How Many Expats Live in Indonesia?
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In reality, the Indonesian immigration office certainly must have current and accurate figures of the number of people to which they have issued semi-permanent resident visas and permanent resident visas. This information does not seem to be readily available to the general public, however. Their website (in its various incarnations and from time to time) shows bar graphs for the numbers of foreigners, which are almost impossible to decipher and often years old.
In fact, any comprehensive numbers coming out of the Indonesian immigration office also include large numbers (millions) of ethnic minorities who have lived in Indonesia for generations, but have not changed their citizenship to Indonesian.
The imigrasi section at the central Catatan Sipil office on Gatot Subroto has a big whiteboard with the numbers of expats, listing each nationality for each Kantor Imigrasi in Jakarta. They also draw little graphs showing fluctuations over time, but don't include tourists.
The numbers quoted also can not reflect the number of expatriates who have followed the widely practiced alternative to resident visas of the monthly/bi-monthly tourist visa run. A number of others find ways to work and reside in Indonesia on business visas or social-visit visas, leaving periodically and returning ... and never showing up in semi-permanent resident counts (not advised!)
Another authoritative source of information on the current number of expatriate residents should be the embassies of foreign nationals. The majority of embassies have registration practices where their citizens can register their presence in Indonesia with the embassy. Historically this practice was not followed widely by the majority of expatriates. In the years immediately following the May 1998 riots, and with the subsequent evacuation of many expatriates by their embassies, this practice has perhaps been more closely followed.
However, many expatriates fail to inform their embassies when they depart Indonesia and many choose not to register. Thus, most embassies are doubtful that the number of their citizens that they have registered is an accurate number at any given time for the actual number that are residing in Indonesia.
Another possible source of numbers is the various expatriate community groups. One could add up the membership numbers for each of the groups and come up with a total. But there are many expats who belong to more than one community group ... as well as those who belong to no community organizations. There are also Indonesian nationals who are counted in the membership figures.
To sum up ... no one knows, everyone wants to know, and it would be an enormous research task to determine the true number of expatriates living in Indonesia accurately! Please send us any figures you have received from good sources, and we'll add them to the listing below.
Some Historic Numbers Show the Ebb and Flow of the Community!
There are now more than 2,062 foreigners working in Bali. Many of these positions are in Bali’s tourism sector. (April 2012, head of Bali’s Manpower Department)
Quotes from online sources in mid-2010 put the number of expats in Indonesia at around 83,000. These sources were quoted in articles related to the changes in property ownership legislation ... and were hopeful of capitalizing on changing regulations to sell more apartments to expats.
May 2010 Manpower Ministry statistics show a working expat population of 45,981 - see Manpower report with breakdown by nationality and industry (in Indonesian).
Bank Indonesia Survey on Foreign Workers in 2009 (thanks lantern)
In different incarnations the Kemenakertrans website has figures for foreign workers in Indonesia. This number seems extremely low .. but it's the official report! To see this information, as well as breakdowns by nationality, job title, and area ... click on the English button, then click on the "Data and Information Manpower" navigation link, then see what information they are currently offering.
Data from the Manpower Ministry through the May 2008 showed 15, 205 expats. Their breakdown was:
An online spreadsheet at the Manpower Ministry (which is now offline) showed the 2005 total of expatriates listed as 50,900 expatriates working in Indonesia!
We assume the numbers were accurate .... as it was written on an official white board :)
In 2004, immigration figures showed just under 1,500 expatriates living in Bandung.
In June 2004, the manpower ministry released data that the number of expatriates working in Indonesia had drastically decreased to around 17,000 in Dec. 2003, from 50,000 in 1999.
In October 2003, the Jakarta Post reported: "According to data at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, the number of foreigners working in Indonesia has reached around 30,000 and most are employed in the industrial zones in Batam, Jakarta, East Java, Kalimantan and Papua."
In late 2001, the Jakarta Post reported that in 2000, there were 3,256,854 expatriates, including their dependents, registered with Immigration to live/work in Indonesia. [Note: this was probably one of those figures that included members of the non-documented ethnic Indonesian communities]
And some time after the May 1998 riots, expat numbers in Indonesia were reported (by various sources) as:
Before the $100/month working expat tax was introduced in 1997, the government said there were 57,000 foreigners working in Indonesia in 1996, earning an estimated $2.4 billion per year (averaging about $42,000 each).
Another source offered what may have been accurate, and credible data - from the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia - which broke down the numbers as: In 1992, the number of foreigners living in Indonesia was 221,461. Of these, 220,129 were Asians, 2 Africans, 107 Australians, 961 Europeans, and 262 Americans. ...hmmmm two Africans ???
Another figure - UNESCO said that in 1987, the number of foreigners working in Indonesia was 19,000. This number increased to 75,000 in 1990.
Our thanks to Tupairoy for his posting on the Expat Forum (and the many inquiries we receive at www.expat.or.id) which helped to initiate this article.
Last updated December 19, 2012.
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