EOR Solution: How to Start a Business in Indonesia

How to Initiate a Business Venture in Indonesia? Commencing a business in Indonesia might seem enticing due to its expansive and thriving economy, a vast consumer demographic, abundant natural resources, strategic trade location, investment incentives, diverse industry sectors, and burgeoning tourism potential.

These factors present substantial business prospects. However, it is crucial to adeptly navigate the regulatory landscape and cultural distinctions.

This article aims to delve into the considerations one should weigh before embarking on a business endeavor in Indonesia as a foreigner.

Is it Feasible for Foreigners to Establish Businesses in Indonesia? Numerous opportunities beckon foreigners desiring to launch enterprises in Indonesia. Nonetheless, certain factors merit careful attention.

First and foremost, meticulous research is imperative to ascertain whether the proposed business activity aligns with the Indonesian market. Understanding the demographics of potential customers, their needs, and how the business can serve them is paramount. Additionally, local religious, cultural, and societal norms should be factored into the equation.

Subsequently, adherence to the appropriate procedures is indispensable, a requirement not unique to Indonesia but common in most countries. Engaging a business consultant to elucidate prerequisites can simplify this process, offering insight into Indonesian regulations and constraints.

Types of Business Structures in Indonesia Choosing the right business entity is pivotal when contemplating how to launch a business in Indonesia. There are three prevalent business structures:

  1. PT PMA (Perseroan Terbatas Penanaman Modal Asing): A foreign-owned limited liability company.
  2. Limited Liability Company (LLC) or PT (Perseroan Terbatas): A locally-owned limited liability company.
  3. Branch or Representative Office (RO): Applicable to foreign entrepreneurs initiating specific business operations in Indonesia, contingent on the nature of the enterprise.

Each of these structures has its nuances and implications worth exploring in detail.



In PT PMA, the capital is sourced from foreign individuals or entities. This capital can come in the form of direct investments or other financial arrangements, and it allows foreign businesses, including governments, to invest in Indonesia.

To establish an FDIC, there must be a minimum of two members, which can be either individuals or legal entities, typically comprising a director and a commissioner. This requirement ensures that essential decision-making positions are always filled and prevents situations where one shareholder might unfairly exploit another’s equity stake.

Additionally, FDICs are encouraged to prioritize employing local workers. This not only contributes to producing high-quality products but also fosters sustainable growth within the organization. When it’s necessary to bring in foreign expertise, FDICs are expected to train and transfer knowledge to local employees.

Foreign investors have the flexibility to set up their companies in various locations, but for industrial businesses, the Indonesian Government mandates that they be situated within industrial estates.


Advantages of PT PMA

  • PT PMA enjoy the same rights as local companies in Indonesia, as they are subject to the same regulations and laws.
  • Foreign investors can own 100% of the company or a lesser share.
  • Obtaining licenses and permits is generally easier.
  • PT PMA often benefit from lower on-site taxes and reduced import duties.
  • They may qualify for special customs facilities.
  • PT PMA can sponsor foreign employees.
  • Foreign investors are eligible for a temporary stay permit for up to 2 years.
  • If foreign investors have continuously resided in Indonesia for 2 years, they can apply for a permanent stay permit.
  • Permanent stay permit holders can have multiple re-entry trips with a maximum 24-month duration since receiving the permanent stay permit.


Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) or PTs

  • The required minimum capital for LLCs or PTs can vary depending on the company’s business classification.
  • LLCs are permitted to engage in up to three primary business activities.
  • LLCs have a clear and protected liability structure determined by their business activities.
  • Leadership changes can be executed easily through the General Meeting of Shareholders (GMS).
  • Ownership responsibilities are well-defined for shareholders.
  • Shareholders’ liability is limited to their share value in the company.
  • Additional funding can be acquired by issuing more shares.
  • Foreigners can obtain a Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas (KITAS) or Temporary Stay Permit.
  • LLCs face relatively fewer restrictions.
  • They can participate in open government tenders.


Representative Offices (ROs)

Before establishing an FDIC or LLC, many companies opt to set up a representative office, which operates as a branch of the parent company.
To establish an RO, the company must demonstrate the marketability of its products and services in Indonesia, typically through an examination after receiving approval from Indonesian authorities.
ROs benefit from favorable tax policies, with lower taxes on initial incorporation and share ownership transfers.
However, they are subject to specific regulations, such as restrictions on paying dividends abroad, limitations on conducting certain business activities (e.g., banking, sales, and purchases), and restrictions on foreign equity participation, which may necessitate special approval.


Advantages of Representative Offices (ROs)

No minimum paid-in capital is required.
There are no specific shareholder requirements.
ROs do not need directors and commissioners.


Important Factors to Consider When Selecting a Business Structure

Choosing the appropriate business structure is a pivotal decision when initiating a business in Indonesia. Here are key elements to bear in mind when determining the right business structure for your needs.

  1. Liability Protection:
    • Evaluate the level of personal liability protection you require. Sole proprietorships and partnerships provide minimal to no protection, while corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) can safeguard personal assets from business liabilities.
  2. Tax Implications:
    • Different business structures have distinct tax implications. Comprehend how each structure is taxed and select the one that aligns with your financial objectives.
      • For instance, sole proprietorships and partnerships are typically taxed as pass-through entities, whereas corporations face double taxation.
  3. Ownership and Management:
    • Contemplate how you intend to organize ownership and management. Sole proprietorships and partnerships are usually simpler to establish and manage, whereas corporations and LLCs offer greater flexibility in these areas.
  4. Startup Costs and Complexity:
    • Certain business structures, like sole proprietorships and partnerships, are relatively straightforward and cost-effective to establish. Corporations and LLCs often involve more paperwork and higher initial expenses.
  5. Raising Capital:
    • If you plan to secure capital from investors, corporations are often the preferred choice as they can issue various classes of stock. LLCs and partnerships may have limitations in this regard.
  6. Regulatory Requirements:
    • Different structures come with varying levels of regulatory obligations. Corporations, for example, must adhere to more extensive reporting and governance requirements compared to sole proprietorships.
  7. Transferability:
    • Deliberate whether you desire the flexibility to transfer ownership interests easily. Some structures, like corporations, allow for the sale or transfer of stock, while others, like partnerships, may require more intricate processes.
  8. Exit Strategy:
    • Ponder your long-term plans for the business. If you anticipate selling the business or going public, a corporate structure may be more suitable.
  9. Professional Guidance:
    • Seek advice from legal and financial experts specializing in business structures. They can offer tailored guidance based on your unique circumstances and objectives.
  10. State and Local Considerations:
    • Be mindful that business structure options and regulations can vary by state and locality. Ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.
  11. Flexibility:
    • Contemplate whether you want the flexibility to change your business structure in the future. Some structures permit easier conversion or restructuring than others.

It’s crucial to carefully assess these factors and select the business structure that aligns best with your business model, long-term goals, and risk tolerance. Additionally, be open to revisiting your choice as your business evolves. Consulting with legal and financial professionals is often a prudent step to ensure an informed decision.


Understanding Minimum Share Capital and Company Requirements in Indonesia

Foreign entrepreneurs must be aware of the minimum share capital requirements and the process of starting a business in Indonesia.

Minimum Share Capital: Share capital is the amount of money invested by a company’s founders in exchange for ownership shares.

  • The required share capital varies based on the type of business:
    • Foreign-owned business (PT PMA): USD 300,000
    • Public Limited Company (Perusahaan Milik Publik): Rp3 billion
    • Limited Liability Company (PT): Rp50 million

Minimum Number of Shareholders: The minimum number of shareholders also varies by company type. For instance, a foreign-owned company or PMA requires one director and one shareholder.

Company’s Location: Choosing a suitable location for your company is crucial in Indonesia due to localized administration processes. For example, if you establish your company in Jakarta, your office address must be in a building with a valid building permit (IMB), which authorizes the building to serve as an office. However, many businesses opt for virtual offices to reduce costs.

Minimum Number of Directors: A foreign-owned business or PMA needs at least one registered director, while other types of businesses require a minimum of two directors.

These requirements are essential to understand and meet when establishing a company in Indonesia. Compliance with these regulations ensures a smoother business registration process.

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