Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, currency, language, health, local time, business hours and holidays, acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, temporary entry of materials and personal belongings, etc.
The best time for an initial business trip is September through June, as school holidays and vacation time in the summer months can impact the availability of many business people. Visitors should check the local holiday schedule before traveling to Indonesia. Business appointments are often difficult to schedule during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and as well as during the two-week period after Ramadan when Indonesians typically travel to their home towns to celebrate Idul Fitri with their extended families. The most common business attire is batik shirt, with short-sleeve considered informal and long-sleeve considered to be formal. A business suit or dress (formal) or a white shirt/blouse and slacks/skirt (informal) are also common attire.
Indonesia is a very diverse country, with more than 300 different ethnic groups. While some Indonesians are traditional, others may be considerably “Westernized.” Still, many Indonesians do not conduct business transactions or make decisions in the same direct, legalistic fashion that many Americans do. U.S. businesspeople should be prepared to spend a good deal of time with clients to build mutual understanding and trust before getting down to the business transaction.
Traditional Javanese culture emphasizes harmony and the word “no” is rarely used. This can make it difficult for a Westerner to ascertain exactly how a business proposal is being received. Because Indonesians often prefer to do business with people who they know well and trust, developing rapport is crucial. While quality and price are important, they are often secondary to the personal interaction of the business partners.
During business meetings, sweet tea or coffee is almost always served and should be accepted. It should not be consumed until the host invites you to do so, which may not occur until the end of the meeting. Generally speaking, it is best to use the right hand in receiving or eating. Although hand shaking is a common practice, avoid hearty handshakes and other physical contact. Do not show the soles of your shoes when seated.
Business travelers to Indonesia seeking appointments with U.S. Embassy Jakarta officials should contact the U.S. Commercial Service in advance. The U.S. Commercial Service can be reached by telephone at (62-21) 5083-1000 or by e-mail: email@example.com.
Travelers visiting Indonesia may wish to review the State Department Country Specific Information for Indonesia at:
U.S. citizens traveling to Indonesia for business purposes are required to have a valid visa. All travelers to Indonesia must have a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of arrival in Indonesia, at least two blank visa pages, as well as an onward/return airline ticket. Indonesian authorities regularly deny entry to Americans who arrive with less than six months validity on their passports.
Visas can be obtained by applying at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington or at their Consulates in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago. U.S. citizens travelling for tourism may qualify for free, 30-day non-extendable Free Visit Entry Stamp. For tourists planning to stay longer than 30 days and up to 60 days, a Tourist Visa should be obtained in advance.
Some types of business visas must be obtained before arrival, including a Limited Stay Visa and a Business Visa. 30-day Visas on Arrival are available for most U.S. travelers upon arrival at the international airports in Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Denpasar and several other large cities for a fee of $35. Visas on Arriva can usually be extended by 30 days without leaving Indonesia. Visas on Arrival do not permit work or installation of equipment in Indonesia. U.S. citizens have been detained by immigration authorities for conducting business that is out of the scope of their visa type.
If you overstay your visa, you will be subject to a fine of 1 million Indonesian rupiah per day (about $70 USD at current exchange rates; fees may change at any time) and may be detained and deported. Arrival and departure dates are counted in the 30-day calculation. U.S. citizens have been jailed for visa overstays. Some prescription medications common in the U.S. are considered to be illegal narcotics in Indonesia. If you plan to bring sleeping pills or prescription medication for things like ADHD or pain, check with the Indonesian embassy before departure to make sure your medicines are not considered illegal in Indonesia.
Travelers are strongly encouraged to check with the Indonesian Embassy or the Directorate General of Immigration, as visa requirements can change on short notice:
U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s): State Department Visa Website
The local currency is the Rupiah (IDR). Credit cards are accepted nationwide and U.S. ATM networks are available in the major cities. Travelers checks accepted at major banks.
Many homes and offices in urban areas have landline telephone services installed. Public pay phones are no longer available. Landline telephone numbers have between five and eight digits. Seven-digit numbers are the most common, while newer numbers have eight digits. Smaller towns outside Jakarta use five- or six-digit numbers for local calls. International direct dial lines are served by two operators PT Indosat (001) and PT Telkom (007). To make an international direct call from landline numbers, dial operator’s prefix number either 001 or 008, follow by country code + area code + phone number.
With 320 million subscribers, Indonesians primarily use cell phones, commonly referred to as “hand phones.” If you have an unlocked smartphone, passport holders can purchase and register SIM cards at many stores and kiosks. There are many GSM and 4G LTE-based cell phone operators in Indonesia, including Telkomsel, XL Axiata, Indosat, Axis, Hutchison 3, and Smartfren.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service offers a low-cost option for international calls compared to placing calls from landline numbers. All of the operators offer pre-paid service options with voice and data packages. Wi-Fi access is widely available in airports, hotels, restaurants and cafes in the major metropolitan and tourist areas of Indonesia. Most urban areas are served by cable and optic fiber broadband internet connectivity.
Airlines that provide international flight service to Indonesia include Garuda, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Asiana, All Nippon Airways. Many of these airlines offer code share flights with U.S. airline carriers. There are currently no direct flights from the U.S. to Indonesia but connecting flights can be found in places including Singapore, Japan or Hong Kong. Connections to domestic flights to other cities in Indonesia are readily available. There is a low-cost rail network connecting major cities. Heavy traffic frequently causes significantly delays when travelling by car. Taxis are plentiful but it is advisable to use taxi services available at major hotels, such as Silver Bird and Blue Bird taxis. Grab and Gojek mobile applications can also be used to reserve taxis. Golden Bird cars and drivers can be hired by the day and cost around $120 - 140 per day.
The national language spoken throughout Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesia, although there are also many local languages. English is widely spoken and understood by most business people in major cities. Most hotels have English-speaking staff, as do the shopping centers that cater to expatriates and tourists. International telephone operators also speak English. The level of English can vary widely in all situations. Indonesian firms hoping to conduct business with foreigners generally try to employ some English speakers, but it is not expected within every company.
Short-term visitors to Indonesia are advised to be up to date on their Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhoid vaccinations, in addition to all routine childhood immunizations. The hepatitis vaccination series takes six months to complete. Those considering travel outside the major cities (Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, southern Bali, etc.) should consider anti-malaria medication, with the highest risk of East Nusa Tenggara, West Papua, and Papua Provinces. Rabies is common in some places outside of Java. Physicians in the United States should be able to answer questions pertaining to immunizations and other health concerns.
Air pollution in the larger cities can be an issue for both short-term visitors and long-term residents. Air quality in Jakarta is reported by two monitors maintained by the U.S. Embassy, and measurements can be consulted at:
Dehydration as a result of intestinal illnesses can be a serious, even life-threatening, condition if not treated. Persons suffering from severe diarrhea may obtain an oral re-hydration solution from a local pharmacy. If vomiting makes it impossible to adequately re-hydrate, visit a clinic immediately.
Dengue Fever – According to Indonesia’s Ministry of Health, 137,761 people were diagnosed with dengue fever in 2019, double the number reported in 2018. Dengue fever is a mosquito borne disease prominent in much of the tropical world. The mosquito bites during the daytime thus risks can be rediced by wearing long-sleeves and long pants, and using repellent.
Avian Influenza – Indonesia has experienced several outbreaks of Avian Influenza (AI). Economic hardship and ignorance of modern disease control methods have combined to make Indonesia’s AI control efforts somewhat ineffective. Of the 196 cases confirmed from 2003 to date in Indonesia, 164 have been fatal. Americans who travel to Indonesia should obtain up to date health information before departing the U.S.
Zika - Zika virus is a risk in Indonesia. Because Zika infection in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects, women who are pregnant should not travel to Indonesia. Zika is transmitted by the same day-biting mosquitoes that transmit dengue. All travelers should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual exposure to Zika virus during and after the trip.
The websites of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have up to date information on outbreaks of contagious and tropical diseases.
There are some modern, well-equipped clinics and hospitals in Jakarta that are considered adequate for minor illnesses, but expatriates generally prefer to fly to Singapore or their home countries for treatment of serious illnesses and/or operations. An adequate pre-hospital emergency system, similar to the “911” system in the U.S., does not exist in any Indonesian cities. Many local hospitals operate their own ambulances, with no common standards. Response time can be prolonged.
In the event of illness or emergency, the following clinics and hospitals are among those frequented by expatriates in Jakarta:
SOS Medika Klinik - Cipete
Jl. Puri Sakti No. 10, Cipete
Admin and Office Telephone: (62-21) 750-5973
Fax: (62-21) 750-6002
Clinic Appointment: (62-21) 750-5980
24 Hour Emergencies: (62-21) 750-6001
SOS Medika Klinik - Kuningan
Menara Prima, 2nd Floor
Jl. DR. Ide Anak Agung Gde Agung Blok 6.2
Kawasan Mega Kuningan
Telephone: (62-21) 5794-8600
Fax: (62-21) 5794-8686
Global Doctor Indonesia
Jl. Kayu Manis 21 A, Condet
Tel: (62-21) 800-4307
After Hours Call: (62-21) 719-4565, 718-2029, 7198-0183
It is important to practice proper food handling and personal hygiene in Indonesia. Tap water should not be used for drinking or cooking. Bottled water is widely available. When at a restaurant, order food to be served hot. Avoid raw vegetables, salad fruits that you cannot peel, and buffets that keep the food only warm without protective coverings. Meat should be cooked until well done. Major hotels are generally reliable, but caution is advised.
Exercise reasonable care in food preparation at home and menu selection while eating out because of questionable sanitation practices. Imported meats, vegetables, and packaged foods are readily available from most grocery stores including Carrefour, HyperMart, LotteMart, the Hero grocery store chain, Sogo department stores, Kem Chicks, and Ranch Market grocery stores.
Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays
Indonesia has three time zones:
- Eastern Indonesian time is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (13 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time).
- Central Indonesia time is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (12 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time).
- Western Indonesian time (including Jakarta) is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (11 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time).
Business hours are generally:
- Commerce 0900 -1700 Monday - Friday (note: Friday prayers are at 1200-1300)
- Government 0730 – 1600 Monday – Friday
- Banks 0900 – 1500 Monday – Friday
- Shops 1000 – 2200 Monday – Sunday
A list of Indonesian Public Holidays can be found via these links:
Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings
The Government of Indonesia encourages foreign investors who export to locate their operations in bonded or export processing zones (EPZ). There are several bonded zones or export processing zones near Jakarta such as Tanjung Priok, Cakung and Marunda, which are very close to international ports and international harbors. Products can be imported into a bonded zone and re-exported without paying tariffs, unless the products are sent into Indonesian customs area.
Foreign and domestic investors wishing to establish projects in a bonded area near Jakarta can contact PT Kawasan Berikat Nusantara (Persero), which is a state-owned company, detailed information is available at www.kbn.co.id. Kawasan Berikat (Bonded Zone) is an area with certain boundaries in Indonesia where special provisions for the customs apply to goods imported from outside the custom area or from other customs areas in Indonesia without first being subject to customs levies and/or state levies until the goods are issued for the purpose of import, export, re-export.
Favorable regulations for Special Economic Zones (SEZ) or (Kawasan Ekonomi Khusus, or KEK, in Indonesian) were introduced in 2009. The basic concept of Indonesian SEZ is the preparation of infrastructure and resources in areas which have accessibility to the global market (access to seaports and/or airports). Indonesian SEZ may meet the criteria for one or more of the following zone types: Export, Logistics, Technology Development, Industry, Tourism, Energy and Other Economy.
There are a number of SEZ in Indonesia:
- Sei Mangkei SEZ in North Sumatra
- Tanjung Lesung SEZ in Banten
- Palu SEZ in Central Sulawesi
- Bitung SEZ in North Sulawesi
- Tanjung Api-Api SEZ in South Sumatera
- Morotai SEZ in North Maluku
- Maloy Batuta Trans Kalimantan SEZ in East Kalimantan
- Tanjung Kelayang SEZ in Bangka Belitung
- Sorong SEZ in West Papua
- Hang Nadim and Nongsa SEZ in Batam (expected in late 2020)
To learn more about Special Economic Zones, please visit www.kek.go.id