The processes of obtaining proper documentation to live and work in Indonesia can seem like an endless maze of bureaucracy. Lack of posted regulations, irregular application of existing regulations, vested interests and other matters complicate what one would think would be a relatively smooth processing of paperwork for foreigners to live and work in Indonesia.
This review of the necessary documents should help to clarify some of the questions newcomers may have about the various documents required.
Passports for your family members are issued by a passport office from your own country. While your government may allow children to follow on their mother’s passports, it is better to have separate passports for every family member, just in case separate travel is required.
In order to apply for a KITAS visa to Indonesia, your passport must be valid for:
- 12 months passport validity remaining to apply for a 6 months KITAS
- 18 months passport validity remaining to apply for a 12 months KITAS
- 30 months passport validity remaining to apply for a 24 months KITAS
If your passport is nearing expiration, we recommend you renew it to the maximum time allowable before you begin procedures to apply for an Indonesian work permit and visa. You do not want to have your sponsoring office go through all the paperwork of getting your visa and work permit, only to have to repeat the procedure after six months because your passport has expired.
Company sponsorship is required as a FIRST STEP in order for a foreigner who wants to work in Indonesia to be issued a work permit/visa. This sponsorship is required BEFORE a semi-permanent visa and work permit can be processed.
RPTKA (Expatriate Placement Plan)
The Indonesian government has strict guidelines on what foreign expertise is required for the development of the country.
National, multinational or joint venture firms must submit a manpower plan to Depnaker (Article 42 Manpower Act number 13 year 2003. Foreigners can only get a limited stay visa/permit and a KITAS card if they already have been issued a TA01 recommendation (from the Manpower Department if the company is a domestic company; or from BKPM/Investment Board Department if the employing company is a foreign investment company, a so-called PMA company). A TA-01 is based on an approved Expatriate Placement Plan (RPTKA).
The IMTA ( Ijin Mempekerjakan Tenega kerja Asingor “Work Permit” is the authorization given to a company to employ a foreigner.
If a company wants to employ foreigners, the company must submit an Expatriate Placement Plan, RPTKA – Rencana Penempatan Tenaga Kerja Asing- to the Manpower Department if the employing company is a domestic company; or to the BKPM (Investment Coordinating Boardif the company is a foreign investment company. In foreign investment/PMA companies, work permits for senior positions (such as Directorheld by foreigners are for three years and can be renewed just before expiration. (Note: Director’s positions held by foreigners is only applicable for foreign investment/PMA companies). Other position slots in the RPTKA are only for one year and can be renewed annually, usually up to a fixed number of years.
Based on the approval of the RPTKA (Expatriate Placement PlanATA-01 is issued, and then a work permit, Izin Kerja Tenaga Asing (IKTAis issued by the Manpower Ministry (Departemen Tenaga Kerja or Depnakerafter your arrival and the issuance of the KITAS card and have paid your annual DPKK.
Companies employing foreigners are charged $100/month (US$ 1,200/year per expatriate employee to offset the costs of training Indonesian nationals (Article 47 Manpower Act number 13 year 2003). This tax is administered through the Department of Manpower. Proof of payment of the Skill & Development Fund (DPKKfee to the BNI ’46 bank for one year in advance, amounting to US $1,200 (non refundable), and is needed before a Work Permit can be approved.
For positions other than Directors, a foreigner’s expertise must be proven, as government regulations limit the employment of foreigners in Indonesia to ‘experts’; which can contribute to the national development. Due to the high unemployment rate of nationals, it must be proven that the expertise of a foreigner can not actually be supplied by a national instead.
A few years ago the manpower plans were issued for three years, so annual renewals could be completed relatively quickly. More recently, manpower plans are only approved for one year. When a company’s manpower plan is approved, a certain number of slots for positions held by foreigners are approved by Depnaker. If a firm wants to add another foreigner to its staff, they must go back to Depnaker and revise their manpower plan and wait several months for approval. It is not always easy for a firm in Indonesia to hire a foreigner and involves considerable expense and dealing with bureaucracy.
Deportations of foreigners for ‘abusing’ their work permits is not uncommon. The usual offense is that the person is working in a position other than what is allowed by the work permit. If your work permit says you are the Production Director … and your business card says you are the Managing Director – those are grounds for deportation due to abuse of work permit. Another problem is caused when the declared address of work on the IMTA differs from your actual work location. If it does not match, this could void the IMTA and put the employee at risk of a deportation. BEWARE and be cautious about what you put on your business card – make sure it agrees with your work permit!
One common misconception is that the IMTA belongs to the expatriate employee, actually they are issued to the company, NOT to the foreign worker. If a foreign worker loses his job, he is not entitled to work for any other company without processing a new IMTA, even if the previous IMTA still has validity. This very common misconception leads expats to think that they have a work permit – they don’t – the company has it!
A work permit issued for a foreigner does NOT entitle their spouse to work as well. A “dependent spouse” must obtain their own sponsor and work permit in order to work in Indonesia. This can be done, but depends on the demand for their expertise. Many working spouses find the transition difficult as they are used to working. There are, however, many opportunities for worthwhile and meaningful involvements in community and educational organizations and opportunities for everyone to hone new skills during their time in Indonesia.
After the RPTKA has been approved, the TA01 recommendation has to be applied for at the Department of Manpower in order to get a temporary residence visa. The original approval letter on the TA01 recommendation will be needed to apply for the VITAS or VBS (Visa Tinggal Terbatas).
The RPTKA & TA01 recommendation are only necessary for foreigners working in Indonesia. Dependent family members; accompany spouse and children up to 17 years old will be under the sponsorship of the working spouse. Dependent family members are only entitled to stay with the working spouse/parent – this visa does NOT entitle them to work. If a spouse is also working in Indonesia he/she will have to apply for a separate Work Permit and independent Stay Permit from their sponsoring company.
Service Visa (DINAS)
Service Visas are given to foreign citizens bearing service passports, on assignment to Indonesia for diplomatic purposes. They are working in Indonesia under official government entities such as UN bodies, aid organizations, etc. Visa Dinas are directly handled by the Indonesian government department who employes the expats and they apply direct to the Sekretariat Negara to process the visa. Private agents are not allowed to handle this type of visa.