Jan 07 2011

How to avoid motorcycle fines in Bali

Published by at 3:30 pm under Health & safety

I drive or cycle through a major intersection in Sanur most days. It’s where the bypass meets Jalan Danau Buyan, but most people, tourists and locals alike, know it more as McDonalds corner as there is a very prominent McDonalds on the southeast corner.

On the northwest corner is a police box.

At least once or twice a week I see the police booking foreign tourists on motorbikes at this corner. It’s the main throughfare from Kuta to Ubud and fertile grounds for the men in uniform.

Indonesian motorbike license

Indonesian motorbike license

Here are a few tips to avoid being booked:

  1. Have an International Riding License. Note Riding, not Driving. You’ll need to get this in your home country and this is a basic requirement for riding in Indonesia.
  2. Have a local Tourist Riding License. You’ll need (1) or a license from your home country to get this, and you’ll have to spend an hour or so at the licensing centre in Kerobokan to get one (get a cab there, as it is in the middle of nowhere). It is valid for one month.

If you’re not willing or able to do either of those, then you’re going to be riding illegally, in which case  you’re best to try and avoid being noticed, or if you are seen, you want them to assume you must be an expat and so will already have a license and not be worth stopping. This means you should:

  1. Wear a helmet.
  2. Wear a shirt. (Riding shirtless is a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist.)
  3. Don’t wear a bikini (see 2).
  4. Obey the road rules — that is, drive or ride sensibly

If you are pulled over and are breaking the law, expect to be hit up for an on the spot fine. 50,000 rupiah is pretty standard, but the unwary get taken for a lot more — we’ve heard of people handing over up to 300,000 rupiah! Always ride with a 50,000 rupiah note in your pocket (for quick handing over). If at all possible, don’t get your wallet out.

At all times conduct yourself in good humour. You have broken the law and are in the wrong. You can kick up a hue and cry about it, but if you’re riding around unlicensed, or without a helmet, you do deserve to be fined.

Get it over and done with and get on with your holiday. Better still, get a license, wear a helmet and avoid the whole problem.

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9 responses so far

9 Responses to “How to avoid motorcycle fines in Bali”

  1. Matton 11 Jan 2011 at 12:57 am

    Thanks for linking to me as an example of a tourist getting taken for a ride!

  2. MacMakanon 11 Jan 2011 at 7:36 am

    please dont let your front wheel touch the white line at the traffic lights. this is classed as a road traffic violation in Indonesia, and they dont understand but i could have jumped the red light, but instead i am a good driver. at indo driving school, you get taught to jump the red light. it will cost you!

  3. [...] So all you lazy beachbums hanging out in Kuta, go get some scooters and do some exploring — just remember your license! [...]

  4. [...] getting booked You've already read our piece on how to avoid motorcycle fines in Bali, right? In theory you must have either an international license for riding or an Indonesian [...]

  5. chopon 16 Jun 2011 at 4:53 pm

    any way to get local bike license without international license?

  6. Kim Skinneron 02 Aug 2011 at 5:20 am

    I wondered are there many accidents involving motorbikes with tourists and does your travel insurance cover you for riding motorbikes providing you have all the necessary documentation. Its just that recently I have read of a couple of guys whose families have had to raise lots of money to get them air ambulanced out and they had motorbike accidents in Bali. I have necessary international driving licence etc.

  7. Santiagoon 26 Jun 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I was coming from Sanur by expres way and a police in bike stop us and want to fine becouse the helmet of my wife was to small (The ones sold in the streets in Kuta) He show the rules that says that tha helmet has to be standart “standart helmet”, and fine 250,000.

    I Have my licent from dempasar for tourist.

    You can see the helmets are not accepted for all traffics in Bali in the following


    The one was using my wife is the third black red with lents.

  8. Leoon 21 Mar 2013 at 10:01 am


    Any receipt given after paying the fine on the spot?

  9. Anonamouson 27 Dec 2013 at 12:39 am

    True post, also dont forget to have your bike REGISTRATION CARD, given to you if you rent, or have one if you buy new.

    Police often ask to see the Rego card.

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