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Employment in Bali

  • The largest industry in Bali is agriculture; for expats wishing to work here, it is a good idea to teach English or to apply for a specialist job.
  • Work permits are challenging to get and it is mainly up to your employer to provide you with one; additionally, a personal tax number is necessary to work.
  • It is important to be aware of the business etiquette which might be different from the one in your home country.

Bali is a mixture of extravagant vacation resorts, sprawled along pristine sandy beaches, and local poverty. Most people are employed either in the tourism industry in the south of the island, or work in subsistence farming and agriculture. For expats who plan on working in Bali, the hospitality industry is the most pragmatic choice. As the cost of living in Bali is relatively low in comparison to other countries, most expatriates in Bali find themselves living a comfortable, almost luxurious, lifestyle.

An Economy Based on Agriculture and Tourism

Anyone who starts working in Bali will quickly become aware that the largest industry on the island is agriculture, at least in terms of employment. The most important agricultural products are rice, coffee, tea, cacao, cloves, soybeans, and tobacco, among others. However, the major contributor to Bali’s GDP is the tourism sector.

In the 1970s, the Balinese government realized that they could not avoid the huge torrents of tourists streaming onto the island and decided to be proactive. Instead of rejecting the onslaught of tourists, they turned it around to make the island one of the first cultural tourism hotspots. This resulted in Bali becoming the showcase of Indonesia, making the Balinese island one of the wealthiest in the entire archipelago.

Some Ideas for Expat Jobs in Bali

Expats who dream of working in Bali will find most opportunities at an international company, as an English teacher, or working with tourists. If financial prosperity is not your motivation for coming to Bali, there are also several volunteer organizations based in Bali.

If you aren’t sent to Bali on a foreign assignment or don’t decide to retire there, a good way to begin the search for a job in Bali is to find out in which areas the Balinese economy requires specialists. As previously mentioned, the tourist industry is booming again, so if you are qualified for a hotel or restaurant job and bring outstanding experience with you, getting a job in Bali may not be too challenging!

It is important to note that finding a job once you are in Bali is usually more complicated than having one before you move there, especially as far as visas and permits are concerned. Therefore we highly recommend you begin your job search long before your intended moving date.

Getting a Work Permit for Bali: Challenging, but Not Impossible

Acquiring an employment visa for Bali is a slightly complicated process. This is due in part to the fact that many Indonesian companies prefer employing locals over hiring non-Indonesians. In Indonesia, businesses are required to have what is called an IMTA, which is a work permit given to companies interested in hiring international employees.

That does not mean that working in Bali as a foreigner is impossible. On the contrary, there are many foreign nationals working in Bali. However, it is important to be aware that legally working in Bali can be more difficult than expected. It would be beneficial to either hire an immigration agent or find a confirmed job offer before entering the country.

Next to having a confirmed job offer or being sent by an employer, there are two options if you want to acquire a work visa for Bali. One of them is the so-called business visa, which is a visa assigned to people interested in conducting business negotiations or carrying out a project with a Balinese company. The catch is that this visa is only valid for up to 60 days!

However, some expats now working in Bali have done the following: they have conducted negotiations with their Indonesian partners to see whether they could somehow acquire the IMTA permit for hiring foreigners. This enabled the expats to extend their stay in Bali.

The other option is to contact an Indonesian immigration agency or headhunter to have them help you find a job and take care of all the paperwork for you. Some employment agencies have immigration agents on staff that, for a fee, may be willing and able to aid you in finding work in Bali. For more information on obtaining a work permit for Bali, please consult our Moving to Indonesia guide.

Bali’s Business World

Be Sure to Be Prepared for the Local Business Etiquette

When you do business in Bali, be it for a special meeting or the daily grind, it is important that you are aware of how significant social stature is in Indonesia. In addition, Bali follows the Hindu and Muslim calendars; therefore it is of utmost importance that you remember the central holidays and festivals and do not arrange business meetings on these dates.

The following are some pointers about business etiquette in Bali:

  • Wearing appropriate business attire is a sign of respect. This goes for men and women alike. You may want to consider wearing a pant suit made out of light material, which will also make the heat more bearable.
  • A right-handed shake is considered the proper way of greeting both men and women in Bali. Additionally, the Balinese prefer a light-handed shake to a firm one.
  • Address your business partners by their title only and avoid using first names until your contacts offer you the opportunity to call them by their given names.
  • Handing out business cards when first meeting the other person as well as requesting theirs is considered a sign of interest. Please have these printed in English and Bahasa.
  • Be aware that it is not customary for Indonesians to talk “straight” (too much directness is often considered rude). In other words, it is wise to rephrase their sentences in order to ensure that you understood correctly and avoid any misunderstandings during business meetings.

Why You Need an NPWP in Bali

As of 1984, all those working in Indonesia are required to obtain a tax number, called an NPWP. The NPWP is an important number to get, as it may be necessary when applying for an Indonesian driver’s license or opening a bank account, among other things. Contacting the regional tax office in Denpasar is a good way to get your NPWP, to be informed about which tax form you are required to fill out, as well as how much you are required to pay. Bali’s resident tax payers are subject to taxes based on international income, while non-residents are only liable to pay based on Indonesia-wide income.

If you are working in Bali on an expat assignment, you do not usually need to worry about taking care of your taxes. Your employer will usually do this for you, either by including tax in your gross salary beforehand, or calculating your net pay and then adding this to your personal income tax. However, if you’d like to get a second opinion, you can also consult an international tax accountant. He or she will also be able to advise you on bilateral tax agreements and how they help foreign residents to avoid double taxation. Indonesia has a double taxation treaty with more than 57 other countries, among them Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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  • Ben F. Bagley

    The mututal support between InterNations members is really impressive. Glad to be part of it!

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    Coming from Montreal/Canada, I was searching for a French-speaking housekeeper. Advice from other Bali expats helped me to find the right person.

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