How to get a “6 month visa for Bali”
A Bali social visit visa, a “6 month visa for Bali” (sosbud), is valid for an initial 60 days and can be renewed 4 times, each for 30 days, so that’s six months in total – it is not a 6 month visa. To qualify for a social visit visa you need a friend in Bali who will fill in a form to say that you are visiting them and sightseeing at the same time. On arrival visitors will get an Indonesian visa valid for 30 days.
NOTE. The immigration officials don’t seem to care why you are visiting and generally don’t ask, but fill in the form honestly. And you can get a second six month SOSBUD straight after the last one, and they still won’t ask why you need a whole year to see the sites and the beaches. I was, however, asked by Kuala Lumpur embassy staff if I planned on marrying my local girlfriend. Not yet, was the answer.
To apply for a SOSBUD online you can be outside Indonesia or inside, but to get the passport stamp you must be outside Indonesia.
NOTE. A “Bali 6 month visa” is CANCELLED as soon as you fly out. You need another one on your return. If you get a 60 day visa and fly to KL after a week, you just lost your 60 day visa.
The process of getting a SOSBUD, Bali 6 month visa
My Indonesian girlfriend applied online in Jakarta whilst I was there on a 30 day VOA. First she registered to act as sponsor and guarantor. She scanned my passport, bank statement, last visa stamp arriving in Jakarta (if there is one), passport back page, return flight (a cheap flight to any place), and then she uploaded them to the immigration website along with a scan of her invite letter – which is a standard form to be filled in, you do not need to think up the contents of a nice letter and the reasons for the visit. She put down that I was visiting her and seeing the country, which was true.
- Bank statement (showing you have more than $1,500)
- Passport scan back page
- Scan of return flight
- Scan of invite letter
- Scan of sponsors ID
- Can of sponsors family ID (different to private ID)
- Application form to be filled in (available in both languages)
NOTE. We could only find the form in Bahasa, not English!
NOTE. It is mentioned online that you should have travel insurance, yet I was never asked to provide evidence of that. It is generally noted that if you do not have a return ticket or travel insurance that airport immigration COULD turn you away. I have never been asked to show it, and I have never heard of anyone showing it.
NOTE. You sponsor is legally responsible for you, so if you get caught with some drugs or overstay your visa then your sponsor gets arrested !!!!
There were three stages to the online process, and each had a one day delay, and immigration only work on weekdays 9am-5pm. Each stage was passed, and final approval was given, downloaded and printed off. I then needed to fly to Kuala Lumpur (quick and cheap) to get the passport stamp, as advised by Jakarta immigration.
“all quick and simple, one visit…” they said.
I headed to the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, having booked a place to stay for three days, and return flights.
When you get to the embassy, Indonesians go to the entrance on the left, foreigners on the right (as you look from the busy street).
NOTE. On the far left is an area of car park where Malaysians offer photocopying at a reasonable rate. Also on the left is a coffee shop and a cash machine, inside the first tall tower You need 300 MYR in cash, nothing else will do, no credit cards accepted, no other currency.
I entered on the right having shown my approval letter from Jakarta. For a SOSBUD go downstairs, not upstairs. There is a helpful official wandering around giving advice. On my approval letter was a bar code, and once swiped on a machine I received a number, sat and waited (2 hours).
In front of the nice lady I handed over my passport and approval letter, to be told to forget the online application since each embassy had its own way of doing things. I had to fill in forms, scan again my last visa entry and passport back page, and come back the next day, and that my passport MIGHT be ready in 5 days.
Pissed off, I moved flights and extended my stay.
The next day I took a number, waited, paid 300 MYR and was sent off, to come back on the Thursday afternoon, having started the process on the Monday morning, but that there was no guarantee.
On the Thursday I took a number, sat and waited, and got my passport without further hassle, moved flights yet again and headed for Jakarta. I had made three trips to the embassy, time spent in traffic, time wasted sat down waiting, four days tied up.
PHOTOS. Many websites mention passport photos, and I had some done, but I was never asked to hand them in and I still have them. When you extend an “Bali 6 month visa” you are photographed.
NOTE. Visa agents are not cheap if you are on a budget holiday, but they do save time and hassle. If you have an agent then you need only make one quick trip to the embassy.
In Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, agents always jump the queue and get their clients in first. If they arrive with 200 Vietnamese workers you could be in for a very long wait.
Extending my sosbud visa
After 50 days in Jakarta it was time to extend the visa, and the process needs at least 5 working days. I made my first visit to immigration 8 working days before the visa expired (they say 7-10 days).
On my first Indonesian sosbud visa extension visit to immigration, Jakarta (2 hours in a taxi with a driver who did not know where he was going, my girlfriend filled in the forms and handed them in, an hour in a taxi home. Again, we could not find forms in English.
NOTE. There are several immigration offices in Jakarta, but you are only allowed to attend the one relevant to where you live (north, south, east, central). You will be turned away and sent to the correct one, so check first.
NOTE. Many websites suggest that you must prove an onward plane ride and medical insurance. I was not asked for either.
Coming away from the immigration office we had to find a bank and pay 300,000 IDR, about $20, and get a receipt, they do not accept payment in the immigration offices. We were told that the receipt was vital, yet no one ever looked at it or took it, the computer tells them you have paid.
NOTE. When you hand over your passport you get a receipt, and you must carry that with a photocopy of your passport back page all the time you are in Indonesia. If the police catch you without it you are in trouble, but police stopping westerners is rare, very rare.
On my second visit to immigration, 2 hours in a taxi there and 2 hours back (it was only 3 miles away and I could have walked, but no one walks anywhere in Jakarta – not least because there are few pavements or places to cross a busy road), I handed in the paperwork and sat. After 2 hours the room was empty so I asked, and they had misplaced the paperwork. My visit should have taken 5 minutes only.
Four working days after starting the process I picked up my passport from a guy who spoke no English, book signed, handwritten date of expiry of the extension in my passport, another hour in a taxi to look forwards to.
Flying to Kuala Lumpur for a day might seem like a better bet than 3 days with immigration.
When I extended my visa for the second and third times I still had to make 3 visits, but they were quicker visits and I was not photographed or fingerprinted again.
First visit – fill in form, hand in photocopies of documents, 6,000 IDR stamps in place on form. Go away and pay bank 355,000
Second visit – hand in payment receipt
Final visit to collect passport