culture shock · legal stuff · paperworks · sarcasm

10 Steps for Dealing with Bureaucracy in Indonesia

Despite the slight improvement for the past few years, it is undeniable that bureaucracy in Indonesia is notoriously bad and confusing. I guess part of it is due to the constant change of rules and the lack of socialization among departments or whatnot.

birokrasiThe motto of Indonesian bureaucracy: “If you can make it more difficult, why bother making it easier?”

Inspired by my latest saga dealing with the Civil Registry Office, here are 10 easy steps you may follow to make things a little bit less confusing when dealing with bureaucracy in Indonesia.

Step 1: Come to the targeted office and ask for details on required documents and procedures

Some questions you might want to ask:

  • Should I even bother coming here?
  • What do I need to bring? Original or copies?
  • How many copies are needed?
  • Do the copies need to be legalized? By whom?
  • Do I need to purchase a “special folder” for all of my documents and the form I might or might not have to fill? Is it at the receptionist counter over there?
  • What is the earliest and latest time I can submit my documents? Is this the same for Friday?
  • How long will it take to get the documents processed?
  • Does today count as one business day?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Can I pay in cash? Or do I have to go to that BRI ATM at the other side of the building?
  • Can I take a picture of a supporting letter successfully submitted by someone else? You need to make sure to match the words to your own letter. Yes, even though these letters are submitted by other people and they may contain personal details, the officers have no problem whatsoever letting you take a picture of them for the sakes of getting the right paperwork. Oh, also invest in a whole loads of 6000 stamps (materai).

materai.jpgOh, how would my life be without one of these babies in hand? Source: Pos Indonesia


Step 2: Prepare the stuff and make lots of copies. Scan the ORIGINAL versions and save them in a flash disk that you always carry around or in your online data saving system.


Step 3: Put on a smile, bring in the documents and their respective copies to the targeted office


Step 4: Find out that you’re getting a different officer and now the requirements have changed


Step 5: Go home and cry under the shower

tobias-whyMe after any visit to the government office, minus the mustaches and with more hair.


Step 6: Go back to Step 2 and so on for what feels like an eternity


If you are lucky, you might make it to:

Step 7: The officer finally accepted all of your documents and told you to wait 3-4 business days (processing time may vary depending on the government office you are dealing with and the area)


Step 8: Come back to pick up a piece of paper with colorful designs, a signature and a stamp on it. Cherish it forever.


Step 9: Scan that newly obtained piece of paper. You better make copies of that piece of paper and bring them with you the next time you’re dealing with any governmental office even if some dinky blog out there says you don’t need them.


Step 10: Sacrifice an animal to thank the gods for putting a (temporary) end to your bureaucratic hell cycle.


Disclaimer: There is no total guarantee on whether or not these steps would actually work. Dibantu doa aja ya [Pray for it].


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