Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world made of five big islands and about 30 smaller groups of islands. In total, Indonesia consists of 17,000 islands, including Java, Timor, Sulawesi, Halmahera, Sumatra, and parts of Borneo (Kalimantan) and New Guinea (Papua or Irian Jaya). More than 50% of the entire population lives on Java, the 5th largest island in Indonesia.
Indonesia’s low cost of living, tropical climate, and beautiful natural wonders have been attracting travelers from all over the world for years. In the past decade, Indonesia, especially Bali, has become a popular destination for digital nomads. All digital nomads and remote workers who wanted to enter, stay and work in Indonesia were able to do so by holding either a temporary work permit or tourist visas, but that is about to change.
In 2021 the Indonesian government announced that all digital nomads will be able to live and work in Indonesia with the new Indonesian digital nomad visa. The visa’s validity is set for five years but there is still no information on whether or not it can be renewed or extended.
Indonesia Digital Nomad Visa
The great news is that all digital nomads who find themselves in a grey area working and living in Indonesia, can now obtain a proper work permit and clarify their fiscal status.
Currently, all digital nomads who stay in Indonesia for over 6 months have to pay taxes on their income, regardless of where the income is coming from. The best thing about the Indonesian digital nomad visa is that all remote workers holders of the visa will be exempt from paying taxes on income earned outside of the country.
While other countries that have already established a digital visa allow for one to two years’ stay, Indonesia’s digital nomad visa turns out to have the longest term. The 5-year digital nomad visa is the perfect opportune time to lure longer-staying digital nomads into the country.
The goal is to attract as many foreign travelers and higher spending visitors as possible which has proved to have a better impact on the local economy. And by allowing these remote workers to stay in Indonesia tax-free for half a decade we are yet to see the changes to Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
Although the three S: sun, sea, and sand may just be enough to lure higher-spending travelers, the digital nomad visa will help the nation lure employees of global companies like Airbnb who let their people work remotely.
The plan for Indonesia’s digital nomad visas was laid out in 2021, but the pandemic put everything on hold.
“Now with the pandemic handled and all the ministries getting involved and cooperating from the health side to the immigration office, we believe that this is an opportune time to relaunch this idea,” said Indonesia’s Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno.
The Minister of Tourism Sandiaga Uno announced that from now on, the new three S are serenity, spirituality, and sustainability. He also added that by promoting a booming tech scene, spiritual getaways, more frequent flights, sporting events, and ecological tourism they hope to bring back over 3.5 million travelers now when the travel restrictions and stringent border controls are no more.
What visa do you need to stay in Indonesia until the digital nomad visas come out?
Currently, foreign travelers who want to stay in the country for longer than a month must obtain a tourist visa which costs about $35. This visa is valid for one month but you can extend it for one more month and pay another $35. After the 2-month limit, you must leave and re-enter the country.
Another option that works better for long-term visitors is the social-cultural (sosial-budaya) visa. Holders of this visa can stay in the country for 60 days with the possibility to extend for 30 days up to four times.
The third option is a temporary work permit which allows for a longer stay of six months. This visa is harder to get due to the non-regulated status freelancers in the country have.
For instance, a work permit is given to foreigners employed by Indonesian companies and who receive their wages in the country. However, digital nomads work for companies abroad and are therefore ineligible to apply for a work permit and often find themselves in a grey area.
Luckily, with the new digital nomad visa, all of this is going to change.
What is the best digital nomad destination in Indonesia?
Bali is the most famous destination in Indonesia. It has been a spiritual getaway for decades now. But with the new digital age, it has become a hotspot for remote workers and digital nomads from all over the world. Bali also sees a lot of spiritual getaways as the serenity and stress-free environment are ideal for yoga retreats.
The low cost of living, ideal weather, and stunning natural wonders are just a few of the traits attracting people to live their homes and 9-5 jobs and make Bali their new home base where they can work remotely and enjoy life to the fullest.
Monthly rent in Bali starts from $270 for a private guesthouse and goes up to $1300 for a full vila rental. Monthly transport expenses are anywhere between $50-$90, while food costs can range from $250 up to $700 depending on whether you cook or dine out. Leisure including massages, yoga, sports activities, and others may add up to $200 a month. Other monthly bills can reach a high of $300, but this includes a phone line, internet, cleaner, and other services.
All in all, Bali is a dream destination for all digital nomads who make more than $3000 a month.
Indonesia’s digital nomad visa is still in process. But it will allow remote workers a 5-year long stay in the country all the while paying no tax. In the meantime, all remote workers can enjoy the sun, sea, and sand by holding a tourist visa or a temporary work permit.
You can read more about working remotely from Indonesia in these articles: