Traveling and doing business abroad needs careful plans and extensive preparations. Not only the trip will be costly, but there are also different immigration rules, regulations, customs, and cultures we have to learn prior to our departure to a destination country like Indonesia.
Especially when traveling to Indonesia, there is an endless maze of bureaucracy that any foreign businesspeople should deal with. Therefore, basic knowledge of Indonesian immigration rules, orders, and business cultures are highly advisable. Violating certain laws because of your limitation of knowledge on Indonesia Immigration rules can totally destroy your business trip in Indonesia.
Below are the 10 most common immigration mistakes a foreigner should avoid when traveling to Indonesia.
This is one of the most frequently violated immigration rules in Indonesia, which is why it is number one.
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 a work permit is a violation of Indonesian immigration rules. It will lead you to 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. 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 to have a service visa. It is directly handled by the Indonesian government department that hires you. Private agents cannot handle this type of visa.
Make proper research and go to the nearby Indonesian Embassy or Consulate to ask for any requirements to work in Indonesia. At least, you must apply for the right visa. Then, let the sponsor company help you to provide the necessary documents 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.
Many foreigners come to Indonesia by bringing passports that almost expired. Although you still can enter Indonesia with a passport that is near to its expiration, you cannot apply for other documents 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:
Therefore, you need to renew your passport before you fly to Indonesia. Considering the time and cost, it is better to prepare everything carefully prior to your staying in Indonesia rather than wasting your time, money, and energy for such bureaucracy.
The data of your sponsor company is indeed very important. When you apply for both a work permit and a 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
(e) the two companies’ letters were 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.
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 “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 Indonesian law.
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), IKTA (Working License for Foreigners), and KITAS/ITAS (Limited Stay Visa)
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 can only work for one year based on the law. But, this is extendable annually. Especially for the senior positions, like Director, the expats can work for three years and the permit can be renewed before the RPTKA expires.
After the company’s RPTKA is approved, they must obtain an ITAS, your 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 per month per expatriate employee to contribute in the cost of training Indonesian prospectus employees. It is a non-refundable fee. Pay for it to get approval for the work permit (of US$ 1,200 per year).
Foreign workers must also 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 Indonesian citizens do not have the expertise of expatriate employees.
It is important to pay the DPKK if you want to keep your KITAS/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 approximate 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.
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.
May 2019 Update: starting from May 3, 2019, the daily fine of overstaying visas for foreigners in Indonesia has been raised to IDR 1,000,000 (approximately US$70), in accordance with Regulation 28/2019.
A simple calculation on how the fine works depending on the number of days you overstay your visa: overstaying your visa for two weeks (14 days) will cost you IDR 1 million x 14 days = IDR 14 million (approximately US$980). Thus, if you have overstayed your visa in Indonesia for two months, you would pay a hefty fine of IDR 60 million (approximately US$ 4,200).
It is mandatory that every foreigner who holds KITAS/ITAS 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:
Holding this foreigner ID card will give you a lot of advantages. Some of them are:
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. Keep them in the house, in the office, and in your travelling briefcase. Losing the original immigration documents will bring you to an overwhelming task to replace them. So, bringing the original ones every time you travel domestically is not a good thing.
In addition, the government performs regular check. This is to ensure all foreigners 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. The checking is only possible with the letter present.
Often, because you don’t want to keep yourself busy for the overseas travel plan, you create a family passport. However, this will cause some problems, especially when the family members need to travel to different regions at the same time. Therefore, it is better to have one passport for one person.
There is a term known as MERP (Multiple exit/re-entry permit). Every foreigner with ITAS and ITAP wanting to leave Indonesia and then return must apply for a MERP. 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 expire. You need to go to the Indonesian embassy to re-apply the whole things. Therefore, never underestimate this rule.