Angloinfo Text_Obtaining a Work Permit as a Foreigner in Indonesia



Preliminary Comments

Anyone presented with the idea or opportunity to work in Indonesia should take heed of the following:

“Please be informed that it is not easy for foreigners to work and stay in Indonesia since Indonesia has very strict and complicated immigration/visa requirements and regulations, and the process can be very long. Applicants should be aware of this before making any further plans.”

This quote is excerpted straight from an Indonesian Embassy web page as written by Indonesian government officials.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed!

On the other hand, if you are a foreign national who is a prospective employee of an Indonesian company or institution, you’ll be glad to know that the bulk of the work permit and VISA responsibilities falls upon the business group who is hiring you. 

Please note: this brief focuses on the foreign worker and his or her family. 


General Considerations

Who is eligible to work in Indonesia?

The Indonesian foreign and domestic investment laws allow the employment of expatriate personnel in positions that cannot be filled by Indonesian Nationals. Work permits are issued by DEPNAKER WILAYAH (Departemen Tenaga Kerja Wilayah- Regional Department of Manpower).  They provide a current list of all professional positions in Indonesia which are open to foreign nationals.  As unemployment is an ongoing problem in Indonesia, part of this department’s mandate is to safeguard employment positions for the Indonesian people.  As long as Indonesians are not available or qualified, a foreigner may be hired to fill a given position.  This includes technicians, directors, managers, field experts, and teachers.

Indonesian companies who hire foreign nationals are expected by the Indonesian government to provide professional training for their own Indonesian employees in the area of expertise the foreign worker provides.  This is one reason why work permits are granted on a year-to-year basis.  The government would rather see an Indonesian filling the position, and will monitor job training efforts for those companies hiring foreign nationals.

Due to Indonesia’s perennial high unemployment rates, restrictions of foreign employment have been quite strict in the past, but have relaxed some in recent time.  This is especially true as relates to direct investment enterprises.  Indonesia’s trade policy has pursued foreign investment vigorously, and this has resulted in laxer work permit regulations as applied in practice.  As explained below, FDI type companies fall into this category.  FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) involves participation in management, joint-venture, transfer of technology and expertise.  This style of business partnership is presently an important part of Indonesia’s drive to modernize. 

In principle, the reasoning here leads to the following conclusion:  foreign employment in Indonesia can only be considered temporary in nature.  There are big exceptions, though, the most prominent one being in the field of teaching English as a Second Language.

No matter the terms of employment or contract drawn up between an Indonesian-based company and a prospective foreign employee, the company providing employment must apply for and obtain a work permit for their new employee.  All terms of contract will be reviewed by Indonesian authorities when they review the request for a work permit.

Applying for a work permit in Indonesia is inextricably tied into applying for a temporary stay VISA.  The two go hand in hand and are processed together. This brief will treat the two as integral components.

As detailed in the AngloINFO Residency brief on Indonesia, the basic temporary stay VISA is called a KITAS (kartu izin tinggal terbatas- Limited Stay VISA).  For those having secured employment in Indonesia, a closely related and temporary VISA is required before the KITAS.  It is called VITAS (VISA izin tinggal terbatas).  After the work permit is approved, the VITAS can be transformed into a KITAS.

In brief, here is the procedure for obtaining a work permit, followed by a VITAS, temporary stay VISA:

Work Permit & Associated Limited Stay VISA

Preliminary Information & Documents Needed

Indonesian law stipulates that the “ability to sufficiently communicate” in the Bahasa Indonesian language is a basic requirement of a foreigner applying for a work permit.  This is rarely enforced, though, as it is highly impractical.  The prospective foreign worker might well raise this point during contract negotiations with their Indonesian employer, though, just to be on the safe side.

Another consideration is: what happens if upon moving to Indonesia the job falls apart?  One possible safeguard is for the foreigner to insist on a “hold harmless” clause in the job contract.  This would hold the company liable to reimburse costs involved if such a thing occurred. 

Before the procedures are explained, here is a list of documents that the foreign worker must provide their company before the process can begin:


 16 color:  4 x 6 cm
   4 color:  3 x 4 cm
   5 color:  2 x 3 cm


10 color, 4 x 6 cm
3 color, 3 x 4 cm
3 color, 2 x 3 cm


As mentioned, the employer bears the brunt of the work.  They must provide the following:

NOTE: all acronyms for forms and agencies are translated and explained in the procedure section immediately following


For a Foreign Worker’s Permit- First Time Application:

Requirements for Work Permit Extension/Renewal:


Requirements when reporting a change of employee’s position


Expect the entire process to take up to 30 days processing time. Foreign workers need not worry about VISA status in the interim.  As long as the prospective employee reports to immigration in the first three days after arrival in Indonesia, the VITAS issued while the worker was still living in the country of origin will cover the processing period.  This is also true of the worker’s family.


A company wishing to employ an expatriate must obtain the approval of the government before proceeding to apply for a work permit on behalf of a foreign worker.  Formal approval request will come in the form of a SPT (Surat Pemberitahuan- Letter of Announcement or Notice) or SPPP (Surat Perjanjian Pelaksanaan Pekerjaan- Implementation of Employment Contract Agreement Letter), and will be directed to the Department of Manpower.



For companies:
PDMA Rencana Penanaman Modal Dalam Negeri (New Domestic Investment)
PMA  Penanaman Modal Asing (FDI- Foreign Direct Investment)    



Limited Stay VISA (KITAS or VITAS)


The foreign worker is validated for a period of one year from the date of entry into Indonesia.  If the company wishes to retain the services of the foreign employee, the work permit can be extended for one year three consecutive times.  The complication here is that the worker must leave Indonesia after obtaining an EPO (exit permit only) at the immigration office, and then reenter.  After reentering they must reapply for a new KITAS. 

FEE:  The IKTA (work permit) will be issued by BKPM only after the company has paid USD 1,200 to any BNI (Bank Nasional Indonesia). 

As with any KITAS, the bearer must report to their local Kelurahan (village or neighborhood chief), and POLRES (Regional Resort Police Station) and process the following:

Issued by Foreigners Supervision Unit of District Police

Issued by Provincial office for Resident Affairs.

Issued by Residential Chief of the village.

Issued by Residential Chief of the village.

Issued by the Regional Resort Police Station.

Issued by Regional Department of Manpower (DEPNAKER WILAYAH).

NOTE:  More details about KITAS and all of these extra registration certificates (except the last) are found in the Residency brief in the Indonesia section of AngloINFO.

Many foreign nationals own their own businesses in Indonesia.  It is perfectly legal. This is especially common in the tourist industry.  For example many hotels, live aboard dive boats, and other tourist concessions are owned and operated by foreigners.  Sometimes Indonesian business partners are involved, sometimes not. It so happens that many foreign business owners are married to Indonesians, or have Indonesian partners/operational managers.   These are not requirements, though.
Creating a business is a complex and individual process. The proper procedure goes beyond initial paperwork and is dependent on what kind of business is involved, who the owners are, and what the specifics of the contractual arrangement.  If acquiring land is a necessary component for example, foreigners aren’t allowed to own land so they most likely will have to negotiate a long-term lease.
According to the law, the minimum capital for creating a foreign investment company (known in Indonesia as a PT PMA*) is USD 100,000.  This amount of money is required in part to prove the proposition is serious. An application must be submitted to BKPM (Investment Coordinating Board), which as mentioned earlier, is an agency under the greater Department of Manpower (DEPNAKER WILAYAH- Departemen Tenaga Kerja Wilayah).
The following Indonesian website provides an outline for starting a PT PMA company.  Remember that this is but one service, and but one expressed set of procedures.  Expect variations as this is Indonesia!  The information should be checked against BKPM’s advice.

Consult your local Indonesian embassy or consulate for details.  If in Indonesia, consult with the Department of Manpower.  The best source of information is no doubt foreign business owners themselves.  What you will quickly find is that no two stories of business creation will be the same!
*PT stands for Perseroan Terbatas, or Limited Company.  PMA is the acronym for Penanaman Modal Asing, or Foreign Direct Investment. 
Foreign workers employed in Indonesia need to pay income tax and hence register with the Indonesian Tax Office (Kantor Direktorat Jenderal Pajak).  The office will issue a NWTP (Nomor Pokok Wajib Pajak- Taxation Identification Number) which comes in the form of a laminated card.  The employer should help the employee with this, but the employee should specifically inquire
Foreign workers will be required to file for and pay income tax.  The yearly wage determines the tax rate.  Employers often deduct tax from wages, but employees should monitor this and make sure the deductions are correct and are actually being paid the tax office when due and in the employee’s name.  Problems arise because the employee is required to file on their own, so double or errant payments can and do occur.  To avoid such problems, meet with the employer concerning this matter and also contact your local Indonesian Tax Office for more details.  Contact details are provided below.

Contact information and other helpful web sites
Indonesia Embassies and Consulates, worldwide
List of Indonesian Government Web Sites

Indonesian Department of Immigration

List of all Indonesian Immigration offices:



Kantor Imigrasi
Jl. Rasuna Said Kav 8-9 Kuningan

Jakarta Selatan



Tele. 021-5224658

FAX  021-5224658


Kantor Imigrasi
Jl. Di Panjaitan
Komp Mandala
Renon Denpasar 80235

Denpasar, Bali



(0361) 227828, 231149


(0361) 244340

Department of Manpower and Transmigration
DEPNAKER WILAYAH- Departemen Tenaga Kerja Wilayah
Jl. Jend. Gatot Subroto Kav. 51
Jakarta 12950 Indonesia
T : (6221) 522 9285
F : (6221) 7974488
W :
E :

Dinas Tenaga Kerja Transmigrasi dan Kependudukan Provinsi Bali
Department of Manpower, Bali
Jl. Raya Niti Mandala Renon
T:  (0361) 225962 / 22559
Indonesian Tax Offices

Direktorat Jenderal Pajak   

Table of Indonesian Tax Offices- contact information (for download)


National Headquarters Tax Office, Jakarta

Kantor Pusat Directorat Jenderal Pajak
Direktorat Penyuluhan, Pelayanan, dan Hubungan Masyarakat
Kantor Pusat Direktorat Jenderal Pajak
Jl. Jenderal Gatot Subroto No. 40-42

Tax consultation call center:          (021)500200 
SMS Center:                                  0813 178 PAJAK (0813 178 72525)
Telephone:                                    (021) 5250208, 5251609, 5262880