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.
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.
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