If you want to drive in Bali whether you want to hire a scooter or a car, you must have an International driving permit (IDP) and without an international driving permit, you are not road-legal and you will have no insurance.
In this article, we’ll take you through the process of turning your Australian drivers licence into an international driving permit (IDP) and from there, how to turn an international driving permit into a local Balinese licence.
That way you can be 100% certain of being road-legal in Bali and of having insurance coverage in the event of an accident.
We should note that you cannot get a local licence on a tourist visa. If you have a tourist visa, you will just need an IDP with the correct endorsement to drive legally in Bali.
The Basics Of Driving In Bali: International Driving Permits
If you have any experience of driving overseas then you probably know that most countries accept and recognize international driving permits and Indonesia is no different.
In order for someone to obtain international driving permits, they must have a valid driving license in the country that they come from.
If your current licence has reached the expiry date or you haven’t had a licence in the past, you will need to either renew or obtain one before you can get into the international driving permit process.
What Is An International Driving Permit (IDP)?
An international driving permit is a United Nations-sanctioned document that states that the bearer has reached a standard of driving that allows them to drive overseas.
There are a lot of companies that purport to sell international driving permits but it’s very important to know that, in fact, only one agency per country may sell international driving permits, the other offers are fraudulent.
So, make very certain before you part with any cash (or worse, your credit card details) that you are dealing with the authorised sales agent in your country.
We’ve got an example of this below – for people with an Australian driver’s licence. If you’re not from Australia please check with your own authorities on how to get the permit correctly.
In Australia, there is only one official United Nations authorised sales agent and that’s the Australian Automobile Association (AAA).
Their website has a full page on how to get your IDP with an online application form or by using a local authorized centre.
The Australian Automobile Association (AAA)
Every IDP in Australia must be processed by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA). It is the only authorised distributor or the only authorised body to issue the IDP in Australia.
However, even though they are the only authorised body, they have licensed local state/territory motoring clubs to do the paperwork with you. You can contact RACV, NRMA, etc. for more details on this.
The licence expires exactly 12 months after the date of issue, this is, of course, rather less than the lifespan of an Australian drivers licence and the reason that so many folks would rather have a Balinese licence rather than keep paying for IDPs.
To get your IDP from the AAA, you will need:
A headshot – this must meet all the stipulations laid down by the Australian Passport Office (see here). So, in effect, this is a passport-style photo.
Your existing driver licence – that is you will need your Australian drivers licence photocard
A method of payment – if you do the IDP online this will, of course, need to be a card of some form, but if you’re working with a partner organization, you may be able to pay in cash
How Much Do International Driving Permits Cost?
The IDP is a fairly reasonable $49 plus the costs of postage. It doesn’t matter where you apply for an international driving permit, this fee is always the same.
Do You Still Need To Carry Your Australian Drivers Licence?
Yes. The IDP is not a driver licence. It’s just a statement that you are allowed to engage in overseas driving as long as you have a copy of your existing Australian driver licence.
How To Get An Indonesian Driving Licence In Bali
Good news. Getting a driving licence in Bali isn’t that hard. However, before you go running to the office to apply for one, we need to point out that you cannot obtain an Indonesian licence with a tourist visa.
So, if you don’t have a long-term visa for Bali, don’t bother trying. The authorities cannot issue a tourist with a licence in any circumstances.
Many people will hire an agent to do the job for them. This can be a pretty expensive process.
We’ve seen quotes of 2-3 million IDR for this service on top of the standard fees (another 400K or so).
Now, it’s fair to say that if you use an agent, you won’t need to spend any time doing the hard work and it can save 2-3 hours in the police station obtaining your licence.
Only you can decide whether that time saving is worth $200 or more. We’re not anti-agent, but we do think that many people have better ways to spend their money than using an agent for a driver licence.
The Basics About SIM A/SIM C (Indonesian Driving Licence)
An Indonesian Driving Licence is usually called a “SIM”. This stands for “Surat Ijin Mengemudi”, in Bahasa. This would translate roughly as “a letter of permission to drive”.
There are two versions of this licence. A SIM A includes the right to drive a car and a SIM C which includes the right to drive a scooter or motorbike in Bali.
The cost is 200,000 IDR per licence. So, if you want a SIM A and a SIM C, you will need to pay 400,000 IDR in total.
You can do everything in a single visit to Denpasar Police Station and it should only take 2-3 hours (assuming it’s no busier than usual) but it might be longer.
You can find the Denpasar Police Station (Polresta Denpasar) at Jl. Gunung Sanghyang No.110, Padangsambian, Kec. Denpasar Bar., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80117
Officially, yes. However, many people report that this requirement is not checked during the process and that people with B211 visas (e.g. social visas and business visas) have had no problems obtaining a licence.
However, there’s no negotiation on tourist visas. You cannot get an Indonesian driving licence with a tourist visa.
Who Issues The Local License?
The local police force issues the licence.
How Long Is A SIM A or SIM C Valid For?
An Indonesian driver’s licence is valid for a period of 10 years, after which, it must renewed (and you will need to pay an additional fee as well as pass an eyesight examination).
What Types Of Licenses Are Issued?
SIM A (a licence to use passenger-carrying cars) and SIM C (a licence to use motorcycles including the ubiquitous Balinese scooter).
Basic Steps To Get Your Driving License in Bali
It’s not a particularly complicated process to get your license and as long as you follow the steps below – you ought to be able to do it yourself.
However, it’s not a quick process either and you should expect to spend half a day in the police station.
In our experience, the earlier you get there, the faster the process will be.
Get Your Photocopies In Advance
You must have a copy of your passport including your visa page in order to begin the licence application at the police station.
It’s much easier to have these with you than to try and find a local photocopier on the day.
You must attend a “psikologi office” for a psychology screening. This is not at the police station and must be done before you come.
This test is basically 20 questions and costs 100,000 IDR. You would have to do something really silly to fail this test.
Do The Health Screening
There is a health screening station outside of Denpasar Police Station go there before you go in to apply.
It will cost 25,000 IDR to have your vision checked and your blood pressure monitored.
Report To The Police Station Early
You must arrive at the police station before 12 noon. We’d recommend you get there at 8 a.m. however, if you want to get the process done quickly.
Complete The Application Process
It’s time to visit the licence application stand at the back of PolResta Denpasar.
You follow this process to get it done:
You check in at the counter outside to get a queue number and to have them check your documents for you (if your docs aren’t up to snuff, they will advise you what to do before they issue a queue number)
Go inside the building when your number is called
Wait some more until the number is called inside the building – they will then ask you to confirm some personal data
Wait to have your photo taken for the photo ID and for them to scan your fingerprints
Take the computer-administered driving test (note: there is no practical test)
Head to the payment counter and pay for the licence(s)
Wait for your licences to be printed
The Computer-Administered Driving Test
This is a very easy test, in which you are shown a series of 30 situations and you have to decide if the driver is driving well or badly.
You don’t need to speak a word of Bahasa to pass this test. It is the only test you will take.
The Practical Test?
At this moment, only Indonesian learner permit holders are required to take a practical test. All IDP holders are exempt.
A Round-Up Of All The Documents You Need To Get A Licence In Bali
You don’t need many documents but you will need:
A copy of your passport
A copy of your visa
A copy of your licence and IDP
Your address in Bali
Your psychology and health screening results
A completed application form
Total Cost Of Getting A License In Bali
Here’s a breakdown of the costs involved in getting a licence(s) in Bali:
SIM A – 120,000 IDR fee (renewal is 80,000 IDR)
SIM C – 100,000 IDR fee (renewal is 75,000 IDR)
Psych Exam – SIM A is 100,000 IDR, SIM C is 90,000 IDR, both is 190,000 IDR
Health Screening – 25,000 IDR
How Long Will It Take To Get An Indonesian Driving Licence?
It should take no more than 3 hours to get your Indonesian licence assuming that you have all the paperwork, you turn up before 12 noon and that the police are not dealing with any major emergency.
If you can’t bear the thought of queuing for 3 hours, then you can always hire an agent to do it for you.
Can I Drive In Bali With An Australian License? Is An Australian Driver’s License Valid In Indonesia?
If you’re an Australian you will need a valid Australian driver’s licence to drive in Bali. However, the Australian driver’s licence itself is not enough.
You must also have an international driving permit (IDP) which must be correctly endorsed for the vehicles you wish to drive (e.g. if you want to rent a scooter or motorbike, it must have these endorsements).
If you can only show an Australian drivers licence photocard when stopped in Bali, you are breaking the law and can be fined or even jailed and deported.
Do I Need An International Driving Licence For Bali?
Yes, if you want to drive in Bali, you must have either an international driving permit (and your Australian drivers licence) or you must have an Indonesian driving licence.
These documents must be valid and in date, in order for them to be valid.
Can Australians Drive Scooters In Bali?
Someone with an Australian drivers licence and an international driving permit with a motorcycle endorsement can legally drive a scooter in Bali.
While many Australians drive illegally due to lax laws regarding scooter hire, you should know that this invalidates any insurance that you may have and it is a crime.
Can I Get an International Driver’s Licence In Australia? How Do I Get An International Driving Permit in Australia?
Yes, you will need to contact the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) as outlined in the section above to get your international driving permit in Australia.
Can Tourists Drive In Bali?
Yes. However, a tourist must have an international driving permit and their own country’s licence.
If they wish to drive a scooter or motorbike, they must have the right endorsement on their licence for this type of motor vehicle.
Do I Need A KITAS For A Balinese Driver’s Licence?
Officially? Yes. We’ve been told that the law requires you to have a KITAS or KITAP prior to applying to the local authorities for a driver licence.
However, in practice, this doesn’t seem to be the case and it doesn’t seem to be very challenging to swap an international driving permit for a local driver licence as long as you have a long-term visa.
It is possible that an insurance company might view this as “illegal” and invalidate insurance because of this, but we’ve never heard of such a case nor could we find one on record.
Do You Need To Speak Bahasa (Indonesian) To Get A Driving Licence?
No. The authorities that release the local driver licence are able to communicate in English and as long as you have the correct paperwork, a long-term visa and your Australian driver’s licence then it should be quite straightforward to change the licence over.
You can also use the services of an agent to secure the licence but this isn’t necessary, it’s just expedient.
When A Licence Expires Is It Easy To Renew In Bali?
Relatively so, yes. You must:
Visit the same office as where the licence was originally obtained after the licence expires
Submit to and pass an eye test
Provide all relevant documentation
Pay the fee
And that’s it. Renewing a driver licence in Bali appears to be a very easy process, indeed.
Do You Need An Overseas Licence To Get One In Bali?
Yes. You cannot obtain a local driver licence in Bali without having an overseas-issued licence.
It is currently not possible for a foreigner to take lessons and start driving from scratch in Bali or Indonesia as a whole.
Assuming you have your Australian drivers licence photocard and your international driving permits, plus a long-term visa, you shouldn’t have very much trouble securing an Indonesian driver licence.
If you follow the process outlined above, you can easily do this process yourself and if you don’t fancy doing the leg work? You can always hire an agent to do it for you.