It’s easy to visit Bali as a tourist, because most nationalities can stay here without a visa for up to 30 days. However, things get a little more complicated if you are here for a long-term visit or plan to settle down. You will find that the regulations in Bali are very specific, and they change quite often, so it is important to stay up to date on the latest rules. There was a lot of discussion on Facebook just yesterday about a new rule requiring anyone wanting to stay long term to learn the language.
Personally, I feel this is a reasonable rule, but plenty of people were not happy about it. Whether it is a rule or not, it is common decency to learn at least some key phrases. If you come, and are interested in learning, I run Indonesian conversation classes in my cafe.
Anyway, all these rules can make planning for a relocation quite overwhelming. In this article we will show you the easiest way to get your life started in Bali legally.
PREPARATIONS FOR FOREIGNERS RELOCATING TO BALI
The low cost of living and favourable climate makes plenty of foreigners want to make Bali their home. It is difficult to determine the exact number of expats living in Indonesia, but according to a Labour Ministry report, there were 43,816 foreign workers in the country in July 2016.
Because it is a popular travel destination, it is easy to find information about Bali. As a result, travelers are mostly prepared well enough. Having said that, each country comes with its own specifications and customs.
What foreigners relocating to Bali find surprising is that processing documentation takes time. Thus, it is wise to start off with the support of a trustworthy company. Receiving correct time and cost estimations is crucial for preparation.
A short-term relocation is perfect for travelers uncertain of the length of their journey; for example, in case you are planning to settle into a nomadic lifestyle on the island.
Which documents do you need? Depending on the exact purpose of your stay, you need either a:
- Business visa or a
- Temporary stay permit (KITAS)
MAKING A BUSINESS VISA
A business visa is very convenient, especially when compared to a social visa or a visa on arrival. A business visa in Indonesia requires no extension and there is no need to visit an immigration office for an interview, or to give fingerprints or a photograph. You can create a business, or do online work under this visa. The only requirement of a business visa is to leave the country every 60 days.
OPENING A BANK ACCOUNT IN BALI WITH BUSINESS VISA
Having a local bank account in Bali makes life significantly easier, especially as transactions with overseas bank accounts are costly. Also, there are several benefits to having a bank account with online banking.
- Paying for electricity
- Buying phone credit
- Paying for insurance
- Paying for internet services
- Purchasing tickets
- Using mobile banking
Often banks refuse to open accounts for people without a KITAS or, without a recommendation given to the bank by a trusted local person.
A temporary stay permit (KITAS) is a multiple entry visa. Having a KITAS in Bali is highly practical for two main reasons; It allows a foreigner to freely exit and re-enter the country and also to work in Bali. Note that it is important to have a relevant title on your KITAS. One way of obtaining a KITAS is to find an Indonesian entity to issue a sponsor letter for you. There are various agents offering this service, but do plenty of research, and some are not very trustworthy. Emerhub is one company that I would recommend. They can become your KITAS sponsor and advise on the type of KITAS you can apply for.
When choosing a KITAS instead of a business visa there is no need to leave the country. Depending on your position, you receive either a six or 12-month KITAS. The need to exit Indonesia only comes up when you pick up your visa from an Indonesian embassy abroad. This is a mandatory step in the application process.
Preparing for a KITAS takes longer and is also more expensive than a business visa.
LONG-TERM RELOCATION TO BALI
When moving for a longer term, possibly with your family, stability is likely to be top of your list. To make the island your home without any unnecessary delays and worries, consider following these three steps:
- Working KITAS and Dependant KITAS
Unless you plan to work in Bali, the simplest way to get started with a KITAS is to set up a representative office for a foreign trading company (KP3A).
After doing so, you will become the Chief of the Representative Office (the CRO) with a KITAS and other family members (spouse and children) can have a dependant KITAS. For the CRO and the dependants, the validity of a KITAS is 12 months.
A KITAS holder receives several benefits, including lower prices for training facilities, resorts and restaurants etc. KITAS holders may also acquire land in Indonesia.
- Representative Office (Including Tax Reporting)
A representative office can apply for a KITAS for all its foreign executives. For relocation to Bali, setting up a representative office is wise because compliance costs are lower than for obtaining a KITAS via a limited liability company. To start the process, you need a legal entity incorporated outside of Indonesia.
As a KITAS holder you can stay in Indonesia long term. After a while you are considered a tax resident. Keep in mind the time when you must start reporting your taxes:
- After staying in Indonesia for 183 days or more in any continuous 12-month period
- Residing in Indonesia during the fiscal year and intending to stay here
Only KITAS holders receive a tax card.
- Registration at the National Manpower Security Agency (BPJS)
To apply for a KITAS, a foreigner must also have health insurance that covers Indonesia. A CRO that relocates for long term is also registered for a social security program. Registration takes place at the National Manpower Security Agency (BPJS). This program makes you fully eligible to receive medical care in Bali according to BPJS standards.
Overall, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. This also applies in Indonesia. The best that foreigners relocating to Bali can do is follow the country’s customs and regulations and familiarise themselves with the options they have for visas and banking.
Here is a quick comparison between the two visa types and their benefits:
|Visa||Multiple entry business visa
Stay in Indonesia for 60 days per visit for one year
|One-year KITAS for you, the Chief of the Representative Office (CRO), and your dependants (spouse and children)|
|Open an Indonesian bank account||Yes||Yes|
|Set up a Representative Office of a foreign trading company (KP3A)||No||Yes|
|Social Security||No||Enrol yourself and your family in the local BPJS social security program|
|Local tax card||No||Yes|
|Acquire land in Indonesia||No||Yes|