It’s been one year since I got my Kitas visa in Indonesia and today finds me struggling to deal with Indonesian bureaucracy. However, despite the fact that I hate filling out endless forms, I have come to the conclusion that for all its faults, Indonesian Immigration is remarkably efficient. As long as you have the time and the patience the process of getting your visa issues is actually pretty painless and there is no need to pay the ridiculous fees that visa agents charge. If you know what you’re doing getting an Indonesian visa is very easy.

For anyone struggling with visa issues, here’s a simple step by step guide on what you need to do to get an Indonesian visa. I’ll start by explaining how to get a Social Budaya Visa, which is the most common visa, before giving you the more lengthy explanation later on how to get a Kitas.

Social Budaya

The Social Budaya visa is the most popular visa for anyone who is planning to visit Indonesia for an extended period of time. Unlike a Tourist Visa, the Social Budaya visa is valid for six months. Just to be clear, it is not a work visa and though many people do work while on a Social Budaya, it is actually illegal to do this.

A Social Budaya can be used for doing voluntary work and visiting friends and relatives. Te visa is initially valid for a period of 60 days and can be extended four times – each subsequent visa is valid for a period of 30 days – after that. Once you have been in the country for six months, you will need to leave the country, but you can immediately apply for another Social Budaya visa and return on the same day.

Application Process

You need to apply for your visa at an Indonesian Embassy. If you’re already in Indonesia, I would advise applying for a Social Budaya visa in either Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) or Singapore. You can either apply directly at the Embassy – the process takes a total of three days – or pay a visa agent to do your paperwork and the visa will be ready on the same day.

Visa Agent Singapore

I always used a visa agent in Singapore. The agent I use in Singapore to arrange my Indonesian visa is called Ismael. You can find his details here. Like most visa agents, Ismael charges 175 Singaporean Dollars for a Social Budaya. You do not need to book an appointment, simply turn up at his office with the correct paperwork before 10:00am and he will arrange the visa on the same day (by 4:00 pm).

If you do not want to pay a visa agent, you can apply for a visa directly at an Indonesian Embassy. A Social Budaya visa in Singapore costs Singapore $62 and will take three working days to issue. Whichever option you choose, you will need to submit the same paperwork.


You will need:
– sponsorship Letter from an Indonesian Citizen
– a photocopy of your sponsors KTP (identity card)
– a photocopy of the Kartu Keluarga (family card)
– two passport sized photographs, preferrably with a red background
– passport of the person being sponsored
– Social Budaya application form

There is a set format for the sponsorship letter. However, whatever your sponsorship letter looks like, it needs to include the following information:
– date
– name of your sponsor (who needs to be employed)
– KTP number of your Sponsor
– Address of the sponsor
– name of the person who is being sponsored
– passport number of the person being sponsored
– signature of the sponsor on a Materi (little stamp which somehow makes any Indonesian document legal)

Applying for a Visa Extension

A Social Budaya visa extension costs Rp300,000. To apply for a visa extension, you will need the same paperwork as you do when applying for a Social Budaya visa. You should apply for your visa extension five working days before the visa expires.

To apply, simply go to the local immigration office where your sponsor is based (the office closest to the sponsors home address). On the day you apply you will need to submit all of the above paperwork and fill in a form, which you can pick up from the counter in the immigration office. You will also have to pay for the visa with Indonesian currency. The process of issuing the visa takes five working days.

The visa offices in Jakarta and Bali are modern and the system for issuing the visa, though time consuming, is simple. There is no bribery or funny business. An alternative to hiring a visa agent – for those too lazy to sort out a visa themselves – is to simply ask your maid or cleaner to go to the immigration office. There really is no reason to use a visa agent to do this.

Final Notes

– On your first visa extension you will normally be called into the immigration office to have your photo and fingerprints taken.
– On the fourth visa extension you will be asked to come into immigration for an interview with your sponor. At this interview the immigration officials will question you on what you are doing in the country and how you are supporting yourself financially.