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Doing Business in Jakarta

Are you thinking of working in Jakarta, also known as the “Big Durian” or “Big Apple”? Indonesia’s capital and largest city, as well as its economic and political center, has plenty of job opportunities. Our guide on working in Jakarta provides info on the economy, visas and health.
Jakarta is also known as the "Big Apple" of Southeast Asia.

Working Visas: What They Are and How to Get Them

It is rather difficult to get a business or working visa for Indonesia in general. Those planning on working in Jakarta should find an employer before their move. If you already have a signed contract and a starting date, then your employer will probably help you take care of all the paperwork. However, if you would like to move to Jakarta first and get a feel for the city before actually finding a job, please note the following restrictions on visa regulations:

  • The Indonesian business visa is a bit tricky. It is only valid for 60 days and you may not actually work in Jakarta with this visa, but only conduct business there. This would be of interest to people required to work on a short-term project in Jakarta, or to fly there for a series of meetings with a Jakarta business partner, etc.
  • The IMTA is a work permit handed out to companies enabling them to employ foreigners. It is important to note that the Indonesian government has passed regulation requiring companies to hire locals before foreigners. Therefore, it is beneficial to inquire whether or not a company has this permit before applying. If not, you may be able to convince a potential employer to file for the IMTA prior to your departure to Jakarta.

As can be seen from the limited number of options for expats to find regular and legal work in Jakarta, it is best to stick to finding an employer who has an IMTA before making any plans for moving here. See our Moving to Indonesia article for more information on work visas and permits.

A Look into the Bureaucratic Side: From Taxes to Social Security

If you have successfully jumped the hurdles of finding work in Jakarta and getting a valid permit, your next step will be figuring out the tax system. As of 1984, all people working in Indonesia are required to have a personal tax number, a NPWP. To find out how to register with the local tax office and to pay your taxes properly, please consult your new employer’s financial department or a tax accountant recommended by your embassy or foreign chamber of commerce. To avoid double taxation, Indonesia has tax relief treaties with over 60 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. For more information on bilateral tax agreements, it is advisable to contact the bureau of revenue in your country of residence or, again, a tax consultant.

Indonesia has not always had a comprehensive social security system, but in 2015, the government has launched the workers’ social security agency (BPJS), with the aim of extending social security to all workers. Employers are required to provide their workers with social security benefits for accidents and illnesses caused at the workplace, old age, and maternity leave. However, these benefits may be negligible to what you are used to from your home country. So, during your time in Jakarta, you should consider investing in a private pension plan or disability income insurance.

Health and Safety

It is important to keep in mind that Jakarta is a megacity with a lack of space for its inhabitants; it has the tendency to crowd its population into one central area. This results in water, sewage, and garbage problems, as well as air pollution. Jakarta is often flooded, which inevitably results in the spread of various diseases.

This should by no means discourage you from working there, but you should be aware of the problem. The World Health Organization encourages expats living and working in Jakarta to get vaccinations against the following in addition to their standard immunizations:

  • Japanese encephalitis
  • typhoid fever
  • rabies
  • hepatitis A and B

 As far as your safety is concerned, Jakarta has had its share of terroristic attacks, the most recent being in 2016. The Indonesian government is fighting against terrorism, trying to crack down hard on perpetrators of these crimes; however, be aware that such events tend to be difficult to prevent and might occur again.

When it comes to petty crimes, such as pick pocketing and money scams, these can be found in many larger cities, and Jakarta is no exception. Take good care of your valuables, monitor your credit card statements carefully, make your new home safe against burglaries, and don’t accept any drinks from strangers in Jakarta’s bars.

Moreover, you should be aware that Indonesia has very strict anti-narcotic laws. You can be punished for unknowingly carrying drugs, so don’t let anyone tamper with your suitcase at the airport!


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Henrik Olsen

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