Travelers planning a trip to Bali are being cautioned against falling victim to visa scams, particularly when obtaining their travel documents online.
For those choosing to secure their visa upon arrival at the airport, it is essential to remember three crucial requirements: a valid passport with a minimum of six months remaining before expiration from the date of entry, proof of a return ticket from Indonesia, and the capacity to pay the visa fee.
Australian tourists have two options for obtaining a visa: a Visa on Arrival (VOA) at Bali Airport or an electronic Visa on Arrival (e-VOA) available online even before touching down in Indonesia. The e-VOA permits a 30-day stay, extendable for another 30 days, and costs approximately $50 (IDR 500,000).
Reports have emerged of Australians being defrauded when attempting to obtain e-VOAs through unofficial websites. These websites charge hefty agency fees for assisting with the visa application, a service that tourists can easily accomplish themselves via the official website.
In some instances, tourists are issued overpriced visas, while in others, the visas are invalid or nonexistent.
The official visa portal, managed by the Directorate General of Immigration Ministry of Law and Human Rights, acknowledges these scams. The portal states, “There are numerous websites which claim to assist users in receiving Indonesian Visitor Visa in return for a service charge. These websites are not endorsed by or associated with the Indonesian government. Therefore, we cannot be held responsible for any misuse of information or failure of service on their side.”
Despite ongoing awareness, the issue persists. A local English news source, The Bali Sun, recently reiterated that there is only one authorized website for e-VOA applications, after months of complaints.
Smartraveller, a government travel advisory service, offers guidance on the matter: “You can apply for an e-Visa on Arrival (e-VOA) no later than 48 hours prior to travelling to Indonesia. Check the e-VOA requirements from Indonesian Immigration before applying. You can still apply for a regular Visa on Arrival (VOA) at certain international airports, seaports, and land crossings, including Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, Makassar, Lombok, Batam, Medan, Manado, Tanjung Pinang, and Yogyakarta, if you do not apply for an e-VOA at least 48 hours in advance of your travel to Indonesia.”
Both e-VOAs and VOAs are priced at IDR 500,000 (approximately $50), with the e-VOA incurring a minor online processing fee.
In an effort to bolster the economy, Indonesia is set to introduce a “Golden Visa” this year. This new visa category targets foreigners seeking to reside and invest in Bali, offering extended stays of five to ten years. Minister for Tourism and Creative Economies, Sandiaga Uno, expressed the desire to attract foreign tourists with an appealing opportunity to invest and extend their stay in Indonesia.