Living in Bali: 2019 Guide to Moving to Bali as an Expat

If the question ‘how to move to Bali’ has ever crossed your mind, you have come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, you will get an overview of the fundamental things you need to know about how to become a Bali expat, including: What type of visa to choose When you need a […]

Moving to Bali

If the question ‘how to move to Bali’ has ever crossed your mind, you have come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, you will get an overview of the fundamental things you need to know about how to become a Bali expat, including:

  • What type of visa to choose
  • When you need a work permit in Bali
  • How to buy property, open a bank account, and get a driver’s license in Bali
  • How to start a business in Bali

For any specific questions about living or doing business in Bali, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected] for a personal consultation.

Table of contents

    Which visa to choose when moving to Bali?

    The first thing to do when considering moving to Bali is to find out what type of visa you need. This depends on your plans in Bali.

    Keep in mind that the Indonesian visa policy is often changing. Therefore, it is essential to be up to date with the latest visa requirements to ensure the legality of your stay in Indonesia.

    #1 Short-stay Bali visa

    For shorter visits to travel in Bali, there are two options of short-stay visas in Bali available:

    • Free short-term visa (valid for 30 days, non-extendable)
    • Visa on Arrival (valid for 30 days, extendable for 30 days)

    Tourist visas are issued upon your arrival in Bali. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to work in Indonesia nor receive any income from Indonesia while holding a tourist visa.

    One of the most common reasons why foreigners get into immigration troubles in Bali is working or freelancing in Bali on a tourist visa.

    #2 Business visa in Bali

    For people preparing to start a business in Bali or attending seminars and conferences, there are two types of business visas available.

    Single-Entry Visit Visa (i.e., Social or Social Budaya Visa)

    The length of a visit with a single entry visit visa is 60 days, and you can extend it four times, 30 days per extension. Hence, the maximum stay is roughly half a year. It is a single-entry visa; therefore if the visa holder leaves the country, the visa is automatically canceled.

    Multiple-Entry Visit Visa

    Multiple-entry business visa is suitable for people who need to make several visits to Indonesia. It is valid for one year, and the maximum stay per visit is 60 days. Hence, after every 60 days, you must leave Indonesia.

    Business visas are not work permits, thus working or earning any revenue in Indonesia is not allowed. Both visas require sponsorship from an Indonesian company or an individual. Emerhub can provide sponsorship and assist you.

    Read more and apply for business visa sponsorship from Emerhub.

    #3 Limited stay permit KITAS

    If you are planning to live in Bali for a longer term, you’re going to need a limited stay permit called KITAS. There are different types of KITAS available, and you can choose the most suitable one depending on your plans in Bali.

    Working in Bali as a foreigner

    If you want to work in Bali, you must first obtain a working KITAS. The main prerequisite for getting a working KITAS is to have a sponsoring entity in Indonesia, either a:

    Note that if an Indonesian limited liability company wants to sponsor KITAS to foreigners, they must fulfill specific capital requirements.

    The minimum validity of a KITAS is six months, a maximum of 12 months. There are no limitations to the number of  KITAS a limited liability company can sponsor.

    If you are a shareholder of a foreign-owned company and fulfill the criteria, you can apply for an investor KITAS. The requirements for shareholding are different, depending on whether you are just a shareholder or also a director or commissioner in the company.

    The main benefit of an investor KITAS is that an investor KITAS can be granted for two years and you are not required to pay the Ministry of Manpower the government a fee of USD 1,200,  which is mandatory for working KITAS.

    For more information on the process of getting a working KITAS, read our guide to limited stay permit KITAS in Indonesia

    Spouse-sponsored KITAS

    Being married to an Indonesian allows you to apply for a spouse-sponsored temporary stay permit (KITAS).

    However, marrying an Indonesian grants you a temporary stay permit which allows living but not working in Indonesia. If you wish to work in Bali, the company you are working for must sponsor the KITAS for you.

    After two years of marriage, you can apply for a permanent stay permit (KITAP). A KITAP allows working in Indonesia as an independent advisor or a consultant but not for any specific company.

    Retiring in Bali

    Retirement visa in Indonesia is available for anyone from the age of 55. It is initially valid for one year, but it can be extended annually to a total of 5 years. After this, you can apply for a permanent stay permit KITAP.

    Keep in mind that you cannot work in Bali with a retirement visa and it is possible to hold only one permit at a time – either a retirement visa or a work and stay visa.

    General requirements for a retirement visa:

    • Minimum age 55 years
    • Copy of your passport that will be valid for at least 18 months
    • Health insurance
    • Lease agreement valid for one year and the documents related to the leased property
    • Having an Indonesian maid

    Want to live in Bali, but don’t have a company, job, or an Indonesian spouse? See how to get a KITAS in Bali via the employer of record service.

    Starting a company in Bali

    The good vibes of Bali do not make it only a dream destination for Eat, Pray, Love holidays but it is also an island with countless business opportunities and millions of consumers.

    Many expats start doing business in Bali after moving to the island. For example, set up a lifestyle business in Bali.

    Two most common legal entity types in Bali are a 100% Indonesian-owned limited liability company (PT) and a partially or wholly foreign-owned company (PT PMA).

    Foreign-owned company (PT PMA)

    Locally owned company (PT)

    Minimum investment

    Investment plan of IDR 10 billion

    (~USD 710,000)

    Same as paid up capital

    Paid up capital

    IDR 2.5 billion

    (~USD 175,000)

    IDR 51 million

    (~USD 3,600)

    if only local employees

    Allowed foreign ownership

    Up to 100%, depending on the business classification

    No foreign ownership allowed


    Investment reporting to BKPM, and more compliance requirements

    Fewer compliance requirements

    Issuing KITAS

    Can hire foreigners

    Paid up capital IDR 1 billion (~USD 70,000) per foreigner

    Combining several business activities under one company

    Many limitations, depending on business classification

    No limitations

    Setting up a PT PMA in Bali

    In Indonesia, companies that have even 1% of foreign shareholders are already considered foreign companies. The maximum allowed foreign ownership depends on the business classification of the company.

    For example:

    Business classification

    Maximum allowed foreign ownership

    Real estate


    Trading (import, export)


    Hospitality (3+ star hotels)


    Hospitality (non-star to 3-star hotels)


    (an Indonesian shareholder must hold the remaining 33%)



    Limitation on the maximum foreign ownership means that for company registration, foreigners must have a local partner. If you do not have such local partner, Emerhub can assist you with this.

    In addition to general licenses, operating a specific business may also demand several additional permits. For example, a restaurant needs permission to sell alcohol, and a hotel requires a tourism license, etc.

    The shelf companies that many business consultants provide in Bali do not often have these specific licenses and thus are not sufficient for operating the planned business. However, if you are considering this option, see how to buy a shelf company in Indonesia safely.

    The minimum paid up capital requirement is Rp. 2.5 billion (~USD 175,000) and with the new One Single Submission (OSS) system, the incorporation process in Bali takes around three to four months.

    Learn more about the process and requirements in our guide to setting up a foreign company in Indonesia.

    Setting up an Indonesian PT company

    Local companies can only have 100% of Indonesian ownership. If a foreigner holds even 1% shares, the company is a foreign-owned company.

    You can start an Indonesian PT company with as little capital as 51 million IDR (~USD 3,600). However, if you plan on hiring foreign employees, it should have a minimum of 1 billion IDR (~USD 70,000) capital per foreigner.

    Nominee company in Bali – the safe way

    Limitations on foreign ownership and smaller capital requirement compared to a PT PMA are the reasons why many foreigners in Bali make the mistake of setting up a local company using an unreliable nominee, often without any written agreements.

    It usually happens when the foreign national trusts a local individual to act in good faith and hold shares on behalf of them. When money gets involved, we strongly advise to stay rational and go for safer options.

    If you are going to use a local company that you want to have full control over then you can set up a nominee company in Bali with Emerhub. This way you will have full control of the company through a set of legal agreements.

    Recruiting skilled workforce and obtaining licenses can also be complicated in Indonesia. Emerhub can handle the legal framework and help you find qualified employees.

    Read more on how to set up a business in Bali.

    Living in Bali

    Renting and buying property

    To rent property in Bali, the foreigner must have a KITAS. Typical lease periods vary from 1 to 3 years. Leasehold agreements can be contracted for up to 25 years, frequently with an opportunity to extend.

    Since only the citizens of Indonesia can hold land ownership (Hak Milik), many foreign investors use a local individual nominee to buy real estate in Bali.

    However, using an individual nominee is risky because it does not guarantee protection for the investment and there have been numerous incidents where foreigners have gotten scammed because they have bought property in Bali using an unreliable nominee.

    A safe way to buy property in Bali is by setting up a 100% foreign-owned PT PMA. This way, you can acquire Hak Guna Bangunan, the Right to Build, and Hak Pakai, the Right to Use.

    Opening a bank account

    While by law, you are not required to have a KITAS to open a bank account in Bali, many Indonesian banks tend to be reluctant to open bank accounts for foreigners who don’t have a residence permit in Indonesia.

    However, some banks do make exceptions if you are referred by one of their official partners such as Emerhub.

    If you wish to open a local bank account without having a KITAS, Emerhub can help you. Contact us at [email protected] or see the process of how to open a bank account in Bali here.

    Getting a driver’s license in Bali

    If you want to drive around on a scooter in Bali, know that having a local driver’s license is mandatory. However, one of the main prerequisites of obtaining a driver’s license in Indonesia is having a valid international driver’s license.

    Getting health insurance for living in Bali

    It is needless to say that having health insurance while staying in a foreign country is a must. Make sure you also have health insurance while residing in Bali.

    Having health insurance is one of the requirements for applying for a KITAS as well as it can protect you against having to cover unexpected and costly medical expenses from your pocket.

    Emerhub can assist you in obtaining a driver’s license in Bali as well as help you get better deals from insurance providers.

    Further reading: relocating to Bali with family.

    Ready to move to Bali?

    Bali is a paradise island, and it doesn’t just offer plenty of options for a nice lifestyle, but you can also see it as a business opportunity with millions of potential consumers.

    However, when moving to Bali make sure you take time to prepare yourself to avoid some of the common pitfalls.

    Emerhub’s Bali office is here for you to help you get started – on every step of your journey. Contact our consultants using the form below and let’s discuss how we can support you and your business in Bali.

    Let's grow your business in Bali

    Emerhub has years of experience with relocation in Bali.

    Get in touch with Emerhub by filling in the form below and our consultants will reach out to you within a few working hours.

    Optional. Leave blank if you prefer to communicate via email.
    relocation in Bali

    Professional and easy to work with

    The team at Emerhub was extremely professional in helping us setting up our business in Bali, from incorporation to visas and now trademark registration. The experience of working together was easy and clear. We would happily recommend Emerhub to others looking for market entry support.”

    Aaron Turner
    Co-founder, Solace Float

    Like a well-connected close friend or a trustworthy work colleague

    After many weeks researching and contacting a dozen different agents, we finally shortlisted EMERHUB to help us obtain our first retirement KITAS visa.

    One of the primary reasons we decided to use EMERHUB as our agent was because of the prompt and clear online communications with their Bali branch manager, Triin Tigane.

    There were many other agents – with much lower fees – we had communicated with before our decision to use EMERHUB.

    While doing our due diligence, we were not looking for the lowest fee … we were looking for a single person (or corporate team) we could easily communicate with on a one-on-one basis like a well-connected close friend or a trustworthy work colleague.

    Andrew and Florence
    Retirees in Bali, Canada

    Extremely patient

    The staff at Emerhub was extremely patient in answering my questions over an extended research period. Once the right structure for our PMA was clarified the actual creation of the entity was quite quick and easy.

    Gove DePuy
    Managing Director,

    Search Emerhub blog