When Indonesia’s borders reopened after the pandemic lockdown in February 2022, many Bali lovers were shocked to learn that the visa-free travel policy had been put on hold.
Within a few months, the legislative changes necessary to completely scrap free travel for top tourists had been passed.
In June this year, the Indonesian Department of Immigration formally scrapped the visa-free travel program for travelers from 159 countries.
In its place, the Ministry rolled out the visa-on-arrival program, which was very much the same apart for one crucial detail. Travelers from 98 countries must now pay for their visa, to the tune of IDR 500,000 per person, for up to 30 days.
For many Bali lovers who’d previously enjoyed visa-free travel, especially those from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US, and most of Europe, the news that tourists now had to pay for a visa was a bit of a shock to the system.
Although the policy change meant that visa-free travel was scrapped for Bali’s most frequent visitors, it remained the case that tourists from neighboring ASEAN states could still enter Indonesia for up to 30 days free of charge.
ASEAN nations have a reciprocal agreement in place that allows travelers from Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar, and the Philippines to travel between the countries visa-free.
Indonesia’s Minister for Tourism and Creative Economies has spoken to the media this week about the prospect of re-introducing visa-free travel for the country’s most frequent international arrivals.
Minister Sandiaga Uno has confirmed that he and his teams are proposing that travelers from twenty countries, in addition to ASEAN nations, should be granted visa-free travel in Indonesia.
Minister Uno said “Earlier it was decided to propose which countries would be proposed for visa-free visits. The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy proposed 20 countries with the highest number of foreign tourists outside of countries that have visa-free visits.”
He continued “At the top are Australia, China, India, South Korea, the United States, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, and five other additional countries are countries related to investment contributions and the economic impact on Indonesia, Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and several other countries.”
Minister Uno revealed that the conversation is ongoing but that the proposal will be finalized by next month.
He added that the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economies is working with the Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly and Director General of Immigration Silmy Karim to bring this change about.
Minster Uno added “In the next month it will be finalized and after that, we will receive direction from the president and the policy will be followed up with immigration. We will coordinate with Prof Yasonna and the Director General of Immigration, Mr Silmy.”
For the moment, however, it remains the case that tourists from 97 countries, including the twenty countries listed by Minster Uno must still pay for their visa on arrival, either at Bali Airport or online before they travel.
The e-visa on arrival can be applied for up to 48 hours before touchdown at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport.
The visa is valid for 30 days and can be used for tourism purposes, limited business-related activities, and visiting family. The visa can be extended one time for an additional 30 days for an additional fee.
Bali lovers will welcome the prospect of visa-free travel making a comeback. On the 14th February 2024 Bali will introduce its new tourism tax.
The IDR 150,000 fee is a mandatory requirement for all international arrivals and the revenue generated from the new tax is set to be spent on tackling the island’s waste management issues.
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