Indonesia is a massive country – there are over 17 000 islands that make up the nation. Travellers to Indonesia find it difficult to decide where to spend their time – with incredible destinations, sites and activities all over the country. The other factor that makes travelling difficult, is the restrictive visa conditions.
Currently, Australians are entitled to a ‘Visa On Arrival’, or VOA. The VOA entitles Australians to a 30 day visa (that’s 30 days, not one month – this has caught many a tourist out!), for $35 USD. If you only have one Indonesian destination in mind, this will normally suffice. However, with so much to see in this amazing country, many travellers wish to combine multiple destinations in their visit – requiring a longer visa. For Aussies, your VOA can be extended a further 30 days, giving you a total of 60 days to explore Indonesia. It’s still not a long time, but definitely much better than 30 days! As we have visited Sumatra, are currently in Bali and plan to visit Java – I found myself needing to extend my VOA to be able to remain in Indonesia.
I did my research on how to go about doing so, and very quickly discovered that everything I read in my Lonely Planet and online was outdated and not current – this lead to a few dramas! I have documented the process to share with you so that if you find yourself in Bali, wishing to extend your visa to remain in Indonesia longer, that you can refer to this as a current guide to doing it yourself.
It’s best to start this process at least 7-10 days before your current visa expires.
10 Steps to Extending Your Indonesian Visa in Bali
1. The immigration office is located in Denpasar. It’s in an area where there are a number of other official offices, including the Australian Consulate – this is not where you want to go. I have included a map with a dropped pin of the location, so you can refer to this if you travel there yourself or use a driver.
It’s currently opened Monday – Friday, from 9AM to 2PM, however with a lunch break from 12PM – 1PM (Mon – Thurs) and 11.30AM – 1PM (Friday).
2. On your first visit to immigration, you will need your PASSPORT, a BLACK PEN, 2 x PHOTOCOPIES of your passport and current Indonesian visa, and a PRINTED copy of your FLIGHT ITINERARY showing you leaving the country.
I was yet to book my flight out of Indonesia, as I was still deciding on a date, but I did have a flight booked from Singapore to Phuket, within the next month – proof enough that I intended to leave the country. This sufficed, but you MUST have some evidence of a booked trip out of the country – and print it!
3. On arrival to the immigration office, take a ticket from the machine which will have a queue number. Take a seat (or stand – it gets busy!) and wait until your number is called and proceed to Counter 1 or 2 with the above mentioned items.
4. You will be given a red file and two forms that you need to fill out in black pen. Fill these out in block letters – they mainly pertain to your personal information, and contact information in Bali. There is a section regarding ‘Sponsor Information’ – if you’re just a tourist, you can ignore this.
5. Once your forms are completed, hand this in along with your passport, the photocopy (keep one for yourself!) and your flight itinerary – don’t queue up again, just go straight to the counter. The staff will take this from you, and ask you to wait.
6. Your name will be called up, and it’s at this point that you are given an official receipt that is stamped with the date you need to return to immigration – normally in 5 – 7 working days. DO NOT LOSE this receipt – if you are asked to show your passport at any point over the next week, this is what you can show, along with the photocopy.7. On your second visit to immigration, proceed straight to the cashier counter for foreigners. This is where you hand over your receipt, and pay for your visa extension. At present, this cost is 335.000 Rp (approx $35 AUD). They’ll process the payment, attach another receipt to your passport receipt and advise you to proceed to Counter 3.
8. Hand over your receipt at Counter 3 and you’ll be issued with a queue ticket to have both your photograph and fingerprints taken. The waiting room and entry to this office is to the right of the counter. You shouldn’t have to wait longer than 30 minutes or so for this.
9. After your photo and prints have been taken, the staff member will hand back your receipts along with a stamp as to when to return to collect your passport – this will be the next business day, but you can only collect your passport between 2PM and 4PM.
10. On your third visit to immigration the following day, proceed straight to Counter 3 and hand over your receipt. You’ll be asked to wait, and then called up to the counter where they’ll hand back your passport (with your visa extension applied) and you will need to sign a logbook with your name, application number and signature.
And voila! Your passport is back in your hot little hands, along with an extra 30 days to explore Indonesia! The process, while lengthy, is quite straightforward however there are some other things to consider – namely time and cost. I’ve provided some more info on this below.
- Using an agent
There are travel agents all around Bali that offer visa extension services – in essence, they do the legwork for you. Once upon a time this would have been straightforward – you’d drop your passport off, pay your fee, and a week later you’d pick it up from your agent. However, you will STILL be required to personally visit immigration yourself to have your photo and prints taken. The transport is not included in your agent fee. The going rate for an agent is anywhere between 650.000 and 850.000 Rp – PLUS the cost of your return trip to immigration. I decided against this service, based on cost, and the fact that I was staying in Ubud when I started the process but would be in Legian at the end of it – and didn’t want to go back to Ubud to pick up my passport.
- Travelling to and from immigration
Whilst the visa cost itself is not expensive, what might catch you out is the travel to the immigration office – remember, you have to go there on three occasions. If you have your own scooter or motorbike – great! Or if you’re like me, and not keen on getting around Bali on a scooter nor wanting to get on the back of one – the alternative is a taxi. I highly suggest the Blue Bird Group metered taxis – you’ll find this cost cheaper than negotiating a rate with a driver. On my first two trips to immigration, I had to use a driver (not a lot of Blue Bird taxis in Ubud) and managed to negotiate a rate of 400.000 Rp return trip, including waiting for me whilst I was in the office. On my last two trips to immigration, I used a Blue Bird taxi and the average cost was 220.000 Rp, including waiting time – I was however coming from Legian, a good deal closer than Ubud.
All up, I spent 10.5 hours of my time in extending my visa, and 1.7 million Rp (including the visa itself – approx $170 – ouch!). However, I made the mistake of an unnecessary trip (did not have a printed flight itinerary, and then the office closed so I had to return the next day to re-submit) and was also travelling a further distance – two things which if I’d done right or had known, would have saved me around $60 and 5 or so hours. I highly recommend going to the immigration office FIRST thing in the morning, and it would also help to be staying closer to Denpasar if you know you will be making multiple trips in.
I hope that this information (whilst quite lengthy – sorry! But it’s all important!) is a help to you if you’re looking to extend your Indonesian visa. Please note, the process outlined above and costs are current as at August 2015 and pertain to Australian citizens. I am unsure if the process is different for other nationalities. The details regarding location and costs are also particular to the immigration office in Denpasar.
So, enlighten us – have you had a bit of a crazy experience in obtaining a visa whilst travelling? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share – we’d like to know we aren’t alone!