Work Permits for Indonesia

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Work permits for IndonesiaThe process for acquiring a work permit for Indonesia can be a tricky one. The rules change all the time so what is the legal requirement one year, may not be the same the following year. Finding the correct information about the requirements for a work permit for Indonesia can be very difficult because of the changing nature of Indonesian bureaucracy.  
Most expats who are being transferred to Indonesia by their current company, or who have already secured a job in Indonesia before leaving home, will find that their employer will do most of the work for them when it comes to securing a work permit. This makes it even more difficult for those expats who do have to go through the process alone as other expats they speak to usually have no idea of that the process entails. 

Advice for getting a work permit for Indonesia

It is not advisable for expats to just arrive in Indonesia with the hope of finding a job. It is best to have a job waiting for you and a sponsor. The sponsor is the person that will be employing you and making sure that your documents are all in order. Generally speaking the company will sort out all of this paperwork for you and have agents who come with you to the immigration office and help you with it.
Expats should not enter the country on a tourist visa and expect to find work. What you can do is find someone who may be willing to employ you in the near future. Assuming that you have the skills that they are looking for, you will then be required to leave the country whilst Immigration gets notified from the sponsor saying that they are willing to sponsor you. You then return back to Indonesia when this is all done and the paperwork has been signed. There is a lot of bureaucracy in Indonesia.
Expats should not arrive at Immigration to get their paperwork stamped wearing flip-flops, shorts or strappy tops or mini-skirts. You will be sent away and have to make another appointment which means more time and possibly money since your agent will have booked the appointment for you.
Indonesian companies can only employ a certain amount of foreigners - and can only employ foreigners who have skills that Indonesians currently don't have. So for example, there is a high demand for native English speaking teachers, expats who work in advertising and education, and oil and gas specialists. 
Most contracts for foreigners are between two and three years long, though some people are only granted a one year contract. It very much depends on the work that they are in.

Getting a work permit for Indonesia

The first thing you need after arrival in Indonesia is to get a KITAS (residency permit) processed. For this you have to leave the country and then return. Most people go to Singapore for the weekend whilst this is being done. A KITAS is renewed annually. If you don't have a KITAS you cannot work in Indonesia.
Expats can get a KITAS through their spouse’s company. If you get a KITAS through your spouse’s company then you can only work for that specific company unless you are able to find your own sponsor. If you work for a different company without finding a new sponsor you could be penalised, lose your visa and be sent back to your home country. 
A KITAS costs 1,200 USD per person per annum and takes up to a month to process. You will also be issued with an identification card which you must keep on you at all times.
Below is an outline of the process of getting a work permit, but bear in mind that these requirements could change at a moment’s notice, so it is best to contact your Indonesian embassy before leaving for Indonesia to get the most up to date information. 
Expats will need to ensure that their passport is valid for at least six months longer than the length of the KITAS being applied for. For example, if applying for a 12 month KITAS your passport will need to be valid for 18 months after you apply. 
As mentioned above, expats will need to have found a company sponsor in Indonesia before leaving their home country. The company will then go through Indonesia’s Manpower Ministry to gain approval for hiring an expat. Once the company has approval they can apply for a work permit for you. The company will also have to pay the DPKK fee of 1,200 USD per year before your work permit can be approved. 
Expats usually need to provide the following documents:
  • A photocopy of their passport with four blank pages available
  • Most recent education certificate (university graduate)
  • CV
  • A passport photo with a red background (various different sizes and quantities might need to be provided)
  • Proof of your sponsor in Indonesia

Things to consider about work permits in Indonesia

The company hiring you will need to prove your expertise to the Indonesian government and prove why they could not hire an Indonesian national to do the job. 
Expats can be deported for “abusing” their work permits. This usually means that the expat is working in a position different to what it says on their work permit. If your business card states a slightly different role to what is on your work permit, (e.g. Production Director instead of Managing Director) this is grounds for deportation. Expats should also ensure that their work address on their work permit is the same as the address on their business card. 
Expats should also consider that the work permit actually belongs to the company, not to the employee, so if they lose their job they no longer have a work permit for Indonesia. 

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Our Indonesia Expert

LottieNevin's picture
London, United Kingdom
Jakarta, Indonesia
I was born and raised in the UK by my Dutch mother and my English father. After leaving school I travelled extensively...

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