Criminal Penalties in Indonesia

While you are traveling in Indonesia, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Persons violating Indonesian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States; for example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. In Indonesia, you may be detained for questioning if you don't have your passport with you. It is also illegal to take pictures of certain buildings, and driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. If you break local laws in Indonesia, your U.S. passport won't help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It's very important to know what's legal and what's not where you are going.

Certain areas of Indonesia are under Sharia law; see the section under Special Circumstances.

In March 2008, the Indonesian parliament passed a bill criminalizing the access of internet sites containing violent or pornographic material. Anyone found guilty of the new offense could be jailed for up to three years or have to pay a heavy fine.

Engaging in sexual conduct with children, using, and/or disseminating child pornography is a crime prosecutable in the United States regardless of the country where the activity occurs. The Indonesian child protection law imposes up to 15 years in prison for those convicted of engaging in sexual contact with a child, and the anti-trafficking in persons law imposes 15 years in prison for anyone engaging in sex with a victim of trafficking.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Indonesia are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. A life sentence or the death penalty can be given in cases of drug trafficking; several foreigners have been sentenced to death in recent years. One U.S. citizen was given a life sentence for drug trafficking. Indonesian prisons are harsh and do not meet Western standards. Many prisoners are required to supplement their prison diets and clothing with funds from relatives. Medical and dental care in Indonesian prisons, while available, is below Western standards, and access to medical testing to diagnose illness as well as medications to treat conditions are often difficult to obtain.

Arrest notifications in Indonesia: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States Government is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

To reach the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, dial (62) (021)-3435-9000 ext. 0 for the operator and ask for the duty officer. Please remain calm and accept the assistance from and information provided by an Embassy Consular Officer who will visit the arrestee at the earliest possible opportunity.


You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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