When Love Matters:
Marrying an Indonesian Citizen in Indonesia|
Language, Culture, Religion,
The Ceremony, Immigration, Tax,
Local Registration, Citizenship and Childen
It is almost impossible not to fall in love while in Indonesia. So, it
happens on a daily basis for foreign tourists to feel their heartbeat increasing.
Also on a daily basis Indonesian women and men realize they are falling in love
with a bule (foreigner) or turis (tourist). It is not something
most of them have been waiting for. After all, bule and turis have
some negative connotation. Bule are strange, rude and usually
non-believers (non Muslims). Yet, bule are also looked up to.
In most cases your Indonesian love will not culminate in a commitment, but
sometimes it happens and before you know it you go all the way. 'All the way' does not only involve sunshine and roses,
but also lots of often unsuspected and unexpected rules, regulations and habits that
may threaten to put a lid on your happiness.
So, how to beat the odds and bring your Indonesian spouse home with you?
Although the language of love is so powerful that one does not really need to
speak the partner's language, in due course there is a need for a more stable
linguistic basis than is needed for dating Indonesian women.
Most Indonesians, especially those who have enjoyed secondary school know at
least some English. Yet, it may be a good idea for you to learn Indonesian. It
will take a long time to master Indonesian, but after a few months of going
through a rigorous language course and lots of practice, you wil at least be
able to read a newspaper and understand over half of what is said on TV.
Learning Indonesian is only half the job as most Indonesians are used to
speaking their local language. There are some 300 languages around. Therefore,
while Indonesian is the language most used in public life, you will probably
still wonder what is being discussed at the home of your future inlaws.
On the Links page you will several options for language
courses and links to inter-cultural programs.
Also see: Learning Indonesian and understanding
A wedding in Indonesia is almost as much an arrangement between two
individuals as it is between their relatives. Building a strong bond between
these two (extended) families requires time, but it is considered time well
invested before the families can decide on the wedding ceremony.
Indonesia has its wedding seasons that are largely based on the Muslim, Hindu
or Chinese calendar. For mixed couples an exception can always be made.
Rather than anything else an Indonesian wedding is a highly formal occasion
that leaves no room for fun, songs, or informal speeches infused with humor, as in
The bride and groom are considered to be king and queen for one day. Their role is therefore largely a passive one. Most of the time they are
seated on a rented throne and going through the required moves and steps, while
parents, essential relatives, neighbors,
master of ceremony and make-up experts are fussing about, ensuring the ceremony runs
without a glitch or a hitch.
Modern trends are easily blended with tradition. Western style weddings are
as common as a traditional Javanese wedding ceremony.
Picture taking has become so important that a visit to a studio will probably
be inevitable. During the wedding reception formal photos with different set-ups
of relatives, neigbors, friends and co-workers are indispensable.
A video recording of the wedding will undoubtedly be as valuable as the
A West Sumatran wedding
Indonesians are generally a very religious people, and increasingly so. Foreigners
are known of not attaching much of a priority to religion, something most
Indonesians consider inappropriate and undesirable. Whatever the religion of
your fiance(e), his or her relatives will expect you to convert to their
Although freedom of religion is anchored within the Constitution, in everyday
life the translation of that right is a bit different. Only in very rare cases
will your partner and the wider group of relatives be willing to tolerate two
religions within one household.
If the foreigner is not prepared to convert to the Indonesian fiance(e)'s
religion, the wedding and the relationship
are certain to be called off. And if you and your fiance(e) decide to
continue it, you must be prepared to face lots of problems with your inlaws for
years to come.
Well before the planned day of the wedding ceremony, as a foreign spouse-to-be
you need to get in touch with your embassy in Indonesia to aks about the legal
requirements of your marriage. Please ensure that all the paperwork is completed,
including official translations of your birth certificate and a declaration of
your social status: bachelor or divorced.
Be aware that the Indonesian authorities need lots of processing time.
Wedding ceremonies in Indonesia are steeped in tradition. A wedding in Batak
marriage in Sumatra will be different from one in Central Java or West Timor.
Ceremonies in rural areas will differ from hose in major urban areas. Social
class manifests itself in the number of guests one is expected to invite, which
could easily run into over 1,000.
A traditional wedding is marked by several key stages, sometimes requiring
months to perform. For a marriage of mixed race couples, one living overseas,
concessions will likely be made by sqeezing the several stages into a week or
The most essential part of te wedding will be the religious ceremony, either
in the mosque or in church. The civil procedure is usually woven into the
Both husband and wife will receive a copy of the wedding booklet, in different
colors that spell out the mariiage arrangement and the consequences of divorce.
Muslim wedding ceremony
ceremony, Solo, Central Java video
Wedding Ceremony in South
Countries increasingly put up barriers for Indonesian spouses to enter the
Americas or the European Union. The US, Canadian or EU citizen will probably
have to return home after the wedding, leaving the Indonesian spouse behind
until the entry formalities have been completed.
That is often a matter of
months rather than weeks. But sometimes it takes years before the Indonesian
partner is allowed access. In a few cases the spouse has been denied entry.
Dutch citizens need to go to Immigratie en
Naturalisatie Dienst first and download loads of documents.
Before your Indonesian partner can leave the country several tax issues need
to be cleared. Residents in possession of a tax declaration known as NPWP need
to bring a copy to the airport as proof of having paid taxes.
Without NPWP residents need to pay a Rp 2.5 million exit fee (fiskal)
in cash or by credit card in order to be allowed to leave the country.
Even though your partner will leave Indonesia with you, he or she may not be
prepared to give up all legal ties with the country.
Many Indonesian spouses living abroad insist to remain registered on the family
card (kartu keluarga) and will keep their national identity card (KTP).
The latter, in order to remain valid, needs to be renewed every five years.
Even without plans to return to Indonesia, it is generally a good idea to keep a
legal presence in the country and in the neighborhood. Sooner or later,
especially if your partner owns property in Indonesia there will emerge a need
to be able to demonstrate his or her identity. The possession of a valid KTP
will generally result in less hassle and red tape.
Citizenship and Children
Indonesia's laws on citizenship and immigration, while recently revised
and improved still are among the most complicated. Basically there are two
You are a foreign male, marrying an Indonesian woman.
You are expected to return to your home
country, with your wife. Foreign husbands cannot settle in Indonesia
permanently and apply for Indonesian citizenship.
Initially the maximum stay in Indonesia is limited to one year, unless of course
as a foreigner you already work and live in Indonesia and are in possession of
the required visa.
If you intend to stay in Indonesia for a period longer than one month do arrange your visa
beforehand instead of coming to
Indonesia on a tourist visa!
A new bill has been passed allowing foreign spouses of mixed marriages to
obtain a residence permit.
You are a foreign female marrying an Indonesian man.
In line with Indonesian law you retain your nationality, and you may stay in
Indonesia and apply for Indonesian citizenship.
If you decide to migrate to your country of citizenship your Indonesian husband
will need to complete all immigration procedures for entry to your home country.
It is strongly recommended to have your Indonesian marriage registered in
your home country.
Children born during your marriage will automatically obtain dual citizenship until the age of 18.
Also see additional
information on mixed marriages at Expat.co.id.
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