The Arrivals Process into Bali Airport: what you can expect!
Arriving at Bali Airport (Denpasar) after a long flight can sometimes be a little overwhelming if you have not experienced it before. There are a few things you need to prepare yourself for in advance to make sure the process is as smooth as possible. We have a few tips and tricks up our sleeve which you can take on board for your next airport experience that may help you arrive a little more relaxed and ready to switch off from the real world!
In the past, Bali airport has been known for long line ups at some of the arrival stages, and this can certainly change throughout different times of the year depending on the more popular tourist seasons, but the airport has most definitely come a long way in the last few years with more staff, better systems and less entry requirements.
Before you leave for your holiday, you need to make sure you have completed the online electronic customs declaration. The following information will also help you to navigate yourself off the plane, through the arrivals call, the VOA(Visa on Arrival) counter, Immigration, Baggage, Customs and then Driver Waiting area! It sounds like a lot but prepare yourself and it will be a smooth arrival pending there is not an influx of other international flights at the same time, it should be relatively smooth.
The link to the online customs declaration form can be found here:
Please be aware that there are some un-authorised sites promoting a customs entry form that try and charge you for completing the customs form. Don’t ever make a payment online. The one and only thing you need to pay for is your VOA once you have arrived in Bali and you pay this in person. Please do not use any other links for this form. It is recommended that you complete the link prior to leaving Australia. There are two methods for completing the form. If you don’t complete the form prior, then once you arrive in Bali airport, you’ll need to line up and use the computers if you don’t have internet on your phone and/or if the airport WIFI is not working which is a nightmare. Bali airport has Free WIFI, so this is also helpful should you forget to complete the form before leaving Australia, but the WIFI can also be a little unreliable. One form needs to be completed for EVERY traveller regardless of age.
Once you have gone to the link mentioned above, once completed, you will be provided with a QR code which you then present to the customs officials after collecting luggage and before the customs security screening and inspection. They will scan this as you walk past.
You may have heard of Express services, or VIP services. Essentially these services provide you a chauffeur to take you through the process of the airport. Some services will also offer you a ‘faster’ line for immigration. Do I think these services are worth the $70-$100 they are charging…..Generally no. You still need to line up for your VOA, and at the end of the day, the longest part of the arrivals process is generally the time spent waiting for your bags. There is nothing that any VIP service can do to speed up this process, so you may get through the other part faster, but you’ll still be waiting the same amount of time as everyone else for your bags. The only time this would be helpful is in a case where lots of international flights have arrived at the same time. It will get you through some of the lines faster, but again there is never any guarantees of which flight they will unload bags from first. Generally speaking if you are arriving into the airport early morning, or late at night, its likely that there will be minimal other international flights arriving. Should you be arriving between 11am-4pm, you are likely going to have more planes arriving and therefore this is the time when it's likely to take you longer. Refer to this page for the International Arrivals Schedule
GETTING OFF THE PLANE A quick tip before getting off the plane, is to make sure you take a bathroom break on the plane before landing as you will want to make sure that you’re getting into the lines as quickly as possible and not trying to manage bathrooms whilst the lines get bigger. Then once you’re in the luggage arrivals section, this is then the next best place for a bathroom spot whilst you’re waiting for the luggage to come off the plane and onto the conveyer belt. As you exit the plane and depending on the bay that the plane parks in, you may be required to walk a distance through the arrival halls before getting to the main area. Otherwise, you may be asked to get on a bus after getting onto the plane which will take you to the arrival hall. This will depend on your airline. Depending on the time of day the queues can be long, with waiting times from less than an hour if you’re lucky to more than 2 hours if you landed at the same time as other international flights’ You can always check the international arrivals on the airport website prior to your arrival to prepare yourself. Generally speaking, there are less planes arriving in the morning that the afternoon/evening.
VISA ON ARRIVAL (VOA)
The first counter that you will come across is the VOA or Visa on Arrival counter. This is where you need to purchase your Visa that will allow you to stay in Indonesia for 30 days. Indonesia has strict rules when it comes to the 30-day tourist visa and if you happen to overstay this 30 day stay, then you will be fined 1,000,000IDR ($100 AUD) per extra day overstay. The 30-day visa costs 500k so approximately $50AUD. The daily currency rate changes, so if you want to pay in a different currency, please be mindful that it will change daily. I find the best way is to have $55 AUD ready to hand over. Please note they only accept notes and not coins, and any change will be given back in IDR. You’re able to pay in AUD, IDR or by credit card. I find AUD or credit card to be the easiest method.
From the VOA counter, you will then walk ahead to the immigration counters.
After landing your best strategy is to get to the immigration queue as quickly as possible. As you’re heading this way, look at the lines, and then look at the counters infront of the lines. Pick a line that has multiple staff working on the counter. Some lines may look shorter, but they only have one staff manager stamping passports. Other lines can have up to three people stamping. Just choose the line with the most number of staff working.
At this counter they will want your passport and airline ticket. They may ask you how long you're staying in Bali. It is important that when you booked your flight, you booked a return flight. You can only enter Indonesia with a return flight. Should you want to stay longer than the VOA 30 days, you'll then be required to update your original flight booking, you wont just be able to book a return flight home once you're in Bali. Sometimes they will check, other-times they wont. If they check and realise you do not have a return flight home, they will make you book one on the spot. At this counter you'll also be asked to have your finger prints scanned and a photo taken of your face for their system.
There is now a separate queue on the far right-hand side of the immigration queues that cater to families with small children (under 5) and the elderly (over 60) along with diplomats and flight crew. Sometimes the position of this line can change, and may be located on the far left side, so please look out for the marked signage. Please check for signage as to which side this is located as it often changes.
Bali Airport is renowned for its slow baggage handling, so the best option is to get through immigration as quickly as possible and take a bathroom break afterwards in the baggage and customs hall. The entry to the area of baggage carousels has the destination boards, which often change, so hang around there until you know you have the right carousel and keep your eye for any changes.
Checked luggage will come out onto the conveyors slowly, with 20 minutes considered super-fast and up to an hour is about standard. If you have booked over-sized luggage, its likely you’ll find this all in a pile with everyone else’s oversized luggage.
Before you leave baggage collection to go through customs checks make sure you have your QR code ready to show. You also may find at this point after receiving your luggage that your bag has a bright coloured cable tie attached to the top. This means that the baggage team have identified something in your bag that needs further checks. This could be extra alcohol, excess electronics goods, which are all privy to extra tax or just an object of a strange shape that they wish to look at further. As you exit past the counter scanning your QR code, there is a man standing there and his sole job is looking for these tags. If he identifies that you have a tag on your bag, then you’ll be directed to the right side where your bag will go through another Xray and then be opened and checked by the customs team.
Should you be directed through the right lane for a baggage inspection, always remember to be nice and polite, give them a smile and comply with all requests.
Please note that only 1 litre of alcohol is permitted per person into Indonesia. It makes no difference if it’s a duty-free bottle or a bottle you bought from the bottle shop. Carry your alcohol as carry-on. It’s advised to buy any duty-free spirits in Australia or before you arrive into Indonesia, as there has been issues of non-authentic alcohol being sold. There are often supply shortages meaning the store is empty.
Technically the value allowed per person for electronics and other goods is USD$500 but this is generally not enforced for items that are clearly of personal nature like laptops and cameras. If you happen to be bringing something unusual and expensive or household appliances not readily available in Bali; you may need to pay customs duty.If you are being asked to pay duty, then just pay the amount as it’s actually often cheaper than buying the item in Indonesia anyway. If you're bringing in a lot of electrical items, best to make sure they are un-packaged so they can be seen as ‘personal items’ duty on items like this is the law, not a scam or a bribe like some people may believe. Customs will often 'assess' the value as being much higher than what you paid, so if you are coming over with a lot of electrical devices and close to the value of $500 US, then carry the receipt with you stored somewhere else incase you need to prove the value.
THE ARRIVALS HALL(DRIVER WAITING AREA)
After exiting customs through the arrival gates, you will be likely overwhelmed by an atrium area with a wall of drivers holding signs behind a barrier all trying to catch your attention. There are also a number of local taxis around that will start harassing you for a taxi fare. The huge number of drivers and signs can be overwhelming and it’s easy to say “I can’t find them”, but you need to be patient. Start at one end and run your eyes carefully over the signs one by one. Please remember it’s likely the sign will have the “Booking Name” so make sure you’re actually looking for the correct name.
Once you have found your driver, you’re now set for a really great holiday experience. Welcome to Bali!