Wonderful Indonesia without a Visa

The government of Indonesia has extended a visa-free facility to 169 countries and territories.

Aside from the beautiful and exciting destinations, nothing lifts the mood of an avid traveller better than a free visa. After all, a visa-free facility eliminates one more barrier standing between a traveller and his destination. Indonesia, the largest archipelago in the world known for its pristine beaches, lush tropical forests and diverse culture, has recently extended its visa-free facility to no fewer than 169 countries and territories.

The policy to grant visa-free facility to a much larger number of countries and territories was made as part of the government's efforts to boost the country's economy through tourism. The government has announced its aims to reach 20 million visitors by 2019. Presidential decree no. 21 of 2016, which was signed by President Joko Widodo on March 2 this year, details the policy's terms and conditions and encloses the list of countries.

Visitors from enlisted 169 countries and territories, which include the United States and Australia, are required to have their passports with minimum validity of six months and a return ticket upon entry. Meanwhile, nationals of Afghanistan, Cameroon, Guinea, Israel, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan and Somalia, still need a visa approval from the Immigration Office in Indonesia prior to their travel. The visa·.free facility, which is granted for the purpose of leisure or tourism, family, social,.art and cultural, governmental, educational, business meetings and transit visits, is valid for up to 30 days. It is non-extendable and non-convertible.

Entry and Departure Point

There are designated points of entry and departure as well. But visitors need not worry, as, according to the Indonesian Directorate General of Immigration, there are up to 124 immigration checkpoints composing of 29 airports (including Soekarno-Hatta, Tangerang, 30 kilometers from Jakarta; Halim Perdanakusuma, Jakarta; I Gusti Ngurah Rai, Bali; .Juanda, Surabaya; Hang Nadim, Batam; and Kuala Namu and Polonia, Medan among others), 88 harbors and 7 land borders. Visitors may enter and depart through all of the listed checkpoints. The full list, along with the list of countries, is available on the Directorate General of Immigration's website.

Indonesia has come a long way in granting free visa for short visits. The government had previously granted visa-free status to neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as territories and countries, such as Hong Kong, Chile, Morocco, Peru and Ecuador, through presidential decree no. 69 of 2015. Later la'st year, it amended the policy with presidential decree no. 104 of 2015, which added 75 other countries eligible for the visa-free facility.

(Published at International New York Times on 23rd May 2016)