I’m no expert and we both agree there is a little ambiguity around the different tourist/social visas. so I thought I would share what we have learned
(1) 30 day visa on arrival (free)
This is relatively new and applies to most tourist visitors.
It is important to note it is non extendable – you have to leave the country and re-enter if you want to stay longer than 30 days. If you do overstay you can always gamble on paying the fine ($25 US for each day you overstay your visa) but personally I wouldn’t want to do this, particularly if you want to return, but that’s just me.
(2) 30 day visa on arrival ($35 US)
This is the same as the free VOA except that if you pay but the benefit is that you can extend this visa once for a further period of 30 days. After that no more extensions are permissible and if you want to spend more time in Indonesia you have to leave the country to do a visa run.
You sometimes have to ask to pay for the 30 day visa on arrival but we have had reports of people being asked at immigration which VOA they want and it being explained to them the difference. I suppose it depends where you enter Indonesia.
(3) 60 day tourist visa – obtained outside of Indonesia before entry
This is the visa we travelled on. We applied in Melbourne (I was able to apply as a UK citizen so it was not necessary to apply from my country of origin as is necessary for places like Russia).
We did not require sponsors but we did require bank statements and proof of arrival and departure dates. As we knew we were staying for longer than the 2 months we just bought cheap $25 flights from Jakarta to Singapore.
Following online advice we said we were visiting Bali, Java and Sumatra – we did not mention Sulawesi or Maluku or Raja Ampat.
Officially, to extend a 60 day visa you need to provide details of a sponsor (which they asked for in Kendari). As we used an agent, we can only assume the agent was our sponsor but they did not make an additional charge and so we believe that an agent can act as a sponsor when you are extending an existing visa although this is as clear as mud and I’m loathe to check the situation with the agent which may prompt them to make an additional charge.
I suspect if the agent is assisting you obtaining the original 60 day visa (tourist or social) then a sponsor letter will be provided and charged for. As I said, clear as mud, but the system worked for us.
You can extend this visa up to 4 times giving you a total of 6 months (180 days) in Indonesia.
(4) 90 day social visa – obtained outside of Indonesian before entry
To obtain this you have to provide details of a sponsor otherwise it is identical to the 90 day tourist visa.
You can also extend this visa up to 4 times, giving you a total of 6 months in Indonesia.
There is no discernible difference between visas (3) and (4). They look identical and they operate in an identical way.
In Bali, it seems the two 60 day visas are treated the same and so we were able to extend our 60 day tourist visas without any problems and without a sponsor.
If you want to extend your stay in Indonesia beyond 60 days (up to 180 days) we highly recommend you instruct an agent to deal with the extensions, leave your passport in Bali (make sure you have another government issue photo ID to travel such as your driving licence).
We found this particularly convenient as we were travelling to more remote places where transport can be unreliable and we didn’t want to have to worry about making sure we were in a large town before our visa ran out. It also meant that we wasted no further time in places we otherwise would not choose to be while waiting for the extension to be processed. While it only takes 2-3 days in somewhere like Ambon, it can take up to a week in Gorontalo and that is one week of four weeks essentially wasted.
It also takes away the hassle, the anxiety and the frustration of dealing with Indonesian bureaucracy.
Travelling on our UK driving licences was not a problem and as our passports were safely tucked away in an office in Bali that was one less thing for us to worry about when we were out and about.
We used Visa4Bali and they were efficient, prompt at responding to emails, and made everything really easy. Although the first extension took longer than anticipated, this was more to do with problems with the computer system at the immigration office, that the agent’s service.
In addition to the cost of the visas (AUD35 each time), a small charge for photos and fingerprinting, four extensions cost us AUD120 each, a total of AUD580 (approximately $420 US). A small price to pay for peace of mind and we were able to continue our trip knowing that we did not have to worry about finding ourselves an immigration office every 30 days.
Money well spent!