We recently arrived in Bali, Indonesia and will be spending the next two months in the hippy town Ubud working, practicing yoga, scooting around the rice paddies, and enjoying all the delicious vegetarian food. As UK citizens we are allowed to enter the country without a visa for stays up to 30 days, but this can’t be extended so it wouldn’t be enough time for our intended stay. Instead we applied for a 60 day tourist visa before we entered Indonesia. This can be done at Indonesian embassies all over the world but as we were in London we applied there.
We couldn’t find much information online about applying for an Indonesian visa at the London embassy except that it was stricter than other embassies in Asia (we found it easier in Singapore). It took some preparation but ultimately getting the visa was easy so we thought we’d share our experience here.
Preparing the Documents
When we applied in July 2015 this is what we needed:
- Passport (with a minimum validity of 6 months from the date of entry into Indonesia).
- One completed visa application form.
- One coloured passport size photograph.
- Must be UK Resident (with a minimum validity at least one month exceeding the validity of the requested visa).
- Travel itinerary (proof of bookings), including details of onward or return journey.
- Hotel Reservation (if applicable).
- Bank Statement dated less than a month with a minimum balance of £ 1,000.
- A recent letter (less than 1 month old) from applicant’s employer. If applicant is self employed, retired or pensioner, a confirmation letter from applicant’s solicitor, or accountant, or Bank Manager is required. For a student, submit confirmation letter of attendance from school, college or university. “au pair” or domestic help will have to show employer’s passport and submit copy of the said passport and letter from employee. All of the abovesaid type of letters must certify the applicant’s obligation to return after the visit to Indonesia.
- Written approval from the Immigration Office in Indonesia (only for applications that need referral to the Authorities in Indonesia ; See various visas issued on Approval).
- £40 fee by postal order or bank draft, or debit card on collection.
We prepared all of the above except for number 9 which isn’t needed for UK citizens. Some of these things were quite tricky so here’s how we dealt with them:
We heard this needed to be printed doubled sided so we did that in advance from their website. You could ask for a form at the embassy when you apply but it saved us time to have already filled it out.
The application form is used for all types of visas so some of the questions aren’t valid. We didn’t fill in the “For Limited Stay” or “Sponsorship in Indonesia” sections.
We provided printouts of our flight bookings into and out of Bali. The onward ticket was tricky as we probably want to extend our visa and stay for more than 60 days, but the onward flight needs to be within 60 days for the visa application. You have a few options:
- Fake a onward flight ticket.
- Buy a cheap ticket out of Indonesia and never use it. Medan to Penang with Air Asia is usually cheap (£20).
- Buy a changeable or refundable ticket.
We did the third option and bought an Air Asia ticket from Bali to Singapore, which is the route we’re likely to take after our stay. We paid extra for Premium Flex which allows us to change the date of the ticket twice for free. It cost us £60 each.
We booked a guesthouse for our first few nights in Ubud and showed the Booking.com reservation.
We got the bank to send us a statement as we weren’t sure if printouts from online banking would be allowed, but they probably would have been. We gave the embassy a photocopy of the original statement.
Letter from Employer
This was the really difficult thing. We don’t have an employer as we’re self-employed and we also don’t have a solicitor, accountant, or business bank manager. I looked through our paperwork to see what we had that could prove we were self-employed and all I could find was a bill from the Inland Revenue for our Self-employed Class 2 National Insurance contributions. We photocopied these and they worked fine.
British bloggers Our Big Fat Travel Adventure successfully got a visa at the London embassy by giving them a letter from their parents that said they planned to return to the UK. I have a feeling that they just need something to tick the box.
Applying for the Visa
You can apply by post but we went to the Indonesian Embassy at 38 Grosvenor Square in central London. You can apply for a visa from Monday to Thursday from 10am to 1pm or on Fridays from 10am to 12pm. We thought Mondays might be busier after the weekend closure so we arrived at 10.02am on a Tuesday. There were four people queuing outside and they opened the doors to the consular section downstairs just as we arrived. There was no formal queuing system in the office so we sat in the chairs and waited our turn.
We didn’t have to wait long before it was our turn to go up to the desk and show the woman our application form and paperwork. We had to explain that the Inland Revenue letter proved we were self-employed but she seemed to accept it. We did hear her asking other people for onward tickets and bank statements so it does seem they expect everything that’s on the checklist.
We were given our receipts and told to return a week later to collect our passports. We were both out in 10 minutes and it was the easiest embassy experience we’ve ever had.
Collecting the Visa
On the embassy website it says processing the visa takes 3-6 working days; for us it was five. You can collect visas Monday to Friday from 2.30pm to 4pm. Simon went without me and was able to collect my passport by showing my receipt. He didn’t have to wait and paid the £40 fee by debit card.
The tourist visa is single entry and we have to enter the country within 90 days of the issue date.
It was a bit complicated to make sense of the requirements for the Indonesia tourist visa and prepare all the paperwork, but applying at the London embassy was quick and easy, so it’s worth doing if you are in the area.
You could also consider getting your visa in Singapore if you are passing through on your way to Indonesia. It takes two working days and is easier than in London. See our guide to getting a 60-day Indonesian tourist visa in Singapore.
Extending A Tourist Visa in Bali
We can stay in Indonesia for 60 days with our tourist visa but we plan to extend it for at least 30 days. You can extend a tourist visa every 30 days up to a maximum of 180 days. The easiest option is to pay extra for a visa agency to extend it for you, otherwise, it involves three trips to the immigration office in Denpasar.
Update November 2015: We had no problems extending our visa in Bali. We used the independent agent Elizabeth who has an office near Alchemy restaurant in Penestanan, just outside Ubud. She charges 605,000 IDR ($44) and needs your passport 10 days before your visa expires. For your first visa extension you need to go to the immigration office for fingerprints and photos. Elizabeth arranges this for you—she met us there at 9am and we were out in 15 minutes. It took an hour to ride our motorbike there (look for Denpasar Immigrasi Kantor 1 on Google Maps). You don’t need to do this for subsequent extensions.
Elizabeth is rather terse but seems efficient and we were happy with the service. To find her office stand with your back to Alchemy, go right and a few doors down on the left side of road you’ll see a sign for Ayu Masari. Go down there through the hotel like complex and her office is on the left towards the back with green curtains. You can also call her on 0813 3842 4617 or ask for directions in Alchemy.
Update 2017: On our latest visit to Bali we used the visa agent Bali Viza to extend our visa. They will collect and deliver your passport from your accommodation for free. Read our guide to getting an Indonesia visa extension in Bali for more details.
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