Asia and Oceania

Indonesia Flag of Indonesia

Still current at: 11 June 2008
Updated: 06 June 2008
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Natural Disasters section (increased volcanic activity at Mount Soputan, North Sulawesi) . The overall level of the advice has not changed.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country


Travel Summary

  • We advise against all but essential travel to Central Sulawesi Province and Maluku Province, especially Ambon, where the political situation is unsettled.  You should be alert to the potential for politically motivated violence.  You should also exercise caution when travelling to Aceh and Papua.  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.

 

  • On 23 May fuel prices were raised by 30%.  Widespread protests have taken place and more are expected.  You should avoid large crowds, political gatherings and demonstrations.

 

  • 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 and tsunamis are possible.  In 2007 there were a number of major earthquakes, most recently on 12 and 13 September 2007.  See the Natural Disasters section of this advice for more details.

  • Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Indonesia have led to over 90 reported human fatalities. The last fatality was in 2008. See the Health section of this advice for more details. 
  • The main types of incident for which British nationals required consular assistance in Indonesia in 2007 were for: assisting victims of crime (there were 64 cases of replacing lost and stolen passports); hospitalisations (15 cases); and dealing with arrests (11 cases, mostly for drug possession).  Penalties for illegal drug importation and use are severe and can include the death penalty.

  • We strongly 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

Terrorism

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.
 
If you are visiting, or are resident in Indonesia, you should exercise caution at all times.  We strongly advise you to ensure that you are comfortable with, and regularly review, you and your family’s security arrangements.

The arrests and trials of terrorists in Indonesia could prompt strong reactions from their supporters, including acts of violence. Three men were sentenced to death in August 2003 for their part in the October 2002 Bali bombings.  If confirmed and implemented, their execution may give rise to violent demonstrations.
 
You should be particularly vigilant during holiday periods such as Easter and Christmas, which can be a time of heightened tensions in Indonesia.  In the past, attacks have occurred during holiday periods in Indonesia. In recent years, the Indonesian Police have announced tightened security in public places such as airports and major tourist areas over the Christmas and New Year period.  You should exercise caution when visiting locations where large groups of people gather or which are known to be frequented by foreigners.

If you are planning to travel overland or by boat to Malaysia or the Philippines, you should be aware that Abu Sayaf, a Philippines based terrorist group also pose a risk and plan to kidnap foreign tourists from the islands and coastal areas of Malaysia and the Philippines, especially Eastern Sabah.  Please see the FCO Travel Advice for Philippines and Malaysia.
 
For further information see Terrorism Abroad.
 
Crime

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.

For longer journeys it is a sensible precaution to notify friends of travel plans, contact them on arrival and where possible travel in convoy.

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.
 
For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad.

Political Situation

Developments in Iraq and on the Middle East Peace Process do affect Indonesia.  You should follow news reports and be alert to developments, which might trigger public disturbances.  On 23 May 2008, the government reduced a number of fuel subsidies, raising the price of a litre of petrol by 30% (to 30p).  There have been demonstrations against the planned fuel price rises across Indonesia and some have turned violent.  More demonstrations are expected and you should take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid any large crowds, political gatherings and demonstrations.  
 
Indonesia Country Profile

Local Travel

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 Central Sulawesi Province because of the unsettled political situation.  You should be alert to the potential for politically motivated violence.  Sectarian violence broke out in 1999 and although an agreement was signed in December 2001, which brought an end to large-scale violence the area remains tense and there continues to be intermittent violence and sporadic sectarian clashes in this area. 
 
Tension increased in January 2007, after the Indonesian National Police conducted security operations in order to capture terrorists suspected of being responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in the region. On 13 April 2007, two bombs exploded without causing injury. Police have discovered explosive and arms caches in the area around Poso in the last year.
 
Maluku and North Maluku Provinces

We advise againt 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. On 25 April 2007, a bomb attack in a market in Ambon saw eight people injured, one of whom suffered serious injuries. The situation in Maluku and North Maluku remains unsettled.

Aceh
 
We advise you to exercise caution when travelling to Aceh, especially if travelling to remote areas.  Aceh is emerging from a long period of internal conflict.  You should remain alert to the risk of politically motivated violence.
 
On 24 April 2007, there were two grenade attacks in Aceh. There were no reported injuries. In April 2007, there were also security threats made against Non Governmental Organisations. If you are visiting Aceh, you should make sure that you are well informed about the local situation at the time of your visit.  You should avoid large crowds, demonstrations or political rallies, as elsewhere in Indonesia.
 
We continue to receive reports of Shari'a (religious) police harassing foreigners in Aceh.  You should therefore exercise caution and ensure that your behaviour does not offend local sensitivities.
 
If you are travelling to Aceh to engage in humanitarian or reconstruction work, you should do so in conjunction with a well-established and reputable organisation that has permission to operate in Indonesia. You should ensure that your organisation has a security plan approved by the Indonesian authorities, and is actively linked to the local security advice of the UN Office for Crisis and Humanitarian Affairs in Banda Aceh.
 
All agencies and donors working in Aceh must register with the Indonesian Government`s BRR office in Banda Aceh.  Regulations regarding entry into and permission to remain in Aceh can change at any time.  You should check with the Indonesian Embassy in London prior to travel to obtain the most recent information on entry requirements and registration procedures while in Aceh.
 
Aceh continues to suffer the after-effects of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Reconstruction work is well advanced but the communications infrastructure, roads, medical care and accommodation facilities for visitors in the western and northern coasts of Sumatra and outlying islands are not yet fully restored.

Papua and West Papua

We advise you to exercise caution when travelling to Papua, and seek local advice on your travel plans.  Political tensions in Papua, including the Provinces of Papua and West Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya Barat), have given rise to sporadic violence. Demonstrations often turn violent and should be avoided. A demonstration outside the Papua capital of Jayapura on 16 March 2006 resulted in the deaths of 5 members of the security forces and the injury of a number of demonstrators. If you are visiting Papua, you should exercise caution.  You should avoid large crowds and demonstrations, as elsewhere in Indonesia.
 
Papuan separatists have kidnapped foreigners in the past.  There remains a small but significant risk.

Permits are required to travel to Papua Regulations for entry into and permission to remain in Papua can change at any time.  

Road Travel

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.

If you plan to hire a car, you should note that traffic discipline is poor and city streets are congested.  There is considerable advantage in hiring a car with a driver, which is not especially expensive.  If you break down or have a minor accident you should stay with your vehicle with the car doors locked until the police arrive.

Reports suggest that motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in road accidents.
 
For further information see Driving Abroad.
 
Air Travel

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
 
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.  If you already have a flight booked with an airline from Indonesia and it is part of a journey which commenced in the EU you shoudl consult your travel agent.  The FCO has explained the concerns about Indonesian airlines to its staff and advised them to avoid Indonesian airline if an acceptable alternative means of travel exists.
 
A list of carriers banned from the EU can be found at the following link: http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm
 
When leaving the country by plane, departure tax varies by Airport from 60,000 to 150,000 Rupiah. You will need to pay an Airport Tax of 100,000 Rupiah if departing through Jakarta International Airport, or Rupiah 150,000 if departing from Bali International Airport.

Sea Travel

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 18 October 2007 a passenger ferry capsized off the island of Sulawesi, reportedly killing over 20 people.
 
For more general information see River and Sea Safety

Local laws and customs

You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
 
You should be aware of offending Muslim sensitivities.  Westerners have occasionally been harassed by fundamentalists in bars and nightclubs, particularly around major Islamic holidays such as Ramadan.
 
Do not get involved with illegal drugs.  Possession, trafficking and manufacture of such drugs are serious offences in Indonesia.  Those caught face lengthy prison sentences or the death penalty, usually after a protracted and expensive legal process.  Even the possession of small amounts of drugs such as marijuana or ecstasy can lead to prison sentences longer than four years.  Convicted traffickers or users of hard drugs such as cocaine or heroin face the death penalty in Indonesia.
 
Gambling is illegal in Indonesia.  There have been cases where tourists have fallen victim to organised gambling gangs, resulting in the loss of large amounts of money.
 
You must show evidence of your identity if it is requested by, for example, the Police.  You should carry photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport and your arrival card to avoid losing the original, which should be kept in a safe place.
 
For more general information for different types of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You.

Entry requirements

Visas

Visas are required for UK nationals entering Indonesia, a tourist visa can be obtained on arrival for a specific short period.

Passport validity

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.

Registering

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.

Health

The standard of local medical care in Indonesia can be poor and some medical tests cannot be done reliably.  Good medical care can be very expensive and in remote areas attention for serious injuries or illness is likely to be unobtainable. You may require expensive medical evacuation costing up to tens of thousands of pounds.  Therefore you should ensure your policy covers you for medical evacuation by air ambulance.

Malaria, chikungunya and dengue are common to much of Indonesia, the latter particularly during the rainy season (December to April) when incidences increase considerably.  Since the beginning of 2007 reports have indicated a significant increase in the number of dengue cases.  The authorities are taking measures to combat the disease.

Polio and anthrax is common to parts of Indonesia.  The Indonesian authorities have reported outbreaks of polio across Java, including Jakarta, and Sumatra, including Aceh province, and have instituted local vaccination.  On 30 October 2007, three villages in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, were closed to outsiders after a number of people fell ill from eating anthrax-infected buffalo meat.

In October 2007, poor sanitation, malnutrition and a water shortage caused an outbreak of leprosy in East Nusa Tenggara province.

Poor sanitation and eating contaminated food can increase the risk of cholera, typhoid and other diseases.  You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.  Hygiene standards in restaurants vary.  Beware of food from streetside vendors, which might be contaminated.  If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Indonesia you should seek immediate medical attention.

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.

In the 2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 170,000 adults aged 15 or over in Indonesia were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 0.1% 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.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Indonesia and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
 
For more general health information see Travel Health.
 
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

There have been outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in poultry and a small number of pig farms in Indonesia.  Infected birds have been found in 31 of Indonesia's 33 provinces.  Indonesia has more confirmed cases of human fatalities than any other country with over 90 reported fatalities.  These fatalities are believed to have arisen through close contact with infected poultry.  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.

Since the end of 2003, a number of human deaths have also occurred in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Iraq, Laos, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

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.
 
You should read this advice in conjunction with Avian and Pandemic Influenza, which gives more detailed advice and information.

Natural Disasters

Indonesia sits along a volatile seismic strip called the 'Ring of Fire' in the Pacific.  Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis are possible.  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.
 
Earthquakes
 
On 12 September 2007 a magnitude 7.9 earthquake affected Southern Sumatra in Indonesia, reportedly killing over 20 people.

On 6 March 2007, an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale hit the island of Sumatra in western Indonesia, killing over 50 people.
 
On 17 July 2006, an underwater earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter Scale was recorded off the south west coast of Java.  This caused a tsunami, measuring between two and five metres in height, which hit the southern coastal districts of Ciamis (Pangandaran), Cilacap, Kebumen and Tasikmalaya in Java.  Over 500 people were killed and over 50,000 people were displaced from their homes.
 
The 26 December 2004 earthquake and tsunami caused massive devastation to coastal areas in Aceh and parts of North Sumatra.
 
Floods
 
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. Landslides occur in rural areas during the wet season. In December 2007, landslides in Central Java killed over 80 people.
 
Volcanoes
 
There are numerous volcanoes in Indonesia, any of which can erupt without warning. Since April 2008 both Mount Egon on Flores island, Nusa Tengarra, Mount Ibu in Noth Maluku and Anak Krakatao in the Sunda Strait have shown significant increased volcanic activity. 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.

General

Insurance
 
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions and make sure your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake, particularly if you plan to engage in adventure sports.  Good medical attention for serious injuries or illness is likely to be unobtainable in remote areas, and may require expensive medical evacuation costing up to tens of thousands of pounds. You should therefore ensure that your policy covers you for medical evacuation by air ambulance.  See Travel Insurance.
 
If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is how we can help.

Registering with the British Embassy
 
It is important that all resident British nationals register with the Embassy either through the Embassy's web site, by fax or by mail.  Please inform the Embassy if you are leaving Indonesia for more than ten days.  It is also very important that you notify the Embassy of your return.
 
Consular Registration

Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.  More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.

Travel advice for this country

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contacts

British Consulate General, Jakarta, Indonesia

Address:

Deutsche Bank Building, 19th Floor
80 Jalan Imam Bonjol
Jakarta 10310

Telephone:

(62) (21) 3190 1314 (Consular Section)
(62) (21) 390 7484 (Visa Section)

Fax:

(62) (21) 316 0858

Email: Consulate.Jakarta@fco.gov.uk (Consular)

Email: Visa.Jakarta@fco.gov.uk

Office hours:

GMT: Mon-Thurs 0045 - 0900 & Fri 0045 - 0545
Local: Mon-Thurs 0745 - 1600 & Fri 0745 - 1245

Visa public telephone enquiries:
Local: Mon – Thurs - 0830 – 0930
GMT: Mon - Thurs - 0130 – 0230