What A Difference A Nationality Made? (3)

There are two occasions which urged me to think seriously about giving up my Indonesian passport and becoming a UK citizen. One of my friends asked if we’re interested in going somewhere on Easter break, and she quite fancied Switzerland and Austria. While another one immediately said yes, I had to tell her that it’s not that easy for Indonesian. We can’t just hop on the plane and fly to European countries. The other occasion was when Joan and I were talking about an impulse of spending the weekend, say, somewhere in Portugal, or Italy. I told her, that of course, for Indonesian, we have to plan in at least a month in advance. At least.

Being Indonesian, we are only allowed to set our foot into 11 countries without visas. For other countries, we have to embark on a long journey of collecting necessary documents and submit them to embassies, just to prove that we are worthy human beings who will not become burdens for them when we land in their precious countries. UK embassy in Indonesia now requires each applicant to have their finger scanned and photographs taken at the Visa Application Centre, as if all the documents we gather to submit are not genuine enough and they need to see with their own eyes and their own equipment that we’re not an alien or Imam Samudra descendant.

Of course my dear British and European friends don’t understand the hassle we have to go through every time we apply for a visa. They were surprised to find out that, for example, we need to provide a bank statement, showing that we are capable enough to buy food and souvenirs. Or a statement from our office, ensure the embassy that we are still working for them and will definitely return to Indonesia due to our commitment with them. Sometimes, depends on our luck of the day, we will be called for interview. And there should be a very valid reason why we want to fly to their country. If we want to go for a sightseeing, we have to show some proof (i.e. we have registered for a tour programme or have booked the hotel). If we visit our relatives or friends, they have to send letter to the embassy ensuring that they do know us and will take care of us (to a certain degree). Everything must be planned well ahead and no room for improvisation. On top of everything, we have to wait for a month to get our visa processed.

Lucky now Schengen visa covers 24 countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden), but even that, they will only give me 2 months-visa, and my friend who is married to a Dutch citizen gets 2 years-visa.

But if my friends decided to go to Switzerland and Austria, I have had to apply for 2 visas! And that means 2 months in waiting. At least. And submitting documents twice, each shall be altered according to each embassy’s requirement. With 1 hour journey from Aberdeen to Amsterdam, it becomes more silly that I have to plan everything so far ahead. Imagine the same hassle if people from Jakarta have to apply for a visa to Singapore each time.

Why are we so unworthy? What has our foreign ministry done so far?

Some people will say that I don’t love my country enough, thinking about giving up my Indonesian passport just for a silly reason. Maybe. But married to a foreigner makes me loose several rights in my own country, for example, the right to own a property. I can’t buy, and I can’t inherit. Unless I have had prenuptial agreement. So I become a guest, a visitor, in my own country! What does the government wish, that I have to rent a house for the rest of my life? And then if I have children, after they reach the age of 21 they have to choose whether they want to be Indonesian or UK since they can’t be both. Either way, they will become guests on either country. Imagine that I have to send an in invitation letter to my own children to visit my home country.

I still have 2 years to think about this thoroughly. Let’s see what’s going to happen.

Further reading:



  1. johnorford says:

    u don’t need a visa for ireland (i suspect) and stay indonesian! :)

    what’s the logic of not being allowed to own property if your husband is foreign?

    is it the same for indonesian men married to foreign women?

  2. I went to US Embassy to pick my visa after a long queue, Q/A, and local staffs there who really act like they were so American. Then in their immigration, I have to go to secondary check when they scan my name and my credit cards to their system. It took about 15 minutes of as I had prepared all the documents including list our corporate lawyers if we stuck in the airport. The thing is, holding an Indonesian passport can be a tremendous stress especially when I need to go US. Is not something to be proud of when you had to endure such treatments.

  3. Good news! My indian boyfriend has the same problem and we know he doesn’t need a visa to go to Switzerland so give it a try.
    Sorry but regarding Ireland, you do need a visa to go to Dublin but not to Belfast which is part of the UK.

  4. Finally Woken says:

    @John: For Southern Ireland, Indonesian needs a visa which is part of Schengen scheme that covers 24 countries.

    You might want to contact Mrs. Amaliya Lerrigo to buy a booklet (actually it’s a book, a big, thick one!) about mixed-marriage. You can buy it at Srikandi office or contact Ibu Amaliya at +628176025665. Last year it cost Rp 175,000, not sure for now.

  5. Ever since Europe changed into Fortress Europe, it’s like non western foreigners have to beg to enter this part of the world.

    My two Indonesian daughters in law had to go through a lot of humiliating bureaucratic red tape to even get the opportunity to join their Dutch husbands.

    European fear and xenophobia are to blame. Not a Indonesian passport.

  6. Mba, i share your upset feelings and i cant say much about the nationality thing. a friend told me that it is such a pitty when indonesian giving up their nationality for hollidays. but IMHO, you are not giving up ur nationality within your heart. you are giving up on world beureu-crazy on handling such matters. i would rather respect people who have change their passport but still feel Indonesian rather than Indonesian who’s all the time mocking his or her nation.

    (well i do too mocking my government but not all the time :d).

    so do what u believe it’s the best!

    ps: u dont need visa to enter Maroko and one other country in Latin America..i forgot what..check in Projectvisa.org.
    and you know..Malaysian dont need visa to many places around the world..i guess this is the risk for being a country-mate of many terorists ..Enjoy :)

  7. johnorford says:

    ireland isn’t part of schengen, but has had a similar agreement with the uk since forever.


    but mayb u’r still not allowed tho…

  8. Finally Woken says:

    @John: you’re right. I looked up those 24 countries listed in Schengen and I thought I saw Ireland on the list (actually I saw Iceland!!).

    Anyway, Indonesians do need a visa to (Southern) Ireland (click here). Funnily (sadly) enough, our beloved neighbors – Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei – don’t need visa. Aaarrghhh….

  9. My sister gave up her Indonesian citizenship three years ago and now is holding a Singapore passport. One of her reason is she can apply for a Singapore International Passport which has very little travel restrictions around the world. And she can have more subsidy in health matter.

  10. Memento says:

    i know the feeling about the hassle of applying a schengen visa. if it weren’t that complicated, i probably would’ve spent one too many impulsive weekends in belgium or france thanks to the eurostar! :p

    anyhoo, if you have a temporary residence visa (UK leave to remain or student visa, NOT a UK tourist visa), you don’t need a visa to go to Switzerland, so long as your UK visa & passport is still valid for 6 months after the departure date.
    i went to zurich a couple of years ago sans a swiss visa – no questions asked at both UK and swiss immigrations.

    but i heard from a friend who lives in switzerland that the country is joining the schengen next year or some time in the near future, so you might wanna check with the swiss consulate before you book anything. wish you a nice easter break! :)

  11. Johnorford: what’s the logic of not being allowed to own property if your husband is foreign?

    isman: That is like asking a guy who just ignited his fart, “What were you thinking?”


    Same thing. That law isn’t based on any kind of human logic. It’s some kind of Indonesian bureaucracy logic. (Especially the part where they can take over the property when the foreign spouse passed away.)


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