Return ticket for a visa in Bali: is it really mandatory?

Modified on June 18, 2024

The return ticket is an element required to obtain certain visas in Indonesia, but also elsewhere. If you weren't planning to go straight home after your trip, here are your options.

Why do some countries (including Indonesia) require a return flight for a visa?

Before delving into specific issues and cases, it's necessary to remind ourselves of the reasons why Indonesia, as well as other countries, demand a return flight for certain visas.

Each visa has a fixed duration (in days or years), and when the expiration date approaches, you only have two options:

  1. Renew the visa when possible
  2. Exit the territory to avoid overstaying

Almost all countries require a return flight for the issuance of certain visas. This includes Indonesia, but it's also true for for instance, the Schengen Area, which also requires a return flight for individuals outside its territory.

The return ticket is simply here to prove that the foreign visitor will not illegally settle after the visa expires.

Is the return flight ticket really checked for certain visas in Bali?

Yes, the administration will check your departure from Indonesian territory for the issuance of certain visas, especially visit / tourist visas:

  • Visa on Arrival (VOA) or its extension, whether applied online or at the airport
  • Visa B211 and other longer-term visit visas

As the outbound flight is one of the mandatory documents for obtaining these visas, your chances of slipping through unnoticed are quite low.

Logically, the only visas for which no return ticket is required are residence visas such as KITAS or KITAP.

If you don't understand a thing about visas in Bali, find more explanations here or fill the visa finder below (it's free of course).

Does the return flight from Indonesia have to be to your country of origin?

There seems to be confusion among tourists unfamiliar with visa processes, especially regarding the destination of the return flight.

To provide a clear answer: the Indonesian immigration doesn't care whether you book a return flight to Australia, France, Switzerland, Thailand, or Singapore. They only check (and are responsible for) their own borders. As long as you leave Indonesian territory, it's good for them. The rest is not their concern.

If you are travelling to Indonesia from France, Australia, Germany or Thailand, you can then perfectly have a return flight by the visa expiration date to a destination unrelated to your country of origin.

How to obtain your visa in Indonesia without a return flight?

There are several reasons why you might opt for a one-way ticket to Bali with no return or a return that is after your visa date. Among the most common:

No need to panic; you are neither the first nor the last in this situation. There are several tricks to know if you don't want a return ticket home by the end of your visa.

Book an Onward Ticket (Reservation) that commits you to nothing

Until a few years ago, you could go through travel agencies that made a flight reservation in your name. Reservations are different from a regular ticket purchase: they are real but don't commit you to buy the reserved flight.

In plain English, these reservations are known as "onward tickets."

Thanks to the internet, the process is now straightforward. You can simply purchase a reservation for a flight to Singapore or another close destination to Bali of your choice and never actually buy the ticket or take the flight.

The service usually costs around €15, which is much cheaper than buying an unnecessary ticket and often cheaper than paying the rescheduling fees for an exchangeable ticket.

Of course, Indonesian immigration (and also Schengen immigration for those interested) is perfectly okay with onward tickets.

Onward Ticket
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Buy a real ticket exiting Indonesia with free cancellation

The other option, if for any reason you don't like the onward ticket solution (there are no valid reasons, but you never know), is simply to take an exchangeable flight out of Indonesian territory.

Flights to neighbouring countries like Singapore or Malaysia are quite affordable. You can potentially buy an exchangeable airline ticket without fees and change it according to your visa expiration.

This requires more maintenance than the onward ticket: if you forget to change the dates of your ticket and the plane leaves without you, the cost of the ticket is entirely lost. Yes, unlike the onward ticket where the airline doesn't explicitly wait for you, buying tickets commits you much more!

But if your only goal is to obtain a visa, this is a perfectly valid solution.

Exit Indonesian territory and truly visit a nearby country

If you're adventurous, leaving Indonesian territory for a nearby country can also be an option to renew certain visas.

Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are less than 3 hours away from most Indonesian islands, and tickets are not that expensive. Spending a few days in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur can kill two birds with one stone: renewing a visa and discovering a new country, which is not necessarily unpleasant.

And if you have a bit more cash, a flight to Thailand is surely a bit more expensive (and longer), but it's also a great way to do a visa run in Bali.


To obtain a tourist visa or B211 visa in Indonesia, you primarily need proof of leaving Indonesian territory. This proof can be:

  • Evidence of a reservation for a flight to a third country (onward ticket)
  • A real exchangeable airline ticket to another country, even if you don't actually take the flight
  • An airline ticket to a neighboring country that you might potentially take

Under no circumstances does Indonesian immigration require a ticket to France if you're coming from France, to Australia if you're coming from Australia, or to India if you're coming from India.

The only thing that matters to them is that you exit the territory by the end of your visa.

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