Why customs clearance in Indonesia is expensive and difficult?

Do you personally feel that way on when thinking about the process of shipping to Indonesia? or maybe you heard it from your friends and family that have been through the process of shipping the goods to Indonesia before? It should not be that way if you have some knowledge of shipping to Indonesia in a proper way.

We mean the proper way is the right way to ship the goods to Indonesia with our brokerage custom duty shipping service. Our company will help you or your colleague to negotiate the tax and calculate the tax based on invoices and we will help you declare the documentation with the authorities. 

Why shipping to Indonesia can be categorized as expensive?

Actually, it depends on a few factors, sometimes it can be expensive depending on the goods you exported to Indonesia. As with various additional tax from Indonesian custom and rate, you might be jumbled up with the real amount of tax you need to pay.

Here is some common question asked around custom clearance tax in Indonesia.

The import tax will be varied depends on whether the recipient of the goods has the API (registration of import) or not. API has usually given to companies to import industrial or large scale goods that have been regulated by the Indonesian government with strict allowance or general cargo. Another documentation is NPWP (national tax registration code) that issued to companies or individuals to report yearly tax payments and such. Tax value is varied based on whether the recipient able to produce both documentation as listed:

  1. if the owner of the goods has API (the registration of import) and able to show NPWP (national tax registration code number), it will be given of 2,5% tax from import value.
  2. if the owner of the goods have API but can’t show the NPWP, import rate is 5%
  3. if the owner of goods don t have API but own NPWP, the tariff would be 10%
  4. If the owner of the goods do not have both, the import tariff would be 20% from import value

Furthermore, another 10% Goods and Service Tax needed to be paid (GST/ VAT tax) 

and additional tax applied to some category of goods imported, here the table taken from Pos Indonesia rate of import

Tax on luxury
Food/Drink ArticlesRiceImport License
 Wheat or Meslin Four10Import License
 Beans (Vigna sop, Phaseolus sop)7.510 
 Peas (Pisum sativum)7.510 
 Fruit Fresh7.5 
 Fruit Dried7.510 
 Dates Fresh7.5 
 Dates Dried7.510 
 Papayas, Watermelons, Apples, Pears7.5 
 Coffee Arabica/Robusta7.510 
 Tea (Black tea or Green Tea)7.510 
 Ginseng Roots7.510 
 Sparkling Wine1701075 
 Milk (include for infants)7.510 
 Tobacco (Virginia)7.5 
 Machine made clove cigarettes1510 
Article ClothingWoven fabrics of silk1010 
 Shirting Materials1010 
 Overcoats, Raincoats1010 
 Trousers, Short, Suits, Jackets, T-Shirt1510 
 Singlets, Underpants, Pyjamas1510 
 Gloves, Stocking, Blankets1510 
Electric ApplianceFans (Table, Floor, Wall, Windows, Ceiling)1510The motor of an output not exceeding 125 Watt
 Refrigerators (household type)10 
 Sewing Machines1010 
 Cellular Telephones10 
 Wireless Modem10 
 Facsimile Machines10 
 TV (clour/black and white)10no exceeding 21 Inch
 VCR, VCD, DVD1510Pricing less than Rp.1.000.000/US$ 125 per item
 VCD,VCD,DVD151010Pricing more than Rp.1.000.000/US$ 125 per item
Folk Handicrafts/ HobbyDolls, Others toy (electric trains including tracks) puzzles, stuffed10 
Publications & MediaPrinted books, brochures, leaflets10 
 News Paper, Journal, and Periodicals10 
 Children’s picture, drawing or coloring10 
 Music books 
 Maps, Globes 
 Calendar of any kind1510 
 Commercial catalog1510 
MedicineHuman Medicaments7.510Require a check by the Department of Health



7.510Require a check by the Department of Health
Articles of Daily UsePerfumes101020 
 Face Powder, Personal deodorants1010 
 Lip/Eye make-up preparation101010 
 Shampoos, Soaps, Tooth Paste1010 
 Dental floss7.510 

1. Total Value equal to US$ 50 or less, import duty are exempted
2. Videotapes and Films will be held and screened by the Customs
3. Printed paper (political materials) will be checked by Attorney General

Here some case on calculation the import tax to Indonesia:

I buy consumer goods USD 550 with shipment charges USD 50 with EMS Cargo. How much do I need to pay for duties? (I do not have NPWP and API)

Rate 1 USD: Rp. 10.000,00

Import duties 10%

Import GST 10%

Income Import tax 7,5%

Cost of goods USD 500, free up USD 75 = USD 425. (Cost)

Shipping Charges USD 50 (Freight)

Insurance: 0,5% x (Price after deduction of allowance of tax + shipping charges) = 0,5 x USD 475 = USD 23,75.

Value of Taxable (CIF) = 498,75 x Rp. 10.000,00 = Rp. 4,987,500

Import duties = 10% x Value = Rp. 498,750,00

Import Value = Value of Taxable + Import duties = Rp. 4,987,500,00 + Rp. 498,750,00 = Rp. 5.486.250

Import GST (Good and Service Tax/ VAT) = 10% x Import Value= Rp. 548,625,00

Income Import tax = 7,5% x Import Value = Rp. 415,000,00 (rounded up)

Import custom duty that need to be paid: Rp 963,625.00

Bear in mind for personal goods you are eligible to get facility of USD 75 per shipment per day per recipient free tax from the CIF (Cargo, Insurance, Freight) amount for your shipment. 

What is the CIF amount?

CIF consists of (cargo, insurance, freight)Cargo means the cargo price in terms of the invoice price based on the real price of trade while the importing happens and compared to the market price at a particular time. Insurance means the insurance (if any) for the particular shipment while importing to respective countries. Sometimes, customs duty will look at the insurance price and compared it with the invoice price as comparison. High insurance but low invoice price will raise some suspicion in regards to the true value of the goods. Freight means the price of shipment from the origin country to Indonesia. And all of the charges totaled and you will get CIF amount that the customs duty will use for calculating the tax.

Based on the explanation above, sometimes your shipment can be expensive if you imported luxury products to Indonesia, but if you importing goods with an invoice amount less than USD 3, you should get free tax importing your goods to Indonesia, bear in mind the freight charges as well. As in rough calculation by our staff, if you want to have free import tax, you need to purchase from Singapore or Malaysia with EMS charges with the goods value around USD 20-30 only.

Next question, why shipping to Indonesia is difficult and stressing?

Well, our custom in Indonesia have the famous reputation from all over the world that sometimes it is almost impossible to import any parcel or goods to Indonesia due to the complicated system or sometimes the custom duty officer felt your goods does not fulfill the requirement of import (lack of documentation) and surely it should make a lot of frustration for you or your relative that have to try to send the goods to Indonesia. As we have been in the industry since 2001, we learn a lot from the pain to ship the goods to Indonesia as the number one hurdle in shipping your goods to Indonesia always be the customs duty regulation that keeps on changing and customs duty officer that quite demanding. 

In Indonesia shipping world, as most of the shipping agency have the term “red light” or “green light” for importing the goods to Indonesia. “Red light” means there is the condition whereas there a lot of checks happening in the customs borders as it might slow the shipping time period of delivery and “green light” means the checks of the goods imported to the country run as per normal period. The red light period happens a few times in the year as the major holiday coming, changes of rules of import from custom duty department, instruction from the ministry of finance in to increase checks around the border, etc.

But some condition happens even while on “green light” period, there is a chance that your goods can be held in custom due to random check on every good imported to the country or lack of documentation for your goods. It is important to have the full set of documentation and find a shipping agency that is able to negotiate on behalf of you in the case that happens and try to find an experienced shipping agency and do a lot of research before commencing on shipping to Indonesia.

Few factors that able to make your goods “stuck” in Indonesian custom during “red light” period or “normal period/ green light” without any explanation are:

  • Often changing regulation in Indonesian custom and the one that handles your products have the full authority in regards of your products, if he/ she finds something amiss, your goods will be put on inspection and be held until he/ she satisfied with the results/ documentation provided (documentation problems)
  • When you ship your products with other shipping agencies, there is a sudden change of rules from the authorities. It can be there are many conjunctions for the high period of checks by customs clearance that tightens on the way the flow of every shipment that coming to the countries. The importer needs to avoid and aware of the “red light” period as if the goods get stuck in the custom, usually can take weeks and months or with the slight of chances that the goods might be confiscated by custom for lack of documentation. Be more aware that before long holiday periods in Indonesia there will be more check by the customs duty.
  • With special commodities, such as high-value products electronics, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, or controlled items, advisable to hand carry with you if you fly over to Indonesia compared you ship it through the shipping company. It always safer to hand carry the product and declare it upon arrival as the products due to the process of custom and there are more tax needed to be paid.
  • Most of the goods imported to Indonesia is controlled and need proper documentation excepts personal item such as basic clothing, shoes (limited and inexpensive), bags, as with rule of thumbs are the goods that for daily use and nothing applicable directly to human skin or consumed such as cosmetics, makeup, vitamins, health-related products, etc.
  • Shipping to Indonesia can be expensive as the referred to Indonesian Custom Website, most of the goods with high value considered as expensive goods with special tax as additional for normal 10 percent VAT tax and import duties with a wide range of the products in the category.
  • Shipping to Indonesia by no means can be categorized as difficult if you find a shipping agency with brokerage with Indonesian custom such as SindoShipping- our company provides the cheaper, faster and better way to ship your products to Indonesia.

The solution in regards to the difficulties of shipping to Indonesia?

Before shipping your product, it is wise to do some research in regards of your goods that you would like to ship to Indonesia, find on which category your goods fall into and the tax amount and the total tax that you need to pay. Be prepared that you need to spend some money on tax as it might be needed to make sure your goods arrived in the destination with assurance. Furthermore, do check as well and ask a lot of questions with your shipping agency that handling your product as it is important for you to have a clear picture before the actual shipping. 

In shipping world, there is no word of “sure shipping”, “100 percent accurate”, as in every business and industry, always keep in mind that every worst-case scenario might happen even so your goods and shipment is straight forward won’t have any problem with customs duty officer in Indonesia. Expect some delay in regards of your shipping as well for precautionary as it happened that most of the shipping port can be in halt when the customs duty department found something suspicious on some shipment and able to affect the other shipment as well directly or indirectly. Always keep communicating with the shipping agency and ask for the updated status of your shipment and ensure them to be as transparent as possible and the utmost clarity in regards to your shipping status and goods.

SindoShipping has been in the industry since 2001 and we are committed to providing the best shipping experience to Indonesia. We understand your stress and frustration to ship the product to Indonesia as there is a lot of bureaucracy that happened and directly or indirectly affecting you as the shipper or recipient of your particular shipment. Please be rest assured that we only provide the best solution for your every shipping distress.

If you have any goods of shipment to Indonesia or plan one, do contact us for any info as consultation is free of charge. Please do not hesitate to check and inquire in regards to the matter to one of our staff.