Indonesia Expat
Info for Expats Travel

The Visa Confusion Unravelled

Having visa nightmares, running the risk to be deported? No need…

The visa is the most misunderstood document issued by Immigration. Whether, a business, cultural, social, tourist, free or visa on arrival, it is the same visa with the legally correct name: the visit visa. These different names cause much confusion, leading to many stories ending up as urban myths only. The Indonesian visa system is clear and transparent. This article unravels the visa and advises to use the right terminology.

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. However, an elucidation of 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:

  1. Tourism
  2. Family visits
  3. Social activities
  4. Art and culture
  5. Government tasks
  6. Non-commercial sports
  7. Comparative study, short course, and short training
  8. 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
  9. Emergency and urgent works
  10. Journalistic coverage, after a permit from the competent Ministry has been obtained
  11. Non-commercial film production, after a permit from the competent institute has been obtained
  12. Business negotiation, doing business talks
  13. Purchase of goods
  14. Giving lectures or participating in seminars
  15. Participate in international exhibitions or fairs
  16. Attend a conference held by head office or the representative office in Indonesia
  17. Auditing, production quality control, or inspection to subsidiaries in Indonesia up to one month
  18. Foreign labour (expats) candidates in a trial for their competence to work
  19. Proceed any travel to other countries
  20. 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.

 

On Indonesia’s Immigration website a useful brief explanation is found:  www.imigrasi.go.id/index.php/layanan-publik/visa-kunjungan

 

This visit visa, as described, can be obtained in three different ways.

  • The Visit Visa on Arrival (VOA)

Visa on arrival Indonesia

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. So, a genuine business visa on arrival!

voa-table

 

  • 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.

single-visit-visa

 

  • 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.

The multiple visit visa for Indonesia

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.

Visa exempt countries to Indonesia for tourism purposes only

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).

Visa exempt countries to IndonesiaVisit Indonesia’s Immigration website for further updates:  www.imigrasi.go.id/index.php/layanan-publik/visa-kunjungan

 

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