After almost being denied entry into Timor-Leste and then having to apply for a new passport at the Australian embassy in Dili, I was really not in the mood for any further admin. But unfortunately Indonesia’s ‘visa on arrival’ is only available to those who fly in. My plan was to cross the land border into West Timor, so a ridiculous application process began.
Just wanted to document this for anyone on the same journey, as it’s a little difficult finding information and the staff at the Indonesian embassy are not always the most helpful.
Please note that you will need to allow three working days for your visa to be processed and the visa is for 30 days only. Rumours of a 60 day visa were floating around while I was there, but a lady at the embassy told me it’s only for people who have visited the country more than four times.
What you’ll need for your Indonesia visa
There are six items that you’ll need for your application:
- A passport photo with a red background. Yes. It has to be red. You can get these done at the Fuji Photo place in Timor Plaza, which will cost you $3. They will also print/photocopy your supporting documents if you bring them on a USB flash drive. You can find the photo place on the top level near Angel Tattoo.
- A completed application form. You can pick one of these up at the Indonesian embassy, or, if your country has an embassy in Dili, they should be able to provide a form, too. More info on filling in your application form just a bit further down.
- A bank statement. This is just an account summary showing how much money you have. It doesn’t have to show any transactions. I blocked out the account number on mine, just in case.
- A photocopy of your passport. This can be done at the Fuji Photo place in Timor plaza.
- A letter of intent. This is almost as bad as needing to have a photo with a red background. I’ll include more details about crafting your letter below.
- Fifty American dollars. Yep, these don’t come cheap.
Filling in your application form
The application form is fairly standard, but there are two fields where you may need to gather more information.
- The first is your intended address in Indonesia. Just put the address of the first hotel or hostel you’ll be staying in. If you’re going from Dili to Kupang, Lavalon Hostel in Kupang is a good option.
- The second is your ‘sponsor’. This can be someone who works at the hostel you’ll be staying at. To be honest, I don’t think they really don’t check up on that one. I just put the name ‘Ketut’ and the address of a hostel in Lombok.
Writing your letter of intent for an Indonesia visa
I’m not sure if there’s a right or wrong way to do this, but I will tell you how I formatted mine since I ended up getting my visa approved. This is by no means an ‘official’ guide, but if you follow this general structure you should be fine:
To whom it may concern,
This letter is to support my application for a tourist visa in Indonesia.
[Write two or three sentences about why you want to visit Indonesia and mention that you’ve heard it’s very beautiful.]
[If you’re learning to speak Bahasa Indonesia, include this in a sentence or two.]
[Provide a vague itinerary that is possible to complete within 30 days, which is the length of the visa. If you have no flight out of Indonesia, I recommend stating that you intend to enter Malaysia by the land border on Kalimantan (Borneo). I wasn’t asked for proof that I was leaving the country, but I thought crossing to Malaysia by land would cover it if I was questioned.]
Thank you very much for considering my visa application. I look forward to visiting Indonesia.
Making an appointment to submit your visa application
On the day before you intend to submit your application, visit the Indonesian embassy (open from 9am to 12pm and then 2pm to 4pm). There is a table to the left, which is not inside the official counter windows. The person sitting at it will add your name to a list, hand you a piece of cardboard with a number on it and ask you to return the next day at 9am.
The address of the Indonesian embassy is:
Komplek Pertamina Pantai Kelapa Correios
Rua Gov. Maria de Serpa Rosa
It’s also marked on the Dili map that most hotels and hostels distribute for free.
Submitting your Indonesia visa application
I was told to show up at 9am, but I arrived at around 8:30 and they were already open. A lady sitting at the table from the day before stapled my papers together, stamped them in a lot of places, and handed me yet another number (this time on a plastic card) and asked me to sit down and wait.
At 9am I was called to a counter and simply paid my $50 and received a receipt. It was a Wednesday morning and they said I could pick up my visa on Friday at 2pm. Don’t forget to bring your receipt when it’s time to pick up your visa.