Ob­tain­ing a Bank Ac­count, Tax Num­ber & BPJS- K

Liv­ing and work­ing in In­done­sia, there are al­ways chal­lenges in meet­ing the chang­ing re­quire­ments of the bu­reau­cracy. Some of th­ese are much sim­pler to deal with than oth­ers.

Indonesia Expat - - CONTENTS - By Ken­neth Yeung

One of the first things any newly ar­rived ex­pa­tri­ate in In­done­sia needs to do is open a lo­cal bank ac­count. Decades ago, this could be a slow process, but it can now be done within half an hour, pro­vided you have the req­ui­site doc­u­ments.

In gen­eral, you should bring your pass­port, your KITAS (tem­po­rary stay per­mit) or what­ever visa you have, a let­ter of domi­cile, and a let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion from your em­ployer or spon­sor or lo­cal spouse. Pho­to­copies of th­ese doc­u­ments will also be use­ful. You’ll also need to bring some cash for a min­i­mum de­posit; Rp.100,000 should be suf­fi­cient. Then there’s a form to fill in and sign (use a black pen), and you should soon be handed a pass­book and an ATM card.

A note on ob­tain­ing a let­ter of domi­cile (which is also a pre­req­ui­site for ob­tain­ing and ex­tend­ing a KITAS); if you live in an apart­ment, the build­ing man­age­ment should is­sue one free of charge. If you’re rent­ing a house, your lo­cal neigh­bour­hood as­so­ci­a­tion chief ( known lo­cally as

Pak RT or Pak RW) should is­sue one, pro­vided you show your rental agree­ment – or your pleas­ant per­son­al­ity may be suf­fi­cient. A blue duty stamp token called a mat­erai may need to be af­fixed to the let­ter for it to be deemed le­gal. Th­ese stamps can be pur­chased for Rp.6,000 at any post of­fice or for more else­where.

If you lack one of the afore­men­tioned doc­u­ments at the bank, you might be able to show an In­done­sian Tax­payer Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Num­ber ( No­mor Pokok Wa­jib Pa­jak,

NPWP) or an In­done­sian driv­ing li­cense. Or you could just po­litely per­sist un­til you get a re­sult. I’ve man­aged to open ac­counts with only a pass­port and a KITAS, but some peo­ple say more is re­quired.

Some­times, bank staff may put up hur­dles, claim­ing “you can only open an ac­count at the branch near­est to your work­place,” so you trek over there, only to be told, “you have to visit the branch near­est to your res­i­dence”. What­ever hap­pens, keep smil­ing and po­litely re­quest to talk to a se­nior staff mem­ber, who may be more help­ful.

In­done­sia’s leading pri­vate bank is Bank Cen­tral Asia ( BCA) as it has the most branches and ATMs. Then there are three main state-owned banks: Mandiri, Bank Rakyat In­done­sia ( BRI) and Bank Na­sional In­done­sia ( BNI). It doesn’t hurt to have an ac­count with a pri­vate bank for con­ve­nience and also with a state-owned bank, as this can help you ob­tain com­pul­sory so­cial health in­sur­ance.

All banks im­pose monthly ac­count fees of about Rp. 5,000 to Rp.20,000. Your ac­count may be closed if in­ac­tive for over three months or if funds are de­pleted. Only about 50 per­cent of In­done­sians have bank ac­counts, so as part of an ini­tia­tive to en­cour­age greater sav­ing, lo­cal banks are re­quired to of­fer no-frills ac­counts with zero ad­min­is­tra­tive fees, but th­ese are not widely uti­lized as they do not of­fer ATM cards.

Deal­ing with Tax

Ex­pa­tri­ates work­ing in In­done­sia face the un­wel­come prospect of hav­ing their earn­ings taxed by 20 per­cent, on top of reg­u­lar taxes, if they are un­able to pro­vide an NPWP.

The Tax­payer Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Num­ber was man­dated un­der a 1983 tax law but few In­done­sians or for­eign­ers had one in the 1980s and 1990s. In­stead, some com­pa­nies made un­of­fi­cial deals with tax of­fi­cials. When an In­done­sian or an ex­pa­tri­ate at­tempted to leave the coun­try and could not show an NPWP, they would have to pay a “fis­cal tax” of Rp.1 mil­lion. This tax was abol­ished in 2011, while the gov­ern­ment stepped up its cam­paign to in­crease the num­ber of tax­pay­ers.

Ex­pa­tri­ates liv­ing at least 183 days per year in In­done­sia are re­quired to ob­tain an NPWP. The good news is that your em­ployer should take care of your taxes, most likely through monthly de­duc­tions, but the in­di­vid­ual tax­payer is legally re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing regis­tra­tion with the tax of­fice and fil­ing an an­nual tax re­turn.

If you’re in Jakarta and you need an NPWP for in­di­vid­ual in­come tax, the process is in­cred­i­bly sim­ple and easy (for In­done­sia) and does not re­quire the ser­vices of an agent.

You might be think­ing: In­done­sian bu­reau­cracy is no­to­ri­ously slow and dif­fi­cult, so why not pay an agent to do the leg­work and wait­ing? If you’ve ever tried to ex­tend a visa with­out pay­ing an agent to fa­cil­i­tate the process, you may have suf­fered long wait­ing pe­ri­ods.

It’s not un­com­mon for im­mi­gra­tion of­fices to send you to five coun­ters for pa­per­work, pho­to­copy­ing, photos, fingerprinting and pay­ment, a process so long that by the time the clock shows 11:40 am, staff may tell you to come back after 1 pm be­cause they want to start their lunch break. And then you’re told to come back three days later.

Vis­it­ing the Tax Of­fice for For­eign Agen­cies and For­eign­ers ( KPP Badan dan Orang As­ing) in Kal­i­bata, South Jakarta, is a re­fresh­ingly dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence. The lo­ca­tion is Jalan Raya Kal­i­bata, a few hun­dred me­tres east and op­po­site the mas­sive Na­tional He­roes Ceme­tery. It’s just a two-minute west­ward walk from Duren Kal­i­bata train sta­tion. Op­er­at­ing hours are from 8 am to 4 pm. Staff take stag­gered lunch breaks, so if you’re there at midday, you won’t be told to come back later.

Upon ar­rival at the main build­ing, there are left and right wings. En­ter through the left-side doors, then take a num­ber from the au­to­mated ma­chine. Un­like such ma­chines in other gov­ern­ment of­fices, this one al­ways seems to be work­ing, so there is no queue-jump­ing. The wait­ing area, equipped with com­fort­able so­fas, is more like a lux­u­ri­ous ho­tel lobby than a gov­ern­ment of­fice. There’s even a com­puter and printer cor­ner, if you need to plug in a USB drive to print some­thing.

There are no agents swarm­ing all over the place. No one is furtively or bla­tantly press­ing ru­piah into the hands of of­fi­cials in re­turn for ser­vice. The woman who served me was proud that the Tax Of­fice is un­der the do­main of Fi­nance Min­is­ter Sri Mulyani In­drawati, who en­joys a rep­u­ta­tion for ef­fi­ciency and hon­esty.

On my visit, I only had to wait for eight min­utes be­fore my num­ber came up. Then it was a sim­ple mat­ter of hand­ing over: a pho­to­copy of my pass­port’s data page, a pho­to­copy of my KITAS and a let­ter from my em­ployer ( su­rat keteran­gan dari pem­beri kerja). A few min­utes later, the pa­per­work was com­plete and the Tax Of­fice mailed my NPWP to my em­ployer.

If you have not yet ob­tained an NPWP, per­haps you’re afraid that regis­tra­tion will lead to mas­sive tax bills. As long as your em­ployer makes monthly de­duc­tions and you file an an­nual re­turn, you should have lit­tle to worry about. But if you’re wor­ried about be­ing stung for for­eign in­come or won­der­ing about de­duc­tions, you should seek guid­ance from a tax ac­coun­tant.

BPJS Cards

BPJS is the gov­ern­ment’s So­cial In­sur­ance Ad­min­is­tra­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion ( Badan Penye­leng­gara Jam­i­nan Sosial), which comes in two forms: BPJS Ke­se­hatan ( Health) and BPJS Ke­tana­gak­er­jaan ( Em­ploy­ment). The two state in­sur­ance firms were formed un­der a 2011 law on so­cial se­cu­rity.

Ac­cord­ing to the Man­power Min­istry, it is now com­pul­sory for ex­pa­tri­ates to have both types of BPJS cards. If you’re work­ing, your em­ployer is re­quired to take care of the pa­per­work. Oth­er­wise you have to visit your lo­cal BPJS of­fice, fill in the nec­es­sary forms and pro­vide pho­to­copies of your pass­port and any other lo­cal ID, as well as two 3x4cm photos, a phone num­ber and an email ad­dress. You also need to have a bank ac­count with Mandiri, BNI or BRI.

The monthly premi­ums are: Rp.80,000 for Class I, Rp. 51,000 for Class II and Rp.25,500 for Class III. Th­ese en­ti­tle you to dif­fer­ent classes of hospital rooms, where treat­ment is sup­posed to be the same regardless of the room type.

A visit to your lo­cal BPJS of­fice makes an in­ter­est­ing cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence. At mine in West Jakarta, where the ini­tial pa­per­work was is­sued and pro­cessed out­doors, I seemed to have ar­rived in the mid­dle of a spit­ting com­pe­ti­tion. Staff were ex­tremely help­ful and ef­fi­cient, although there were a few queue-jumpers and the forms were some­what cramped.

If you don’t fancy such a visit, you can reg­is­ter on­line: https://daf­tar.bpjske­se­hatan.go.id/bpjs-on­line.

Bu­reau­cratic pa­per­work is al­ways a has­sle, but some pro­cesses in In­done­sia are get­ting bet­ter.

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