As a digital nomad or an international contractor you may already imagined working from a paradise and moving to Bali, Indonesia to build a life there.
For decades, Bali has captured the imagination of travellers and expats looking for an unspoiled paradise in an exotic culture. This attraction extends to those that work remotely as digital nomads and don’t rely on a location to serve their clients.
Assuming that you have remote clients already in place, how do you begin the process of selling everything and moving to Bali as a digital nomad?
What are the immigration and legal requirements for moving to Bali as a digital nomad for 6 months or longer ?
What are the practical implications as a foreign visitor in Bali?
We have some answers for you in this ultimate guide to moving to Bali, and suggestions on how to begin your expat work adventure at one of the top digital nomad friendly countries.
Moving to Bali Visa and Immigration Guidelines
Countries like Bali and Thailand are popular with international travellers of all types, including digital nomads. This brings up the question of how one can set up remote work without breaking any immigration rules.
It’s a simple matter to stay for a one month workation and keep up with assignments, but what about longer term?
Bali is a province of Indonesia, and that is where all the visa rules come from. What exactly are your options when it comes to visas and moving to Bali as a digital nomad?
Digital Nomad Visa…No More
In 2022, the digital nomad community became excited when Bali announced plans for the introduction of a digital nomad visa (DNV). DNVs are offered by over 50 countries to accommodate digital nomads who work exclusively online for remote clients or employers.
Naturally, including Bali in that list would attract many remote contractors and employees. There were indications that it would be valid for five years, targeting digital nomads.
But in 2023, Indonesia announced that they had scrapped plans for a DNV and were focusing on different residency visas instead.
The primary offering is the Second Home Visa, requiring maintenance of USD 140,000 in an Indonesian account. This is not a practical alternative for most digital nomads although it is valid for five years.
This was an obvious disappointment and sent nomads searching for alternative visa methods, since the moving to Bali requirements would be more difficult.
The visa that is closest to a DNV is the Visa Budaya, or Social-Cultural Visa. There are no income requirements, and it is better than trying to work on a tourist visa. It is valid for a maximum of six months including extensions. Here are the rules:
- Apply for a Social-Cultural Visa at an Indonesian embassy or consulate in your home country. You will need to provide a sponsor letter from an Indonesian citizen or a company in Bali, along with other supporting documents.
- Once you arrive in Bali, you will need to go to the local immigration office and apply for a 60-day extension of your Social-Cultural Visa. You will need to provide proof of accommodation in Bali, a return ticket, and pay a fee for the extension.
- After the 60-day extension, you can apply for another 30-day extension, which can be done twice, giving you a total of 180 days in Bali.
Temporary Residence Visa
If you want to stay longer than six months, there is a temporary residence visa available. But to work legally, you would need a work visa included in the application. This visa could be connected to your own business, an employer or an umbrella company in Indonesia. The application is time-consuming and takes several months for approval.
If you are on the Social-Cultural Visa and want to stay longer, you can apply for a business visa while in Indonesia. It has 60 days initial validity, and can be extended up to 6 months.
KITAS Work Visa
This is a standard work visa, and requires a local employer as a sponsor. You can use an umbrella company as sponsor, as it is technically your ‘employer’. The advantage is that you could potentially work for clients in Indonesia as well as remote clients. The visa is valid for six months to one year, but can be renewed.
What You Need to Know Before Moving to Bali as a Digital Nomad
Once you have arrived at a visa solution, it will be time to look at other practical aspects of moving to Bali, alone or with family. You will want to consider various factors, including moving to Bali pros and cons, so you will know if moving to Bali as a digital nomad is right for you.
Take the case of Alex, an experienced digital nomad. He had heard a lot about the beauty and culture of Bali and was eager to experience it for himself.
So, Alex packed his bags and headed to Bali with his laptop and a pre-arranged visa. He arrived at his villa in Ubud, set up his workspace, and started working on his projects.
At first, everything seemed perfect. The weather was warm, the scenery was breathtaking, and the people were friendly. However, Alex soon realised that working in Bali was not as easy as he thought it would be.
The Wi-Fi connection was not as reliable as he had hoped, and power outages were a regular occurrence. The time difference between Bali and his clients made it difficult to schedule meetings. The local culture and customs sometimes clashed with his work habits.
Despite these challenges, Alex was determined to make it work. He started waking up earlier to accommodate his clients’ schedules. He invested in a backup Wi-Fi plan, and he even learned a few words in Indonesian to communicate better with the locals. Based on this example, here is what you should focus on:
- Accommodation/ Location
- Internet Connectivity
- Culture and Language
What is the Expat Scene Like in Bali?
As a remote worker you may not have much face time with your online co-workers. So you will want to know how to connect with other expats after moving to Bali as a digital nomad.
Bali is a key destination for expats, particularly digital nomads who work remotely. The island has a vibrant and supportive community of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers. This makes it an attractive place to live and work, with excellent recreation.
The most popular location for expats to work and live in Bali is Ubud where Alex ended up staying. It is known for its lush greenery, rice paddies, yoga studios, and spiritual vibes. Ubud has a thriving coworking scene, with several coworking spaces that cater specifically to digital nomads, such as Hubud, Outpost, and Dojo Bali.
Another location for expats in Bali is Canggu, a beach town on the west coast of the island. Canggu has a laid-back surf culture, trendy cafes. There is a bustling coworking scene, making it a hub for digital nomads and startups.
How can Contractor Taxation help you with moving to Bali?
If you were waiting for the Bali DNV only to see it disappear, we have a solution for you. Contractor Taxation has verified umbrella companies in Bali, who can sponsor a traditional work permit. This gives you a third party intermediary and ally in Bali that can help you manage payments and tax withholding for all of your remote clients. With our help, moving to Bali as a digital nomad is still possible.
Other benefits of umbrella companies include:
- Manages all client payments, tax withholding and any social contributions
- Issues you a payslip each month, to a local or foreign account
- Sponsors work permits
- Helps set up the contract with the client
- Moderates any disputes with your client
- Advises on access to totalization and double taxation treaties
If you have questions about how an umbrella company can help you as an international contractor, please contact us at Contractor Taxation.
Popular Questions about Moving to Bali as a Digital Nomad
There are a number of visas that you can use for a six month stay, including the Social-Cultural Visa and Business Visa. You can also apply for a standard work permit through an Indonesian umbrella company.
That may be difficult as a digital nomad or remote worker, unless you marry an Indonesian or start a local company.
Bali offers a tropical climate, relative safety, good infrastructure and a vibrant expat work scene. Those who dream of working at the beach in a unique culture gravitate to Bali, and look for long term visa solutions.
Expats of all nationalities move to Bali, including Americans. Bali seems most popular with Australians due to its proximity, but you will meet digital nomads from all over the world.
Bali is an excellent destination for families, and the safe, friendly culture will appeal to those with children. As with any new country, you will have to research schooling options and health considerations.
It will depend on your lifestyle, and rentals range from $500 to $2500 per month. Food is not expensive, so you will find it cheaper than Europe, Australia and the US.