Tropical island paradise ponders tax-free 'Digital Nomad Visa'

Live and work in Bali, pay tax at home

The government of Indonesia has once again raised the idea of creating a "digital nomad visa" that would allow foreign workers to live and work in the tropical paradise of Bali, tax free, for five years.

The idea was raised before the COVID-19 pandemic, but understandably shelved as borders closed and the prospect of any digital nomads showing up dropped to zero.

But in recent interviews Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia's minister for Tourism and the Creative Economy, said the visa was back on the drawing board.

Uno's plan is for a visa that allows a five-year stay, provided those who take it up work for an entity outside Indonesia. Visa holders would pay tax in whichever jurisdiction they get paid, rather than in Indonesia.

What's in it for the archipelagic nation? The cash digital nomads spend on their day-to-day expenses, that's what.

Bali's tourism industry is a massive contributor to Indonesia's economy and took a big hit during the pandemic. Luring cashed-up long-term residents to the island would provide years of income to local workers.

Should you take advantage of more relaxed attitudes to remote work and apply for this visa?

Bali is certainly lovely, has an enviable climate (outside the wet season), brilliant surfing, excellent food, and a cost of living that's modest compared to Western nations.

On the downside, the island's time zone is not the most convenient for daytime collaboration with colleagues in Europe or North America. If healthcare of a standard to compare with the aforementioned locales is important, you'll need to go private. Internet speeds are often modest. Roads are challenging.

And who can forget the active volcanoes, which between 2017 and 2019 erupted a handful of times and disrupted air traffic for a few days? Or the frequent earthquakes?

One more hazard: Australian tourists. When your correspondent last visited Bali, locals refused to believe I was Australian on grounds I was sober, civil, and wearing a shirt. Most who stay in Bali for more than a couple of weeks therefore avoid the tourist strips.

Aside from that, though … ®

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