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Bali Authorities Raise Concerns That Digital Nomads Are Overstepping The Line

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As officials in Bali are working to create new protocols to ensure that tourists are well-behaved while on vacation, some leaders are raising concerns that some digital nomads are also overstepping the mark.

Bali is one of the world’s most popular destinations for digital nomads, but officials want to see a little more respect for the law. 

Digital Nomad in Shala Villa in Bali.jpg

According to representatives from ASITA, the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies Board, digital nomads and other foreign business owners in Bali are at risk of breaking the law.

They have said that they have observed a rise in the number of foreigners using their tourist rental accommodation as an office base, with some specifically running tours and travel services around Bali. 

This is a multi-layered issue. First, there is the issue of digital nomads, using properties that are designed as tourist accommodations as formal offices which violates the premises use.

Then there is the issue of digital nomads potentially using tourist or socio-cultural visas to conduct business activities that break the conditions of their stay permits.


Part 3: Digital Nomads in Bali

♬ original sound – Uptin

ASITA is suggesting that some foreigners are even working themselves in roles such as guiding, running, or facilitating tours and retreats or organizing travel experiences on behalf of other travelers for profit or gain.

Indonesian law is very clear that anyone on a tourist or socio-cultural visa cannot conduct income-generating work while in the country, and only very specific activities like attending meetings can be conducted on the visa on arrival or the socio-cultural visas. 

@spiffnuggs Digital nomad cafes >>> #digitalnomadgirl #worklifebalance #solofemaletravel #uluwatubali ♬ original sound – SPIFF • Travel Supplements

Representatives from ASITA met with the National Police Public Relations team to table their observations and request that further action be taken to crack down on foreigners who are blurring the lines and in some cases outrightly breaking the law. 

The Chairman of ASITA Bali told reporters after the meeting, “There are also tourist agents from foreigners who use their boarding houses as offices where they work so that these unsuitable permits and locations can be more regulated, because we ourselves, who are official and have permits in accordance with the regulations in Bali, feel disturbed.”

@_mollhouse Best #digitalnomad cafes in Canguu, Part 1: Miel Cafe, Batu Bolong ☕️ #remotework #cafehopping #bali ♬ original sound – EX7STENCE™

ASITA also wants to see the police crackdown on local tour and travel agents who are operating similar operations from their homes when they should be splicing for the relevant business permits and licenses first. 

Police Commissioner Pol Harry Sindu Nugroho confirmed that moving forward, the police will be working with ASITA Bali to issue sanctions on tourism and travel agents that do not have the correct permits.

He stated clearly, “We will also collaborate with Bali Immigration so that later foreign nationals (WNA) who create problems by becoming fake agents will receive action, we will give warnings and sanctions until the action is violated in accordance with Immigration law.”

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This collaborative approach by Bali Police and ASITA is not an indiscriminate crackdown on digital nomads or foreigners working online while in Bali.

This is a targeted endeavor to implement existing laws that help prevent fake travel agencies, protect Balinese and Indonesian livelihoods, and ensure that tour operators are working within the law. 

The Provincial Government is also in the midst of an operation to crack down on illegally operating tourist accommodation providers.


The provincial government has calculated that there is a huge tax deficiency due to the larger number of private villas, guesthouses, hotels, and homestays that have not formally registered themselves as business entities and in some cases not as rental premises either.

Indonesia has long been promoting Bali as a destination perfect for digital nomads.


In fact, in November 2022 the Indonesian Ministry for Tourism and Creative Economies established a partnership with Airbnb to promote the island as a leading destination for digital nomads and remote workers.

The campaign called ‘Live and Work Anywhere’ showcased some of the more off-the-beaten-path destinations to digital nomads and promoted the B211a socio-cultural visa as the most appropriate visa for foreign online workers to stay in Indonesia for up to 6-months at a time. 

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Monday 2nd of October 2023

Any ex pat who has lived in Bali for a few years knows full well there are hundreds or thousands of unlicensed villas purchased as rental properties and not paying taxes. The result is price competition with licensed operations, ensuring low wages in many cases. Thousands of hotel workers pay little or no tax because they don't earn enough ! It's difficult to compete with someone not paying the 21% licensed operations have to deduct from their rates, and then have to factor in the 22% corporation or profit tax . Whilst the other grifters are not paying income tax. The tax office is efficient in taxing PMA companies, but not the villa cheats. Start by checking the clients of the agents and developers who promise Return on Investment up to 25%. It's not just foreigners .


Tuesday 3rd of October 2023

@Boris, Quote "It’s not just foreigners." Exactly.


Monday 2nd of October 2023

All these issues can resolved if Bali officials offered some kind of "digital nomad visa", perhaps. Something they kept talking about but then decided against it. Now they are confusing themselves.

Jeffrey Morgan 111

Sunday 1st of October 2023

There are too many freeloaders here these days. They use all the roads, the free services, buy subsidized cooking fuel and petrol. Don't pay any tax, don't tip, expect everyone to wait on them. And they are arrogant about it too.

I'm glad to hear the gov is waking up to a very big problem. Sure, we all pay a little tax on goods purchase, but it isn't very much, and there's a limit to how much any society can handle before it collapses.


Saturday 30th of September 2023

The real reason is this: The Taxation demand is way too high and it should be paid in advance for start ups. Therefore not only young entrepreneurs are NOT ABLE to get the right permits due to that cost, but also the majority of locals are avoiding honest Taxation reports because of it. (But it's easier to crack on minority foreigners rather than fix the major problems of the island)

And also keep in mind those digital nomads and bringing money from overseas into the island, which it's positive cash flow, no danger on local economy. The mindset is that you can't be happy here alone and by yourself.

/"If you eat, we eat together. If you don't share, you out."/

The island is no longer like how it used to be, it's goal is to only welcome the rich class of tourists and entrepreneurs. And make sure they don't enjoy anything for free, if you try to Hustle from zero and get caught, you're in danger of immediate deportation and imprisonment.


Saturday 30th of September 2023

@Barong, Taxation has much deeper issues. A few very high profile cases over the last 10 years or so have revealed that some lower-middle ranking tax officials have been colluding with companies in order to "trim" companies tax bills. Ref. cases for Trisambodo (2023) and Tambunan (2011).


Saturday 30th of September 2023

The problem is the ‘digital nomad’ definition - normally means someone earns an income working for themselves or a company from a home-based/remote office… but needs to specify that the income has to come from a country other than the one being visited. In other words, you can’t come in on a tourist/DN visa and then start a business in the new country without the right permits and papers. It’s regulated in other countries.