Obtaining visas for Indonesia

The visa system for Indonesia is notoriously complicated, and policies and procedures may vary across different regions, which often leads to confusion. 

In general, all visitors to Indonesia require a visa. Whether applicants can obtain a visa on arrival or need to apply before travelling to Indonesia will depend on their nationality. Those wishing to live and work in Indonesia for an extended period of time will need to obtain a residence permit.

Foreign nationals visiting Indonesia on holiday will need a tourist visa. This is usually valid for 30 days and can be extended for a maximum of 30 days at immigration offices in Indonesia.

Those obtaining a visa on arrival cannot conduct any form of business or volunteering. Visitors that intend on visiting Indonesia for business reasons or even to do a short volunteer placement will need to apply at the Indonesian embassy in the home country prior to travel.


Expats planning to live and work in Indonesia need to obtain a semi-resident permit known as a VITAS (Visa Izin Tinggal Terbatas). This permit is valid for one year but can be extended. Expats require a sponsor in Indonesia, such as a family member or employer, to assist them with the visa process and apply on their behalf at the immigration office in Indonesia.

Expats in possession of a VITAS can then apply for a temporary residency permit (KITAS) which is valid for five years. This can be applied for through the local immigration office in Indonesia.

Expats will need to apply for their VITAS and have it placed in their passport before arriving in Indonesia.

Once all the paperwork for the VITAS is completed, most expats will be issued with a “foreign expert” KITAS. Expats will also be issued a Foreigner’s Control and Supervision book which tracks changes in their immigration status. It is important that both this book and the KITAS are kept in a safe place. Expats will have to renew their KITAS every year, and this can be done for a maximum of five years.



A KITAP is a permanent residency permit. Expats can apply for permanent residency after they have lived in Indonesia for three consecutive years. However, if expats are married to an Indonesian national they are able to apply for the KITAP after two years.

Expats wanting to work in Indonesia will need to secure employment and obtain a residence and work permit before arriving in the country. The process for acquiring a work permit can be difficult as the rules change frequently. Generally, however, the employer acts as the sponsor for the work permit and will undertake much of the application process on the employee’s behalf.

There are restrictions on the hiring of foreign workers in Indonesia and companies can only employ a certain number of expats, and can only employ foreigners who have skills that Indonesians currently don't have.

The company will need to gain approval from the Ministry of Manpower and will have to submit an application for a VITAS for their new employee, which will allow them entry into the country. Once they have entered Indonesia, the worker can exchange the VITAS for a KITAS at their local immigration office, and they will be issued with an identification card which they must keep on them at all times. Once expats receive their card, they can obtain their expatriate work permit.