driving licence bali

Driving (international) licences in Bali : what you really need

The international (or not) driving licences in Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia are a common problem for tourists and foreign residents alike. 

Here is what is legal and what is not if you plan on driving in Indonesia, along with the different ways to be compliant.

What types of driving licences are required to legally drive in Bali?

When it comes to the driving licences that can be used to drive legally in Bali, you might hear everything and its opposite.

In reality, the situation is pretty clear. You only have 2 options.

Local Indonesian driving licences (SIM): the legal way to drive in Indonesia for local and foreign residents

If you are an Indonesian citizen, or a foreigner residing in Indonesia, then you can legally drive in Bali and anywhere else on the archipelago, with a local driving licence, called SIM.

There are several kind of SIM:

If you are a foreigner, you can only apply for SIM A and SIM C.

International driving licences: legal (under certain conditions) for visiting foreigners

If you have a driving licence in your home country, you can ask for an international driving licence that could be used in Indonesia. Using your home country licence (not its international version) directly will however always be illegal in Indonesia.

The international driving licence must show that you are allowed to drive the vehicle you are planning on using in Indonesia: motorbike, cars and so on.

Quite often, foreigners have a driving licence for cars, but not for motorcycles, or for motorcycles that are well below the average rental in Indonesia (ie: 50cc while most Indonesian motorcycles are at least 110cc). 

In this case, you won’t be allowed to drive the designated vehicle and could run into problems. 

sim c indonesia

What are the risks of driving with the wrong licences in Indonesia?

There are several risks that come with driving with the wrong (international) licence in Bali and the rest of Indonesia.

If the Indonesian Police stops you, you will be fined

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but if you get stopped by the Indonesian Police and you are not driving with the correct licence, you will get into trouble.

The Police performs licence checks very often. They control everybody, locals and foreigners alike. For obvious reasons, foreigners are easier to spot and are more likely to be driving illegally than locals, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself controlled more often.

In most cases, depending on how you behaved and what you did to trigger the control, you might get away with a simple fine. But in some other cases, they can take your bike identification paper (called STNK), or confiscate the bike.

In case of an accident without a valid licence, your insurance will not cover you

One of the biggest risk of driving in Indonesia without the proper licence is that most insurances will not cover you if they find out. 

It happens every year to dozens of people in Bali and is usually a much bigger concern that the odd Police stops and fines.

The scenario is always the same: someone (tourist, expat, digital nomad… doesn’t matter) get into a life threatening accident, typically on a motorcycle, without the appropriate driving licence. All of a sudden, the person that got the accident is on its own, with huge medical bills and sometimes repatriation costs to cover, reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yikes.

For pretty much all insurance companies, driving a vehicle (yes, even a scooter) without licence, is equivalent to driving drunk or under drugs. And no policy is strong enough to resist reckless illegal behaviours from your end.

You may have legal troubles with Indonesian institutions if you have an accident hurting others and no/wrong driving licence

For similar reasons, if you found yourself in a terrible situation where you injured a third party, especially a local Indonesian citizen, while driving illegally in Bali or elsewhere in Indonesia, you might be in a lot of trouble.

Few years ago, a tragic case made the headlines. An Australian citizen accidentally killed a local driver on a motorbike and had to serve jail time in Indonesia for not driving with the proper licence.

When should you consider getting a local Indonesian driving licence (SIM A or SIM C)?

In some cases, it’s a great idea, and even almost mandatory, to drive with a local SIM rather than using an international licence from your home country.

You have a KITAS: you can relatively easily get an Indonesian SIM on your own

If you already have a KITAS or a KITAP, you are an Indonesian resident. You are then officially eligible for a local SIM A or SIM C.

All you have to do is to go to the nearest Police station (Polresta) with your KITAS, your Passport and eventually your international licence and to follow the instructions.

You will need to pass a few driving tests, theory tests, physical and psychological tests to obtain your licence. Speaking bahasa indonesia can help tremendously if you intend to do this on your own. The process changes frequently and not every test is translated.

You can also get the help of an agent to streamline the process for you. You’ll then mostly have to come to the Police for fingerprinting and photo, which is much faster and easier.

On the matter: What is a KITAS and how do you get one?

You spend significant time in Indonesia (without KITAS) : you still can get an Indonesian SIM with the help of an agent

Having a KITAS or a KITAP to obtain a SIM A or SIM C is mandatory if you intend to do it on your own. But you can get an Indonesian driving licence without being an Indonesian resident (so without KITAS) if you use an agent. 

The agent is basically vouching for you in front of the Police and helping you to get all the documents in order so that you can get your SIM A or SIM C even without a KITAS that would otherwise be a requirement.

Get more info about our SIM C (motorbike) services here, and about our SIM A (cars) services here.

You plan on doing a road trip in Indonesia: ask an agent to help you get your hands on an Indonesian SIM

If you plan on discovering the wonderful archipelago of Indonesia by road, whether it’s by car or motorbike, it is recommended that you get a local licence to help speed up police controls you might encounter on the way and mitigate the legal risks in case of an accident.

Since you’ll likely won’t be a resident or KITAS holder for your road trip, you’ll need to apply for your Indonesian driving licence through an agent as well.


The driving licences that allow you to drive legally in Bali and the rest of Indonesia are limited to:

  • Indonesian driving licences (SIM A and SIM C) matching the vehicle you are driving
  • International driving licences from your own country clearly allowing you to drive the vehicle you intend to drive

Everything else (driving without licence, driving with your home country licence…) is illegal and can cause you serious trouble with your insurance or Indonesian institutions in case of an accident. And of course with the Police in case of control. 

Obtaining a local driving licence is fairly easy with the help of an agent to ease the process, whether you get a KITAS or not.

Whatsapp us nowif you are interested in obtaining an Indonesian driving licence.

Similar Posts