still make the 12-hour, one-way journey to the considerably more expensive Dili for 225,000Rp, but it's no longer necessary to visit the Indonesia Consulate.

Instead, the easiest way to do the visa run is to cross the border at Napan, just over 20km north of Kefamenanu; Atapupu, which will only cost 50,000Rp by ojek from Atambua; or catch the bus to Batugade via Mota'ain. Once at the border, present your authorisation letter, US$30 and proof of an onward journey, and continue with a free 90-day visa. If you're short on time, you could conceivably catch the 45-minute morning Wings Air flight from Kupang to Atambua, cross the border and then fly back to Kupang in time for lunch. A one-way flight starts at around 350,000Rp.

But first you need to get an approved visa application letter. Apply at the Timor-Leste Consulate in Kupang with a valid passport, a photocopy of it, passport photos and either proof or return tickets or a bank statement. You'll receive the letter and stamp within one to three working days. If you attempt this a few days before Christmas, you're likely to be out of luck as staff go on holiday. Also be aware that the consulate is closed on weekends.

Note that since 2015, some European citizens who fall into the Schengen Agreement can stay in Timor-Leste without a visa for up to 90 days, every 180 days.

Timor Tour & Travel and Paradise Tour & Travel operate buses. Departures can be as early as 5am, so brace yourself. Call for a hotel pick up or ask Edwin from Lavalon to lend a hand.

It's also worth checking the daily cost of the visa overstay fine – at the time of writing, it's 300,000Rp per day, so it's worth weighing up cost and convenience (accommodation and a bus fare will be more expensive than paying a fine for a couple of days). Check the current price of the fine to avoid being caught out; rumours are circulating that it could jump significantly.