Tourist Visa Improvements

Feb 2nd, 2010, in Travel, by

VisaAt long last Indonesia improves its often criticised visa on arrival system.

At long last (and almost three years after VP Jusuf Kalla first announced it), it seems that Indonesia’s Immigration Department has listened to the complaints of international tourists regarding the visa on arrival scheme.

Many complaints centred on its short duration (maximum 30 days) – which made travel to more remote parts of the archipelago virtually impossible. Some tourists also suggested very long queues at airports to buy them was not exactly the most positive or welcoming first impression of Indonesia, particularly after a long flight.

Indonesian Airport Immigration Queue
Typically Long Queues At An Indonesian Airport’s Immigration Counter

Improvement #1: Visas On Arrival Up To 60 Days

As reported in The Jakarta Post, starting 26 January 2010 tourists can now have their $US25 30-day tourist visas extended by another 30 days.

However, the details are not yet forthcoming from the Department of Immigration about where/how this could be done, nor how much it would cost. It suggests tourists – like their expat brethren – may need to use an immigration agent/fixer/broker to make it happen in a reasonable period of time.

$10 Visa on Arrival
Vale or Good Riddance?
The $10 7-day visa on arrival

It was also announced that the $US10 7-day visa would no longer be offered.

Improvement #2: Save Time, Buy Your Visa On The Plane

The same newspaper has also reported that Indonesia’s national airline Garuda Indonesia also recently introduced a new visa service at Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan. It allows visitors to avoid long queues at the airport’s visa counters and buy their visas on arrival before they arrive, i.e. before they board the plane.

Narita Visa Queue
The much shorter Visa On Arrival queue at Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan

It is not known whether this service will also be rolled out to airports in the 63 other countries eligible for VOAs, or to other airlines flying to Indonesia.

Jero Wacik
Indonesia’s Tourism Minister Jero Wacik,
happier before he visited Ngurah Rai Airport, Bali

However, as Tourism Minister Mr Jero Wacik recently discovered on an impromptu visit to the international terminal at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport, it would probably be a good idea.

What I wonder is:

  1. Do these changes make you more likely, just as likely or less likely to visit Indonesia compared to the old system? Why?
  2. What would you prefer – shorter queues at Indonesia’s airports or free visas? And do you think either of these will happy any day soon?

UPDATE: July 2011

Garuda Immigration on Board

Garuda is now advertising its expedited immigration procedures – called “Immigration on Board” – here. You could call it instead “visa before arrival”, as that is a better description of what happens: tourists pay for their visa on arrival before they board the flight, then get the visa placed in their passport on the plane. They can then bypass the visa on arrival queue and head straight to the long immigration queue.

34 Comments on “Tourist Visa Improvements”

  1. Chris says:

    I stumbled on a list of exactly which Garuda Indonesia flights have immigration on board and a detailed explanation about exactly how it works:

    As a continously service improvement quality for its customer and also to support the tourism improvement between China and Indonesia – especially Shanghai and Jakarta, Garuda Indonesia will introduce “Immigration on Board” on the Shanghai – Jakarta service as of 4 May 2013.

    Previously, “the Immigration on Board” service has already been introduced in six other services, among others : Tokyo (Narita) – Jakarta, Seoul – Jakarta, Sydney – Jakarta, Tokyo (Narita) – Denpasar, Osaka – Denpasar and Sydney – Denpasar.

    “Immigration on Board” is an immigration document handling service that provides “Visa On Arrival” to passengers on board a Garuda Indonesia flight with the assistance from immigration officers designated on the Garuda flight to Jakarta. Garuda Indonesia provides the service in collaboration with the Directorate General of Immigration of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia.

    To obtain the Immigration on Board service, passengers from Shanghai must first purchase a visa on arrival voucher at Garuda Indonesia check-in counters at Pudong International Airport, Shanghai. During the flight, two immigration officers will conduct passport checks and issue visa on arrival. Passengers who have been given the entry visa will also receive a special card that must be returned to the ground immigration officers upon arrival (at Soekarno-Hatta) before leaving the airport. The immigration on board service gives passengers the freedom to bypass queues at the immigration counters and have a more pleasant travel experience in Indonesia.


  2. guillaneuf pascal says:

    We arrive in Jakarta at 15:15 (Qatar Airways) to take a flight to Surabaya at 18:30 (Sriwijaya) in three hours is it possible to check the visa recovered luggage and change terminals?
    Thank you in advance

  3. Chris says:

    Yes, it is. Our guide to transiting and changing terminals in Jakarta recommends a minimum of 3 hours between flights.

  4. Chris says:

    This is a not-so-welcome change to Indonesian visa regulations:

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