Asia and Oceania
Still current at: 27 April 2009
Updated: 19 April 2009
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Natural Disasters, Volcanoes section (increase in alert status of Anak Krakatoa Volcano). The overall level of the advice has not changed.
(see travel advice legal disclaimer)
Travel advice for this country
- Travel Summary
- Safety and security
- Local laws and customs
- Entry requirements
- Natural disasters
See entire profile
We advise against all but essential travel to Central Sulawesi Province and Maluku Province, especially Ambon, where the political situation is unsettled. You should also exercise caution when travelling to Aceh and Papua. You should be alert to the potential for politically motivated violence and avoid large crowds, political gatherings and demonstrations. See the Local Travel section of this advice for more details.
There remains a high threat from terrorism in Indonesia. We believe that terrorists continue to plan attacks, which could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Terrorist attacks in Bali in October 2005 and October 2002 killed and injured a number of British nationals. You should take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid large crowds, political gatherings and demonstrations. See the Terrorism section of this advice for more details of previous attacks and precautions that you should take.
All airlines from Indonesia have been refused permission to operate services to the EU because Indonesia is unable to ensure that its airlines meet international safety standards. It is recommended that you avoid flying with any airline from Indonesia if an acceptable alternative means of travel exists. See the Air Travel section of this advice for more details.
Indonesia sits along a volatile seismic strip called the 'Ring of Fire' and volcanic eruptions, earthquakes occur regularly and tsunamis are possible. See the Natural Disasters section of this advice for more details.
Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Indonesia have led to over 100 reported human fatalities. The last confirmed fatality was in January 2009. See the Health (Avian Influenza) section of this advice and also
Avian and Pandemic Influenza
for more details.
Around 150,000 British nationals visit Indonesia every year (Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS)). 2,294 British nationals required consular assistance in Indonesia in the period 01 April 2006 – 31 March -2007. The main types of incident for which they required consular assistance were for replacing lost or stolen passports (44 cases); dealing with deaths (2 cases); and hospitalisations (25 cases); and dealing with arrests, for a variety of reasons (18 cases). Penalties for illegal drug importation and use are severe and can include the death penalty.
- We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.
Safety and security
There remains a high threat from terrorism in Indonesia. We believe that terrorists continue to plan attacks, which could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
Terrorists have shown that they have the means and motivation to carry out successful attacks in Indonesia. The suicide attacks on 1 October 2005, in Bali, which killed 20 people and injured a further 90, underscore the ongoing terrorist threat in Indonesia. The extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which has links to Al-Qa’ida is thought to have been responsible for this attack, as well as the Bali bombings in October 2002, which killed 202 people (including a number of British nationals), the Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta which killed 12 people in August 2003, and the Australian Embassy bombing in September 2004, which killed 11 people. Venues known to be frequented by foreign visitors and expatriates, including beach resorts, bars and restaurants, are potentially attractive targets for such groups.
You should be aware that the long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British Government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.
For further information see Terrorism Abroad.
You should beware of street crime and pickpockets. Take personal security measures such as:
- Taking particular care to safeguard your passport and credit/ATM cards. We receive regular reports of credit card theft after shop employees copied card details. You are advised not to lose sight of your credit card during transactions.
- Beware of thieves while travelling on public transport. We receive regular reports of extortionate fares or robberies by unlicensed airport taxi drivers. Their vehicles are usually in poor condition, are unmetered, and do not have a dashboard identity licence. When taking a taxi, use one from a reputable firm, preferably booked by phone or arranged by your hotel, or booked by a registered taxi firm inside the airport. British Embassy, Jakarta, staff are advised to use only taxis from the Bluebird and Silverbird group. These are widely available at hotels and shopping malls in central Jakarta and at Sukarno-International Airport. Care should be take to distinguish Bluebird and Silverbird vehicles from "look-alike competitors. For further details see: http://www.bluebirdgroup.com/taxis_in_jakarta.html.
- For longer journeys it is a sensible precaution to notify friends of travel plans, contact them on arrival and where possible travel in convoy. Always carry a reliable means of communication with you. Keep doors locked at all times and avoid travelling alone.
- We receive occasional reports of tourists who have been robbed after bringing visitors to their hotel rooms. In some cases their drinks were drugged and the Indonesian National Police have reported an increase in drink-spiking incidents in 2008. Ensure your passport and wallet and other valuables are secure at all times.
Whilst the overall political situation is stable, developments elsewhere, including the Middle East, resonate in Indonesia. You should follow news reports and be alert to any developments which might trigger public protests or unrest. Parliamentary elections were held on 9 April 2009 with presidential elections to follow on 8 July 2009. There will be large numbers of rallies and demonstrations in all areas of Indonesia during the elections. Exercise sensible precaution and avoid large crowds.
You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people. If you become aware of any nearby violence you should leave the area immediately. You should keep yourself informed of developments, including by regularly checking this advice.
You should ensure that you have the necessary permits when planning adventure trips in Indonesia. You should also ensure that you have a reliable and reputable guide in place for such a trip. Failure to do so can lead to difficulties with local authorities should you need their help.
Flash floods and more widespread flooding occur regularly during the rainy season from November to March. Cities - especially Jakarta - are frequently subject to severe localised flooding which can result in major disruption, and occasionally fatalities. Previous floods in Jakarta have affected a main toll road to the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. You should allow extra time for meeting flight connections in line with the prevailing weather conditions.
Our additional advice for British nationals in Indonesia who are travelling outside Jakarta is as follows:
Central Sulawesi Province
We advise against all but essential travel to Maluku Province, especially Ambon, which was the scene of serious civil unrest between 1999 and 2002. The region has continued to experience violence which can unexpectedly increase in intensity. Violence resulting from civil unrest in Ambon has resulted in a number of deaths and serious injuries. The situation in Maluku remains unsettled.
Papua and West Papua
We advise you to exercise caution when travelling to Papua (including the Province of Papua and the Province of West Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya Barat) and to seek local advice on your travel plans. Political tensions in Papua have given rise to sporadic violence. There is a heavy security presence in some areas, especially along the border with Papua New Guinea. If you are visiting Papua, you should exercise caution. As elsewhere in Indonesia, you should avoid large crowds and demonstrations, which can turn violent.
Permits are required to travel to Papua Regulations for entry into and permission to remain in Papua can change at any time. You should seek the latest information on entry requirements and registration procedures from the Indonesian Embassy in London.
You cannot drive in Indonesia on a UK driving licence, but are permitted to use an International licence which can be obtained in Indonesia. An International licence is obtained in the UK it may need to be endorsed by the Indonesian licensing office in Jakarta.
Traffic discipline is very poor; city streets are congested; and foreigners involved in even minor traffic violations or accidents may be vulnerable to exploitation. You should therefore think seriously about employing a private driver or hiring a car with a driver, which is not especially expensive. Some multinational companies refuse permission to their expatriate staff to drive in Indonesia. British Embassy, Jakarta, staff are advised to avoid driving themselves whenever possible.
Should you be involved in an incident such as an accident or breakdown you should ensure someone remains with your vehicle. You may wish to consider leaving your driver, if you have one, in charge of your vehicle in such circumstances, if you have any concerns for your security and can move to another location safely. You should make yourself available for questioning by the police if requested to do so.
Reports suggest that motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in road accidents than those driving cars.
You should be aware that there have been a number of major aircraft crashes in Indonesia over the last ten years, for reasons including bad weather, poor maintenance and mechanical failure. The most recent major incident occurred on 7 March 2007, when an aircraft burst into flames on landing in Yogyakarta, Java, killing over 20 people.
Inter-island travel by small boats can be dangerous as storms appear quickly and navigational equipment is often limited. There have been attacks against ships in and around the waters of Indonesia. Mariners are advised to be vigilant; reduce opportunities for theft; establish secure areas onboard; and report all incidents to the coastal and flag state authorities.
There have been a number of instances of passenger boats sinking in Indonesia. Most recently, on 11 January 2009, a passenger ferry carrying 267 passengers and crew capsized off the island of Sulawesi, reportedly killing 99 people following the rescue of 168 by Search and Rescue and local fisherman.
Local laws and customs
Visas are required for UK nationals entering Indonesia, a tourist visa can be obtained on arrival for a specific short period. You are advised to consult the Indonesian Embassy in London.
You should ensure that your passport is valid for a minimum period of six months upon arrival. Entry to Indonesia may be refused and airlines may not carry passengers holding passports with less than six months validity. You are required to retain you arrival card for presentation to Immigration upon your departure.
Overstaying your visa
Overstaying without the proper authority is a serious matter and visitors can be held in detention or refused permission to leave the country until a fine is paid.
If you stay in private accommodation in Indonesia (not a hotel) you must register your presence with the local police or you could face a fine of Rp 5 million (£290). If you stay in a hotel you will be registered automatically.
Travelling with children
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. They may want to see birth certificates, a letter of consent from the other parent or some evidence as to your responsibility for the child. Contact the Indonesian Representation in London for further information.
Indonesia suffers from periodic problems with air quality reaching hazardous levels because of seasonal smoke haze from forest fires. You are advised to check news reports and follow local advice.
Dengue, chikungunya and malaria occur in Indonesia. These diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes. There are no vaccinations against these diseases, but there are preventative measures that you can take, as advised on the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) website. You should visit your GP to discuss malaria prevention tablets.
There is a risk of rabies throughout Indonesia, in particular in Bali. In December 2008, local officials reported an outbreak of rabies in Bali, following a small number of deaths in the village of Ungasan in Uluwatu district (Badung Regency). In January 2009, the presence of rabies was also confirmed in the Kutah area of Bali. Sanglah Hospital in Bali has prepared a special area to treat people suspected of being exposed to the rabies virus and doctors in other clinics in Bali have been trained to care for potential victims. Two people were reported to have died from rabies at Sanglah Hospital at the end of March 2009. In April 2009, a further outbreak of rabies in wild dogs was reported in Pecatu village, near Nusa Dur. Travellers to Indonesia should avoid contact with animals and seek immediate medical attention if bitten or scratched by an animal. For further information about rabies see the NaTHNaC website.
In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 270,000 adults aged 15 or over in Indonesia were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 0.2% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.
There have been outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in commercial and backyard poultry and a small number of pig farms in Indonesia. Infected birds have been found in all of Indonesia's 33 provinces (most recently in February 2009 in Badung, the southernmost regency of Bali) with the exception of Gorontolo and North Maluku and there are ongoing outbreaks. Indonesia has more confirmed cases of human fatalities than any other country with over 100 reported fatalities (most recently in February 2009). Most human cases had direct contact with sick/dead poultry or were exposed to environments with recent outbreaks of the virus.
The WHO have confirmed that the deaths of seven members of one family in the TanaKaro district of North Sumatra in May 2006, were likely to be the result of limited, non-sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus. However, to date, there has been no evidence of widespread or sustained human-to-human transmission in Indonesia.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low. However, as a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the possibility that the Avian Influenza outbreaks could lead at some point to a human flu pandemic, if the virus mutates to a form, which is easily transmissible between people.
British nationals living longer term in an Avian-Influenza affected region should take personal responsibility for their own safety in the event of a future pandemic, including considering their access to adequate healthcare and ensuring travel documents are up to date.
Indonesia sits along a volatile seismic strip called the 'Ring of Fire' in the Pacific. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes occur regularly in Indonesia which can, where the severity and conditions of the quake combine, present a potential threat of tsunamis within the region. The 'ring-of-fire' is a horse-shoe-shaped zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that surrounds the basin of the Pacific Ocean. It is 40,000kms long and is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, island arcs, and volcanic mountain ranges and/or plate movements.
It is understood that 90% of the world's earthquakes and 81% of the world's largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire which is a direct consequence of plate tectonics and the movement of collisions of crustal plates.
Visitors currently planning to visit West Papua Province (formerly West Irian Jaya Province) should be aware that earthquakes which occurred on Sunday 4 January 2009, have caused considerable damage to buildings including hotels in the coastal town of Manokwari, some damage to the airport was also reported. If planning a visit to this region you should check with your tour operator before travelling.
On 16 November 2008 an earthquake struck Gorontalo Province off the northern coast of the island of Sulawesi causing fatalities and structural damage to a number of buildings, and on 12 September 2007 an earthquake in Southern Sumatra resulted in a number of fatalities.
The 26 December 2004 earthquake and tsunami caused massive devastation to coastal areas in Aceh and parts of North Sumatra.
Flash floods and more widespread flooding occur regularly during the rainy season from November to March. Cities - especially Jakarta - are frequently subject to severe localised flooding which can result in major disruption, and occasionally fatalities. The collapse of the dam at Lake Situ Gintung on the outskirts of Jakarta on 27 March resulted in the death of 98 people, over a hundred missing and many hundreds of people homeless. Landslides occur in rural areas during the wet season. In December 2007, landslides in Central Java killed over 80 people.
There are numerous volcanoes in Indonesia, any of which can erupt without warning. Since April 2008, Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi, Mount Egon on Flores island, Nusa Tengarra, Mount Ibu in North Maluku and Anak Krakatoa in the Sunda Strait have shown significant increased volcanic activity.
On Monday 20 April 2009 the Indonesian Vulcanology Agency raised the alert status of Anak Krakatoa to “Warning – eruption possible within two weeks”. Local people have been advised to remain outside of a three kilometre exclusion zone. If you are planning to visit this area you should monitor local media reports and follow advice of the local authorities.
You are advised to exercise caution, check news reports and follow local advice before travelling to volcanic areas. The capacity of the Indonesian emergency and rescue services to deal with large natural disasters is limited.On 14 July 2007 poisonous fumes from Salak Volcano, just south of Jakarta killed six school children who were camping on the Volcano.
For further information, you should visit the Indonesian Centre for Vulcanology's website.
Registering with the British Embassy
Travel advice for this country
- Travel Summary
- Safety and security
- Local laws and customs
- Entry requirements
- Natural disasters
See entire profile
Deutsche Bank Building, 19th Floor
80 Jalan Imam Bonjol
UK Visa Application Centre
PT VFS Services Indonesia
Lt. 22, Zone B
Plaza Asia (s/d Abda) Building
Jl. Jendral Sudirman Kav 59
Jakarta - 12190, Indonesia
Tel: (62)(21) 5140 1583/1584
(62) (21) 3190 1314 (Consular Section)
(62) (21) 316 0858
GMT: Mon-Thurs 0045 - 0900 & Fri 0045 - 0545
Local: Mon-Thurs 0745 - 1600 & Fri 0745 - 1245