(UPDATED January 4, 2018: Please see the changes below for new requirements for getting an Indonesian Social visa aka Social Budaya in Bangkok: a Wage Freedom reader tells us that the Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok requires 90 days to elapse between Social visas. I just called Ismail Hamdan’s office–see below, including his phone number–and as of today the rules haven’t changed at the Singapore Indonesian embassy. Please call ahead!)
(Rather watch? Scroll down for video.)
Over the years I’ve had lots of people ask how to go about staying in Bali for six months or more, and how that affects which Bali visa they should choose. I should begin here by gently (and respectfully!) reminding anyone who doesn’t know that visiting Bali requires an Indonesian visa, not a Bali visa.
Nowadays due to the still-low cost of living in Bali and many other factors, Bali especially is seeing a huge influx of foreigners looking to save by renting an apartment or house by the month (or by the year) and work on a project, look into possibilities for making a base in Bali or elsewhere in Indonesia, learn Bahasa Indonesia or simply take an extended break to explore Indonesia’s endless natural and cultural depth and variety.
The Sosial Budaya, or Social Visa is a great way to do this, and for many people it’s the best option. Costing approximately US$60 in 2018 depending on where you apply, it allows you an initial stay of 60 days, then is extendable every 30 days for about US$25, up to a maximum stay of six months without having to leave Indonesia. It is a single entry visa. If you leave Indonesia after any amount of time the visa is no longer good and you must apply for another one or re-enter with a VOA. Another stipulation with the Sosial Budaya is that you must apply for it while you are physically outside of Indonesia. You also need a letter of invitation from an Indonesian citizen. All this is simpler than it might sound. My aim with this article is to remove, whether you’re interested in Indonesia as a whole or just Bali, visa-related question marks as barrier to doing this.
I’ve applied for quite a few Indonesian Social Visas in several cities around the world, so I can elaborate, but I must emphasize that my info is current through early 2018, to the very best of my knowledge. Please check online with the Indonesian embassy through which you’ll apply for current information. Interestingly, different embassies sometimes have different application forms and slightly different requirements.
Bonus Tip #1: Even when the process seems clear on the embassy website, I always call first to confirm that I understand exactly what I’ll currently need. This has saved me time and money in the United States for example, where you’ll find you must apply to the Indonesian embassy closest to your permanent address. Rules change over time. It’s worth a call.
The Sosial Budaya or ‘Social Visa’
It might be helpful to first compare the social visa to the visa most travelers get initially, so you understand your options.
In 2018 citizens of most countries can get a 30-day ‘Visa on Arrival’ (VOA) stamp at the airport, or pay US$35 for the extendable version of the VOA, extendable once for a maximum stay of 60 days. Neither require arrangements in advance.
If you’re new to Indonesia you might be inclined to get a VOA visa for Bali initially. Once you’re here you’ll undoubtedly make the acquaintance of Indonesians who might be willing to sponsor you for a Social Visa and give you a letter of invitation you’ll need for it.
Once you’ve decided to stay longer and you have a brief invite letter from a sponsor, you can apply for the Social Visa yourself and save money. In my experience, expressing a sincere desire on the application to visit Indonesia for extended travel and to visit friends is enough reason for the authorities to give you one. Again: make sure you get the visa application from the website of the specific Indonesian embassy to which you will be applying! With the sponsor letter (and possibly a ‘letter of guarantee’ depending on the embassy to which you apply) and application in hand, you’ll also need to submit:
- your passport
- a copy of your sponsor’s Indonesian KTP (identity card)
- one or two passport-size photos
- the fee, it will vary
You’d then fly to Singapore, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur to apply for the social visa at the Indonesian embassy there. It takes two or three days depending on where you go. (See below for a one-day option) I’ve had social visas from embassies in all three cities but again to avoid confusion I’d really suggest calling ahead to see what exactly you currently need.
Would you rather just have a Social Visa in hand when you first arrive in Indonesia, i.e. before you ever leave home? There are Bali travel agents who will handle the sponsor letter, letter of guarantee, and a copy of the sponsor’s KTP document for you. They will get these documents to you, then you will apply (usually by mail) at the Indonesian Embassy nearest your home address. You actually can do this quickly via FedEx or DHL if you include a return prepaid envelope.
To get the sponsor letter, letter of guarantee, and a copy of a sponsor’s KTP document just Google Bali visa agent. I’d call them for verbal confirmation of what they can do for you. Do shop around because prices can vary widely. The price for this service shouldn’t be much more than US$20 or so in 2018. They will get the documents to you.
One more thing if you get the social visa forms from an agent. Some of them have an arrangement whereby their clients can avoid going to the Immigration office three times per monthly visa extension. You want that–it will save you a huge amount of time.
Extending your Social Visa
I’m asked this a lot so I’ll state it clearly: you cannot currently (2018) extend your Social Visa beyond six months.
Getting extensions beyond the 60 days for which it is good after initial arrival is straightforward, but it will take a lot of time unless you get help from an agent. Get a Bali visa agent who handle each 30-day extension so you do not have to go to the Immigration office three times per visa extension. Simply Google ‘Bali visa agent’ and ask about this service.
After your up-to-6 months’ stay on the Social Visa is up, you’ll be obliged to leave Indonesia. You can apply for another Social Visa immediately (update: Oct. 2016: apparently no longer the case in Bangkok, but you still can in Singapore.) This will be a completely new visa, you need a new invite letter, etc. It is normally a three-day turnaround (two in Singapore), but if you’re buying flight tickets, ask for the current wait time when you call ahead.
Bonus Tip #2: I check Air Asia‘s website well in advance for cheap flights leaving on Monday (much cheaper than Sunday usually), as early as possible so that I can get to the embassy to which I’ll be applying that same morning. For example, in 2016 there is a 7:00 AM Air Asia flight to Singapore (arrival 9:30 AM) which will get you to the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore early enough to get your paperwork in. By applying on Monday I have my visa in hand by Wednesday afternoon i.e. well before the following weekend, and avoid paying to stay in Singapore over the weekend while I wait for the visa.
Bonus Tip #3: If you are going to the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore to get your Social Visa, as of 2016 they won’t let you in to submit your application if you’re wearing shorts. They have discontinued the practice of renting sarongs for men and women deemed unfit for entry, and you will be told to ‘go home and get some long pants’. Well, that’s what they told me…..
Bonus Tip #4: Be aware that outside of Southeast Asia, the process will take longer if you aren’t a citizen of the country in which you apply. One time in Paris for example I waited for over 2 weeks for my Social visa, but it would have been worse if not for the incredibly helpful staff at the Indonesian Embassy in Paris going beyond the call of duty and helping me apply to the Indonesian Embassy in Los Angeles. As helpful as they were, I will make other arrangements next time. It’s another reason why it is imperative to call ahead.
Tom, Can I Get A New Social Visa In Singapore in One Day?
I knew you were going to ask me that! Expediting the whole process via an Indonesia visa agent in Singapore is surprisingly simple to do. If you’d like to avoid the conventional few-day ‘visa run’, a one-day turnaround for Social Visa processing is possible in Singapore. Ismail Hamdan is a Singapore-based Indonesian visa consultant specializing in same-day service. I use him myself. Taking an early-morning flight from Bali or Jakarta can land you in Singapore with enough time to make it to his office (not the Embassy!) by the 11 AM cutoff. As I will have already paid for a return flight ticket I always call his office in advance to check the most current procedures/costs to avoid problems:
Ismail Hamdan – Singapore Visa Consultant
Address: 190 Clemenceau Ave, Singapore 239924 (in Singapore Shopping Center across from Dhoby Ghaut Station)
Phone: 65 6334 5520
As of Jan. 2018, bring:
- your passport
- sponsor letter
- a copy of your sponsor’s Indonesian KTP (identity card)
- one passport-size photo, 4 x 6 cm. (white background)
- In January 2018 Mr. Hamdan’s service costs $185 Singapore dollars total, which includes the fee for the visa.
You can just take the MRT (train) from terminal 2 at Changi Airport into Singapore for SG$2.40 in 2018, less than US$2. Takes about 40 minutes. If you take the 7 AM flight from Bali the train cuts it a bit close. Taxi at that time of day all the way from Changi was $19 Singapore dollars for me once (I prefer the train if time permits, it’s so easy.)
Ultimately the Social Visa/Sosial Budaya is a terrific way to stay in Bali for longer stays, or to do some serious travel to other parts of Indonesia.
In an archipelago this far-reaching and varied, spending even six months would be just a start! If you have any further questions, please ask in the comments below.
If you’d like boots-on-the-ground info about getting started as an expat in Bali, I wrote a book! With almost 30,000 words of detail, it’s packed with everything I’ve learned since 2005 about establishing yourself in Bali.
To purchase How To Live In Bali click here now to go to the secure checkout.
Or, if you’d like a sample, just tell me where to send your two free chapters, below. (Sign up and you’ll also get my private Wage Freedom newsletter every once in a while, when I have something good to share. Unsubscribe any time.)
209 thoughts on “A Social Visa For Long Stays In Bali, Indonesia: What You Need To Know”
Such a helpful article, Tom! Thanks for this!
My husband and I are currently in Bali (in the Seminyak area), and we’ve totally fallen in love with it. We have more countries we want to visit on this particular trip, but we’re definitely talking about coming back here in the future for a long-term stay!
Whereabouts are you on the island, btw? 🙂
Hi Amanda– glad you enjoyed the article! I’m in the US at the moment, do drop me a line the next time you visit Bali; I live in Seminyak.
Hey I’m very impressed with Girls Guide to Webdesign btw. Happy travels!
Hi Tom, great article. I wondered if you could put me in touch with someone who could help me with a social visa I tried the email address quoted above but haven’t had any joy. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
This was a very helpful article!
Im gonna apply for a socicla visa with my indonesian boyfriend as a sponsor and I was just wondering what to write in the letter of invitation. I’ve tried to google for examples on a sponsor letters but cant seem to find any good ones. So I was hoping maybe you could help me.
Amanda from Sweden
I have recently decided to go against the norm and be free of all ties, in other words, I stuck it to the mann, left my daunting studies and quit my 9-5 job.
I´m vegan and love my fruits so moving to Bali would be ideal. Thank you for your great advice 🙂
I have a question for my sister in law. Her and her daughter just moved there to stay for a year. Her daughter is enrolled in the International school. She said she was told that once she gets her visa, she can’t travel out of Bali until the visa is up. We were hoping for them to come visit us over the Christmas vacation. Is it true they can’t travel outside of Bali during the visa? If her visa expires in December, can they come to us for 10 days and then go back and get another 6 month visa? I thank you in advance for your time and expertise!
Hey Tom, I am moving over to Bali for the rest of the year in two months. I am just trying to work out my visa things, when I asked my friends to do a visa letter apart from the fact that he has an expat spouse and her parents already covered by his name they said that getting a social visa is not what I should get, because when I am there I will propably move around a bit and visit Lombok and nusa lambongen. I was just wondering if you know that my sponsor has to know where I will be all the time? And if I have to stay in the one spot? Thanks heaps
Hi Tom – Can you extend the VOA for the additional 30 days from Bali or do you have to go to the mainland to do the 30 day extension?
Just wondering, what do you know about getting accommodation for 6 months to a year in Bali? What sort of cost would one be looking at?
We are looking at moving to Bali in 2014 with our two teenage boys.
Could our sons go to school in Bali on a social visa?
Any information regarding this would be great.
Meg & Greg – Australia
Hi Tom. We were told that immigration hold onto your passport while on a social visa so emergency travel is not possible. Do you know if that is true?
That is absolutely not true. Don’t worry, you definitely get to keep your passport.
Now, when you are extending your visa they will keep your passport with them at the office by the airport for a few days or however long it takes them to process your monthly extension. Still, one time while I was getting my extension I had to leave in a hurry and I was able to go to the office, get my passport and leave that morning.(If it was a weekend it might be difficult…) Good luck.
Thank you very much, Tom! This allows me to plan a stay in Indonesia.
I have been badly scammed in the past so I am probably (unhealthily so) somewhat wary about being scammed again: once bitten twice shy etc. . You state that you are currently resident in Bali and yet the email address to which I must agree to subscribe is in the USA. So I guess I’m a tad confused. I am a 65 yo male in the process of moving to Bali as a pensioner and value all your comments in your blog.
Hi Tom, enjoy your articles – very informative.
Is it possible to communicate with officials in Bali if you only speak English?
My wife and I are considering staying more than a few months and we will probably need to extend our VOA, do the Visa run etc and then maybe apply for a longer Visa.
English is sufficient Alan, absolutely.
You’re welcome David, best of luck!
Hi Terry, yes the email connected to my auto-responder (the tech mechanism through which Bali on the Cheap is delivered to you) is connected to my Hotmail account. I am based in Bali but I have no email address connected with an Indonesian email provider, so I have little choice.
The auto-responder asks you to opt in twice as a way of ensuring to Aweber, the company I use to handle e-guide sign ups, that people who ask for the guide actually want it, to avoid spam. I’ll have your email address, but I’ve never (yet)emailed people on my list, and at any rate you can opt out from me ever emailing you in the future with one click.
Do enjoy Bali on the Cheap if you do decide to get it Terry.– Tom
I appreciate it for posting “How to Stay Long-Term In Bali | Long-Term Stays In
Indonesia | Social Visa | Wage Freedom”. Imight surely end up being back again for more reading and writing comments soon enough.
Thanks a lot, Jenifer
My girlfriend and I recently returned from a holiday to Bali and we’ve fallen in love with the island and it’s people. We’re now looking to see if it’s possible to spend a year or longer there as we have nothing keeping us back except money (we plan to save up over the next year or two). Anyway, your posts are a great inspiration and help. I have just one question (I may have more at some point sorry)…
Is it possible for a non Bali resident to buy a house? The villa we stayed in was owned by a French guy so I was just a bit curious how you’re not allowed to officially live there long term but somehow this guy has land and a house?
Hi Mark, nice to hear you had such a good experience in Bali!
Let me preface this by saying that I am not any lawyer-or ‘notaris’ as they are known in Indonesia-but I do have some idea of how the process works if you’re a foreigner who would like to have a long-term presence here. The rough sketch is that the person on the title of the property you purchase will be must be an Indonesian citizen. There is a by now well-worn path that is used by expats to control property though, in which several documents are signed which essentially give the foreigner control over the property, i.e. to make improvements, and even to eventually sell it. Again, you would want to talk to different people who have done this to first find a reputable notaris — just a title search in Bali can be very complicated as there are often several people on the title to a property.
Keep in mind too that long-term leases, up to 20 or 30 years in some cases, are very popular as well.
Being in Indonesia for long periods isn’t too much of a problem in practice. A residence permit–or KITAS–is an option, and there are visas that allow you to spend quite a bit of time here as well, such as the retirement visa if you’re over 55, business visas, as well as the social visa.
Hope that helps Mark.
I am an Indian, I fell in love with an Indonesian girl. And I want to marry her and live in Indonesia with her. Can you please provide some assistance i.e. what kind of documents will be required and the procedures,.. So that I can live peacefully in Indonesia with her.
Hi Zeshan — well I think the first step is to come to Indonesia and talk to a professional who can advise you on the procedure for getting married here. I won’t attempt to do it in a blog comment, sorry. The good news is that it appears that Indians are on the list of countries whose citizens can get a visa on arrival (VOA) upon entry to Indonesia (see the link below). It looks like you will need an onward or return ticket however. Good luck to you Zeshan.
Tom so many thanks for this really helpful incite. A question if I may. I have an option to work remotely for an online company and thinking of staying in indoneisa for around 25 days each month, heading back to the UK.. Having kids and family there and then coming back and round 4 days later and getting another VOA.. Would look to rent a place in Indonesia too.. The Company is from the UK and I would be working and selling to NON Indonesians and all monies to me and from clients goes to UK. could this as an option be considered. ? . Doing the math.. including the flights each month and the rental in indonesia it seems like a do able option! any thoughts?
It’s great info. I stayed in Indonesia as expat(96-01) and since then I have been feeling to live in there again. Do you have any idea how the program of “Indonesia my 2nd Home” works ? Any reliable agent can help? Thanks.
I think you’re thinking of the ‘Malaysia my second home’ program. I don’t think Indonesia offers anything with a name like that, but there are many options for staying long-term. Any agent would be able to lay out your options; many of my friends are on the ‘Social Budaya‘ or social visa. Good luck!
Can US and Canadian citizens apply for Social Budaya while in Bangkok, through the Bangkok Indonesian embassies? Currently in SE Asia already and it would be really inconvenient and expensive to have to return to the US/Canada to apply at the Indonesian embassies there…
Hi Fred and thanks for your comment. Yes for an American (I’m quite sure Canadians too) getting a Sosial Budaya visa in Southeast Asia is no problem, at least in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, where I’ve done it.
FYI and for future reference for anybody reading this comment,for Americans in Europe it can be a real problem, though not impossible, to get an Indonesian social visa. At the Indonesian embassy in Paris they actually had to call an Indonesian embassy in California(!?) to approve the social visa they eventually issued me, and it took a couple of weeks.
But yes for you Fred, long story short the Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok to get you sorted out no problem.
thank you very much for the helpful article. I am currently applying for an internship in Bali and thinking of staying there for more than six month. Travelling to another Asian city for some days wouldn’t be a problem, but I am wondering about the letter of invitation. Probably it will have a date written on it, so do the embassies accept a letter that is already more than half a year old? Or do you need a new letter every time you apply for a new visa?
Thanks in advance,
Hi Anneli — good news for you, the Sosial Budaya visa doesn’t require an invitation letter anymore, At least it didn’t for me in San Francisco in October of 2013. I would call the Indonesian embassy closest to you there in Germany and ask; the bottom line is that without needing the letter of invitation the social visa became easier than ever to get. Good luck and I’d love to know what you find out if you can drop me a line.
Very informative site. I am a 62yr old Australian pensioner looking to live in Bali for approx. 5 to 6 months of each year due to Dr sending me off to warmer weather. Wanting to meet up with other Aussie seniors living in Bali or find a group or share accommodation.
Can you help?
Hi Pam— The Bali Advertiser is still a great resource for so many things, take a look at these two links to get you started. There’s is a huge variety of expat organizations and community groups here:
Expat organizations: http://www.baliadvertiser.biz/articles/feature/2013/expat_organizations.html
Community groups: http://www.baliadvertiser.biz/community_groups/page01.html
I have just received my sponsor letter for Sosial Budaya..however my sponsor has written it in Indonesian, as I’m applying for it in Australia (my home country), would that be a problem, or should I get it translated to English?
It should be in Bahasa Indonesia Adrienne, it’s going to the Indonesian embassy. No translation needed.
Thank you for posting this informative article.
This is what I need urgently for now. All I did was to go away on vacation for two weeks in Bali and then I’ve totally fallen in love with it. Honestly it was my first time to travel out of the country on my own.
It will be only two months left until I’m ready to graduate from college. Living without green and blue can drive me crazy especially in Shanghai. I’ve already decided to go back to Bali on middle June. Nothing can hold me back staying more than 6 months or longer except money. Getting an invitation letter from a Balinese friend won’t be a problem. But I heard people say that it’s impossible to extend the 30-day VOA.
What should I do first after I arrive in Bali with a travel visa which permits 30-day stop? Do I need to find a job there to transfer it to a working visa? What if I want to establish my own website and start my own business there? Sorry I’ve got a lot of questions to ask. I’m really confused.
Mia – Shanghai, China
I am in semenyak now and would like to meet you.
I have just applied for a visa for my young children to visit there auntys/uncles.grandpa. grandma and cousins in bali, I requested a 60 days visa from the embassy in london, with children leaving in june and return august, a whole stay of 50 days, despite sending my flight details the embassy have gave me a 47day stay and my visa expires 3 days before my trip ends, Why and how do i get them to fix there mistake
Just wondered if you know of any agents in Bangkok who can turn around a social visa in one day?
thanks for all your info… its fabulous… I have a question I cant find answered anywhere else… (sorry if it is!)..
I am planning on joining hubby in Jakarta (he is there on a business visa for work), it will be myself and 3 children. Im thinking the easiest thing for 6-8 mths would be to just use VOA and extend for 30 days then go on holidays to Thailand, singapore etc for a weekend, and reenter on the VOA, and continue to do this for the remainder of our time in Jakarta… will this work? Im just trying to save on paperwork, and also fancy the idea of ‘having’ to go on a short break every 30 days!!!
thanks so much
Thank you very much for your comment Bendigo. I like your idea about creating social activities for people in their 40’s and up. The club and bar scene in Bali is busy but rather one-dimensional maybe, especially for people who don’t drink (like me). Drop me a line if you like when you’re in Bali and we can brainstorm it!
Really enjoyed reading the posts it just makes me more determined to get back to Bali. I am a UK citizen married to my husband who is an Indonesian national, we currently live together here in the UK but with the stress and strain of UK life its time to think about the future. We both have agreed that we want to buy land in Bali and build a villa with the view to live there permanently. I understand we have no rights as a gay couple, is this still true or has the laws changed and would they recognise our certificate issued in the UK? Is the only way to get around living in Bali is for me to apply for a Kitas? My mother -in-law accepts our union and I know would sponsor me if required.
We are due back in Bali this September 2014 looking hopefully at land, if your free and would like to give some face to face advice we wouldn’t object.
Hi Mark— do drop me a line when you’re coming and let’s have a chat then, I’d be happy to meet you both for coffee.
I’m looking at moving to Bali for 12 months with
My 2 children 8 & 5.
I have been seeing someone there for the past
6 months & have been going back & forth visiting.
What would be the best option for a visa as the
Children will need to start school as we’ll.
Thank you, your artical is great.
Thanks for creating this website and keeping up to date answering all the questions. It’s very useful.
My girlfriend and I would both like to have the Social Budaya pass in hand when entering Indonesia the first time but we don’t know anyone in Indonesia to write it. I’m sure we’re not the first people in this situation, so I was wondering if you knew how do they managed it?
I have a few enquires about the visas:
Im from Italy. Im in Australia now (with the working holliday visa).
Im going to Bali, Indonesia, next thursday (17th of july) and i would like to know some things as soon as possible, because im trying to comunicate by phone but i can’t, nobody answer.
For VOA visa, is completly necesary have a return ticket? Im only have one way ticket (Brisbane – Bali)
The extension of the VOA visa can be do it inside the Country or should i leave it for apply?
With a Sponssor Letter can I apply for the Social Visa on arrival? if not, can i get in with the VOA visa, get out the country and apply from outside? (from Singapure for example)
I would really apreciate if you can provide me any informartion about this enquires.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Hi Tom, Good info but for social visit visa (Sosial Budaya) you still need the sponsor invitation letter and copy sponsor`s ID. At least you do for embassy in Singapore. Requirements differ depending which embassy you use I believe.
I use pt Bali-Ide as my Bali agent and they are now asking me to use Mr Malik Yusof as facilitator in Singapore rather than Ismael Hamden. Not sure why. Will be doing mine in Sing in mid Aug. Hope all goes well using an unfamiliar contact at Singapore end.
I want to come to Indonesia(bali) to live,how do I get a retirement visa as I am 62,do I need to initiate the process in the states?
Hi Tom, re: my email dated June 15th. We are all booked and if you are still available we will take you up on meeting up for coffee in Bali. How can we contact you? Can you privately email me your contact details?
Hi Tom! I so appreciate you taking the time to create this great information source. I am coming to Bali in a couple weeks and have decided to stay for an extended visit. Do you know if I need a proof of exit to get the longer visa? I have a plane ticket out but do not want to use it. Any guidance would be so appreciated. I also see that you are open to meeting people in Bali. I would love to do that and wondering if I could meet you and bend your ear at the end of Sept? Thanks again! Colleen
Hi Colleen–thanks for your comment and your kind words. If by longer visa you mean the social visa, you do have to apply for it before you come to Indonesia. You can extend the visa on arrival once for a maximum stay of 60 days. There is a chance you’ll have to show your onward ticket at immigration, but if you have one I think it’s no problem for you.
Just let me know when you get here and we could meet for coffee if you like Colleen. —Tom
I am currently in Seminyak on holiday and return on home on Sunday. I am thinking of moving to Bali and would love to meet you if you are available and willing to meet up for a chat and a coffee before I leave as I have quite a few questions about how to go about such a move. I apologise for the short notice, but I have only just come across your article and obvious wisdom in this regard. I am staying at the Puri Saron Hotel and can be contacted there – 361 731007 (room 4202), or via this site. I’m afraid my mobile phone is having a few issues with connection here, so it’s currently out of service. I am very grateful that you have posted this information – obviously a moment of serendipity in light of my current thoughts on improving my lifestyle and my life-long love of this heaven on earth. Cheers, Tiffany (Swinton)
Sending you an email Tiffany.
Your references for getting a visa was very enlightening , I have been to Bali many times, any leads on say renting a unit/town house ? I usually stay at kamikaze plaza ( expensive ), although 2 years ago did rent a town house ” kata royal ” for au$600 per month it was good and cleaned daily.
Oooh ooh! Can I come visit for a coffee as well in say a month or two Tom? 🙂
Hi there– I’m planning a trip to Thailand in November then leave after 29 day to go to Indonesia then Singapore then back to Thailand. Do i need any type of visa or will it be ok as I’m only there for 29 days at a time? Many thanks.
For 29 days in Indonesia a visa on arrival (VOA) will work for you, no prior arrangements needed, just wait in the VOA line.
Hi! I’m flying to Bali this October to be with my boyfriend who works there. I’m planning to stay there for a long time with him. Plan was to keep renewing my visa every time it “expires”. So please let me know if I got your post right….. I can extend my tourist visa for another 30 days? And then go out of Bali (say Singapore) to apply for a social visa (so i can extend for 6 months), and then go back to Bali? And then just keep on renewing this social visa? Your prompt reply would be highly appreciated! Thank you!
As of Sept. 2014 that is 100% accurate! Just get with my friend Sinta if you need help with visa extensions/further questions.
Hi, some forums mentioned that now the social visit pass (sosbud) does not have much advantage as compared to the 60-day Visa on arrival tourist visa and I noted that the application for sosbud visa requires more documents, i.e., from a local sponsor. Is there any particular reason that sosbud visa is better if you are planning to stay in Indonesia for more than 60 days? Thanks!
Hi there Lisa, thanks for your comment. The difference is you’ll have to leave Indonesia after 60 days with the VOA, whereas with the Sosial Budaya you can stay up to 180 days. With the Social visa you just start your 30-day extensions after 60 days (start with your first extension after about 50 days to be safe).
It’s true, the Social visa does require an invite letter from an Indonesian; if you’re extending in Bali they want to see that an Indonesian with a Bali KTP (ID card) has invited you.
Hey mate great read! Got a funny one for ya. I’m wanting to live in Bali for 12mths with possibility of longer with my 6 yr old daughter. I don’t plan to work initially as I have saving to last at least the 12mths but wanted to get her into international school. I believe I need a sponsor and kitas visa, can I achieve this not working?
Hi Tom, thank you for your informative article. We are British expat family with two young children living in Thailand and thinking of relocating to Bali for a year initally. What is the best visa route for 12 months? And how does immigration view digital nomads?
I believe (since you said we have to leave after 60 days on a VOA) that we would have to show a ticket leaving Indonesia in 60 days. What about the social visa? Can we get the social visa without having to have a return ticket (a ticket to leave Indonesia in hand when we arrive in Bali).
Hi David– I can’t recall being asked for an onward ticket when I come in with a VOA, but they could ask, so usually I have a cheap Air Asia ticket booked for some months out. Take a look at the prices, you can get DPS-SIN or DPS-KUL for US$30 or $40 if you buy months out. If you think you’ll stay 4-6 months that should be a very cheap ticket. Good luck David.
One more. I gather Sinta is in Indonesia (ID)? I will call Ismail Hamdan in Singapore (SP) as you suggested as we plan to go to SP first anyway and then on to ID. If we arrive on a VOA is it difficult to “upgrade it to a retirement visa ” in Bali? That would probably be our first stop.. I would like to travel around a bit to decide where to live. On my last trip the city I liked best was Malang. I stayed in Bali one of the previous trips. However that doesn’t mean I would choose one of those. I have been to ID four times but just now retired from my job and am looking to live in ID now.
Hi David — Yes Sinta is Indonesian, and has everything you need on her end. I just got back from Singapore, she gave me everything I needed and Mr. Hamdan’s office was totally efficient and friendly as usual. 11 AM at his office is the deadline, do bring 1 passport photo! Dhoby Ghaut MRT stop.
Your plan sounds great, but one thing: if you see Mr. Hamdan in Singapore for one-day service for your social visa (Sosial Budaya) you won’t be coming in on a VOA I think, it will be the social visa. The VOA requires no pre-planning at all, it is just a stamp at the airport.
I don’t know whether you have to leave Indonesia to process a retirement visa, but it will be a new visa, not an upgrade.
Hope this helps David.
Have you tried to apply for the social visa in kuala lumpur? I am.in bali now, and Considering to go there next week to get the social visa.
I have, years ago. Fyi a friend of mine told me he was able recently to get his Social Visa in KL without going to an agent. Just get there early. Good luck and let me know if this is possible, if you find out please Sarah!
Firstly, great article! Cheers! I’ve looked into moving to Bali several times in the past, but until reading this I just didn’t think it was going to be that easy! I have visited Bali many times and have made many friends, so getting the letter would be easy enough via email, would that be acceptable? What kind of information must be provided? Also, how would you rate work opportunities in Bali for westerners (Australian)? Although I will have some savings, I will need to find work. Thanks for any advice.
Hi i came to bali last month on a voa and i have just got it extended so at the end of the month can i fly to singapore and get another voa to enter bali? or do i have to apply for a different visa?
Hi Teena and thanks for your question– yes you can fly anywhere outside of Indonesia before your VOA extension is up, and to be clear, you can get another VOA at the airport when you come back into Bali or elsewhere in Indonesia. It’s just like coming from Australia. I hope that’s clear.
You wouldn’t have to do anything special in Singapore unless you want to get the Social Visa (Sosial Budaya), which lets you stay up to six months. For that you can contact my friend Sinta at the email in the article and she’ll help you.
Hi there Hannah and thanks for your question– for a Social visa (Sosial Budaya) you can contact my friend Sinta at the email in the article and she’ll help you. She does the invite letter and the rest of what you need for free in the hope that you’ll let her help you with extensions (and if you don’t no hard feelings!).
As far as work goes, the terms of the Social visa don’t allow you to work, but if you can find an employer here they can provide you with a KITAS, basically a work permit. It really depends on your experience I guess, and what you want to do. Good luck Hannah.
Thank you for all the information!!!
My husband and I are looking to move over to Bali next year with our daughter (2 years old). We have some income here (Australia) that will keep us moving but we will need to earn out there also, we both work for ourselves (massage therapists) and so I am so confused as to what visa we would need to get, as we would look to work form home. I look forward to hearing from you!
Hey Brad, sorry for the delay answering. I don’t think you or your daughter need a KITAS for her to attend school in Indonesia. I used to assume you would but recently was talking to a friend here who’s son attends school outside of Ubud (loves it) and I know they are on Social visas (Sosial Budaya). You might contact a couple schools here to be sure. I hope that helps Brad!
Sent you an email Zaina
Thank you very much for your very useful information. I have been searching on the internet for a month how to stay long term in Indonesia. Even I have looked for volunteering. I could not believe. They want 600 dollars from the volunteer. Finally I found your site. Thanks god I know many people from there. I will ask them for an invitation. thanks again.
Wow, I hope they aren’t asking $600 for a social visa. (If I understand you)
You’re welcome Mehmet, good luck and I hope the article helped.
Thank you so much for this information! What is the best visa for my family to get if I need to leave Bali often – at least once every other month if not every month.
It sounds like a VOA-visa on arrival-would be fine for you Rhonda.
Is a limited stay visa the best way to go of you are planning on staying for at least a year? or do you have a better way?
Thanks so much for providing this amazing service/gift!!!
It there a limit/restriction to the number of VOA-visas one can get each year?
For example, in our case, we might leave Bali each month = we would get another VOA-visa each time – or 12 VOA-visas – for each time we enter Bali. Would this be an issue?
Hi Shelly– I do know a lot of people who use the Sosial Budaya/social visa to stay for longer periods. If you have the visa in hand you can stay for six months until you have to leave, so it is quite generous.
thanks for the great information robert
Hey Tom, great information, thanks!
Do you know if your sponsor needs to be registered in Bali, or if someone with a Javanese ID card is also ok?
Hi Kristof– thanks for the comment. That is a very good question.
It’s a 2-part answer: since you’ll apply for the social visa outside of Indonesia, the embassy won’t care where your sponsor is from, obviously the visa is good for all of Indonesia. He/she will need to give you a copy of their KTP/identity card when you apply for the visa.
Extending the visa is another matter. If you get someone to help you do the extensions in Bali (it’s 3 separate trips to the immigration office in Tuban, near the airport) I think they want to see a Bali KTP from that person. My friend who helps me (Sinta) has her Bali KTP though she’s from Lombok orginally.
So, can you be invited by one person and have someone else do the extensions? I’ve done that and I think Sinta needed a letter or something from the person who did the original invite letter.
Maybe get with her and ask–she knows much more about it than I do obviously. Her email is in the article, above. Good luck Kristof.
Thank you for all that info. I am considering retiring to live in Bali ,however getting rid of accumulated baggage(40 years in Australia ) is a priority and a resolution for 2015.
Many thanks Tom. I am Australian and going over with my young son. My husband has to work in Vietnam but our son will go well at school outside Ubud.
I was thinking of just using VOA several times but I think now I might get social visa, after reading your words. I will look around to rent a place for 6 months in Ubud. Thanks again for your help. Deborah
Thank you Deborah, glad to help. I don’t see much/any disadvantage to the social visa and I’d imagine most of your son’s classmates and their families will also be using them. Good luck there.
Hi, would a social visa allow you to work in Indonesia for any length of time?
No it doesn’t, it’s just for visits of a longer period than a visa on arrival (VOA) would allow you. It’s not a work/residence permit.
Thank you so so so much for this post.
I was looking around for something like it and I kept getting more and more confused.
Is there a limit on how many times you can go outside Bali and get a new Social Visa?
And can you leave Bali within the 6 months or do you then have to get a new social visa?
If Sinta helps with the renewing will she then do all the things needed or do we need to go somewhere to have it extended?
Thank you again for this great post.
Do you live in Bali now?
If you would like to I would love to buy you a cup of coffee 🙂
Best regards Miella
Hi Miella, glad you found some value here. 1) I don’t think there’s a hard limit on the number of Social visas you can get. 2) You can leave Indonesia at any time but the standard social visa (Sosial Budaya) is a single-entry visa. So coming back in would require a new social visa or VOA. 3) Sinta helps with extensions, so you don’t have to go physically to the Immigration office. Normally you have to go three times per extension, so she saves me a ton of time. And yes I am in Bali now, check your email.
Hi Tom, great, thanks for all the information on this blog. Is it possible to contact you directly? I would also look forward to a coffee with you.
You’re welcome Innana— try me at tom (at) wagefreedom.com.
im getting very confused, i am considering moving to bali as my husband is a fifo worker in perth!
i have a 3 and 5 year old!
if i go over over on a normal visa do i have to leave the county after 30 days? i don’t want to have to leave the county for at least 6mth, traveling on my own would be too hard with the kids? any help would be great as its a big move we currently live in Australia NSW!
an email with info would be great.
kind regards Nadene
can your friend extend this for me?
Im a fifo worker and work 1 week in Australia then fly to Bali on my week off. Am I able to get a social visa instead of paying the voa everytime I enter. As it is about $50 now it would be a saving I think. Can I still come and go on a tourist visa?
Hi Tom, What a valuable service you are providing! Thank you!
I am looking to get an ordinary 60 day tourist visa. I recently read that the Indonesian embassy in KL no longer issues these. Do you or any of your readers know if they are still being issued at the embassies in Penang or Bangkok? And what the cost is? I have tried contacting the embassy in Bangkok without success. Thanks again!
Hi Tom, do you know of any visa agents in Kuala Lumpur?
I am here in Bali on a single entry social visa. My total stay is 90 days… My question is;
I want to go to singapor at the end of my 60day visa. Instead of extending it can I just get a 30 day tourist visa for the rest of my trip when I return to Bali?
If you want to leave after 60 days instead of extending you can do that. Get the VOA when you come back to Indonesia.
Thank you for your article!
I have contacted Sinta just minutes ago:-)
Hello – Great advice. When you apply for a social visa can you still leave Bali to travel outside during these 6 months? E.G. Weekend trip to Thailand?
Dear Sir, my family would be coming on a social visa for 2 months from India. We have booked tickets exactly departure 20 th April and return 20 th June. Will that pose a problem as we will be exactly completing our 60 days stay. Request your kind help. Best regards and you are doing a fantastic work by helping people. Thanks a lot!
Thanx for posting your helpful info. Is the turn-around time of 3 visits at Tuban (Embassy) the same for extending the VOA ??
Smiles : )
Hi Tom, I am living in the US and am wantingto mmove to Bali at thend if the year, looking to stayfor a year. II’m thinkinga social visawould be best. You were saying thatwe must apply outside of Bali,but is thatsonethisomething I would do herein the US or onlyin Singapore. Also, I am looking to get a small job while there. Would I be ableto work on the social visaor is thatallowedunder something else? Thank you!!
Hi Jaclyn— Well first, you definitely cannot work in Indonesia on a social visa, it is a visitors visa and employment is definitely not allowed.
You certainly can get a Social Visa in Singapore, but you do need an invite letter from an Indonesian. Unfortunately my friend Sinta, who I list in this article is moving to another island and will no longer be available to help people with Social Visas. If you search the Internet you might find an agent here in Bali who will be able to help you with that before you leave. I hope that helps Jaclyn.-Tom
Hi Bryan, sorry for the delay in answering, I am well behind on answering my comments. I haven’t gotten a VOA in a long time so I can’t tell you for sure that it’s just one visit for your VOA extension, but I think an acquaintance of mine who recently did extend mentioned he was in and out in one day. I hope that helps.-Tom
Hi Louise and thanks for your comment. Sorry about the delay in answering, I have fallen behind in answering my comments. The Social Visa is a single entry visa so no, if you leave you must apply for a new one or come back in on the VOA. I hope that helps.-Tom
I’ve been looking around for a long time for good visa-information and by reading this, it’s finally clear to me. Thank you!
One more question: If you want to extend a social visa more than one time, do you have to do that in the same place every time?
I am wondering how many times you are able to apply and be granted a social visa for Bali. I have a good Balinese friend who is happy to write the invite/s for me but I am wondering if I can only get one and then have to resort back to a VOA. Do you know how long I can keep getting Social visas for and whether I can get back to back Social visas, provided I go to Singapore for a new one each time??
Sent you an email Dave.
Hi Girish— Well, Immigration will count the days and unfortunately there will (probably) be a fine if it adds up to more than 60 days. In my experience partial days count as a full day. In the past it has been US$20 per day per person but I don’t know what it is now. Good luck to you Girish.
Hi Caroline — I just checked this with the person who handles my extensions; she said for Social visas extensions must be done in the same place each time. Makes it awkward if you’re doing a big tour of Indonesia. You could leave your passport here w/someone to do extensions for you (it’s a hassle to go to the Immigration office 3 times–per extension!) but traveling around and trying to check into hotels, etc. without it would present another bunch of problems.
Off the airplane you do get 60 days until your first extension— maybe a way to do it is to get your traveling in at the beginning of your trip? Not really a good solution either, 60 days isn’t that long to explore a place like Indonesia..
Hope all that helps.
Hi tom, I’m just wondering if I had a social visa for bali are you able to leave bali on that visa, for example if I wanted to go to Thailand or Australia, and if so how many times can you leave? I ask this because I am doing a 5 month course in Bali and my friend is coming with me, so the course is granting me a letter for a social visa but we are not sure how she would be able to get a social visa so I would want to leave the country with her for a visa run if I am able?
Hi Henrietta– Social visas are single-entry, so if you leave you have to get another one or come back on a VOA. Best might be if she could find an Indonesian to invite her too. The course admin might be able to help you if you ask. Good luck there.—Tom
Hi Tom – This is a very helpful article! I was in Bali for 28 days in January and plan to go back in August/September for another 60 days. Am I right in the understanding that I can just obtain another VOA when arriving and extend it in Bali for another 30 days? Is there a maximum amount of days per year I can stay on a VOA in Indonesia? Are there any news on the implementation of the announced visa waiver for European citizens? Thanks a lot! Cheers, Caroline
Big Mahalos for all the info Tom… I leave for 5mos in Bali in just 2 days and I’ve been trying to figure out this VOA situation super last minute…
Can you recommend your favorite budget airlines to do a visa run? I hear tickets are cheaper when purchased from within SE Asia.
I also have the same visa renewal questions as Dave above whom I guess you emailed…. if I can get a cheap apartment and make my money stretch I’m planing to stay as long as possible. Thanks for all your help! ~Od
Hi Od– Air Asia all the way, Singapore is usually cheapest, book as far in advance as you can! And you can get multiple Social visas over time if that’s what you’re wondering too. Good luck to you.
I am wanting to apply for a social visa from the United States. I have an Indonesian citizen in Bali ready to write me the letter. Where do I apply for the visa? Do I send the paperwork to Indonesia or do I apply at an Indonesian Consulate here in the US. Do I need to go in in person? There is not one in my state. Thank you so much for creating this awesome site! What a resource!
Hi Maura– call the Indonesian embassy nearest you in the US. Ask for the ‘visa section’. They will tell you exactly what you need. Don’t rely on a website, talk to a person because the requirements from embassy to embassy can very slightly, eg the price of the social visa. You’ll be sending everything to the Embassy in the US. You do not have to go in person. If you’re in a hurry you can include a return FedEx envelope addressed to yourself with the items you send them. It’s usually what I end up doing.
Your friend can fax you the invite letter but when you talk to the person at the embassy be sure and write down what the invite letter must include, ie your friend’s KTP info.
Good luck Maura!
Hi Caroline– yep the VOA is extendable once for a maximum stay of 60 days. I don’t know about a maximum total amount of days per year on the VOA, but you might consider a social visa. Even if you only stay 2 months a social visa would mean you wouldn’t have to go to the VOA office for the extension, and you can stay longer as you probably know. I’m not sure if the visa waiver has been implemented yet. Good luck Caroline!
first of all, thanks for all the info!!!
I am about to do my first extension (social visa), I am going to do it without agent, however, I am not sure about the sponsor letter. Can I use same sponsor letter (with updated date) I have used to get social visa in the first place? Is there anything else I need?
First of all, thanks a lot for this great info site. Much appreciated! I will travel Indonesia on a motorbike in a couple of months and need 6 months for this, so a social visa is what I need. BUT I read in one of the comments that after your initial 2 months, you have to extend every 30 days at THE SAME IMMIGRATION OFFICE every time. Do you know if thats true? That would be practically impossible for me to do.. Any way around this maybe?
Thanks a lot, Michael, Denmark
How do you deal with booking your “onward travel” arrangements for the social visa? Do you book a flight out for the initial 60 days? Or will they allow you to book something 6 months out, assuming the extensions are approved?
No need to book onward travel with a Social visa. Immigration asks for your plan in general terms, but my plans are rarely firm enough 4 – 6 months out to buy an onward ticket, and that’s been acceptable with Immigration. Getting extensions isn’t a problem btw.
Thank you for this site. I am just beginning the journey of exploring how to start a new chapter in life and this site is proving to be an excellent resource. Any info you have for someone that’s just starting to look at moving to Bali,it would be greatly appreciated.
I was wondering if your suggested agent is still working in Singapore and if so can you give me a heads up on what type of costs I may incur… Close enough is good enough.. Thanks in Advance
Hi there, thank you for this amazing article, very helpful! I’m currently in Thailand and going afterward to Indonesia with a social visa that I applied for yesterday in the ambassy of Indonesia in Bangkok, they told me to come and pick it up next week at a precise date and precise time in the day but I will be away in some southern island. Has this happened to you before, do you think I can pick it up later than the scheduled date? Thank you in advance !
Often you have to pick it up within a certain couple-hour period during the day but specifying a date surprises me, unless there’s a holiday.
Anyway it shouldn’t be a problem. They’ll still be holding it when you get there. You could always call to confirm.
Tom, I have 5 blank pages left on my US passport. Since the Social Visa is for 60 days and is extendable 4 times for 30 days will I run into problems? How about if I needed to go to Singapore to apply for a second Social Visa?
My local US embassy in Belize doesn’t want to add pages since I have 5 left and they are changing proceedures soon.
Hi David—just get extra pages at the US consulate near Denpasar, just Google and make an appointment. I’ve had extra pages put in a couple times there. Hope that helps.
Hey, thanks for the post. I’m from the US but currently in Thailand and planning to go to Bali after Thailand. I signed up for a month intensive yoga course (28 days) and want to travel beyond the training. Im not sure if I should apply for extension once I’m in Bali, or in Bangkok beforehand. Or do a visa run to Singapore (my least desirable option.) Any advice on if I should try to apply in Bangkok or just wing it with the extension in Bali would be appreciated. Thank you!
Hi Kumara– if you want to stay for up to 2 months total I’d just get the paid version of the ‘Visa on Arrival’ (VOA) at the airport, for $35 US. Just ask, it’s before the immigration line where most people will be going.
In 2016 Americans (and many other nationalities–but oddly not Australians, for any Aussies referring to this) can get a free VOA good for 30 days, but it isn’t extendable beyond the 30 days unfortunately. The paid version is. If you go that route you’ll have to get it extended (go to the office no later than a week before it expires, or you can use an agent). It’s a bit of a hassle but better than going to Singapore or KL.
If you want to stay longer than 60 days, the Social visa in Bangkok is straightforward; it takes about 3 days and you get 60 days before your 1st extension. You’ll need an invite letter and a couple of other things, you can contact my guy Deni for that if you’d like: advisor.dw(@)gmail.com> Good luck Kumara!
I’m hoping to get a social visa, do you know how long they take to process it and can it be done in Jakarta?
Hi Jade— you have to apply at an Indonesian embassy, outside of Indonesia. (In other words if you’re in Indonesia already you’ll unfortunately have to exit to get the social visa) If you’re in SE Asia already it takes two or three days in places like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok. If you’re elsewhere call ahead to find out and make sure you know exactly what you need to send them. If your departure is close you can overnight them a return FedEx envelope to expedite things, I’ve done that. Hope that helps.
Hey thanks for the great info Tom! although for some reason I cannot subscribe for the newsletter/updates.. please add my email address to do this if you can.
Keen to shout you a beer when I am there later this year 🙂
Hi there Robert — it looks like you were able to subscribe, so thanks for that. BTW I only send emails when I have something really good!
Good job on this article – it’s SO helpful. Huge thanks.
My boyfriend and I are planning on being in Bali for 3.5 months from July. I’ve been before and fell in love with the place, so I’m SO excited to be back again.
In terms of visas, I’m a British citizen; he’s an Italian citizen. This seems like the best option for us:
1. We don’t apply for a Visa prior to arriving in Indonesia
2. We get a Visa-on-Arrival, and pay $35 to extend it to 60 days
3. Before the 60-days trip is up, we do a visa run and get another Visa-on-Arrival on our return to Indonesia and pay $35 to extend it to 60 days.
Does that make sense?
Thanks for your insight 🙂
Hi Elise– actually the extendable VOA is US$35 at the airport upon arrival, then the extension itself is I think 250k rupiah, approximately 700k in 2016 if you use an agent who will minimize your wait time. I’d go to the office or connect w/an agent 7 to 10 days before the first visa runs out. (Please also double-check that both Brits and Italian citizens are entitled to the VOA extension, I think it’s most of Western Europe but I’d double check)
Then you would leave before the 60 days total are up as you say, and you can do the same thing again for your second stay. Hope that helps.
Very Helpful! Thank you!!
Great website and info. I am thinking about going to Bali for 6 months to a year and do have some other questions for you if you have time and dont mind emailing me directly i’d greatly appreciate it! Thanks !!
I’m living in indo since more than 2 years always with the social visa, so far I always stayed here 6 month, but now I have to go to my country for a week, my question is, my visa will be cancelled once I leave the country and I should ask for a new one during that week? or whenever I come back to indonesia my visa will still work?
Thanks a lot, you did a good job apporting this info!!
Hi Laura— if it is a standard single entry Social Visa you’ll have to get another one when you want to come back. I think it will say ‘single entry’ right on the visa in your passport. Hope that helps.
H Lori — I’m sorry but I get so many requests for info that it’s hard to keep up, email me at Tom (at) wagefreedom.com with your questions, or I’ve been testing this live chat plugin at the bottom right of all pages on wagefreedom.com; I turn it on when I’m available!
I also thought that about single or multiple entry, normally it is on the page, not this time, it mentions nothing about single or multiple… that’s why I’m confused…
THANKS A LOT FOR THE FAST REPLY!!! 😀
Wonderful post and well explained for a newbie or otherwise regular travelers. I plan to travel to Bali this year and all this info certainly helps.
Hello! I would love any information you have about Bali. I am planning on moving to the Gili Islands but I want to visit Bali frequently. I am looking to get my social visa and just getting a new one every six months while renewing it every 30 days. Do I have to travel to an Indonesian embassy near me to renew it every 30 days?
Thanks in advance
Hi Clarissa and thanks for connecting.
For each 30-day visa extension you go to an Immigration office, in Indonesia. You go to an Indonesian embassy (outside Indonesia) for each *new* visa. Does that make sense? The Immigration office in Bali is now on the road to Nusa Dua: Jalan Raya Taman Jimbaran, Kuta Seletan, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361.
but if you’re spending time on the Gili islands I’d imagine there would be a closer Immigration office in Mataram (on Lombok).
(I was curious so I Googled and yes, it’s here: Jl. Udayana No. 2, RT/RW.05, Monjok Barat, Selaparang, Kec. Mataram, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Indonesia)
One thing: if your sponsor is in Bali, with a Bali KTP, you might need to go to the Bali office for extensions. For this reason it might be best if your sponsor is from Lombok. I’d ask an agent about this.
Hope this helps Clarissa.
I do not think I have seen such an informative thread in the whole time I have lived in Bali. I have been through the ‘mill’ regarding qualification for KITAS and thereafter KITAP and have experienced every way which way with agents, Singapore, etc.
But now a situation I never foresaw – remembering that I have to seek my government’s (UK) permission to marry – and being a permanent resident providing I renew my KITAP every 5 years, what is my status as an expat if I want to invite my girlfriend (US citizen) to stay with me here after marriage?
I subscribe to the value of using an agent for maximum extensions to VOA (extended) but cannot make a decision as to whether to sell my home here (yes nominee ownership) and migrate to the US where a Green Card for legally married couples is a foregone certainty usually.
It is a cobweb of complexity – just a cursory look at the overall picture would be most helpful. I always pay, and wish to do so, for any assistance in such matters.
I do possess the notary in Bali and Bali Ide have helped me considerably in the past
Dear Tom. I an Australian citizen and found your article and all of the advise you have provided most invaluable to expatriates. I wonder if you can help me. I have two questions (1) I have a KITAP that expires in March 2017. I am living in Jakarta. The regulations have changed that makes it difficult and expensive for me to extend my KITAP. How easy is it to convert to a Retirement Visa if I fulfil all of the terms required for the Retirement visa? (2) would it be better for me to get a Social Visa, as I have an Indonesian girl friend who can give me an invitation letter. If I can use a Social Visa for 180 days with multiple re-entry and then reapply for Social Visa after the 180 days , is that possible and is there a limit to the number of times a social visa can be “extended”. Does your friend Shinta have someone in Jakarta who is reliable and can make these arrangements for me? Thanks so much Tom
Hi Robin, thanks for your comment. I sent you an email.
Hi Pat and thanks for your comment—- your needs are complex and I don’t want to give you bad information, please do contact my friend Deni.
Hi Tom your info is amazing thank you are inspiring to say the least. I cannot seem to find Sinta’s email in the above as I would like to email her about the social visa I am from Perth Australia
Kindest Regards Tom from Anthony
Hi Anthony — Sinta is no longer helping people with visas, please email my friend Deni: advisor.dw (@) gmail.com
Hello..I am a US citizen who is wanting to travel to Bali in a couple of weeks. I am an artist and wish to stay for 6 months to see if I’d like to retire there. I, also have not received responses from several places and was wondering before I book my flight from Koh Samuiif I could find out from someone if I should stay over in Singapore on my way into Bali and try to get a 6 month visa before entry .
I want to enter Indonesia via Bali for the third time within 12 months on a social / cultural visa. Can I expect some questions or problems from the immigration at Bali airport? Do you suggest to prepare something? I don’t work in Indonesia but I bring my own saving money.
I don’t think there’s a stipulation as to haw often you can enter, I’m sure I’ve come in three times in a 12-month period on the Sosial Budaya visa in the past, without problems.
Hi Kathryn, thanks for your comment. The problem is that I assume you have no sponsor letter yet. In Singapore you can go see the agent I list in the post–Ismail Hamdan–and he’ll do a one-day expedited social visa for you. I have his number in the post, I’d call him and see if he has any ideas. Worst case you come to Bali on a 30 or 60 day VOA, find a sponsor, then see Hamdan when you leave. Or maybe 60 days is long enough for you to decide if you’d like to retire in Bali…. If you suspect you’d like to stay any time over 60 days the social visa is great, but you do need that sponsor letter. Maybe Hamdan can help. Good luck.
So an update for applying for a new social visa in Bangkok.
They require 90 days between social visas. I currently have 60 days for which I used a VOA and an extension. So I have to wait another 30 if I want to get it from here. Lucky I haven’t bought my return ticket to Bali yet! Also the other new requirement was a bank statement from my sponsor as well as the reason had to be something more substantial like volunteering etc.
Hope this info saves someone else the time money and hassle.
Hi Johanna– thanks very, very much for the information on the change in requirements for Social visas from the Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok. As I say above, I’ve encountered different requirements for Social visas from different Indonesian embassies, but this is a big change, and would make Bangkok a no-go for one-day turnarounds if one was hoping to head back immediately.
I just called the Singapore office of Ismail Hamdan, and as of today (October 20, 2016) doing a one-day turnaround into Singapore and back to Indonesia is not a problem **if you are on a Social visa (sosial budaya)**. I’ve heard that there might be problems if you are going back the same day to Indonesia get another VOA. If your plans is to do a one day trip to Singapore to get another Social visa, I’d absolutely give Ismail Hamdan or similar agent a call (his number is above in the post) to check to see if the rules have changed.
Thanks Tom. Is this info still current as of Nov 2016? If so, does it mean now that you can do 2 social visas but you have to go get the 2nd one in Singapore, not Bangkok (because of the 90 day rule)? Also, do these social visas allow multiple entries over the course of the 6 months?
Hi Antony–when I called Mr. Hamdan’s Singapore office a few weeks ago they said they still offer the one-day processing in Singapore. Yes, I would go to Singapore, not Bangkok. The standard Sosial Budaya (social visa) is a single entry visa. Hope that helps!
Hi Tom, such a great site thank you so much! I’m a US citizen still currently living in the US traveling to Bali at the end of November for 6mos-a year. I want to get a social visa before I leave the US and will most likely go through an agent, at least I was hoping to. All agents I’ve found online are naturally based in Bali, and I know noone there so I’d have no way of getting a sponsor letter. Can I still get a social visa from the US using an agent or can I only use an agent once I’m in Bali. What do you suggest I do?
Hi Kelly, and thanks for your comment, agents will offer the sponsor letter as part of their visa service package– as I say above, just Google and call an agent here–ask specifically for the sponsor letter (it’s a common request). They can get you what you need if you want to start your stay in Bali with the Social Visa.
Could you help me with someting? We’re going to Bali, Indonesia for 93 days, which is somewhat unfortunate, since we’d have to relengthen the socio-cultural visa twice because of those 3 lousy days extra (didn’t think about this obviously when we booked).
Do you have any suggestion of how to play things, so that we’d only have to relengthen the visa once. We’ll be flying in (31 december 2016) and out of denpansar (2 april 2017).
I was thinking maybe applying for the socio-cultural visa, then upon arrival go for the ‘visa on arrival’, and then activate the socio-cultural visa when the voa expires? something like that. It would be nice to save a few trips to those kantor integrasi I’ve been reading about!
Would love to hear from you!
Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Hi Sanne — I sent you an email.
I’m from Australia and i’m going to bali with some friends for 2 1/2 weeks. I think we will just get a visa on arrival at the airport but for one of the weekends i am doing a solo trip to singapore to visit family. will i need to get a visa there for such a short period of time?
Hi Eleonora– they’ll stamp you with a tourist visa in SG, but you don’t need to do anything in advance.
Hi Tom! Great post! I’m currently in Jogja, and looking into getting a Social Visa. I have a Philippine passport – would you know if I’m able apply for the visa in Singapore? Or do I have to go to Manila for it? Thanks!
Hi Lila– good question—I would call the Indonesian embassy in Singapore directly at +65 6737 7422 and ask.
Oh you’re welcome Lila!
We would like to live in Bali next year for 6 or 7 months with our 2 children. We were thinking extended VOA for 60 days then book a weekend in Perth and back to Bali so we can extend another 60 days and then possibly again to total approx 180 days. Do you think we will encounter problems doing it like this? We are NZ citizens
Hi Sonya– thanks for your question. If that’s your goal then leaving every 60 days could be done indefinitely, but I wonder why you wouldn’t opt for doing a single social visa? You’d have to get four extensions total but you can get an agent in Bali to help you. It would be far cheaper–if that factors into your decision–since you wouldn’t have to leave Indonesia for six months. Good luck Sonya!
One thing that is not mentioned anywhere in this article and definitely should be.
If you are on a Sosu Visa and leave the country for any reason (quick weekend in Bangkok in my case when the Visa was only 3 weeks old) it is instantly null and void. You must remain in Indonesia for the entire 6 months or leave the country again and get a new one.
You are correct Ronald. I did not explicitly state that and I’ve updated the article accordingly. I’m sorry if my omission created problems for you.
Dear Tom, thanks for the helpful article. If we have the 30 day holiday Visa must we live it out and then fly to Singapore or can we fly as soon as we have the sponsor letter. Do you have a contact person in KL?
Hi Jaz— you can definitely leave any time you want to, no need to stay the full 30 days……and I’m sorry I don’t have a contact person in KL.
Ok thank you verry much
Does the Ismail method mean you can fly back the same day?
If so I am thinking that coming from the north UK for a $35 VOA then doing a Singapore run, will be easier than applying for a Social Visa in the UK.
Yes it does mean that, and would I agree with the second part of your comment Matthew. Get your flights booked as far in advance as you can to save money.
Thank you for a very helpful site. It really helped me in my moments of wonder and questioning.
So great that you share of your experiences.
I’m in process and planning to move to Indonesia. I’ve put all of my game in this decision and making a big step and effort to make this work.
So I need to be very careful and precise in my process and make sure that I do everything right.
It would be a great help if I could get your opinions and pass over some questions about my process.
It would mean a lot.
Thank you Tom, and keep spreading your knowledge and inspiration.
My friend and I are wanting to live in Bali for 5/6 months next year.. were wanting to apply for a social visa (60 days) but don’t know of anyone currently living in Bali to sponsor us? What advice would you give? I’ve read a couple of articles online about agents online who can sort this sponsorship out for you but I’m not sure how legit they seem!
Hi Victoria– you can just Google ‘Bali visa agents’ to help you with this. You can find one that will provide you with the invite letter and other things you need before you ever arrive, if you want to apply for the social visa before you ever leave home. Also, remember that an option is always to apply for the paid VOA (allowing a 60 day max stay after one extension) if you don’t mind leaving to explore somewhere else after 60 days. That requires nothing before you get here, but you do have to go to the Immigration office for the extension (don’t forget!). Hope that helps.
great article! I have a question, though – how often can you get a social visa? I am planning to stay quite a while (over 6 months for sure). I have used my my first 60 days and went to visit singapore and got a new social visa which will expire in early January 18. Say I stay the full 6 months here with extensions and so on, can I simply just keep flying out every now and then and keep applying or is there a limit?
Ive been asking around and get quite different answers – even from embassy officials (depends as always on who you get on the phone). Although you may not have 100% accurate info, Id appreciate it if you could maybe shed some light on the matter through own experiences?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Tom! This is a great, really helpful article, thanks! I do have a question, though. If I want to get the Social Visa without the help of an agent, how do I go about doing that? Thanks!
Hi Tom, very helpful post. I have just a question that I’m hoping you can help me with. My husband and I are flying into Bali the 1st Jan but only there for 5 days before going to Austrailia and New Zealand for 2 months. We then want to go back into Indonesia for 60 days. I’m just trying to figure out the best way to do this. Do we apply for a transit visa when we arrive in Bali and then a 60 day visa when we go from New Zealand. We are UK residents
I emailed you Daniel.
Hi Christine — go to the website of the Indonesian embassy through which you’ll be applying for the social visa. Do not get the info from the site. Call them directly and ask for **exactly** what you need. It varies slightly between embassies. Then find an Indonesian who can invite you. In Bali get a Balinese, or someone with a Bali KTP. Take it all with you to the embassy. For your extensions you’ll go to the Immigration office on the road to Nusa Dua. Not hard to do, though a lot of people like to use an agent the first time at least to understand the process. Good luck to you Christine.
Hi Fay— thanks for your comment.
If I understand you, this is 2 visas. Get the free VOA for the 5-day visit. Then when you came back ask for the PAID VOA. This VOA can be extended at 30 days for a maximum stay of 60 days. But you have to ask for it from Immigration or they will give you the 30 day VOA, and that is not extendable. (No pre-applying is necessary, you get the paid/extendable VOA on arrival just as the name says.)
I hope that helps Fay.
I will be going to Sumatra on a VOA (extended to 60 day stay ) . Afterwards, for another 6 month stay, Can I get my original Social Visa through Ismail in Singapore? of course with a sponsor letter and ID… It was not totally clear if this was possible for the “initial” or first social visa using Ismial’s services or if he can only be used for the turnover visa or “second” social. Thanks!
Really good question Alyssa. Every Social Visa is a totally new visa so if you just take everything to Ismail you’ll be fine. Previous trips/visas won’t be relevant. Also, as I say in the post, I’d call him to see if the latest requirements have changed at all. Worth a call.
Do I still need to apply at the Indonesian Embassy? Or may I print out the application form, fill it out and bring it to Ishmal to take care of it? Also, can the Extended/paid VOA just be a stamp at the airport or does that take some time to process (fingerprinting, overnight stay, etc.)?
Hi Alyssa–Mr. Hamdan’s staff has the form already and they will fill it out for you. Then they take it and the other documents you bring to the embassy and you simply pick up your passport with the Sosial Budaya visa in it at the appointed time later the same day, from Mr. Hamdan. You won’t go to the embassy at all. Very convenient. Do call Mr. Hamdan to understand exactly what they need from you. The requirements can change and embassies can be very “detail-oriented”, as you probably know.
The extendable visa requires no pre-planning, you get it as you enter at the airport. However, you must tell them that the extendable VOA is what you want (and pay the 500k Rupiah or equivalent in USD), or hey will give you the free, non-extendable visa.
I have a question about the sponsor letter, maybe you know.
Does it have to be an original letter or a photocopy is also excepted?
Because of the stamp I’m confused..
hi Gabriela — I do know that the stamp has to be in color. So if you make a color copy of the letter with the stamp you should be fine–if you go to the Indonesian embassy in Singapore.
However: this is one of those things that I’d suggest calling the embassy you’ll go to to double check, because different Indonesian embassies have slightly different requirements.
Thanks for the article. I am planning a trip to Bali and wonder if I can be in touch, like meeting for a coffee, when in Bali…
Hey! Thank you for this super helpful article. question for you, when coming from Canada and applying for the 60 day visa, do you need to have a return flight booked? and if so, would that be for the 60 days or the 90 days?
Hi Chelsea and thanks for your question. Immigration here won’t usually ask to see an onward ticket but the airline might want to see one. To avoid paying a high price at check in it might be smart to book a ticket to Singapore/KL/Bangkok even if you aren’t sure of your dates. Air Asia lets you change most ticket dates (not all-check terms!) more than 48 hrs in advance, although their charge to do that can be rather high. Book Air Asia tickets more than 30 days in advance to SG or KL and you’ll find very inexpensive tickets (by North American standards).
Oh, and to be clear–you never need a return ticket for International flights (ie back to Canada for you), just an onward ticket.
And this would hold for the 30-day free visa on arrival or the 60-day paid visa on arrival. For a social visa you don’t need an onward ticket. (There’s no 90-day visa)
I hope that helps Chelsea!
Hi Christine–sure we can, depending on my schedule–just hit me up when you’re in Seminyak/Legian!
those $185 were for the whole 6 months? Or only for the first two without extensions. Thank you.
Hi My name is Phil. I’m from Australia and am travelling with my friend (Nerie).
Nerie is travelling on a Madagascar passport.
We would like to spend an extended stay in Indonesia and wanted to know if citizens of Madagascar are eligible for Social visas to Indonesia?
Hi Phil and thanks for the question—wow I thought I’d heard them all but Madagascar, I’m sorry I have no idea! I would call Indonesian visa agent Ismail Hamdan in Singapore, his contact info is in this post, he’ll know all the latest requirements and he’s very helpful. (I get nothing for recommending him to you by the way) I hope that helps Phil.
Hi Jana — that $185 Singapore dollars is for the social visa plus the agent’s fee, if you go with Ismail Hamdan and do a 1-day turnaround in Singapore. The visa costs less than that if you go to the Indonesian embassy in Singapore.
The extensions you’ll do every 30 days back in Bali will cost extra. Their cost will depend on whether you use an agent or not, and I’m not sure what the current cost is if you don’t use an agent. Good luck to you Jana.
My Dear Tom,
you write beautifully. thank you for these pearls of visa wisdom. You are a mine of information. I am in an immigration ‘Time corner’ in Kuta. Working on my Sosial Budaya’ from within a hotel room.
My two months on a VOA (all correct ) expires 26 March this Monday. i MUST leave by Monday. any further tips or changes that i should know of ??
Q: Is there a specific template for a Letter of introduction? what MUST it contain?
hope to hear from you
Terima kasi Emma C-W
Q2. Is Ismail Hamdan still at the same address and telephone number?
Hi Emma — For that letter of introduction I know of no template, but I’d probably advise you to call a Bali visa agent, as they will know. Also remember you need a copy of the identity card (KTP) of the Indonesian who is sponsoring you. And again, a visa agent in Bali should be able to help you with that.
As far as I know the contact info I list for Ismail Hamdan is still good. It was in January 2018. Good luck Emma.
HI Tom, thanks for the clear information. We are currently in Sumatra on a social visa. About to do the first check in at Medan. The question I have is do I bring the origional sponsor letter? Or do we need a new updated one each time we report in? Thanks
Hi Belinda and thanks for your question. I think practically speaking it would be impossible for them to demand a new sponsor letter every time you extend. Actually I’d be surprised if you need the original sponsor letter but I would absolutely bring it if you do have it! Can’t hurt. Good luck, I have never extended in Medan, if you have any info to share afterwards I’d be grateful to know.
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