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Arrival/transit/transfer in Bali: 10 things to know

January 16, 20246 minute read
transfer in Bali

Denpasar Airport Bali is a very popular tourist destination, not generally thought of as a hub you pass through. But there are are a number of differences and similarities if you arrive to stay, transit, or transfer in Bali. For information on visas for Indonesia, check our story here. The information has been updated as at 13th February 2024. The link also includes details of the Bali Tourist Levy, which comes into effect on 14th February 2024.

Doing an arrival, transit or transfer in Bali

First a few definitions. There is a difference between Transit and Transfer, although the word Transit is often used to refer to both situations.

  • Arrival is easy, you get off the aircraft at your destination.
  • Transit is when you return to the same aircraft after a brief stopover at the airport and continue on your journey.
    • Usually only one ticket is issued although sometimes they may give you two boarding passes.
    • You do not have to pass through Immigration.
  • Transfer is if you are changing planes or airlines.
    • Depending on the airport, you MAY be able to have your boarding pass issued and your luggage transferred without passing through Immigration.
    • These are usually larger airports serviced by many airlines and many flights.

1. Transfer/Transit passengers

Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport, is not really an airline hub, a hub is somewhere like Changi Airport, Singapore, or those in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok. Very few airlines use this airport as a transfer airport, apart from Batik Air Malaysia, for flights between Kuala Lumpur and Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.

More common would be a transfer in Bali from one carrier to a different one, or on the same carrier, but on separate itineraries. Unless you are able to check in and get a boarding pass for your next flight before you arrive in Bali, AND you have no luggage, you may be unable to get your boarding pass validated at the Transit/Transfer Desk at the back of the Immigration Hall.

You can read more about the transfer/transit experience at Bali Airport here.

Bali airport transit
The Transit/transfer counter

2. Transfer passengers with baggage

We passed through Bali recently, transferring from one carrier to another. We approached the transfer desk and they confirmed that, as we had checked luggage and no boarding passes issued for the onward flight, we would have to pass through Immigration and collect our baggage before checking in for the next flight.

The authorities will check your vax record before Immigration, so it’s best to have a printed copy ready and you’ll pass straight through. This applies to both those arriving and doing a transfer in Bali.

3. Visa on Arrival (VoA)

At the time of writing, citizens of many countries, including Australia, must still pay for a visa on arrival. Citizens of ASEAN countries are among those exempt from this charge. The VoA charge is currently 500,000 Rupiah, but they do accept credit cards and currency of a limited range of countries. If you are paying in Australian Dollars, have a $50 note ready with your passport and when you get to the counter it will be accepted. No form to fill and the receipt given to you will be  removed at the Immigration Counter when they stamp your passport.

You can read more about this here.

4. At the Immigration Counter

There are around twenty counters stretched across the front of the Immigration Hall. Queues are in ‘snake’ form, with each ‘snake’ filtering out to a number of counters.

Two counters are allocated for those travelling those over 65 or with children below 5 years old. These counters are on the left of the hall as you face the counters, beside the counters for air crew and other selected travellers.

Be warned that during peak travel periods, there are many family groups travelling and if these is even one person under 5, or over 65, the whole family seems to gravitate to this queue. This does not seem to be monitored and there were many who should have been in the normal queue. This made the ‘special’ queue much longer and slower.

5. Customs declaration

After  you pass through Immigration, the Customs declaration form will be checked. You can download and complete this form before leaving home. You may print out the QR code generated or have it ready on your phone for checking. If you have not already done this, the airport has free Wi-Fi and you can scan the QR code on the banner and complete the form online. One form is required for each family.

If the form is in order you will probably be waved straight through both stages.

6. Baggage collection

Check ALL carousels, they may have the wrong number showing on the screen. We spent about 10 minutes finding the correct carousel, which was sharing baggage from two flights, though only one was listed.

7. Up to Departure

Finding the lift up to Departure was a challenge. Pre-pandemic, the lift up to the Departure Hall on the top floor was to your left near the escalators as you exit the Customs Hall. However, you now have to pass through a winding path of shops to actually exit and we could not find the lift, or a sign. Apparently it is there, you should check the other side of the escalator, in the direction of the Domestic Departures. We eventually found a lift at the far right of the building that did not have bars blocking bags entering. It was a freight lift and a kind officer pointed us in the right direction. Make sure you have your documents ready to show the security staff at the entrance to the Departure Hall.

8. Go in early

Once you’ve checked in, do your security and immigration checks straight away in case the queues are long. It is quite a long walk through the Duty Free area and cafes, before you reach your gate.

9. Food and Drink in the Departure Lounge

We were very glad we’d brought food from home (empty out the fridge!) to eat as we had a long wait. The prices in in the departure lounge airside are much more expensive than they were pre-pandemic, and the choices are limited.

10. Filling your water bottle

This is another recent change – there are no longer any water dispensers, all have been removed and you can only get water from the sellers inside.

transfer in Bali

# Bali, Bali Denpasar Airport, Indonesia, Transit, Visas
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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. This article is informative but I would like to provide an update which would benefit many anxious passengers who are using Bali to transfer flights. This is current as of my travel today 18 Feb 2023. I was on a KLM flight from Singapore to Bali and transfer to a Garuda flight to Sydney. I reached out to Garuda customer service by email and they explained that my luggage can be tagged all the way from Singapore to Sydney because both carriers are part of the Skyteam alliance. When i checked in at thr KLM counter in SIN they were able to print both boarding passes in one. When i arrived in Bali airport, once i got down the escalator they were a lady with a Sydney sign to direct me to the transfer counter instead of the immigration counter. There is no need to clear immigration for flight transfer. At the Garuda counter they reissued my boarding pass, then I cleared airport security and i got up to the departure hall upstairs. Another security check before the gate waiting area. Caution and reminder – the security does not allow any water bottles whether full or empty to brought on to the aircraft. This includes fancy personal water bottles. I was shocked as many disgruntled passengers too.

    1. Thanks so much for this information Fai. You were very wise to check and I’m glad you had a good outcome. Other travellers could also take note that if you’re travelling with any of the Alliances (e.g. oneWorld) and changing to a different carrier within the group, you should be able to do the same. Generally this means that both legs should be in the same itinerary, but there’s no harm asking if you booked them separately.
      Thanks for sharing the information about the water bottles. I’ve done both types of transfer in Bali and never had that experience. It may be new.

  2. Hi Lesley, great information for the most part. However I arrived on a CONNECTING FLIGHT combination of Turkish Airlines and BatikAir, and was shepherded through the transit desks as soon as we disembarked jumping all the queues and not needing a visa or to reclaim baggage which subsequently arrived in Melbourne. Those with self-transfers weren’t so lucky. The airlines were useless as regards informing me of this beforehand. In my case the worrying turned out to be in vain! Cheers!

    1. Hi Charlie,
      Yes, you’re absolutely correct. Turkish Airlines and BatikAir have had a partnership agreement in place for a few years now, since Batik’s days as Malindo. I was seated beside a chap KL/Bali/Melbourne a few years ago who’d transferred from a Turkish Airlines flight, same as you. He also had no problem as his flight was ticketed all the way through from Türkiye(same itinerary). It’s those with self-transfers who have this problem, because Bali has never been built as a transit airport. We wish they’d change this, but they probably do make a tidy bit of extra income from the visa fees. 🙂

  3. Hi everyone, I am planning a trip to Sumba Island and I would like to know the process and necessary layover time in Denpasar airport. I leave in Singapore so I was thinking to take the first SQ flight from Singapore to Denpasar and then take the Wings air flight from Denpasar to Tambolaka airport. It is a 1h15 layover and 2 separates tickets (not the same alliance). Is it enough? Thanks for your advises.

    1. It may be do-able if you are travelling light – hand luggage only AND your first flight is not delayed AND there aren’t lots of other incoming international flights at the same time. I see there are only 3 flights a week so the only other alternatives I could suggest would be overnight in Bali, since you’ll have an Indonesian visa already, or look at the NAM air flight at 1.45pm.

  4. Hello, I would greatly appreciate assistance regarding this matter. I am planning to book a flight from Kuala Lumpur airport to Adelaide with a layover in Bali, operated by Batik Air. I’m unsure whether a visa is required for transit in Bali, considering that all flights are operated by Batik Air. Additionally, please note that flight numbers may change, necessitating a plane change. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    1. If this is all booked as the same itinerary, you do not need a visa as you won’t have to exit through the Immigration counters. You’ll be directed to the Transfer desk, where they may issue a new boarding pass, even if the same aircraft is being used, but that’s no issue. Then you will be directed to the departure lounge through a security check. Enjoy your trip.

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