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10 Most Common Immigration Mistakes A Foreigner Should Avoid in Indonesia

Traveling and doing business abroad needs careful plans and extensive preparations. Not only the trip will be costly, but there are also different rules, regulations, customs, and cultures we have to learn prior to our departure to the destination country.

Especially when traveling to Indonesia, there are endless maze of bureaucracy that any foreign businessman should deal with. Therefore, basic knowledge of Indonesian laws, orders, and business cultures is highly advisable. Violating certain laws because of your limitation of knowledge on Indonesian Immigration rules can totally destroy your business trip in Indonesia. Below are 10 most common immigration mistakes a foreigner should avoid when traveling to Indonesia.

10 Most Common Immigration Mistakes

1. Applying for the Wrong Visa

The only rule is you must have a working visa if you wish to work in the Indonesian territory. A Short business meeting will only require you to only have a single entry visit (business) visa or a multiple entry visit (business) visa, which allows you to stay in Indonesia for a maximum of 60 days for the single entry visit visa, and 60 days per visit for the multiple entry visit visa. Working in Indonesia without the work permit will lead you to have a severe sanction. Based on the newest immigration law, you can be jailed for a maximum of five years and fined for a maximum amount of Rp. 500.000.000 (Five hundred million Rupiah). This is not only for you who violate the law, but also for the party who asks or permits you to work without the necessary visa.

Especially for those who visit Indonesia for a diplomatic purpose, it is a must for you to hold a service visa, which is directly handled by the Indonesian government department who hire you. This type of visa cannot be handled by private agents.

Make a proper research and go to the nearby Indonesian Embassy or Consulate to ask for any requirements needed to work in Indonesia. At least, you must apply for the right visa and then let the sponsor company to help you provide the necessary documents needed to legally work in Indonesia. There are also Indonesian consultant agencies that are ready to help you deal with all the overwhelming bureaucracy in Indonesia.

2. Not Meeting the Minimum Remaining Passport Validity to Apply for a Certain Visa

Many foreigners come to Indonesia by bringing passports that are almost expired. Although you are still allowed to enter Indonesia with the passport that is near to its expiration, you cannot apply for other documents needed to stay and work in Indonesia.

If you wish to stay and work in Indonesia for a period of time, you need to know that it is a must for you to have an ITAS (Semi-permanent stay permit). However, to be eligible to apply for this special permit, your passport must meet these criteria:

  1. For a 6 months ITAS, your passport must be valid for at least 12 months,
  2. For a 12 months ITAS, your passport must be valid for at least 18 months, and
  3. For a 24 month ITAS, your passport must be valid for at least 30 months.

Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you renew your passport before you fly to Indonesia. Considering the time and cost for going through bureaucracy system in Indonesia, it is better to prepare everything carefully prior to your staying in Indonesia rather than wasting your time, money and energy for such bureaucracy.

3. Not Bringing Company Sponsorship Documents

The data of your sponsor company is indeed very important. When you apply for both a working permit and the single or multiple entry visit visa, you need to show the data of your sponsor company. These include: (a) the copy of the company’s act, (b) the copy of the company’s business license letter (SIUP), (c) the copy of the company’s Indonesia tax number (NPWP), (d) the copy of the company’s director’s ID card, and (e) the two companies’ letters, which are signed and sealed with the companies’ stamps. Especially for the sponsorship letter, it is extremely needed before a semi-permanent visa and work permit can be processed.

4. Paying for Immigration Forms

You must know that all the immigration forms issued by the Indonesian Government are provided for free. Therefore, you must not pay a cent if you ask for the immigration forms, which is often called as “the map” or a folder containing the application form you need. Know your right. If the officer charges you to pay for the form, report this to the authorized party because it violates the Indonesian law.

5. Not Knowing What Documents Needed to Work in Indonesia

Literally, there are so many documents needed by foreigners who wish to work in Indonesia. To note some of them, there are:

1) RPTKA (The Expatriate Placement Plan), IMTA (License to Hire Foreign Workers), IKTA (Working License for Foreigners), and KITAS (Limited Stay Visa Card)

Initially, your sponsor company must submit the RPTKA to the Manpower Department (if your sponsor company is a domestic company) and BKPM (Investment Coordinating Board) if your sponsor company is a PT PMA (Foreign Investment Company). The expats are only expected to work for one year based on the law, and this can be extendable annually. Especially for the senior positions, like Director, the expats can work for three years and this can be renewed before the RPTKA is expired.

After the company’s RPTKA is approved, the company will be given an IMTA, which will be given to the foreign workers as a requirement to obtain IKTA and ITAS card. Next, the government will issue a TA-01 form so that your IKTA (Working license for Foreigners) can be issued and you will obtain an ITAS Card (KITAS), a limited stay visa.


2) Paying DPKK (Skill and Development Fund Fee)

You must know that by hiring you, your company must pay compensation to the country in the amount of US$ 100.00 per month per expatriate employee to contribute in the cost of training Indonesian prospectus employees. It is a non-refundable fee and should be paid before the work permit can be approved (of US$ 1,200.00 per year).

Foreign workers must also be classified to have certain “expertise” to be able to support the development of Indonesia. It is important to show and illustrate in the company’s RPTKA that the expatriate employees cannot be supplied by Indonesian citizens.

It is important to pay the DPKK if you want to keep your ITAS valid so that you can work in Indonesia legally.


3) ITAP/KITAP (Permanent Stay Permit)

ITAP (Permanent Stay Permit) is approved by having your passport stamped by the immigration office, stating your permanent immigration status. On the other hand, KITAP is the Permanent Stay permit Card, which is issued by the immigration office once your ITAP is approved.

The application cost is approximately Rp. 4.000.000 and the extension may cost you a higher amount of approximately Rp. 10.000.000. Both can be done in electronic and non-electronic method.

6. Overstaying in Indonesia

Keep in mind that the immigration law and regulation in Indonesia are made to be obeyed by all parties who are interested to work or stay in Indonesia. The violation of the law can lead you to severe punishment. If you neglect the maximum length of stay in Indonesia, you will be fined for approximately Rp. 200.000 per day (around US$ 20). The maximum fine is Rp. 25 millions and/or 5 years imprisonment. After you pay the fine, you will be deported.

7. Forget to Register in the Local Civil Registry Office and Report to the Local Police Station

It is mandatory that every foreigner who holds KITAS to report to the district police station regarding his/her staying in a certain territory. In this case, you will obtain a Reporting Leter (STM?Surat Tanda Melapor).

In addition, every ITAS and ITAP holder must also register his/herself to the nearby Civil Registry office to get a Foreigner’s ID card (KTP Orang Asing). The process is easy and free. You only need to submit:

  1. A copy of your passport, a copy of your marriage certificate (if you are a married person), a copy of POA book (the blue book), a copy of your visa card stapled inside the POA book.
  2. Passport size photographs (4×6 cm)

Holding this foreigner ID card will give you a lot of advantages. Some of them are:

  1. You don’t need to bring your KITAP or passport every time you travel across Indonesia. The ID card can be used as identification document in the national airport.
  2. This allow you to have tittles on car ownership, open bank accounts, and Indonesian driving license (for 5 years and can be renewable).

8. Original Documents vs. Photocopied Documents

We believe that you know exactly how important your original documents are to proof your legal status of living in Indonesia. However, many foreigners forget to also copy all of the documents at least 3 times and keep them in the house, in the office, and in your travelling briefcase. It is because losing the original immigration documents will bring you to an overwhelming task to have them replaced. So, bringing the original ones every time you travel domestically is not a good thing.

In addition, some regular checking is often done by the government to make sure that all foreigners who stay in Indonesia have the appropriate documents to stay and work legally in this country. Make sure that you always ask for a surat tugas or letter of assignment, because the checking can only be done with the letter present.

9. Not Having Separate Passport and Visas for Family Members

Often, because you don’t want to keep yourself busy for the overseas travel plan, you create a family passport. However, this will cause you some problems, especially when the family members need to travel to different regions at the same time. Therefore, the concept of one person one passport is absolutely recommended.

10. Not Applying for Exit/Re-entry Permits

There is a term known as MERP (Multiple exit/re-entry permit). Every foreigner holding ITAS and ITAP is willing to leave Indonesia and then return back, he or she is required to apply for a MERP in the nearest immigration office. The permit is then stamped inside your passport. By holding this permit, you can leave and re-enter Indonesia as many as you want as long as the MERP is valid (for 2 years period).

The caution is when your MERP is expired and you are still outside Indonesia. When this happen, your ITAS and ITAP will also be expired and you need to go to the Indonesian embassy to re-apply the whole things. Therefore, it is suggested to never underestimate this rule.