Indonesia – Useful Cruising Information

Published 11 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Posted 09 September 2012

Our thanks to Gini of SV Marquesa for these tips.

We cleared into Indonesia at Jayapura and came down through Indonesian Papua, Raja Ampat, Ambon, and Nusa Tenggara – (Flores to Bali).

Kartasa Jaya in Java, who gave us good service, took 2.5 months to process our CAIT application. Through them, the 3-month CAIT cost US$150, the 3-month CAIT extension cost $150, and a sponsor letter for a Sosbud visa cost $50.

Instead of the 1-2 month Visa on Arrival, we got the longer-term Social/Cultural “Sosbud” visa in advance. It cost $60 at the Vanimo consulate, one or two-day processing. It’s good for 2 months, then you can renew it monthly for $25/month up to 4 times (for a total stay of 6 months).

Clearance was pretty painless and the customs guys were friendly and helpful in Jayapura. The only bond documentation we did was to fill out the PIB that Jayapura customs gave us – a simple one-page declaration that we wouldn’t be doing business on the boat in Indonesia.  We got a signature by fax on this page from Kartasa Jaya. I have no idea if this is the way it’s supposed to work, officially. Regulations seemed to change from port to port, especially in isolated areas like Jayapura.

In a few other places, we were asked for bribes of $10-$50 dollars, but we always refused successfully. Sorong customs asked for the bond but gave up after phoning our agent, Kartasa Jaya. Customs in Benoa (Bali) didn’t give us any trouble.

Posted 24 July 2012

Our thanks to Jim and Joy Carey of SV Kelaerin for this interesting report.

We just spent 4 months cruising the Indonesian archipelago from W to E; Nongsa Point to Sorong, Papua. We did most of it on our own and acquired our own documents quite easily. Some of the frustration we did have with abiding by their rules was from lack of knowledge and not really that they, the officials, were difficult. In fact, in all cases that we dealt with officials throughout Indonesia, we found them to be honest, helpful and very professional.

So here is what we learned:-

To get started you need to get a CAIT. This has been discussed before on this site and it is quite simple to do. You contact Arlytha Kustaryono at [email protected] and send her these documents via email attachment:-

• Passport photos of all crew

• Last port of call before entry into Indonesia

• Entry port in Indonesia and date of arrival (CAIT will begin on the date listed)

• Exit port from Indonesia

• Next port of call after leaving Indonesia

• Extra passport size photo of Captain

• Copy of boat document

• Name of Indonesian consulate you will use to apply for your social visa (this is for the sponsor letter).

• List of every port you intend to visit while in Indonesia

She will contact you back and give you the charges which you will send to her via Western Union. Our charges were approximately 2,000,000 RPH for the CAIT. We did this part from Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. We also asked for a sponsor letter from her so we could go to the Indonesian Consulate and get a social visa and she sent that with the CAIT as an email attachment 20 days later. The sponsor letter cost 350,000 RPH. You can renew the CAIT after 3 months for another 3 months, just contact Arlytha for that. When we eventually joined the Back to Down Under Rally, the CAIT was included in the registration charge. We got the social visa at the Johor Bahru Indonesian Consulate. We got there in the morning, dropped off our documents and passports and picked them up that afternoon, visa affixed and ready to go. We paid approximately $80 (US) each.


Once you have the social visa, when you check in you get 60 days and can renew your visa after 60 days for one month at a time, 4 times. We were told you can only do this at Class 1 (Kelas 1) immigration offices. The list of these offices is at The office in Denpasar (Bali) requires you to drop off your passport 7 days in advance of the expiration date of your visa. On the 7th day, you return to pay for the visa extension, which is 250,000 RPH each. That is the standard, official, listed price at every Class 1 immigration office. Then you have to return again on the 8th day to pick your passport up. You can expedite this process by hiring an agent. There are bunches of them running around Kuta and Ubud. They will grease the bureaucratic skids for you and get the visas done a bit faster for a fee.

Most other immigration offices in Indonesia can do this visa extension in just one or two days. Cruising schedules are harder to work around so you can try and get the extension done for a longer period and/or a little ahead of schedule (maybe 2 weeks before expiration). We found that with some polite persuasion and explanation the offices would try to accommodate us. In Ternate, the office extended our visas in just one day. A Norwegian boat which did not have a social visa as they were coming from Palau where there was not an Indonesian Consulate, presented themselves at the immigration office in Ternate and were stamped in for 60 days. An Australian boat, also coming from Palau, showed up at Ternate and got 30 days and were not given an extension once they got to Sorong. (They left Sorong and spent another 3 weeks cruising the Raja Ampat area without any problems.) The group of 7 boats that were on the Back to Down Under Rally had their visas extended for more than one month to accommodate their rally schedule and give them time to reach their exit port of Tual. So it appears there is some room for negotiation.


Although there is no longer a bond required for visiting yachts in Indonesia, you must still get a temporary import permit. Just before we left Danga Bay, Johor Bahru, Malaysia for Nongsa Point, Batam Island, Indonesia we received a note from Arlytha that we would have to get our temporary import papers once we arrived in Nongsa. When we presented our papers to the marina officials (they are the ones who handle your check-in for you for a fee of $25 (SGD)), we asked about the temporary import and they looked perplexed. Nongsa is listed as one of the official customs entry points where you are supposed to be able to get this temporary import document within a couple of days. However, when the Nongsa staff inquired about this document they were told we would have to go to the next town, hire an agent and it would take 2 to 3 weeks to get the document. We declined, stating we would take care of this in Bali.

When we got to Bali, we visited Isle Marine, a shipping agent located at the Bali Yacht Club, Serangan, to get information about the Back to Down Under Rally that would take place in the Malukus (W. Halmahera) in May.

Ruth, the agent, then stated to us that we had to pay her 1,500,000 RPH for the processing of the temporary import and that we would have to pay that fee again upon exporting the boat. The real fee had we realized this and done the process ourselves at the Benoa customs office, was 187,000 RPH for the import and again for the export. Ms Rini is the chief customs officer in the Benoa office and she has been instrumental in streamlining the process for the temporary import for yachts.

There are 18 ports where a cruiser is supposed to be able to get a temporary import or export document:-

Sabang Sabang, Aceh; Belawan Port, Medan, North Sumatra; Bayur Gulf Port, Padang, W. Sumatra; Nongsa Point Marina, Batam Island, Riau group; Telani Bandar Bintan, Bintan, Riau group; Tanjung Pandan, Pacific Islands; Palm Sunda and Marina Ancol, Jakarta; Benoa, Bali; Kupang, E. Nusa Tenggara; Kumai, Kalimantan; Tarakan, E. Kalimantan; Nunukan, E. Kalimantan; Bitung, Sulawesi; Ambon, Maluku; Saumlaki, Maluku; Tual, Maluku; Sorong, W. Papua; Biak, Papua.

We know that we and other yachts had no problems with the temporary import or export at Benoa, Biak, Sorong, Tarakan and Tual. We changed our exit port to Sorong from Biak once we made the decision to sail to Palau rather than PNG. We had to inform Ruth of Isle Marine a few weeks in advance so that she could transfer the paperwork to the Sorong customs office. When we arrived in Sorong we contacted Mr Adi at the customs office. He sent a car to pick us up, stayed overtime to process our paperwork and presented us with our export document all within a few hours. The charge was 187,000 RPH. The staff here could not have been more accommodating and professional.

We visited the port captains office and immigration and gave them 24 hours notice of our departure and were given a clearance and stamped out with no fees or hassle.


Solar (diesel) and Benzine (petrol) are regulated in Indonesia by the government. You usually cannot go to the station yourself and get fuel. Many stations will even have a policeman posted to be sure fuel is not being bought for resale.

Generally, you can find someone who will happily get fuel for you for a fee. They will not use your nice jerry jugs as that signals it is for resale so they will use their own containers. They may have to make several trips, as they must stand in line and if they try to fill too many containers, the others in line get angry.

The cost at the pumps may read 4500 RPH p/litre however you will pay more than that most of the time. Agents can arrange to get fuel for you, and that varies greatly in price. We paid a tour agent in Kumai (Herry’s) and were charged 8,000 RPH p/litre. In Benoa we were able to dinghy to the head of the bay, go under the bridge and to the station on the water in Serangan where they let us fill our own jerry jugs for 4,900 p/litre. I’m sure that if a policeman were present that would not have happened. In Labuanbajo we hired a couple of fishermen to get fuel for us for 6,000 p/litre.

The harbormaster in Bau-Bau, Sulawesi, ordered his staff to get fuel for us and charged us 11,000 p/litre. Ternate has a solar pump on the dock at the fishing port and we were offered fuel there for 6,000 p/litre.

We did join the Back to Down Under Rally which was run as part of the Sail to Indonesia franchise with Raymond Lesmana as the rally director. Raymond has been relegated to the role of consultant with the running of these rallies done by government officials and ministry of tourism offices in the future. We met the rally halfway through the schedule as we were approaching from Bali and they had begun in Tarakan, Kalimantan.

The rally visited Morotai, Jailolo, Ternate, Guru Ici, and Labuha on W. Halmahera, Maluku (The Spice Islands). The lovely Indonesian people in this group do not get many yachts passing through and they are extremely welcoming. have done and continue to do a blog which gives anchorage positions and other cruiser info at should you be interested in that. (It’s in the process of being updated now.)

Just before going to Sorong we stopped at Palau Pef in the Raja Ampat group, anchored in an uncharted lagoon behind the Raja4 Divers resort and enjoyed the most spectacular snorkelling we’ve ever done in over 20 years of cruising.

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  1. October 2, 2017 at 2:48 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    We have been in Raja4 or Pulau Pef last July and have been very welcome, we had the possibility to shower, have an internet connection, have some extremely beautiful snorkelling and enjoy a very quiet night with flying foxes around.

    Beware of uncharted reefs south of the entrance (visible when the light is right) and of a fish farm east of the place, if you want to head to the challenging pass between Waigeo and Gam Islands: we were coming from the channel and heading to Raja4 and were surprised to see a lot of buoys covering the area.

    We were trying to find a passage through the maze when a canoe with machinegun armed people came threatening us and trying to make us follow them to the coast. They claimed to be police!!! We sternly refused to do so and were lucky that their engine stopped. They were busy starting it again, quite unsuccessfully and we could sail away undisturbed, a bit shaken though.

  2. August 23, 2017 at 2:46 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Please note that Pulau Pef in Raja Ampat, Indonesia is a privately owned island and free anchoring is NOT permitted. We have two moorings in a protected bay, where private yachts are very welcome to stay. Find our rates and further information here: Thank you!

  3. October 29, 2016 at 2:45 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Here I would like to publish my experience in Indonesia. We obtained our 60-day visas in Davao (Philippines )) and planned a cruise south to Australia. When our little boy suffered seasick we decided to check-in button.

    The immigration officials we dealt with were the most obliging friendly welcoming I have ever experienced throughout the parts of the world I have been to. Full makes Indonesia.

    You have a beautiful country, largely unspoiled and a frendly welcoming people. My sadness is my need to leave before seeing more.