I recently got my stamp for an Indonesian visa valid for three months and it had been months of trying to figure out how to get it. You see, getting an Indonesian visa on a Nigerian passport is almost impossible. Almost.
A quick background story
Sometime in July, I announced my first group trip to Bali, Indonesia which sold out in less than 24 hours. I had put everything together including landing a luxury resort, getting butlers, etc for the trip in December. What I didn’t dig deeper into was the strenuous visa process for Nigerian citizens. As a frequent traveler who also has to apply for visas all the time, I had assumed it was a regular visa process and I was going to apply closer to the time. (Most visa applications cannot be done too far off in advance.)
As soon as I announced, I started getting a lot of messages from people asking me about the Indonesian visa. Most people were asking me how I got it and narrating tales on how they found it impossible to get. That was when I knew there was a problem. The next day, I called up the Indonesian Consulate in Toronto and they flat out told me they weren’t giving visas to Nigerian citizens without an approval from the Director General in Jakarta, Indonesia. And that was when the long process of securing my Indonesian visa began. With a trip already planned, that was all the motivation I needed for what was going to be a persevering journey only for the strong-hearted.
The Process of Getting an Indonesian Visa for Nigerian citizens
While other none-Nigerian citizens who need a visa to Indonesia can walk into a consulate to apply directly, Nigerians and eight other countries require what’s called a Calling Visa. This means you have to first get approval from the Director General of Immigration in Jakarta, Indonesia BEFORE you can apply like other nationalities can.
These are the countries that require a calling visa: Afghanistan, Guinea, Israel, North Korea, Cameroon, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria and Somalia.
How to get a Calling Visa to Indonesia
Getting a calling visa to Indonesia is the difficult part. This is the part that can easily take months with little to no guarantees of success. But it’s possible and I’ll tell you how I got mine done and what the process is.
1.) Find an Indonesian sponsor
Your sponsor must be an Indonesian citizen living in Indonesia. Your sponsor can be an individual or a corporate organization. Now you may be wondering, “how can I find a sponsor when I don’t even live in Indonesia”. Yes, I thought so too. By a stroke of luck, due to my network as a travel blogger, I managed to find someone. I wish I could tell you a way to find a sponsor but this is a research you have to do yourself. You can look online if that helps. If you have friends and co-workers with families back in Indonesia, that can help. Ask around, you never know. Your sponsor will have to sign a waiver that they are responsible for everything you do in Indonesia and this puts most of them off as it is such a big ask.
2.) Sponsor applies for telex for you online
Whew! Now that you have found a sponsor, the next thing is for your sponsor to go online and apply for a telex for you. A telex is the same as a calling visa. The website to apply for an approval for you is https://visaonline.imigrasi.go.id/online. You have to give your sponsor all the documents needed – passport page, proof of funds, etc. And they have to write a letter addressed to the Directorate of Immigration. The letter has to be stamped by the sponsor otherwise your application will be declined. There’s a small fee of less than $10 attached to this online application.
3.) Your sponsor goes for an interview on a Tuesday
If you pass the initial vetting process (i.e your documents as submitted by your sponsor are deemed as satisfactory and complete), your sponsor will be invited to the immigration headquarters in Jakarta on the following Tuesday. Every Tuesdays, sponsors of calling visas are interviewed by a panel to understand things like intentions, purpose of sponsorship, relationship with sponsor, etc. My sponsor spent the entire day waiting for his interview to happen and based on everything I heard, this is the standard procedure with Indonesians. Note that this process can take up to three months.
After the interview, it is not unusual to see that you haven’t heard back. This is where the process typically hits a roadblock or stand-still. Many people get to this point and hear nothing back for years. In my case, I made lots of phone calls, wrote emails and even sent letters but heard nothing back at all. Radio silence.
4.) Once telex is approved, it is sent to your local consulate
Should you have crossed the above hurdles, once your telex is approved, it is sent to your sponsor’s email and also sent to your local consulate. In my case, it was first sent to Abuja, Nigeria and then rerouted to Toronto. The telex is only valid for 30 days so you must apply for your visa within that time period otherwise it expires and becomes unusable. I found this quite weird because although I was waiting to hear back for so long, if it had come in earlier, it would have been too early and I wouldn’t have been able to use it anyway.
5.) Take your telex to your consulate and apply for the Indonesian visa and stamp
Notice that throughout the entire process, you had little to nothing to do with it. From steps one to four, you have to play the waiting game. Once you get your telex (your sponsor emails it to you after receiving it from immigration), you then take the letter, alongside your other visa application documents like proof of funds, tickets, etc to your local consulate for a stamp. The visa itself usually takes 3 business days to process and this is the only step you would have had to take if you weren’t on that special list.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE
While I have shared the steps above, it would be a grave injustice not to mention that I did get some help from a reputable visa agent in Jakarta to move the process along. I would have waited forever if it wasn’t for their help.
Note: There’s a steep cost attached to this service but they delivered in under a month. If you do not mind bearing the cost, reach out to them at LMVISASERVICE@GMAIL.COM. You can ask specifically for Diana who provided the best customer service to me and was patient while I asked a million questions. I doubt I will have my visa now if it wasn’t for them.
I hope you found this post helpful. Do not hesitate to share it with anyone who you think will need it. Getting an Indonesian visa on a Nigerian passport is a herculean task but if you really want to see Bali and experience the Balinese culture, it’s what you have to do. I guess.
I am off to Bali, Indonesia in a few weeks and I’ll be sharing my travel experiences there. It’s also my first organized group trip so I am looking forward to it. Let’s see if Bali was worth the hassle. Judging from the itinerary I have planned out, it’s bound to be amazing.
Thank you for reading,