Getting a work permit in Indonesia to foreign workers

Hiring foreign employees in Indonesia through acquiring work and stay permits.

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To stay and work legally, a foreign national needs a work permit in Indonesia.

This article demonstrates how to apply for the work permit for both the foreign workers and foreign investors planning to live in Indonesia.

The information is based on the following work permit regulations: the Work Permit Regulation (No. 16/2015) and its October 2015 update (No. 35/2015), as well as the latest Presidential Regulation (No. 20/2018) for The Use of Foreign Worker.

Table of contents

    General Requirements for Work Permit in Indonesia

    First of all, let’s clarify some of the common terminology thrown around by the expatriate community in Indonesia:

    • KITAS – most foreign nationals in Indonesia refer to their stay permit as KITAS. This is a legacy term as foreigners no longer receive an actual card with their work permit.
    • Work Permit (IMTA) – until 2018, the company had to first apply for a work permit and then for the stay permit (VITAS or E-ITAS). This process is now combined.
    • Re-entry permit (MERP) – until 2018, you had to separately apply for a re-entry permit to be allowed to exit and re-enter the country. This is no longer required.

    To get a work permit, a foreign national first has to be employed by a company registered in Indonesia. However, not all companies are allowed to hire foreign workers.

    Requirements for the company to be able to give work permits to their foreign workers

    A company is eligible for hiring foreign employees in Indonesia as long as they meet the following criteria:

    Additionally, the company must make sure that they have submitted the Manpower Report (WLTK or Wajib Lapor Ketenagakerjaan/). This is required even if the company is not hiring foreign employees and you cannot apply for work permits if you haven’t submitted it.

    Minimum requirements for foreign nationals to be eligible for the work permit

    The general requirements for an employee to be hired in Indonesia are:

    • Bachelor degree or higher
    • If the position requires specialized education, a relevant degree (e.g. in education or engineering)
    • A recommendation letter from the previous employer, demonstrating at least five years of work experience
    • Proof of health/life insurance for your whole stay in Indonesia
    • Proof that the employee has health and life insurance

    Positions a Foreign National in Indonesia Can Hold

    Foreign nationals can hold a work permit carry any titles that are not restricted. A foreign national cannot hold positions related to human resources, legal and medical industries.

    The general requirements do not specify any age limitation.

    How Long is a Work Permit Valid for?

    The work permit is valid from 6 to 12 months, depending on the Job Position applied. A 12 months work permit is extendable.

    Local co-worker requirement

    Every foreign worker has to have at least one local co-worker that holds a title relevant to the foreigner’s position. The company does not have to appoint Indonesian coworkers for the following positions:

    • Director
    • Commissioner
    • Founder of a foundation (Anggota pembina yayasan)
    • Member of a management of a foundation (Anggota pengurus yayasan)
    • Supervisor of a foundation (Anggota pengawas yayasan)

    Even though those positions don’t require a local coworker relevant to the position, they do need to be guaranteed by an Indonesian citizen who is responsible for any misconduct caused by the foreigner.

    The Process of Getting a Work Permit in Indonesia

    Total time: 30 days.

    The process of getting a work permit in Indonesia generally takes one month.

    1. Foreign Manpower Placement Plan (RPTKA)

      An application stating the list of foreign workers and their positions you will be hiring.

    2. Payment of the Employee Development Fund (DPK-TPA)

      DPK-TPA is essentially a pre-paid tax to the government for hiring foreign employees. The fee is $100/month and needs to be paid upfront for the entire duration of the work permit (either $600 for six month work permit or $1200 for a one year work permit).

    3. Stay Permit Notification Approval / Telex

      The approval is sent to the Embassy of choice by the foreign worker, where she/he must exchange it to an actual stay visa at the Embassy prior to entering Indonesia.

    4. E-ITAS/ Limited Stay Permit

      Limited Stay Permit (often called by foreign nationals as KITAS) will be issued as soon as the foreign worker has arrived in Indonesia and has its biometric data recorded either at the border or at the local Immigration Office.

    5. Civil Registration

      Registering the domicile of the foreign worker to the local administrative office.

    Extending Work Permits

    The worker does not need to fly out of Indonesia during this process, however, it is highly advisable to start preparing for the extension process already three months before the expiration date of your work permit.

    Frequently asked questions about hiring foreign workers in Indonesia

    What is the foreigner-to-local hiring ratio?

    A company must hire at least one Indonesian for every foreign national. The co-worker’s position must be relevant to the foreigner’s title.

    Do non-resident commissioners and directors need a work permit?

    Yes. If they hold more than one billion Rupiah worth of shares, they should get an Investor Visa instead which is a much faster and cheaper process.

    The foreigner should not visit Indonesia before the work permit is issued?

    This is not correct. The foreign national can visit Indonesia with any valid visa as long as they don’t take up employment.

    Does the foreign worker need to take Indonesian language (bahasa Indonesia) courses?

    The new regulation states that the employer should enable language training to the employee but there is no enforcement or other types of formal control from the government.

    Can the foreign worker work for several companies in Indonesia?

    The work permit is tied to the specific company and position. If the worker wants to work for another company, they need to get an additional work permit from that company.

    If I am married to an Indonesian and have KITAS, can I work without a work permit?

    If your KITAS is sponsored by your spouse, you are dependent. To be allowed to work, you have to get a work permit.

    Can I import personal goods with my Stay Permit or KITAS?

    A surprisingly unknown fact is that you are allowed to import one container of personal goods to Indonesia with your KITAS. Note that the items are strictly for personal use and you are not allowed to sell them in Indonesia.

    Do I need a work permit for performing quality control or attending meetings?

    No, for those activities it’s better to get a business visa. A one-year multiple entry visa allows you to stay in the country for 60 days per visit.

    Fill in the form below to get your work permit process started. See also how to get a work permit in the Philippines.

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