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Installing or Fixing Machines in Indonesia: work permit required?

Foreign experts often fly in for a short period of time (1 to 2 weeks) to work on the machines, and then fly out again. What type of visa or permit they need?

Installing maintenance machines Indonesia work permit
Foreign experts installation or Maintenance of machines in Indonesia

The industrial sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in Indonesia. To setup and maintain factory sites, Indonesian companies regularly need the expertise of foreign experts for the installation or maintenance of machines. Foreign experts often fly in for a short period of time (1 week up to 1 month) to work on the machines, and then fly out again. Because if this short duration, companies often believe that the foreign experts do not require a work permit. This is however no true: these foreign workers do require a work permit, even for such short periods of time. Therefore, before foreign experts enter Indonesia, the company must ensure their work permit is in place.

In this article we will discuss what type of work permit the company can apply for to remain compliant. We will also discuss the non-compliant option which is often chosen by companies, and its potential risks.

compliant option: the short-term work permit

Foreigners who wish to work and stay in Indonesia can choose from various types of work and stay permits, depending on the type of job, qualifications, and preference. One of these types, the Short-Term Work Permit, allows foreign nationals to enter Indonesia for project-based work. Project-based work includes the installation or maintenance of machinery. Government Regulation No. 48/2021 specifically categorizes the installation and maintenance of machines as a work activity. In case foreigners perform work activities in Indonesia, they must obtain a work permit from the Ministry of Manpower.

Specifically for these short-term assignments, the Indonesian government provides companies the option to apply for a short term work and stay permit. The validity of such permit ranges from 1 to 6 months and is not extendable. The requirements are less stringent than the requirements of a long term work and stay permit. In addition, under certain conditions the processing time is reduced when applying for the short term permits.


Besides the required work and stay permit, the company may require additional reports or permits in certain cases. This is especially the case for projects remote areas, where local authorities are more active in performing inspections and audits. These additional reports / permits are put in place by the local authorities to ensure that the local authority is aware of the whereabouts of foreign workers in their area. Which specific additional reports or permits are required depends on the requests of the local authorities. In most cases, local authorities require any or all of below reports and permits:

  • Travel Permit (SKJ) from National Police.
  • Local Immigration office report.
  • Local police office report; and/or
  • Local manpower office report.

Non-compliant option: Business Visa / Visa on Arrival

In practice, companies often decide the send foreign experts to Indonesia using the business visa or visa on arrival. These type of visas are inexpensive and the processing time is short. The processing time of a business visa is approximately 7 working days. And the visa on arrival does not require any application prior to the departure to Indonesia. The foreign experts can purchase it upon arrival at the airport. On the other hand, for a work permit it can take up to a month before a foreign expert can fly to Indonesia and start working on the project.

A visa on arrival or business visa, does however not allow foreign experts to work in Indonesia. Generally the following restrictions apply:

  1. Office visits of maximum 4 hours per day and 3 days per week.
  2. Visits to project sites, factories or plants are forbidden.
  3. the foreign expert is cannot work at a desk in the office and is can only meet with the client in a meeting room.
  4. hands-on work is not allowed. Hands-on work includes touching or operating any machines, equipment or tools.
  5. the foreign expert cannot provide advisory services to the client.
  6. Only allowed to sit in the meeting room at the office.

The activities of repairing or the maintenance machines are clearly out of the scope of a business visa and will lead to sanctions by authorities.

Sanctions for Violating the Purpose of a Visa: Deportation

Whether intentionally or unintentionally — not securing a correct permit means you are breaking the immigration laws and regulations in Indonesia. When foreigners work in Indonesia using an incorrect visa, the immigration authorities will usually administer administrative actions in the form of deportation. In addition, immigration may decide to blacklist a foreigner from entry for a certain period of time.

Besides being a very unpleasant experience for the foreign expert, deportation will also very likely cause serious disruption to the project. Especially if an entry ban is give by Immigration to the foreign expert. Therefore, it is important to understand the limitations of activities of each type of visa and permit. In addition, companies must consider the specific site conditions, which may require additional reports to local authorities or additional permits.

For more information or tailored advice, clients can reach out our firm directly.