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Expats Looking for a Job in Indonesia

Are you one of the many expats who would like to look for work in Indonesia? Then, this article is for you! We get many inquiries on this site and postings on the Expat Forum from expatriates who want to relocate to Indonesia, or are already here, perhaps as a “trailing spouse”, and are looking for work.

Although researching the job possibilities may start prior to arriving in Indonesia it is preferable that you are physically in country before you start to send out CVs. Being able to respond immediately to leads and requests for interviews, as well as to network, is invaluable in a job search. Frankly speaking, it will be very hard for you to locate employment in Indonesia, if you are not physically there.

Government policies towards hiring expats

Be informed that employment in Indonesia is not open 100% to expatriates. Recent Statistics (February 2023) show that 5,45% of the workforce is unemployed, and a significant percentage are professionals.

Indonesian government policy is very clear that it does not want a company in Indonesia, domestic or foreign, to hire an expatriate for a job that can be done by an Indonesian. There are qualified unemployed Indonesians looking for work.

This policy pretty much precludes the young, adventuring expat with little work experience from getting a job in Indonesia, except as an English teacher or volunteer with an international organization.

Indonesia is one of the few countries in the word that has a Negative Investment List. This is a list issued by the government that prohibits or restricts foreign investment in particular sectors. Obviously if investment is restricted, employment in those sectors is also affected.

Ministry of Manpower Regulation No. 8 Year 2021 (not an official translation)

 Article 4

 A foreign worker must:

 a. Have an education diploma that is related to the qualifications required for the work position
 b. Have a competency certificate or work experience of at least 5 years related to the qualifications required for the work position
 c. Transfer his/her expertise to a designated Indonesian worker

Article 5

(1) The company can hire expat for these position:
a. Director or Commisioner
b. Expat for vocational education or training
c. Expat for digital economic sector or
d. Expat for oil and gas which has corporation agreement. 

Work Permits

In order for a company in Indonesia to hire an expatriate, they must have permission from the government. Obtaining this permission can be time consuming, costly for the company, and extremely bureaucratic. Hiring an expatriate is not a decision taken lightly by local or multinational companies.

Government policy states that foreigners who work in Indonesia must be “experts” in their field. This precludes your average recent university graduate from working here - as the Indonesian government defines an expert as someone who has been working in their field professionally for 5 or more years.

The only exception we've seen to this is for native speakers teaching English.

For the the Indonesian government to accept a company's application for your employment, the company must:

If these requirements (and others) are satisfied, then the expatriate can be issued a work permit. After the work permit is approved, the company can apply for a semi-resident visa for the new employee - Work Permit First - Visa Second! More information on documents needed by expatriates can be found at Visas and Documentation.

If you do not have a work permit, you are not working legally! Be sure that your employer has gotten the full documentation for you. Some employment in the informal section is allowed if the foreigner is married to an Indonesia, but the regulations aren't 100% clear on this exception and are open to interpretation.

In addition to the applications and bureaucratic hassles of hiring foreigners, the company must pay a monthly tax of $100 for each foreigner they hire. These funds are paid to the Manpower Ministry - who uses the funds for training programs to increase the skills of Indonesians. Just this tax alone results in a $1,200 cost/year/foreign employee to the hiring company.

Relevant regulation: Law No. 13, year 2003
Chapter VIII - Employment of Foreign Workers
Article 42
(1) Every employer that employs foreign worker is under an obligation to obtain written permission (Work Permit) from Minister.
(2) An employer who is an individual person is prohibited from employing foreign worker.

Working Without a Work Permit

We do not advise working in Indonesia without a work permit, the consequences are severe!

Relevant regulations:

UU Job Creation Law no 6 2023 that changes Manpower Law UU no.13, Year 2003 Article 185

(1) Every person who violates what is stipulated under  subsection (2) of Article 42 ... shall be subjected to a criminal sanction in jail for a minimum of 1 (one) year and a maximum of 4 (four) years and/or a fine of a minimum of Rp100,000,000 (one hundred million rupiah) and a maximum of Rp400,000,000 (four hundred million rupiah).

UU no 6 2021 related Manpower Law Law No. 6 - year 2011 - Article 122
 Shall be punished with imprisonment of up to five (5) years and fined at most Rp 500.000.000, 00 (five hundred million rupiah):  a. any foreigner who deliberately misuse or engage in activities not in accordance with the intent and purpose of the Visa/Stay Permit given to him/her;
 b. any person who ordered or provide opportunity for the foreigner to misuse or engage in activities inconsistent with intent or purpose of the Visa/Stay Permit given to him/her.

Law No. 6 - year 2011 - Article 122
Shall be punished with imprisonment of up to five (5) years and fined at most Rp 500.000.000, 00 (five hundred million rupiah):
a. any foreigner who deliberately misuse or engage in activities not in accordance with the intent and purpose of the Visa/Stay Permit given to him/her;
b. any person who ordered or provide opportunity for the foreigner to misuse or engage in activities inconsistent with intent or purpose of the Visa/Stay Permit given to him/her.

Law No. 6 - year 2011 - Article 123
Shall be punished with imprisonment of up to five (5) years and fined at most Rp500.000.000, 00 (five hundred million rupiah):
a. any person who knowingly gives a letter or false or falsified data or untrue statement with intent of obtaining Visas or Stay Permit for himself/herself or others;
b. any foreigner who deliberately use the Visa or Stay Permit, as referred to in item a above, to enter and / or stay in Indonesia.

Expats in Indonesia

The working members of the expatriate community in Indonesia consists of the following major groupings:

  1. Expatriates sent by their company to work in Indonesia - overseas placement of existing employees
  2. Career diplomats assigned to the foreign embassies and consulates in Indonesia
  3. Investors - persons who have invested in companies or set up companies in Indonesia
  4. Aid workers for international organizations and NGOs
  5. Missionaries
  6. Local hires - expats who found jobs on their own in Indonesia
  7. Expatriate spouses of Indonesian citizens

In each of these cases the employment considerations differ.

Tried and True Methods

Just as in most job seeking environments there are tried and true methods for finding a job, a few of which we discuss here:

  1. Prepare for your job interview with these tips from Forte Executive Consulting - Interview Guide.
  2. Get your resume out to everyone you know. Indonesia is NOT an information-based society. Information can be difficult to find. Even if the person/company you are contacting does not have a job opening, they may share knowledge of your availability with others - thus leading to additional prospects. Or, while there may not be a current need, something may come up with the company in the future, and your CV will be in their files. You never know which friend or colleague may become aware of openings in your field. Getting word out to one and all of your availability is wise.
  3. Networking is often the key to employment. There are several effective ways in which you can network in Indonesia. 1) join a professional association for your field, 2) join an expatriate business association, 3) pound the pavement -- attending every possible function you can and pass out your card, 4) join community organizations, sports clubs and church communities, and 4) volunteer for everything you can find the time to do. Through these volunteer activities you will meet people who may be able to steer you towards employment. Every time you meet someone who you think might be instrumental in your job search, follow up that meeting with an email, note, letter, fax or call.
  4. Inviting key people in your industry to lunch (on you) and picking their brain would also be an effective way to find out what is going on in your field.
  5. Get a job working for a multinational in your home country, then work towards an assignment in Indonesia from inside the company.
  6. Come to Indonesia and start learning Bahasa Indonesia on a social/visit visa (or a dependent spouse visa if your spouse is already employed in Indonesia). Then join the various community/professional organizations and start networking to look for a job. Note, you cannot legally work on a tourist or visit visa!
  7. Post your resume on Internet job forums and bulletin boards, both in Indonesia and abroad.
  8. Contact a Jakarta Executive Search or Recruiting firm or those based throughout Asia. To our knowledge there is no executive search firm in Jakarta that deals exclusively with expatriates. Several big international search firms have representative offices in Jakarta, as well as several excellent local firms. Most of these companies get few inquiries from their local clients for expatriate searches as they deal 99% with searches for senior Indonesian managers. They may, however be willing to take your CV into their database for that one-off expat search. It's also possible that a search firm in Singapore or Hong Kong may actually get searches for positions in Indonesia ... so spread your resume around the region.

Local Hires

In some instances multinationals may be looking for expatriates who are already residing in Indonesia. They may value the person's Indonesian experience and familiarity with the language, business climate, and working conditions. In these cases, the company will orient the local hire to the company, instead of orienting a person from the home office to Indonesia. These positions are few and far between. Be sure to mention Bahasa Indonesia language skills and Indonesian work experience or business/cultural knowledge in your job application.

These people are considered valuable if they possess: 1) Indonesian industry-relevant experience, 2) Technical skills that nationals don't have, or 3) Bahasa Indonesia skills. Those expatriates married to Indonesian spouses have an additional factor in their favor-. a perceived longevity and commitment to Indonesia as well as an increased level of understanding of cross-cultural differences.

Good advice -- read the fine print of every contract and try to contact people who work there before you sign the employment contract.

The official minimum wage in Indonesia differs by province. In Jakarta the minimum wage is Rp 5,000,000/month (January 2024). It is adjusted every year and the new rate usually comes into effect in January. The 2024 minimum wage in Bali is Rp 2.813,672, starting January 2024. For other areas, just Google "upah minimum provinsi _____ tahun 2024" putting the name of the province instead of the blank.

These minimum wage is not applied to informal sectors (micro, small medium enterprise), however, as expat, your company will be classified not as a foreign investment company and not as micro, small medium entreprise. Note that if the employment of household staff is recorded on the financial statement of a multinational company, the company is obliged by law to pay the individual at least minimal wage.

Transfer of Knowledge - Expats to Indonesians

Most foreign companies in Indonesia will expect the to expat mentor to share knowledge of his/her position with an Indonesian counterpart. The foreign company must then plan the methods whereby knowledge will be transferred so that the Indonesian citizen will be prepared to take over the position by the end of the expat's employment in Indonesia.

These steps is often stated in the Manpower Plan that the company agrees upon with the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower. The government's goal towards transfer of knowledge to Indonesian citizens is understandable considering the millions of Indonesians who are looking for work and the high costs of employing expatriates.

Most multinationals are agreeable with these requirements however there has been concern that even though the national has been trained and is aware of the expectation of international management, it is seen that Indonesian mangers sometimes allow standards and the international company's business practices to relax under total Indonesian management. This is a cause of concern within any multinational company, however, it becomes even more critical when safety and potential accidents are in question that endanger staff, the environment, or the company's investment.

Teaching Jobs

NOTE: it is illegal for individuals to hire a foreigner and it is illegal for a foreigner to be hired by individual(s) or teach at a company/school without a Work Permit and Work-related KITAS, except if that person is holding a KITAS or KITAP sponsored by their Indonesian spouse. Foreign residents can not teach language privately as work permits allowing them to do so are tied to the schools that employ them.

This site receives many inquiries from foreign nationals who want to teach in Indonesia. If you want to teach at an international school and have a teaching degree and current teaching qualifications and experience, please consult our listing of international schools for their contact information. There are also several websites that provide information for foreign teachers about various postings overseas in international schools around the world. They provide information on upcoming job fairs for international teachers in cities around the world. Just search for "teaching jobs in Indonesia" on Google.

For native speakers who would like to teach English in Indonesia, a teaching certificate, TEFL, TESL, TESOL, CELTA, or DELTA is required by the Indonesian government to prove that you are a qualified expert. If you have of certification (TESL, TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, or DELTA) from an accredited institution and are a native speaker (see below) - you are considered an expert in the field of teaching English - even if you are a fresh graduate. Though, of course, most employers prefer someone with experience.

ITAS work permits are only issued to English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers from one of these five countries: UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. There are several language schools who have started recruiting on our Expat Forum, so check and see if there are any recent job listings, or post your credentials in the "Expats Seeking Employment" channel. A surf of the Internet will also result in websites for other English schools in Indonesia, that you can then contact direct to inquire about employment opportunities.

There is usually an age limit in most schools hiring practices as it is difficult for them to get a visa for persons over the age of 50. Indonesian law UU no.14 , Tahun 2005 states age limits to foreign teachers for the formal education sector. It states that "Guru" can work until 60 years old, "Dosen" until 65, and "Profesor" until 70. It may be that Guru is a basic teacher (Bachelor's Degree with teaching certificate), Dosen is a teacher with a Master's Degree and Professor is a teacher with PhD.

English teaching jobs may be available for native speakers with little/no training, but small schools may not be able to undergo the expense to get you a work permit/visa ... so you would be working illegally, which is never advised! Be sure that the company will cover all the costs of documentation and permits to work legally!

Teaching Languages Besides English

For those interesting in teaching Dutch, German or French, please contact the appropriate Cultural Center or Embassy as they offer language classes. National Business Associations may also be aware of particular schools that are looking for native speakers of other languages.

Staying Employed

Many of the activities you engaged in to find your job will also keep you in close touch with your business colleagues once you are working. In the event your contract ends and you are looking for employment again all those years of networking will help to get you re-employed!

Speaking the language, Bahasa Indonesia, is an important key to success in the Indonesian work place. Language schools can be found in most major cities throughout the country.

Another important part of job retention is an understanding of working with Indonesians. Read through our Cross Cultural Training articles for more information on achieving a successful work environment in an Indonesian office.

Best of luck on your job search!

Related Information

Ministry of Manpower Law No. 16 of 2015 - Tata Cara Penggunaan Tenaga Kerja Asing

Employee compensation Benefits: Indonesian Regulations
Interview Guide for Job Applicants
Background Checks and Employee Screening
Finding a Job through a Jakarta Headhunter
Executive Search Consultants in Singapore and Hong Kong
Expatriate Compensation Packages
Employing Expatriates in Indonesia
Salary Benchmark Tool 2024- Michael Page
Indonesia Salary Guide 2024 - by PERSOL Kelly
All It Takes Is One Bad Apple: The Value of Pre-employment Screening and Due Diligence

Job Search Sites

Living in Indonesia Expat Forum Job Listings - post your interest and availability and check out the job listings


Thank you to PT Widya Presisi Solusi for providing updates on relevant laws.

Last updated March 18, 2024