07 December 2008

Visa on Arrival -- Indonesia

The days of just fronting up at a port of entry into Indonesia, handing over your passport, and getting a 60-day visitor visa are long gone. The old system has been replaced with a visa on arrival system. The Visa on Arrival or VOA was Indonesia's move towards reciprocity, namely: if it is free for Indonesians to travel to your country then it will be free for you to travel to ours.

Charging a VOA fee was also a simple and easy way to create a cash revenue stream into state coffers. At USD 25 for a 30-day tourist visa it is not all that expensive and it does not involve all of the form-filling that one must do when the roles are reversed and Indonesians are traveling abroad. It is also pretty much sans any risk in comparison to most places that Indonesians travel where they are required to submit a form, pay an exorbitant non-refundable fee, and then pray that the visa gods shine on them.

The VOA system may have its flaws but if we are to draw comparisons with the costs and bureaucracy of other visa systems, then the VOA system is not so bad. Then again I have never had to get one :D

6 comments:

David said...

I agree, Rob. All it involves is bit of a wait in a queue prior to going through Immigration, hand over yer money and get yer stamp. Compared to the process required for Indonesians wanting to go to OZ for a holiday, it's still a walk in the park.
Even the time I applied for a Socio-Cultural visa through the Melbourne Consulate was a very quick and painless process. They were very helpful and very friendly when I spoke to them on the phone. That was back in 1995 though when Indon-Oz relations where still quite rosy. Perhaps it may be different now.

Rob Baiton said...

David...

As I said, I really do not know what the hassles are like at the tourist level. Most of my visas have been KITAS related and as such it was very much a case of going through the motions.

Anyways, just found the whole VOA thing rather interesting from the hassle perspective as I really do not see the hassle in lining up at a window, parting with your cash, and getting a stamp.

ultratupai said...

The last time I went through the visa process at Soekarno-Hatta I came thorugh on a Korean Air flight out of Incheon. As I disembarked the flight and was casually walking down the ramp (actually feeling good to be in Jakarta again) people started running by me. No fast walkling, not your little jog, but full on sprinting. And not just a few people but dozens. Wow! I could not figure out why. Then I appraoched the visa on demand line. There were two lines actually at two open windows which were now processing a fully loaded Airbus. ABout two hours later I finally walked through customs with my visa.

THAT could be imporoved I think.

I also would like to return to the 60 day rule. I don't mind paying.

Rob Baiton said...

Ultra...

I would imagine that the speeding up of the process would be an administrative one in that case. More windows and more staff to ensure timely processing.

I guess I would be waiting for two hours as I am not a sprinter :D

Now, that the wife and I are parents the chances of a sprint a somewhat remote with stroller and baby necessities in hand.

pj said...

For sake of argument I think the whole VOA is just another example of rent seeking mentality in action.I find the reciprocity argument to be a bit thin. Since when have Indonesians ever valued reciprocity? Are Indonesians allowed to own property in say Australia? Are Indonesians abroad subject to 2-tiered pricing at hotels and tourist sites? I do agree thatthe VOA it provided the government of an easy 100 million /yr (just a guess based on tourist numbers) but some of that money may be coming out of places like Bali and Batam. After all it 25 dollars less that tourists have to spend in the local market. In this sense the VOA essentially taxes the tourism industry - an act that I thought to be rather callous at the time it was introduced. The government also needs to consider its competitivness with other popular tourist destinations such as Singapore, Malaysia, Phillipines and Thailand, none of which see the need for a VOA(at least for me).

Finally the VOA is also contributes to corruption as it is rumored that immigration officials occasionally leave their mobile telephone numbers on the visa receipt for those who wish to extend their stay. Apparently the going rate is about 1.5 juta.

Rob Baiton said...

PJ...

As always a well-reasoned argument. All points well taken. The reciprocity argument is a little thin although it does have some substance to it.

thanks.