Entering Indonesia by air is relatively simple and straightforward, once you navigate the complex visa options. Numerous sea ports are similarly easy; if you're arriving by land, you'll have no problems as long as you have a valid visa in advance.
Indonesia has the usual list of prohibited imports, including drugs, weapons, fresh fruit and anything remotely pornographic. Items allowed include the following.
- 200 cigarettes (or 50 cigars or 100g of tobacco)
- a ‘reasonable amount’ of perfume
- 1L of alcohol
Surfers with more than two or three boards may be charged a 'fee', and this could apply to other items if the officials suspect that you aim to sell them in Indonesia. If you have nothing to declare, customs clearance is usually quick.
Your passport must be valid for six months after your date of arrival in Indonesia. Since 2015 it's no longer necessary to fill out a disembarkation card on arrival.
Unless you're on brief holiday, visas are the biggest headache many travellers face in their Indonesian trip. They are not hard to obtain, but the most common – 30 days – is very short for such a big place. Many travellers find even the 60-day visa restrictive.
The visa situation is constantly in flux. It is essential that you confirm current formalities before you arrive. Failure to meet all the entrance requirements can see you on the first flight out or subject to heavy fines.
No matter what type of visa you are going to use, your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival.
At the time of research, the main visa options for visitors to Indonesia are as follows.
- Visa in Advance Visitors can apply for a visa before they arrive in Indonesia. Typically this is a visitor's visa, which is usually valid for 60 days. Details vary by country; contact your nearest Indonesian embassy or consulate to determine processing fees and times. Note: this is the only way to obtain a 60-day visitor visa, even if you qualify for Visa on Arrival.
- Visa Free Citizens of some 150 countries can receive a 30-day visa for free upon arrival. But note that this visa cannot be extended and you may be limited to which airports and ports you can use to exit the country, eg the Timor-Leste visa run may not work with this visa.
- Visa on Arrival This 30-day extendable visa is available at major airports and harbours (but not most land borders). The cost is US$35; be sure to have the exact amount in US currency. Eligible countries include Australia, Canada, much of the EU including France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK, plus New Zealand and the USA. VOA renewals for 30 days are possible. If you don't qualify for VOA, you must get a visa in advance.
Fines for overstaying your visa expiration date are 300,000Rp per day and include additional hassles.
Study & Work Visas
You can arrange visas for study, short-term research, visiting family and similar purposes if you have a sponsor, such as an educational institution. These social/cultural (sosial/budaya) visas must be applied for at an Indonesian embassy or consulate overseas. Normally valid for three months on arrival, they can be extended every month after that for up to six months without leaving the country. Fees apply.
People wishing to study or work in Indonesia must apply directly to the Central Immigration Office in Jakarta for a Limited-Stay Visa (Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas, or Kitas). First, though, contact your nearest embassy for the most direct avenue and to find out what qualifies as 'study'. Those granted limited stay are issued a Kitas card, which is much-prized among travellers.
If you're planning to work in Indonesia your employer will need to organise your visa – it's a long and complicated process.
Special permits are required for travel in Papua.
Renewing Your Visa
You can renew a 30-day Visa on Arrival once (but not usually a Visa Free). The procedures are complex.
- At least seven days before your visa expires, go to an immigration office. These can usually be found in larger cities and regional capitals.
- Bring your passport, a photocopy of your passport and a copy of your ticket out of Indonesia (which should be for a date during the renewal period).
- Wear modest clothes, eg men may be required to wear long pants.
- Pay a fee of 350,000Rp.You may have to return to the office twice over a three- to five-day period.
One way to avoid the renewal hassle is to use a visa agent such as ChannelOne on Bali who, for a fee, will do the bureaucratic work for you.