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Getting the MERP Permit to Leave Indonesia

27 January 2012

Another bureaucratic hurdle jumped, and no bones broken. Hooray! Today I received this permit (izin), which allows me to leave Indonesia and then return without losing any of my other hard-won privileges, such as the KITAS and the SKLD.

I will be traveling to Vietnam (Hanoi) and to Singapore in March.

I’ll provide a brief overview of the MERP process, but note that I live in Bandung (not Jakarta), and I’m here on a teaching Fulbright, not a research Fulbright, and not a student Fulbright.

Friday, Jan 20: My first visit to Imigrasi for this process. In addition to my passport, my blue book (Buku Pengawasan Orang Asing), and photocopies of all the relevant pages in each of those (including both sides of the KITAS, mind you), two critical documents are required to move forward: (1) a new letter from your sponsor (in my case, this is my department head at my university here) that specifically states your need for a “multiple exit reentry permit,” including the dates and country or countries you will travel to; (2) a photocopy of your IMTA form or letter from the Labor Ministry (Tenaga Kerja dan Transmigrasi). AMINEF sent an e-mail to my sponsor telling her exactly what to put in the letter.

You will also need to submit one completed form with all your personal details, supplied by Imigrasi (Formulir Izin Masuk Kembali dan Pemulangan). I had sent my driver to pick up the form earlier that same day. My language teacher then helped me fill out the form, because it’s completely in Bahasa Indonesia. Note: In the Permohanan section (Section 1), No. 2 is the one that allows multiple re-entries (Izin Masuk Kembali Beberapa Kali Perjalanan).

And do not forget the new pink folder! You can buy one just outside the Imigrasi office.

You’ll get a receipt. You must leave your passport and blue book with the other items.

Wednesday, Jan. 25: Because Monday was a national holiday (Chinese New Year), I was not allowed to return until Wednesday. My only task that day was to pay (Rp. 600,000, or $67) for the permit, but this required several trips back and forth between the cashier window and the counter (loket) where I had done all my business the first time. My receipt was stamped once or twice and returned to me. I was told to come back on Friday.

Near the cashier’s window, there was a large signboard (in Bahasa Indonesia only) that listed the price for each type of permit (more than 10 were listed). This made it clear to me that the MERP for Rp. 600,000 would be valid for six months. Since I’m scheduled to leave at the end of July, this six-month period is ideal for me. But note that I was asked when I paid how long I wanted the permit to be. And the cashier asked me in in Bahasa Indonesia. My language skill is now adequate to handle that exchange, but it just goes to show that it’s always good to have a native speaker with you for this kind of thing.

Also note that a permit covering a full year costs much more, and the single re-entry permit costs less.

Friday, Jan. 27: I asked my driver to pick everything up, if they would allow it, and gave him the receipt. There was no problem; he came back with my passport and the blue book, and now I have an official purple stamp inside my passport that says “Multiple Re-entry Permit” (yes, in English! Go figure), and it’s valid until July 25, 2012. It has writing in three colors of ink across it, and an extra stamp with the date of issue (Jan. 25). Very nice!

I was happy to find this process was much shorter than the original KITAS process, but it now seems to me that the KITAS process could have been much shorter — and would have required me to make far fewer trips through endless traffic jams — if only the information given to my sponsor had been clearer.

I have also learned that one should make multiple photocopies of everything (every letter and every form, not to mention your passport pages), because there will always be some other office, later, that will want to see something you have already given away.

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