Angloinfo Text_Residency in Indonesia


Residency in Indonesia



Procedures for gaining residence status in Indonesia are complex.  Part of this has to do with the nature of the administrative laws; part in their implementation.  There is in practice no uniform way to obtain, for example, the common residency status of KITAS as detailed below.  Each provincial immigration office will interpret the law differently, set-up their own procedural basis, and in many cases demand fees that go well above and beyond those legally stated. 

The warning here is to be informed and not to pay bribes as you will forfeit your rights.  If you are aware of being extorted, then you must firmly deny paying the bribe demanded.  Furthermore you should kindly let the offending immigration official know that you will be filing a grievance in writing if they do not relent and make way for your rights under Indonesian law.  This will go a long way to securing your rights.

Also, the procedure for obtaining a KITAS as outlined in this brief may be exemplar, but it is only one variation on a theme.  There exist other procedures, depending on the immigration office.

General Overview


No matter their activities and country of origin, all foreign nationals are required to be in possession of a valid VISA in order to take up residence in Indonesia.  The citizens of eleven countries have been granted visa-free status by the Indonesian government for short visits up to 30 days, but residency VISA’s apply equally to all foreign nationals.

Reasons for residency vary.  Foreign nationals come to Indonesia to work, study, research, visit relatives or join a spouse who is an Indonesian citizen.  

A list along with brief descriptions of the most applicable residency VISAS follows:


The Sosial Budaya, or Social-Cultural visitation VISA requires an Indonesian sponsor.  It is good for 60 days along with monthly extensions up to 6 months. It is appropriate for visiting family and relatives, or for social-cultural exchange.  This is a single entry VISA.  This means if the bearer leaves the country, the VISA is rendered invalid.


This is a social-cultural visa that is good for 12 months and allows multiple entries into and out of the country during validation period.   In application is identical to number one above.

While still in their country of origin, a foreign national as hired by an Indonesian company will be granted a VITAS, or limited stay VISA.  This is extended to the worker’s spouse and children if applicable and follows the authorization of a work permit. Upon arrival in Indonesia, the foreign worker and his family will report to immigration and have all their VITAS’ transformed into a KITAS (see more below)


The KITAS, or permission for temporary residency is the most common VISA type used by foreign national residents.  It is a limited residency permit and requires an Indonesian sponsor.  Valid for five years, it is initially good for one year and must subsequently be extended every 12 months.


Notes on KITAS vs. KITAP

KITAP is in essence a “glorified KITAS” that grants the holder some unique privileges.  As with the KITAS, KITAP requires a sponsor, and this type of VISA is used mostly by foreign nationals married to Indonesian citizens with plans on permanent residence.  KITAP is valid for twenty-five years.  After the first validation period of five years, it can be extended for four more consecutive five year periods.
There are many other VISA categories that specifically include work, research, and business, but these strictly speaking are not residency-based VISA’s.

Further VISA Questions? Please Contact your Local Indonesian Embassy

The list provided above is general and not exhaustive.  To obtain details concerning specific VISA’s, visit the consular offices of your local Indonesian embassy or consulate general, or their respective web sites.  See Further Information and Contacts at the bottom of the page for specifics.



The Legal Principle of Sponsorship

In most cases, the key to obtaining a secure residency VISA in Indonesia lies in finding a responsible sponsor.  As a foreign national applying for a residency VISA, your sponsor will usually be an Indonesian citizen, a company owned and operated by Indonesians, or some other Indonesian institution, public or private.  Foreign owned companies with license to operate in Indonesia can secure residency VISA’s for foreign nationals as well.

With an Indonesian sponsor involved it is at the behest of that sponsor- not the sponsored- that a formal request is being made of the Indonesian government to grant a residency VISA to a foreign national. In many cases the sponsor is required to submit documents to the proper agencies in person, with or without the sponsored party in presence.  

Moreover, sponsors are bound to take full legal responsibility for the actions of the sponsored party.  Ultimately it might be for a court to decide, but if the foreign national commits a crime and cannot make restitution, the sponsor could be held liable for at least some if not all of the damages.  When asking an Indonesian citizen to be your sponsor, realize the favor being asked.  Make sure to inform that person of their legal responsibilities under the circumstance.

Having a sponsor is an absolute requirement of all residency VISA’s except for the case of retirement.

Common Pathways to Residency

The two most common forms of residency in Indonesia are:


Foreign nationals who come to Indonesia for work purposes must rely upon their company sponsor to apply for their work permit and VISA prior to employment.  If an Indonesian company is hiring a foreign national, the company is responsible for filling out and submitting required paper work to all necessary offices.

In brief, an Indonesian-based business must first be granted the authorization to hire expatriate personnel.  Then the company applies and is granted a work permit (IMTA, or Ijin Mempekerjakan Tenega kerja Asing- Permission to Employee a Foreign Worker).  The IMTA is written out in the new employee’s name but issued to and held by the company itself. 

At that point the company can applies for a VITAS (Limited stay VISA for foreign workers) on behalf of the employee.  The employee reports to their local Indonesian Embassy or Consulate in their home and country and has his or her passport stamped.  They can then legally enter Indonesia (along with family members applicable), and report to immigration with three work days in order to be have their VITAS transformed into a KITAS.

The VITAS is strictly temporary, allowing only for the foreign worker and family to enter Indonesia.  VITAS  is quickly replaced by KITAS.

Remember: When a VITAS is granted a foreign worker, the application for limited stay VISA may be extended to the worker’s spouse and children. 

Please visit AngloINFO’s brief on Working in Indonesia for more details on Working in Indonesia.


Foreign nationals who marry an Indonesian citizen are not automatically given the right to live in Indonesia.  They are still required to apply for a residency VISA.  An Indonesian spouse is eligible to serve as sponsor.  This means they have the right to apply for and carry out the process associated with gaining residency status for their foreign national spouse. It should be noted that the foreign national can initiate the process as well, or husband and wife can work together on the application.

At least initially, KITAS is the favored VISA when sponsoring a foreign spouse.  After two extensions, a KITAS holder is eligible for KITAP.


Please refer to the section on retirement VISA’s below.


KITAS (Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas), or Limited Stay VISA

Who is eligible for a KITAS?

The KITAS is the primary form of residency VISA issued by immigration.

The following persons are eligible for a KITAS, or Limited Stay VISA:

This list breaks down into two major categories- group sponsors and personal sponsors

Group Sponsors

Any one who is coming to Indonesia as invited by government, business, religious organizations or any other Indonesian institution will have their KITAS processed by their group sponsor.  The sponsor is responsible for processing all VISA arrangements.  In broader terms, the sponsor is legally responsible for the total well being and actions of the foreigner they have invited into the country.  In terms of documents, the foreigner involved sometimes only needs a valid passport for starters, though a valid birth certificate, Curriculum Vitae with work references, a yellow immunization card as well as other documents may all be required.  With an organized sponsor in charge, there should be no guess work. They are legally bound to inform the foreign guest as to the exact nature of documentation required before the foreigner ever arrives in Indonesia.  The sponsor will also direct their guest to any working details that will require the foreigner’s help and participation in terms of reporting to immigration or any other office.  

Group sponsors usually accompany their guests to these offices.  It is often mandatory that they do so.

For foreigners coming to Indonesia to work, please refer to the AngloINFO brief on Working in Indonesia.   

Personal Sponsors

As for private or personal matters- especially in terms of joining a spouse or parents- the responsibility still lies with the Indonesian sponsor.  But in all practical terms the sponsor and foreign spouse or relative will have to sort out and share the burden of documentation and reporting to immigration together. 

This section’s focus, then, will be on a foreign spouse coming to join their Indonesian husband or wife.  This category includes a large percentage of those applying for a KITAS. Once the foreign spouse has been granted a KITAS, they will have the experience and status necessary to bring in their children (of minor age only- i.e., under 18 years of age) if they so choose.  Processing a KITAS for a child is very similar in principle and practice to the process for that of a spouse.

FIRST THINGS FIRST- Obtaining an VISA Kunjungan Sosial Budaya (VKSB)

Terms:  WNI (warga nasional Indonesia)- Indonesian citizen
               WNA (warga negara asing)- foreigner, or foreign national

A KITAS cannot be obtained directly by a foreign spouse, regardless of whether the mixed marriage took place in Indonesia or abroad. The applicant must first be in possession of a VISA Kunjungan Sosial Budaya (VKSB) before applying for KITAS.  Also, the applicant must report to a Kantor Imigrasi (Department of Immigration) which officially serves the area in which the applicant and sponsor are living.  

The key document needed is a sponsorship letter.  This letter as written and signed by the sponsor must be affixed with the stamp of a notary (notaris-which in reality if a lawyer) or by the official stamp of the sponsoring organization or business.   The letter must formally address the specific Indonesian embassy, consulate, or immigration office that the WNA will be reporting to for making an application for the VKSB. 

If at all possible, this letter should be faxed from the sponsor to the WNA in their country of origin.  The VKSB can then be applied for directly at the nearest Indonesian embassy or consulate.  There are no complicated procedures involved.   This is the preferred way to apply.

In practice, the alternative to applying ahead of time in one’s own country is to obtain the letter directly from the sponsor in Indonesia.  The WNA is then forced to leave the country with letter in hand and apply for the VKSB in a neighboring country.  The nearest convenient Indonesian embassy or consulate office is in Singapore- though Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Davao, Philippines;  or Bangkok, Thailand’s could serve just as well.

Processing will be at least a three working days, and possibly five.  If an agent is paid, the turn over can be in as little as 24 hours.

FEE for self processing: around 80 USD for 6 months

Details and provisions of the VKSB are detailed below:


PROCEDURE for OBTAINING KITAS (the first time)


IN ADDITION- Process and/or Obtain the following:

Within 14 days after issuance of KITAS, sponsor and WNA should report to the Kelurahan and Kantor Lurah CaPil (office of the local neighborhood Kepala, or head administrator) for three things:


In essence, a visit to the CaPil (district mayor’s office) is a formal exercise in introducing oneself to the neighborhood, and registering one’s presence.  These documents state where you have come from, your date of arrival in Indonesia, identifies your sponsor, and registers the address where the two of you are living in the district. This is analogous to the function served by the KTP (WNI’s National ID card), which verifies the citizen’s current address.  The KTP’s address should be the same as the address being registered.

Furthermore- The foreign national and spouse must report to the neighborhood national police office within 30 days of securing a KITAS.  Processing for the following is required:

Issued by the Supervision Unit of District Police
FEE: IDR 50,000. Report to neighborhood national police station in your residential district.  You will be issued a plastic card with your picture, so you must submit photo (2 x 3 cm) before hand.

Report to neighborhood police same as above.  This is signed by the WNI spouse as requesting shelter for the WNA.

The SKLD is an especially important registration as Indonesian intelligence investigates the background of the foreigner.  It can take a month or more to actually receive this card after reporting.  All registrations listed above must be recertified with each annual extension of the KITAS.

NOTE:  This is a daunting list of certificates.  It is not always the case in practice, though, that all five registrations listed above will be “offered or requested” by local authorities.  This is the standard list as stipulated by law, but in practice each town, city, or region may implement the law according after their own fashion, and choose to ignore a given registration.  In any case, the foreign national and his or her sponsor should make inquiries about each of the registrations listed as they are all mandated by national law.




For location of your nearest tax office:





KITAS Renewal

KITAS can be valid for 6 months, 1 year, or 2 years.  Many KITAS holders extend it for one year at a time.  The WNA who holds KITAS must start the renewal process no later than one month before expiration.  The process is very similar to the one outlined above minus any reference to the VKSB, which has now become obsolete.

Fees are the same as well.


Note that someone applying for KITAP has most likely already been granted temporary residence as apart from retired persons, only KITAS holders are qualified to request a KITAP (or permanent residence VISA).

KITAP is a permanent residency card, and is good for five, five year validation periods, or 25 years total.  There is confusion in its interpretation and hence variations in its implementation across Indonesia’s immigration offices. 

Even eligibility requirements are argued.  Some immigration officials maintain someone having held a KITAS for two years is eligible; others believe it to be five years. 

In any case, a KITAS holder can have their VISA status transformed into KITAP.  The main advantage is that one need only extend it only once every five years instead of once every year or two. 

The KITAP holder is also privileged to add their name to the KK (Kartu Keluarga- or Family Identity Card), which is the official family card as registered with the Indonesian government.  This is of great legal importance if property is held by the family as well as verifying blood relations with any children there may be living in Indonesia.  Issues of inheritance, for instance, are at stake here.

Given many immigration offices will handle KITAS-to-KITAP conversion differently, it will be best to contact your local immigration office for details.  In any case, a formal letter to immigration requesting a conversion at the time of renewal for one’s KITAS is how the process is initiated.  You will be advised by your regional immigration office as how to proceed.

According to one law, the following categories of KITAS holders are potentially eligible for KITAP:



A retirement VISA can be applied for with only the sponsorship of a travel agent required. The sponsor need only write a letter on your behalf.  The rest of the process must be carried out by the foreign national by first reporting to Kantor Imigrasi.

For those wishing to retire and live in Indonesia, here are the requirements:


Depending on the foreigner’s country of origin, the retirement VISA is good for one year and can be extended yearly for a maximum stay of five years.  Because of this, you should contact your Indonesian embassy or consulate to find out the rules pertaining to your own country in specific. 

NOTE:  Those on a retirement VISA are required to pay Indonesian personal income tax on their personal earnings.




Should an Agent Do the Work for You?

Many foreign nationals employ an agent to do all that is necessary to obtain a residency VISA.  If money is no object, then this may be preferable.  From all reports, the price of an agent is three to ten times more versus doing it yourself.  The process is complicated enough that many people would rather not deal with it, especially if the Indonesian spouse involved is intimidated by Indonesian-style bureaucracy.

Deciding on an agent is one thing- finding a good one is another.  Word of mouth or asking through expatriate internet forums is a good place to start searching for recommendations.

The following may influence your decision to hire an agent:

Kantor Imigrasi (Department of Immigration) is the central office involved in issuing VISA’s.  Applications begin and end in this office. Each immigration department in Indonesia is administered differently.  As reported by many foreign nationals, immigration rules and regulations are interpreted differently by different offices.  Some rules are slighted or ignored, and in doing so, the rights of applicants can be forfeited in the process. Ignoring rules is sometimes the result of ignorance, but more often done in order to encourage bribes. Corruption is endemic to immigration offices, with some being worse than others.

This is not to say that fair and satisfying results aren’t likely.  The fact is most properly informed applicants who endure the process patiently will eventually get their VISA’s if they meet the requirements. Be aware that in order to complete the process of residency several visits to immigration are often required.

When first applying for a residency VISA, you will not have a choice as to which immigration office you will report.  The appropriate office is dictated by your address of residency.  It is best your sponsor lives in the same locality, as they might have to appear with you. You must report to the immigration office that has auspice over your area.  Generally, the so-called Class I or major immigration offices are located in each of Indonesia’s provincial capitals.  Immigration in Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bali are all easier to deal with as they process so many applications and are in general more sophisticated in their dealings with foreigners.  Jakarta’s immigration offices must take care as all foreign embassies are located in the capital, and complaints will come back to them quickly.  There are many foreign consulates in Bali and Surabaya as well.  The presence of foreign embassies and consulates do provide a level of protection.


Further Information and Contacts

Before coming to Indonesia, plan on a visit to your local Indonesian embassy or consulate in your home country.  They will provide information on VISA’s, residency requirements, as well as updates to any and all information presented in this brief.

List of Indonesian Embassies Worldwide:
List of Indonesian Government Websites:
Indonesian Department of Immigration:
List of Indonesian Immigration offices:

VISA Services
Simply do an internet search with select key words such as “Indonesia VISA services”.  Add a location such as Bali, Jakarta, etc. if desired.