One of the most important things to consider for your life in Bali is how to work legally in Bali. Finding a job in Bali is not easy, as the Indonesian government would rather give jobs to locals whenever possible. For the jobs that they will allow foreigners to do, it can be hard to find an open position as so many people want to be here. Don’t get discouraged though, because it is possible, even more so if you are willing to think outside of the box.

What’s the difference between a KITAS and IMTA

From talking to many foreigners here, you’d realise that there is a common misconception. Many foreigners believe that a KITAS is a work permit. This is not the case. A KITAS is NOT a work permit. One often holds a KITAS without a work permit and doesn’t even know or realise it. A KITAS is a limited stay permit, usually valid for 1, 2 or 5 years depending on which type.

Investor KITAS are sold to many uninformed expats wanting to live in Indonesia. An Investor KITAS is valid for 2 years, but one can NOT work with an Investor KITAS. As a shareholder of your company, you can attend shareholder meetings, but you cannot work legally in Bali in any capacity.

Retirement KITAS are granted for 5 years and have a specific set of criteria that must be met in order to be eligible. Of course, as the name implies, you are retired and definitely NOT WORKING. Not even volunteering is permitted with a retirement KITAS.

What does it mean to work legally in Bali?

If you receive payments in Indonesian rupiah, cash or transfer to a local bank account, you must have a permit to work legally in Bali. It is the earning of any form of currency, received locally for work performed within the country.

You can have a KITAS without an IMTA, but you can’t have an IMTA without a KITAS.

How to work LEGALLY in Bali…

The IMTA is a work permit granted by the Indonesia Department of Workforce & Labor.

A KITAS & IMTA must be renewed each year and has a maximum validity of 5 years. During these 5 years, it is not required for one to leave the country. If you paid for a multi-entry KITAS, you are free to come and go as often as you like. If you did not get the multi-entry KITAS, an EPO (or exit permit) must be obtained prior to leaving the country.

The cost for an IMTA is US$1200 per year, paid directly to the government. If you did not have to pay this cost, you do not have an IMTA, and even though you may have a KITAS, you can not work legally in Bali. Your KITAS only grants you the privilege of staying in Indonesia for the length of the visa validity without the requirement to leave.

With your KITAS and IMTA, you CAN work legally in Bali only in the capacity listed on your IMTA and only for the company that sponsored the visa and work permit. If you’re a Director, you can direct but only for the one company. If you are a Head Chef, you can only be a Head Chef at the hotel or restaurant that sponsored you.

Since the government really only likes to grant working permits (RPTKA and IMTA) for jobs that Indonesians are not capable of performing, you have very few options to consider. Do not ever work without a visa in Bali, it puts your entire life here at risk. Immigration is known to do random checks and even those with proper documents can get fined for unknown reasons. The most popular options are as follows…

General Manager of a 5 star hotel or similar – This job is commonly occupied by foreigners in the hotel industry. General managers usually work on a rotational basis, meaning they commit to 1-2 years at one hotel and then they’re moved to the next city or country where they’re needed. Experience in this field is a general requirement, so unless this is your current field of work, you’d likely struggle to step into a position of this nature.

Teaching English – If you are from a native English speaking country then it could be easy to find yourself a job in Bali. Pay scales vary from school to school, with international schools paying the most, national plus schools being the runner up and English institutes like English First coming in last.

The pay comes along with your experience and credentials, meaning you will need a much higher degree to teach at an international school and less so with places like English First and English Town. The latter places should handle your visa, although their pay is barely enough for a newcomer to Bali to survive on. Having a TEFL or CELTA is highly recommended. These jobs can sometimes be arranged before coming to Bali.


Over the past decade these jobs have become incredibly more competitive, as teachers with an abundance of experience deciding to move to Bali immediately make the top of the shortlist. Schools are, after all, a business, a thriving business. Regularly check for new schools opening, you might just get lucky. But as time goes on, it’s getting more difficult to find a job that can let you work legally in Bali.

Special Skilled Work – If you have special skills, such as interior design or real estate marketing, you might be able to find a place that will hire you in Bali. Try submitting an ad in the Bali Advertiser to see you get a bite. Some larger restaurants and bars, The Forge as an example, will often hire foreigners for positions such as general manager, head chef, and marketing director.

Working Online – There is a common misconception, a grey area, a sort of ambiguity with this type of work. 

work legally in Bali
Is she working LEGALLY in Bali?

Legally, if you live in Indonesia for more than 180 days out of the year, you’re considered a resident and obligated to report income and pay tax on it, regardless of where it’s earned.

We don’t have to assume that many people blatantly disregard this law and very few of them, if any, are actually caught. But if you’re planning on building something bigger with larger amounts of capital, you should consider setting up a formal company such as a PT PMA (foreign investment firm) and hiring your managers and directors, as you’d want to be using an Investor KITAS. You can hire foreigners under your PT PMA, but there are rules to how many foreigners you can hire for how many locals you employ. You can not hold more than one KITAS, therefore if you an Investor you can not also be a Director – meaning you can not work legally in Bali.

UPDATED November 16th, 2022

The Digital Nomad Visa has been a topic of discussion since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Immigration as recently made the announcement of the Second Home Visa, which would be ideal for those who work remotely. The top benefits offered would 5 or 10 year validity and no tax liabilities. Initial information stated that the visa would be easy to apply for online through a new system. The major requirement – US$130,000 in the bank. If you don’t have that kinda money hanging around, a family member or possibly business partner could act as your guarantor.

Digital Nomads have often been utilizing the B221A visa over the last couple years . Officials seem to be tolerating it during the time leading up to the rollout of the Second Home Visa.

A Word on Trading a Service for Accommodation & Meals

A recent Facebook post in one of the many Bali-related groups detailed an Italian woman and her husband wanting to come to Bali and barter free accommodation and meals in exchange for Italian cooking lessons. While her intent might be seemingly innocent, she quickly received a barrage of opposition, mostly from longterm expats criticizing her for the blatant disregard of (unpublished) regulations. In the eyes of local immigration officials, volunteering such services is illegal and a deportable offense. Many expats have invested substantial sums of money in the form of visas, fees, social security, health insurance and taxes. While a visa for volunteering can be obtained, it does limit your actions to only that directly related to your sponsoring party. When visiting Indonesia with the intention of working, exchanging services, volunteering and so on, please do your research first and if you still have further doubts or questions it’s best to consult with a true professional. While Facebook can be a great resource in the beginning, we don’t recommend that you take everything that everyone says there with 100% accuracy.

Continue on to Vaccinations to Get Before Moving


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    1. How is what possible Mohammad? There are many ways to make a living in Bali, like were mentioned above, just takes a little bit of hard work. On average though I have noticed most expats have to work less hard in Bali as they do in their home country though.

  1. to all the people who dont have a clue. how many ”guides to make money online” are there out there. it’s all been tested already and definately not as easy as it sounds so save your time. you pay for that stuff and in the end they tell you how to do a website and place banners on them to get a few cents if someone actually clicks on the banners on your page and does an online purchase on the website you referred them to. for that you need to have an attractive website yourself in the first place, and before that you need to know how to even design one. somethin everyone can do, sure, if they have the nerves and like to count beans. id rather buy stuff in bali and sell it on ebay. something easy which isn’t mentioned here 😉 surely also hard to make enough profit that its worth the time if you start from 0, but more effective than paying for a guide and learning stuff which doesn’t really help you in the end cause you get bored of it.

    1. Thanks for the reply Peter. I definitely agree with you that there are way too many products out there offering the world and then providing little in the way of help to make an income online. That is why I posted none of those resources here. The two that I did post “Location Rebel” and Unconventional Guides” are both from people that I know personally and I have read their work fully. They don’t offer any cheap, general tactics but are very detailed in just how a person can make money via their laptop if they so wish. For further proof, you can check out Sean Ogle’s website where you will see that the majority of his readers are people who are actually DOING IT, with businesses they have created online. So while the majority of the stuff out there is garbage like you say, these products are not, and I only posted them because they are products of true value.

      You are also right about exporting products being a valid way to make a living in Bali. The parts that weren’t covered regard the correct visa to live in Bali as an exporter (of which there is a lot of discussion and confusion regarding that topic). Also having to have good connections to people to sell your products in western countries or at least countries where the goods can be sold for a profit. I also don’t know so many people that are actually doing it whereas I know many people who live in Bali and make money from all of the covered fields.

  2. Hello I am a practicing chiropractor in New Zealand about to retire and am considering Bali for the obvious reasons. I am curious how it goes to practice as a professional in Bali. I have never had any problems making a living anywhere in the world and would like to know the proceedure for self employment in Bali. I would most probably be working with expats and international companies. so any comment as you only mentioned skills that Balinese don’t have as a category. cheers

    1. Hey Thom,

      The reason I only mentioned skills or tasks that Indonesians can’t perform is because those make up the vast majority of the fields that foreigners are allowed to work in. Western doctors are not allowed to practice in Indonesia. If you go to the international hospitals you can find western doctors on staff but they are technically not allowed to practice and are there for consulting purposed with the Indonesian doctors. Not great news for you, but it is Indonesia’s way of protecting their workforce. I think you might find it difficult to be a Chiropractor in Bali yourself, although you may be able to open a clinic and employ local Chiropractors if you are up for that task.

  3. Hello! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look
    forward to new posts.

  4. Hi, I am planning on staying on Bali for 1 – 2 years. I have some money saved up. I am hoping to suppliment my savings by doing “odd jobs” such as tarot readings at bars and coaching sessions with people who are trying to figure out their life. Since these will be paid in cash, do you forsee any problems? Thanks so much for all the work you’ve done on this website!

    1. Hi,

      I don’t recommend that you do this. For one, you will be out at bars, in public, trying to make money, which will quickly arouse the suspicion of just about anyone who understands the visa and immigration laws in Indonesia. Secondly, I can only imagine that people will be open to you giving them a tarot reading and then becoming agitated when you ask them for money.

      Main point though, is that you will be way too public with your money-making ventures while not on the correct visa. Maybe time for a new strategy!

  5. Hi Raja,

    First of all, may I say that I find your site most informative? I have a question though: I am a freelance translator, translating from several European languages into Danish. This is a kind of work I can do from every where in the world and it is obviously not something an Indonesian person would do. I have customers from most parts of the world (non from Indonesia though), work through the internet and get paid to an American or Danish bankaccount. I would have to work during my stay in Bali to be able to provide for myself. Would I need a kind of working permit?
    Thank you for your answer!

    1. Hi Cirsten,

      There is no real, good answer to this question. In Indonesia, there is no visa that exists which can accommodate for people who are freelancing like yourself. Like many countries in the world, Indonesia still doesn’t recognize the “location independent” career choices people like yourself have made. Most people in your position simply get a social visa that allows them to stay for a while, and just work from home. They don’t go around bragging or being too public about their work, which can be a little sketchy for some people. That being said, I don’t know of anyone (or even know of anyone who knows of anyone) who has ever gotten in trouble for working from the internet in Bali. I am not a lawyer though, so can only give you my experience from what I’ve seen – that’s my disclaimer 😉

  6. Hello Raja.

    Interesting read. Keep up the great work!

    I’m supporting a family of seven in Bali and would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the best type of business that would be best for a Balinese to earn a great income. I have researched and looked into setting up an online business where customers purchase Balinese goods online and they are shipped directly to them. The problem with this is indonesian postage is so expensive to even send small items through the post that it wouldnt be profitable.

    I have personally been into the balinese post office to check this out myself.

    Any there any alternative ways around this to make this work? I see ebay their are store owners selling jewelery on ebay from Indonesia that are making this work. How would they be sending things so cheaply?


  7. Hi, I am a qualified plumber and also have worked in the Australian government water industry would you know of anywhere for me to look for work in these fields

  8. Please allow me to clear the air and clarify that there is no such thing as a “working visa” in Indonesia. There is the residency visa, called a KITAS and the working permit, called the IMTA. Each is issued by separate government offices…the KITAS by immigration, and the IMTA by the manpower office. Both documents are required for a foreigner to legally work in Indonesia.

    Secondly, this year, 2014, will mark an all time record in deportations from Bali for visa violations (specifically illegal work activities). As of late November there had already been over 144 deportations for visa violations in the Province of Bali…specifically for illegal work activity. That number is more than all the deportations from Bali for the entire prior ten years according to my high level source (and uncle) in immigration.

    Indonesian labor laws provide for very serious consequences for illegally working in Indonesia. Those consequences include up to five years in prison, up to a US $50,000.00 fine and mandatory permanent deportation.

    Be further advised (forewarned) that immigration and police officials are radically stepping up their raids and investigations, one regency at a time.

    1. hello Raja, what is the prospect of an Electrician getting a job in Mali or training people in basic handyman work

  9. I’m just a little confused with this. If I’m working in Bali for American companies as a freelance graphic designer, do I need to notify any Balinese officials?

  10. Hi! Thank you so much for availing your time doing these posts. And even for giving such very important details almost everything about Indonesia. By the way, i woulld like to ask, i am an elementary teacher and used to do turoring as my part time job. I am planning to live in Indonesia by this year with my husband. Would it be alright if I go on freelance tutorial from referrals ithere? Do I still need to get a working permit? Thank you and have a nice day!

  11. I am planning to join a job In Bali as marketing field.

    Please advise how this is going to work?

    is that difficult?

  12. Hello there!
    I am planning to move bali for restorent business from India.
    What do you think? Is that profitable to me a open a restorent in comparison to India?

  13. I am Dr Jeff from Nigeria,I want to know the chances of forign medical doctors making it in Bali.

  14. Hello,No 1.. What sort of Visa do i need to live in Bali….Manufacture goods to send back to Australia ??.(not actually work or earn any income…OR..No 2..Stay in Bali for at least 1 to 2 months….manufacture and send the goods to Australia?

  15. Hello, i’m an Indonesian, especially i’m Maduresse but i live in Bali. im looking for a job my self :v. i just find this blog on google. so i need an information about making money in bali.
    please send me an email.
    thank you very much.

  16. I’m wishing to start barber shop in Indonesia. How Can i get business visa of Indonesia. Am I allowed to start thins kind of business there. Let me know nitty-gritty of it. I’ll be thankful to you.

  17. Great site mate, very informative, I’m on holidays in Bali at the moment, I’m a aircon mechanic by trade, but as u have stated I will find it hard getting a job in that field of work over here.
    I’m thinking of renting a villa for 12 months, I have enough savings to support myself for that time, but was thinking of renting a room in the villa on air BnB to bring in some sort of income?

  18. HI Raja,

    Do you think that guest houses and villa rental is a good business for a foreigner in Bali ?


  19. Hi, is it possible to work in Bali as a tutor of Math Chemistry and Physics. My friend is looking to stay here for now until we move to Australia. I have retirement visa he doesnt!

  20. Hello, I’m really confused with this post and its answers. If I want to work in Bali, do I need the residence and work permit?

  21. Hello!

    First off would like to thank you for a (finally) very informative article/website. I’ll be coming back as I attempt to plan a long term stay in Bali in the next coming months.

    I’m a photographer and graphic designer which means I am lucky enough to be able to work remotely. Do the general resources you listed still apply or are there specific ones that I may find useful in finding work in such fields?

    Thanks so much!

  22. Ok so I have 15 years under my belt as a fine dining Michelin Chef, 2 years as a private Gardener and qualifications in forestry, also 1 and a half years as a builder/property developer visiting in July 2017.

    I want citizenship what would be my chances and can you recommend anywhere to begin looking to get the ball rolling or companies that hire with visa and accommodation?

    Appreciate any help.

  23. Hi can I use businesses with their permission to sell their goods online ?
    Is this legal ?

  24. Hi! I am a nurse from Norway, and I want to live on Bali for 6 months to 1 year. Is it possible for me to work as a nurse or perhaps something in health care?
    I have hospital experiences and also homevisits.
    Kind regards

  25. Hi Steve Raja Ayakand all
    I have a business as a freelance interior architect which I run
    From Norway ; we are moving to Bali to build a house and life After much research and digging, I am still slightly baffled about the term ” working whilst in Bali ” I intend to work from home in Ubud and travel to Europe Asia and USA as a consultant .
    I will design and carry out work for my overseas company .
    Where does this fit into the visa rules and regulations I wonder ? Is this allowed? We certainly do not wish to break laws in Bali !
    Additionally we will build 3 guesthouses in our property and intend to rent these out with a Balinese partner running and managing on our behalf ( air B and B )
    Our third income is a webshop selling Balinese interior goods globally .we intend to build a great relationship with craftsmen and locals here.
    Again advice on these would be appreciated
    In mid read of this very well thought through book so maybe I’ll get answers but as you know it’s sometimes like wading through treacle .. very nice but awfully tough at times 😉
    Thanks in advance !

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