After writing about how to get a US visa for Australians, I thought you might want to know how to go about getting one for Indonesia as well.
Once our passports arrived back from the US embassy we headed straight for the Indonesian embassy in Melbourne to organise an extended visa for our next trip to Bali in May/June 2015.
Regular Bali Visa On Arrival
Usually when you fly to Bali you will join a long queue to obtain your Visa On Arrival (VOA).
While there was recently some talk from the Indonesian government about making this process free for Australians, the visa exemption never was implemented and the fee is still US$35 per person to enter (including children).
TIP: Don’t forget you pay 200,000 IDR in local currency (AUD$20, US$15.50) to leave as well. There is rumours this will soon be part of your departure flight ticket instead of paying cash at the airport.
You can only pay with cash and in one currency (USD, AUD, Euro, Rupiah), so make sure you have enough. Although you can pay in your chosen currency, USD works out the best based on the live exchange rate. You will be slightly worse off using Indonesian Rupiah or Australian Dollars. There is an ATM nearby if you are not prepared. And like most VOAs, you must have at least 6 months left on your passport to enter.
This VOA will give you 30 days in Bali on a single entry. Don’t screw up the dates. It’s not one month, it’s 30 days counting the day you arrived and the day you leave, so best to count 28 days. Overstaying attracts a penalty of 200,000 IDR per person per day.
What If You Want To Stay 60 Days?
While obtaining a tourist visa ahead of time is possible, so is extending the Visa On Arrival while in Indonesia, although doing so by yourself can be quite draining.
It is best to have the help of an agent. Ask your friendly, local expat and they can point you in the right direction. Or you can use the agent we used, Made (pronounced “Ma-deh”), just let him know we recommended you.
Do it at least 2 weeks ahead of the scheduled departure date. He will collect your passports from your hotel or villa (along with payment via cash) and organise everything. Don’t be alarmed when he takes the passports with him, this is part of the process. He will stay in touch via SMS or email every few days and will arrange an appointment at the Immigration Office (located close to the Ngurah Rai International Airport). Here’s a drawn map we received:
Or if you’re like me and prefer a Google Map, use this link I made just for you.
Each passport holder (including children) must attend the appointment and even though it is set at a specific time, it’s basically a free-for-all. Our visa agent passed on the contact details of a guy inside the office who helped us get to the right spot. He didn’t speak much English, but he helped us get a ticket for the visa interview queue.
Organising all this is much easier if you have your own phone (a local SIM card is super cheap and easy to get). We called the office contact upon arrival and he grabbed a ticket for us.
We waited around for the interview in several waiting rooms for a total of around 1 hour. Once inside the interview room it was pretty straightforward with finger scanning and document stamping. There was nothing to actually pay for here at the office.
We didn’t receive the passports straight away – they were delivered to our villa by our visa agent a few days later.
To extend the VOA costs roughly US$70 per person. This is on top of the US$35 paid to get through immigration at the airport originally. Keep in mind transport costs to and from the Immigration Office – in our case a return trip in a private van for our family from Ubud cost around 400,000 IDR (US$31).
This extension will give you an additional 30 days but can only be done 1 time. After the 60 days expire you will need to leave Indonesia.
You Can’t Do Your Juice Fast in 60 Days… You Need Longer
The VOA plus the visa extension is going to set you back at least US$105. However there is a better way and you can stay longer.
The same visa agent which helped us for our original visa extension, was also able to provide a sponsor letter for us so we could apply for a social visa on our next visit.
The sponsor letter was 250,000 IDR per person (US$20) and the social visa US$45 (AUD$60) totalling US$65. Not only was that at least US$40 per person cheaper (not including transport), but we won’t have to queue in the VOA line when we arrive late at night at Bali’s airport.
While the social visa is paid 60 days upfront, it can also be extend every 30 days after that for around US$25 per person up to a maximum stay of 6 months, without having to leave Indonesia.
Things to remember:
- You can only apply for the social visa when you are physically outside Indonesia. Some Indonesian embassies will be quicker than others. It took 5 working days for us in Melbourne, Australia.
- You will need a letter of sponsorship from an Indonesian citizen (ie. visa agent).
What To Do To Get A Social Visa
First you need a sponsorship letter. Our agent, Made, organised all of this over the Internet via email. All he needed was scanned copies of our first passport page (the one with your photo).
TIP: You can take a photo of your passport using your smartphone.
Once this letter has been printed you need to fill in an application form, which is a little hard to find on the Indonesian Embassy website, so here is the direct link.
Make sure you have flights in and out of the country booked – the embassy staff will want to see printed copies of those (an “itinerary” is fine). A fully refundable flight ticket is fine.
There was no need to book an appointment for the Indonesian embassy, just turn up. At the time of publication they were open 9:30am to 1pm in Melbourne and the wait time inside was minimal, unlike our US visa experience. There were no security checks and we waited less than 3 minutes to be served.
At your appointment take with you:
- Passport photo
- Application (1 per person)
- Flight itinerary (printed)
- Photocopy of your passport
- Sponsor letter
- Copy of sponsor’s ID (the visa agent will provide this)
- For kids under 18 you will need a copy of their birth certificate
- Your credit card to pay the AU$60 fee
There were hardly any questions, they just checked all the documents were in order, provided a receipt and then asked us to come back in 5 working days. When we returned the following week, the pick-up process was even faster.
There are several other visas you can obtain to get into Indonesia, but these are the two we have used and know from experience, and are also the most popular with visitors.
We love Bali and are looking forward to heading back to Ubud next week for another few months of yoga, healthy food and great friends. So if you’re thinking about spending a couple months on the island of the gods, you know how to do it.