Australians require visa for Indonesia after all

Despite an announcement last year that Australians travelling to Indonesia would no longer need a visa, it seems Indonesia has backflipped on its decision. Australians will still be required to obtain a visa-on-arrival after all. It was originally thought that Australians would be exempt from the requirement from January this year, but the commencement date was continually pushed back before the plan was dropped altogether. Although Indonesia did recently announce that citizens of an additional thirty countries would no longer require a tourist visa, Australia has been excluded from this list.

Currently Australians need to get a visa-on-arrival. The process is fairly simple, however the visa costs USD$35 and the queues for visa-processing at Indonesia’s airports can be very long. These two issues are inconveniences that act as a deterrent for some people wishing to visit the country.

That visa queue was horrendous.

Citizens of most Asian countries, as well as a host of others including the United States, New Zealand and the UK can now visit visa-free. The removal of the tourist visa requirement is designed to boost the number of tourists visiting Indonesia and the government believes the increase in tourism will inject $1 billion into Indonesia’s economy each year. So it is curious that Australians still require a visa, especially as Australians make up the third-highest number of visitors to Indonesia.

Bali is so reliant on tourism they would want to make it as easy as possible for tourists to come in to the country and return in the future. We stayed at the L Hotel in Seminyak who told us that 90% of their business comes from Australians.

It is however noted that Australia does require Indonesian (and other) citizens wanting to visit Australia to pay for a visa, and the lack of reciprocity is noted as a reason for the decision. Should the Australian government change their own policy in the future, Indonesia may reciprocate. But this is not likely to happen in the near future.

The Australian government charges pretty much everyone exorbitant amounts to come to Australia. I’m currently helping out my (Chinese) girlfriend get a bog standard, single entry 3 month tourist visa so she can come with me on a trip to Melbourne for two weeks in July/August. After filling in the THIRTEEN page application form in English (plus reading four pages of explanation), plus getting all sorts of documents (ID card, employment records, bank records, letter of invitation from my parents, et al, the Australian government charge a ¥740 application fee + ¥130 to pay for processing (done by outsourcing firm VFS) and ¥50 for courier fees if you don’t happen to live in Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou. No refunds if you don’t get a visa. At $1 = ¥5, a potential Chinese tourist is down around $185 (plus a shedload of time and effort chasing things down, and translations) before they even start buying plane tickets.

Really, it’s pretty hypocritical for the Australian government to complain about visa requirements of other countries when they throw this type of bureaucracy at much of the rest of the world.

In addition to the visa fee, anyone departing the country needs to pay a departure tax of around $22. This is now being included in the airline’s ticket price.

Does the visa-on-arrival requirement put you off visiting Indonesia? Leave a comment HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]