How to become an Indonesian Citizen

Following our Indonesian Expert's recent announcement of becoming an Indonesian citizen, I wondered whether he or anyone else could explain a little about the requirements and procedure, the positives and the negatives (if any) of becoming an Indonesian citizen.

I have heard that in Bali, quite a lot of westerners now enter and leave the country with a green Indonesian passport. And, very importantly, I have heard that giving up ones own citizenship in order to become an Indonesian is no longer a necessity. Also, I remember hearing something about having to hold a KITAP for at least five years before being eligible for applying for Indonesian citizenship, as well as being able to speak fairly fluent bahasa Indonesia.

So appreciate anyone who can give some good advice and clarification on all this.


A few basic facts:

To gain Indonesian citizenship you must have a minimum of five years continuous legal living in Indonesia or ten years on and off whilst holding a KITAS or KITAP.

You must have no criminal record that left you with more than one year in prison. NO drug use at all as that sort of stuff will immediately kill your application.

It's easier for those married to an Indonesian than those who are not. The process is much faster for people married to Indonesians.

Expect the process to take around two years, more if not married to an Indonesian.

You MUST give up your original nationality before the citizenship is confirmed. This must be in writing from your previous government.

The whole process is in Indonesian - If you can manage that, you have sufficient skill in that language. There is no formal language test as such but the final stage is mostly interviews so, if you can't manage the answers in Indonesian, you're unable to get past those.
Questions vary a lot but there are several panels of people including immigration, senior police offices, people from Hukum HAM and several others including doctors that check your health record.
You move to a new set of interviewers as they become free to speak to you.

The number of naturalised Indonesians is very small so it's unlikely there are droves of Australians using Indonesian passports as suggested and, even if there were, they'd need a visa to return to Australia as they would have had to surrender their Australian passports and renounce citizenship. The passport is kept by the holder but the corner is cut and it's cancelled electronically meaning it's just a worthless book but serves as proof the passport is no longer valid. Immigration will require that as part but not all of the proof you have renounced your citizenship of whatever country.

The interviews are the final stage in a very long and careful process that includes a lot of home visits from various people and a lot of checking up on the applicant. Questions vary a lot but you should know the national anthem, Pancasila, UUD 1945 and what all these mean to Indonesia as a country and life here. I deliberately over prepared so I have a pretty good understanding of all on that list and a lot more.

The long and the short is, apart from the set requirements, you have to prove you're likely to be a good Indonesian, not just using the passport as an easy way to buy a villa in Bali but really live in Australia or where ever.

Citizenship is a major change with advantages and disadvantages, not something you should or can do on a whim.
In my case, the application was made with many factors in mind as no single reason was enough on its own.
I think I had advantages as I have grown to love this country and that seemed to show in the interview process, something that didn't hurt my chances. My wanderings also helped a lot as they allowed me a far deeper insight into the lives of a wide spectrum of Indonesian lives from the poor and homeless right to the top of Indonesian society as seen in the Indonesian art world I have found a very nice interest in.

Long time and a lot of very hard work and study but worth it when immigration hand you an Indonesian passport. I've felt very much part of this country from the first few weeks of arriving so it was a real boost when that little book was handed over the counter.

Thanks Fred. That pretty much explains it all.

The big thing is only giving up a foreign passport which I am not prepared to do at this time. I will wait until Indonesia gets around (hopefully one day in the future) to allowing dual nationality.

Btw, the foreigners who have Indonesian citizenship in Bali weren't Australians, they were Europeans, I think from Western Europe. I guess they found paradise.

Thanks again for the detailed explanation.

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