Some social media posts have surfaced claiming that the Indonesian Government is currently in the process of reactivating the Visa On Arrival mechanism for arrivals in Bali Ngurah Rai’s Denpasar Airport (not to be confused with the Visa Waiver program) as early as next week.
A Balinese visa agency published the news on their Instagram page saying their contacts at Immigration relayed that the old Visa on Arrival is currently in the process of being re-activated and could be up and running by next week or the week after at a cost of US$25.
This is very good news as it could signal an end to the nonsense “special visa” situation that is currently choking off any serious prospect of tourism on the island.
All of this information comes from Bali Solve (Facebook & Instagram), a visa agency on the island:
Visa on Arrival was common for most travelers entering Indonesia until several years ago when Indonesia finally got a Visa Waiver Program on the way, entitling certain nationalities to forego a Visa/Visa on Arrival and just get stamped in.
Here is the information from their slides:
The visa on arrival will cost US$25 for a 30 day stay, extensions are possible with the local immigration office.
To make it clear, here are the differences:
- Visa – To be applied for through your local Embassy/Consulate and issued either with a physical visa label in the passport or an electronic eVisa.
- Visa on Arrival – Visa issued at the airport of your arrival country (here: Indonesia) which might require certain items to be presented at the respective counter, as a minimum MONEY!
- Visa Waiver – No physical visa required, present the passport at immigration and get stamped in
As mentioned, Indonesia had the VOA like forever and it was quite often a madhouse in Bali when several planes landed at the same time and massive lines formed in the terminal. First to buy the visa sticker and then to clear immigration.
For most travelers this ended in 2015:
There were always “handlers” who you could pay to “expedite” your process at both counters and who then took you through the diplomatic channel. The amount you paid for this varied between $20-$40 depending on the day. These funds – no doubt – would then be distributed through the chain of command of the customs officers at Ngurah Rai. There was also an official VIP service called the Bali Concierge which I have no doubt still exists and will make a comeback.
After that gravy train came to an end when the new terminal opened customs resorted to a new method of generating extra income, pulling people out for extensive and invasive bag/body searches. Such searches would take quite a lot of time and weren’t exactly a nice experience. It was suggested that I could shorten the procedure by paying some money – I always refused. It’s one thing to pay a handler to get you through the lines, another to directly bribe a customs official.
Last week the first Singapore Airlines flight landed on the island since beginning of the pandemic:
And here an article by John about the so-called “Warm Up Packages” Indonesia forces tourists to book:
The overpriced warm-up packages and the specially arranged visa through a local agency at the cost of several hundred dollars are the only way to enter the island directly as a tourist right now. This nonsense has to stop before any tourism activity will return. Just ask Thailand about their experience.
I’m VERY curious how this will turn out and we should learn more in the coming week.
According to information from Bali, the government is currently working on bringing back the Visa on Arrival at a cost of US$25 for a 30 day stay period. There is no word about the Visa Waiver Program. Since this isn’t official yet it also doesn’t say anything about any required documents or if it’ll be just like in the old days where it was basically just a pay-and-go operation, siphoning money off the visitors.
We will monitor this closely and see what Bali comes up with within the coming 1-2 weeks. I’m not quite convinced how this VOA is making entry into Indonesia more secure for the country. It could easily be done electronically. Also, if Bali issues a tourist VOA why can’t the Embassies/Consulates do the same? My best guess is that they want the cash in the local coffers and not send it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which would be the recipient for all visa fees taken abroad.