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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11 responses so far

11 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.

  10. Jasonon 09 Jul 2014 at 12:07 am

    My first trip over to Bali I wanted to learn how to ride a motorbike and didn’t get the chance to, At the start of this year I finally got my chance to ride around in Kuta and other places, At this point I didn’t have a Australian motorbike license and thought it was not a big deal, Well me and my mother both got a bike each and were riding around me more than her as I really got the hang of it and felt more at home, The day before nippy day in Kuta there were police everywhere at lest 5 on each corner, I was pulled up wearing a helmet and wearing a t-shirt with shorts and shoes, The police officer who pulled me up spoke English very well and asked how long I had been riding for and I said since the start of the week, He reply’d that I was like a pro on a race track, Didn’t ask to see my license didn’t get a fine, just asked me more thing’s on the matter of how I learned how to ride, I reply’d that I learned how to ride a motorbike in Thailand’s Koh Samui, If you’ve been there you’d know it’s maybe the worst place to learn how to ride as the road rules do not apply, and driver’s vs motorbikes normally crash a lot, I must have seen at lest 25 crashes and bike rider’s ending up half dead on the roads,
    I have been a push bike rider my whole life and on the roads of Melbourne AUS before the law’s changed to support bike rider’s, So getting on a motorbike felt the same as riding a pushbike without the peddles,

    So anyway this police officer kind of got the joist of it all, I also said it is much worse in Melbourne where I am from to be on the roads as there are more morons who use the roads and in Bali I found it rather safe sure you get blind sided a lot by taxi drivers but if you have a clean eye on the road and knowing what is around you and how to counter it if something did go wrong you will be fine, After about 2 weeks of riding the local Aussies that I know over there started calling me Wayne Gardner as I could get anywhere safe and without stopping or putting my feet on the ground, I’d race down legion street at 4pm when cars and bikes are at a stand still, Take me maybe 5 mins tops, I came home and the next week got my motorbike learners got a bike and ride it everyday.

    Turns out that police officer is my girlfriends father, I had started with her about one week after and were friends for about 2 weeks be for hooking up, Can’t wait to see the look on his face later this year when I go back over to meet all of her family and play with my dog,

    @Leo, The on the spot fine is more like a bribe than a fine and if you don’t pay it they can take you in for a bigger fine, Though that $300,000 is only $30AUD it can still get higher and be a lot worse for you, My mother ended up getting a fine and she did pay it the police did tell her never to ride again, She was holding up traffic on legion street at 5pm,

  11. Dennison 29 Oct 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Well basically you shouldn’t break the law in anyway. This includes bribing your way out of a fine.

    I got stopped at Lio Square around Seminyak this Saturday for not stopping before the line at the red line. The line wasn’t there at the part of the road I was driving on. It had vanished.

    Well the police wants to see my international drivers license and the registration papirs for the scooter.

    They showed me a laminate piece of paper with a lot of different fines on it. They say that my fine is 500.000.

    They then offer me to pay on site. So I tell them to write me a fine and I’ll go to the courthouse in Denpasar and pay it.

    They tell me that they are going to take my drivers license. I say no. They wanna keep the registration. I say no. They wanna keep the bike. I say no. This goes on for some time but I keep saying no and tell them to write me a fine.

    I got of with a warning.

    I think it is the best way to deal with the situation. You might get a bigger fine but what the hell. It is not that big, not anywhere near 500.000.

    This way you don’t continue supporting bribery I’m Indonesia. Which is a very big problem.

    They properly let you go. Because if they have given you a wrong price to begin with and then have to write it/chance the amount on the fine, they are fucked.

    This also takes time from the job of getting bribes.

    The locals says that you should take care Friday and Saturday in and around Kuta. Otherwise no worries.