Bali is perhaps the number one destination for international tourists landing in Southeast Asia. Famous for its wildlife sanctuaries, centuries-old temples, verdant reserves, and stunning coast, it is easily one of Indonesia’s strongest offers.
Regrettably, traveling to Bali is not a straightforward process, requiring careful planning in advance for one important reason: most Westerners, including Americans and Canadians traveling as tourists, are not visa-exempt and must apply for an entry permit.
Though the Indonesian visa is easy to obtain, several of them are making a huge mistake when submitting their applications that could jeopardize their vacation:
The Biggest Mistake Travelers Make Going To Bali
Recently, the Australian Government issued a warning to its citizens traveling to Bali due to the increased rate of fake visa reports circulating online.
This applies not only to Australian passport holders but also United States, Canada, and most of Europe, as a majority of foreigners need some sort of visa or pre-travel authorization to enter Indonesia.
Indonesia’s visa policy is based on e-Visas (known in Indonesia as e-VOA) and Visas On Arrival (VOAs), which are issued to an applicant upon arrival at their destination.
Regardless of modality, they are simpler to obtain than the so-called ‘full’ visas, which must be requested normally at the country’s Consulate and may require an interview, collection of biometric data, and more documentation pertaining to the purpose of the trip and an applicant’s financial resources.
The Indonesian Visa Is Easy To Apply
Instead, Indonesia allows Americans and their Western counterparts to apply online through a simplified form, where tourists must include their personal information, such as full name and passport number, indicate the reason for traveling, and pay a fee of around 500,000 Indonesian Rupiah.
In US dollars, this equals roughly $32.62 at the current exchange rate (there may be additional fees for online transactions).
The e-VOA is sent to your e-mail within minutes or days of application and is normally valid for a single entry.
Traveling without a pre-approved visa, Americans can also apply for an entry permit upon arriving at one of the authorized entry points – this includes Bali – when purchasing a visa at the immigration counter.
The preferred payment is in cash at the same exchange rate.
These visas are issued for up to 30 days and allow tourists to remain in Bali for up to a month.
Beware Of Fake Visas
Unfortunately, some confusion has arisen as to which application forms or third-party websites can be trusted, and this has led some travelers, particularly those who have never applied for a visa before, to fall victim to visa scams, and this can be quite serious.
As their Smartraveller website states, the consequences of attempting to use a fake visa to enter Bali can be severe, with tourists risking deportation or, in the worst-case scenario, even arrest on arrival.
The Australian Government informs that travelers must use links or organizations recommended by the Indonesian Embassy or Consulate, as well as read the travel advice for more information on entry requirements before traveling.
In the last few days, an unidentified Australian woman who fell victim to a scam herself warned her fellow travelers, saying she felt like a ‘prized idiot’ for paying AUS $80, around $51.15,5, as much as AUS $30 more than the actual visa fee, for an electronic visa that turned out to be fraudulent.
‘I see the comic irony that I’ve been ripped off before I even leave Australia‘, she shared on a Facebook group for Bali-bound travelers.
It may seem like a silly mistake to make, but the reason why you shouldn’t put it past yourself is that there are numerous websites that pop up on a single Google search on ‘Bali e-Visa’.
Why Some Travelers Make This Common Mistake
As is customary with Southeast Asian e-Visas, it is sometimes easier to apply via a third party or a company that completes the application process for you than directly through an official website, as they may sometimes not work, or credit cards may not be accepted.
It is always best to book through the official website, but as those who have been to Vietnam and were forced to pay a higher fee applying through independent means will know, it is rarely functional, or foreign-issued cards simply do not work.
In that case, as authorities have suggested, travelers must give preference to reliable companies that are either listed as official partners or that have a good reputation of visa issuance online.
According to the victim, she provided both her passport and Mastercard details to the website, and besides being issued a fake visa, which could put her in big trouble arriving in Bali, where laws can be shockingly strict, scammers now have access to both her card number and personal information.
She was only alerted by a more knowledgeable friend once her transaction was completed.
In the group, others encouraged her to call her bank and cancel the card, which in itself could disrupt her travel plans, as she intended to use it in Bali.
As you can imagine, not an enviable position to be in only days away from your long-awaited vacation.
Now, she will either have to fork out an additional 500,000 Rupiah to apply for a real online visa or pay it in cash on the spot landing in the island.
How To Apply For A Bali Visa
You can apply for the official e-Visa for Bali on this link, or if you opt for a Visa On Arrival and you’re eligible (like Americans are), you can pay for a visa at the immigration counter.
Before traveling to Bali, make sure you familiarize yourself with the local entry requirements and laws, as they may be drastically different from those of your home country.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com