Applying for a visa can be an intimidating task, and researching how to get one can be tedious. There are many guides and blog post on how to get a Social Visa for Bali, and this guide will walk you through my experience in how I was able to get one.
If you plan on staying in Bali, Indonesia for more than 60 days then a social visa may work for you and is easier to get then you might think.
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So what is a Social Visa Anyway?
In a nutshell, a social visa is intended for travelers who intend to visit Indonesia for: Lecture, short Internship program, Short Courses, Arts, Meetings, Volunteer Program, Sport Activities, visiting family and other related Social activities.
In my particular case, I did not have any relatives or friends in Indonesia. I was just a regular traveller whom I guess technically fell into the Social Activities category.
Important things to keep in mind when getting a Social-Cultural Visa
- You need to apply for a Social-Cultural Visa before entering the country. You must apply for one in your home country or another country outside of Indonesia that has an Indonesian Embassy.
- Popular options for getting a Social-Cultural Visa outside of Indonesia are Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. (In my case I chose Singapore)
- This type of visa is a single entry visa, meaning you will not be able to leave the country and come back into the country on the same visa. Once you leave the country your Social-Cultural Visa will expire.
- Does not permit you to gain employment or conduct any business activity, this includes volunteer work.
- The Social-Cultural Visa initially gives you 60 days visit, with 4 additional allowable extensions at 30 days per extension. This grants you 6 months maximum stay if you extend all 4 times
- After your first 60 days are up, you must file for your extensions every 30 days.
- Filing the extensions can take up to 14 days to get back so plan accordingly (This means the Indonesian Embassy will have your Passport)
- These following countries cannot be issued a Social-Cultural Visa: Afghanistan / Guinea / Israel / North Korea / Cameroon / Liberia / Niger / Nigeria / Pakistan / Somalia.
Places to Stay in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur
A duplex penthouse hostel located on the 37th Floor with a access to an infinity pool on the rooftop and common social areas. In Kuala Lumpur.
In an area popular for backpackers. Close to hip stores, restaurants, and sightseeing within a close walking proximity.
Located in Kuala Lumpur’s popular nightlife district Bukit Bintang. A premier hostel for budget travellers and close to lots of attractions.
Why should you consider getting a social visa for Bali?
For most travelers entering Bali, you will be able to stay in the country for 30 days upon arrival. This is usually referred to as a 30FREE VOA or 30 days Free Visa on Arrival. If you want to stay 30-60 days in the country then you should NOT take the 30day Free Visa on Arrival option.
If you do want to stay in the country for up to 60 days and are arriving at Denpasar International Airport in Bali, then you can pay approximately $35 USD to extend your visa for an additional 30 days. This allows you to stay for 60 days in total. In order to do this, after your plane arrives and you exit the plane, look for the Visa On Arrival Kiosk before you go through Customs. It’s a large red sign before you go through customs in the Arrival Hall. Also to note, extending your 30 days on Arrival Visa for an additional 30 days can only be done at the airport Visa On Arrival Kiosk.
Also, note that the day you arrive in Bali counts as a day used on your visa so plan accordingly.
Once you go through customs you will NOT be able to extend the visa for the additional 30 days. So it is important to extend your visa at the Visa On Arrival Kiosk in the airport if you plan to stay longer than 30 days up to 60days.
If you plan to stay longer than 60 days up to 6 months without having to leave the country and re-enter every 30 days, then continue reading to learn how I got my Social-Cultural Visa.
Requirements for Getting a Social Visa
Before applying for a Social Visa, you must obtain a sponsor letter from an Indonesian citizen. This letter basically states that an Indonesian citizen is vouching for you and responsible for your well being.
The second step is to fill out a Social-Cultural Visa Form B-211 and usually can be obtained from the Indonesian Embassy website of your country. However, this form can be very hard to locate and download based on my personal experience. Here is the one I found on the Indonesian Embassy for the United States.
So how do I get a Sponsor Letter?
Option A: If you have any friends in Indonesia you can ask them if they are willing to write you a sponsor letter.
If you are not using an agency then the sponsor must be present at Immigration office each time you extend the visa after the initial 30 days.
Also to note that your sponsor must have a KITA register in the area you are staying. So if you are staying in Bali, then your sponsors ID Card (KITAS) must show they live in Bali.
Option B: You can purchase one from a business that specializes in obtaining Visas. I happen to use this company called Visa4Bali for approximately $20 USD. (I am not affiliated with this company)
There are certainly other reputable companies, I just happen to use this one based on my online research.
The good thing about using an agency is that a representative meets you at the Immigration office each time you have to renew, provided you are paying them for their service.
After obtaining your sponsor letter, whats next?
So after you have obtained your sponsor letter it’s time to download, fill out and send in your Social-Cultural Visa Form B-211 to either the country you are from or a country outside of Indonesia with an Indonesian Embassy.
The steps involved for doing it yourself:
- Downloading Social-Cultural Visa Form B-211 (This is from US Embassy)
- Bring your Social-Cultural Visa Form B-211 and all other supporting documents to the Indonesian Embassy in your country or any country outside of Indonesia that has an Indonesian Embassy. (For prerequisites please see next section.)
- Allow time for your Social-Cultural Visa to be approved (So if you are planning to get your Social Visa in a different country than the one you are from plan accordingly as this process can take up to a 3-5 business day)
- Once your visa is approved, go to the Indonesian Embassy where you applied for the visa to pick it up.
The prerequisites for the B 211 Social / Cultural Visa
- Passport valid for at least six months at the date of entry
- A copy of the main page of the passport
- A copy of the page with the entry stamp in the country where you apply for a Visa
- A completed visa form B-211
- Copy of ticket to Indonesia (Some consulates may even ask for a return ticket out of Indonesia after 2 months – the initial duration of the Visa)
- 2 passport photos 3x4cm.
- They may require a bank statement showing you will have enough money to stay for 6 months in Indonesia (In my case they did not ask for this)
Additional documents you will need
- Sponsor Letter
- Photocopy of Sponsors Indonesian ID
If all of this sounds daunting consider hiring a visa agent. I decided to hire Visa4Bali and I am glad I did.
My particular situation and how I ended up getting my Social-Cultural Visa
My particular reason for going to Bali? Well, I sold my house in the United States and just about everything I owned and wanted to travel to Southeast Asia for the next 10 months. I have always been intrigued by Bali and it’s picturesque scenery and culture. But I wanted to stay in Bali for more than 60 days, so I did hours of research and was still a little confused on how to exactly go about it.
My first thought was to buy the sponsor letter online, download the Social-Cultural Visa Form B-211, fill it out and proceed to my local Indonesian Embassy with all supporting required documents.
But after carefully contemplating, it didn’t make that much sense to go that particular route. If I were to choose to get my Social-Cultural Visa Form B-211 in my particular country (United States). That would essentially involve me either driving or flying to Washington, DC from North Carolina, applying at the Indonesian Embassy, booking a hotel and staying for 3-5 days waiting on my visa to be approved. For budget reasons, this did not make a lot of sense.
Instead, I opted to buy my sponsor letter online from Visa4Bali (I am not affiliated) fly to Singapore and get my visa from the Indonesian Embassy there with the help of a visa agent. I decided to use Visa4Bali as my Visa Agent because the service they offered actually saved me money and time because they have a special relationship with the Indonesian Embassy and can expedite the process that standard travelers just aren’t able to. I choose the 1-day service which ended up being around $130 USD, however, I actually flew in on a National Singapore Holiday so all government buildings where closed. So I wasn’t actually able to get my Visa completed within 24 hours. In my case, it didn’t matter because I had planned to stay in Singapore for 3 days anyway.
The process was super easy, I met the business agent at his office before 10 am with the sponsor letter, and all the other required documents, filled out a short form and gave him my passport and paid him. Then I came back after 4 pm and got my passport with all required visa stamps and that was it. So much easier than having to stress out about waiting in line at the Indonesian Embassy and having to stay in Singapore for 3-5 business days to then return to the Embassy to pick up the Visa.
Once in Bali I also extended my visa for an additional 30 days to stay in Bali for 3 months total. I again used Visa4Bali to handle filing my extension. With the service I got from them they actually sent a courier to my villa to pick up the passport, I then had to go to the Indonesian Embassy in Denpasar to have my photos and fingerprints taken for my extension. The last step was waiting for my passport with the appropriate visa stamps in them to be delivered by courier. This whole process takes around 10-15 days, so make sure you plan accordingly before your initial visa expires. The extension cost approximately $60 USD.