All you need to know about getting a Bali visa (if you are from the UK)
Good morning, folks. Since moving our full time travelling UK family to Bali we’ve received quite a lot of questions about getting a Bali visa (and which Bali visa to get) from UK families:
“Do I need a visa for Bali?” “Do I need a visa for Indonesia?” “Do you need a visa for Bali from UK?” “Which Bali visa do I need?” …and more.
This post will break down exactly for you (UK citizens) the different kinds of visas and the requirements for each and will give you information to help you decide on which Bali visa is right for you. I’ll also tell you our experience of getting a Bali visa so you can avoid the 839 mistakes (conservative estimate) that we made, and be soaking up that tropical sunshine in no time!
This guide is for people/ families like us wanting to visit or live in Bali who can support themselves financially either through savings or overseas/online work; NOT those wanting to set up a business in Bali. You will need other visas such as the Bali business visa for this. If you’d like to explore more of Indonesia than just Bali once you have your visa, check out this Indonesia guide with island inspiration!
So, let’s get to it:
“Do I need a visa for Bali/ Do I need a visa for Indonesia?”
First off, Bali is not a country; it is a province in the country of Indonesia (I didn’t know this until we got here!). There’s technically no such thing as a Bali visa; you will be applying for a visa for Indonesia and you can spend the whole of your visa duration in Bali or choose to travel around the other Indonesian islands too (there are over 17,000 of them!).
If you are from the UK then the answer to “Do I need a visa for Bali” or “Do I need a visa for Indonesia” is a simple ‘yes’.
The 3 common kinds of Bali visa for UK citizens (visiting or wanting to live in Bali)
- Free passport stamp for up to 30 days, also known as ‘visa exemption’
This confuses a lot of people, so I’ll clear it up. This is NOT a “Visa on Arrival”, even though you get the stamp in your passport when you arrive. (See #2 below for “Visa on Arrival”).
If you are staying for 30 days or less for tourism purposes (i.e., not working), you can get a stamp in your passport when you arrive in Bali.
This is FREE.
You can NOT extend it.
The day you arrive counts as a full day, and the day you leave counts as a full day. It is not a MONTH, it is 30 days, so be aware of this when booking your flight out from Bali (you must do this before you arrive in Bali; read about our mistakes not doing this in our post about our most horrendous travel experience).
If you overstay the fine is around £15 per day per person, and if you overstay by 3 or more days you are risking trouble from immigration. So, going to Bali for a holiday?
Get a free stamp in your passport and leave before 30 days is up. Simples. If you leave at any time during the duration of your visa it is void and you will have to get another one when you come back.
2. “Visa on arrival” (VOA) for up to 60 days total
If you want to stay in Bali for up to 60 days for tourism purposes (i.e., not working), get the Visa on Arrival when you land in Bali. You get this at the airport, it costs $35 (USD) per person and you must pay in cash in either USD or the local currency IDR so make sure you bring this with you from home.
This visa allows you to stay for 30 days and then extend it at a cost for another 30 days, allowing 60 days in total. Here is our blog post on how to extend the Bali visa on arrival. This is what we did the first time we came to Bali. If you leave at any time during the duration of your visa it is void and you will have to get another one when you come back.
To find out how to extend your Bali visa VOA, (leave a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of 14 for this process) look out for our Bali visa extension guide which will be up later today.
3. Social & Cultural visa for up to 6 months total
This is the visa that we currently hold, and Patrick sweated blood to get it. The purpose of the visa is either to visit friends or family who live in Bali, or for cultural / educational activities.
In order to obtain this visa you will need someone who ‘sponsors’ you (most people on this visa pay an agent to provide the ‘sponsorship’ as well as do the application):
You will need to provide the agent with your passports, or photocopies of your passports, and 2 passport photos of each person applying. They may also ask for other information such as current bank statements. The agent (also acting as your ‘sponsor’) will then provide on your behalf:
- A sponsorship letter
- A copy of the sponsor’s bank account statements
- Photocopy of sponsor’s identity card
- A copy of the sponsor’s family register
(Don’t panic while reading the above if you don’t know what they are; the agent will take care of it all).
When you have your visa it must be used within 3 months of the date of issue and your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry to Bali.
Once you are in Bali you can stay for 60 days before needing to go to Immigration to (technically) apply for a 30 day extension, which you can do up to 4 times to get your 6 months in total. If you have paid an agent as we did they will make these trips for you- sitting in Immigration offices for hours with three kids is approximately nowhere on our bucket list.
If you leave at any time during the duration of your visa it is void and you will have to get another one when you come back.
We paid our agent £1200 in total for six people to complete the Social & Cultural visa for us; £200 a person for 6 months in Bali seems like great value to us but we will certainly be shopping around to see if we can find a cheaper agent next time!
Our nightmare trying to get a 6 month Bali visa:
We decided that we wanted a 6 month Bali visa while in Sri Lanka and our agents, who we found online, told us that we could get it from the Indonesian embassy in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.
This is NOT TRUE so do not try and do this.
What happened: Some dude in Sri Lanka who did our Sri Lankan visa extension called himself an agent for Bali visas and actually did not have a clue what he was on about.
We were told that we could get our Bali visa from the Indonesian embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.
This is NOT TRUE so do not try and do this unless you have a genuine sponsor letter from a University.
What happened: Patrick flew from Sri Lanka to Bangkok and was told that he needed to bring more paperwork, so he flew up to Chiang Mai to meet us and get the required paperwork. Then he flew back to Bangkok and was kept waiting for THREE days, being told “tomorrow you will have it, tomorrow you will have it….”
On the third day the officials told him that Thailand had a new rule that meant that all sponsor letters had to be from an academic institution such as a University and as ours was from an agent we could not have the visas. This is a new Thailand-specific rule so as of 2018 DO NOT try and get your Bali 6 month visa from Thailand, you will not be able to. You can see more visa kerfuffles on our YouTube channel!
Then Patrick flew to Singapore and managed to get the Bali visa from the Indonesian embassy there. What is VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE is the current rule now is that everyone who wants the visa must be present in the country in order to get the visas. So everyone in your family should go to Singapore in order to get your 6 month Bali visas.
You should also remember to wear long trousers or a skirt as well as top that covers your shoulders in order to not get removed from any Indonesian Embassy. Please also be polite and respectful to the officials and do not answer your phone while in the Embassy.
Do you have any questions? Please let me know in the comments.
Where to stay in Bali
While travelling full time and when we were visiting Bali before getting our long term rental (click here to see how we did it), we loved Booking.com and Hotels Combined for great value quality accommodation.
Best things to do in Bali
Check out this post for five of our favourite family friendly things to do in Bali.
Thank you for reading.