Doing Business in Indonesia

There are several ways for foreign investor to setup business in Indonesia. If the investor wishes to sell its product or service without the need to have their own presence in Indonesia they may choose to appoint an Agent or Distributor. However, should they like to have own presence in Indonesia they may choose to register business entity such as Representative Office (RO) and/or Foreign Investment Company (FDI Co.PT. PMA).

Following are the brief reference for each ways as mentioned above.

Appointment of Agent or Distributor

Foreign company may enter to an agency or distributorship appointment agreement with Indonesian company to have its product or service marketed and/or distributed in Indonesia. The said appointment need to be registered to the Ministry of Trade subject to its Regulation No. 11 of 2006 (MoT 11 of 2006). Failure to comply with such stipulation may result in the business license of the local counterpart being revoked.

The said regulation stipulates that the appointment can be in the form of general appointment (agent/ distributor) or  exclusive appointment (sole agent/ sole distributor). further it also stipulates that the appointment may be made by the followings.

  1. Principal;
  2. Supplier  (based on Principal approval);
  3. PT. PMA (in wholesaler/ distributor activity); or
  4. Trade RO (Kantor Perwakilan Perusahaan Perdagangan Asing/ KP3A).

The said regulation also stipulates that the PT PMA in wholesaler/ distributor activity must appoint local company as its agent or distributor to do its activity in Indonesia.

Having the stipulation above, a PT. PMA in wholesaler/ distributor is required to have distributorship appointment by its principal (e.g. parent company or group company) in order to distribute its product in Indonesia. This is required due to PT. PMA as an entity registered under Indonesian Company Law which is also categorized as local company. However as a PT PMA, it need to appoint other Local Entity as its agent or distributor. In practice the second appointment is made by a PT. PMA to a 100% Local Company.

Kindly note that the said appointment agreement above is required to be legalized by the notary. By the notary of the principal’s home country if it’s made made outside Indonesia or by Indonesian Notary if the agreement is made in Indonesia.

Registration of Representative Office (RO)

The regulation of RO is similar with PT. PMA, it’s complexly regulated by many regulation and have many authority in charge depends on type of the RO. However in brief the RO is categorized based on conditions below.

  1. Marketing RO
  2. Income Generation RO

The first RO is only authorized to do market research, acting as liaison between local and its principal, and/or organizing principal affiliation in Indonesia. It is prohibited to generate any income in Indonesia. ROs that fall into this category are Trade Representative Office (Kantor Perwakilan Perusahaan Perdagangan Asing/ KP3A), Foreign Representative Office (Kantor Perwakilan Perusahaan Asing/ KPPA), Foreign Airline Representative Office (Kantor Perwakilan Penerbangan Asing), etc.

The second RO may generate income under some condition. Foreign Public Work Representative Office/ Construction Representative Office (Kantor Perwakilan Badan Usaha Jasa Konstruksi Asing/ BUJKA) is the only RO that fall into this category. It may  generate income under the condition that it has joint operation with local company when delivering its service.

As mentioned above, the regulation and the authority in charge is different for each RO types. However after obtaining the delegation, now Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (Badan Koordinasi Penanaman Modal/ BKPM) have the authority to issue the license for KP3A, KPPA, and BUJKA. Those three are the most types of RO applied registered in Indonesia.

Registration of Foreign Investment Company (PT. PMA)

In brief PT. PMA is the main way to do business in Indonesia. It may do marketing and deliver service directly to its customer (allowed to generate income). The entity is registered as a legal entity therefore it separates and distinct liability of the company from its owners (i.e. foreign investor).

The company is required to have a minimum two shareholders and minimum total investment of  IDR 10 Billlion. The maximum foreign ownership is regulated in Presidential Regulation 44 of 2016 (Negative List of Investment).

Kindly see the previous article for further discussion of PT. PMA.


Reference (downloadable via Google Drive)



Foreign Direct Investment in Indonesia

Penanaman Modal Asing (“PMA”)/ Foreign Direct Investment (“FDI”) in Indonesia is regulated under Law 25 of 2007 (Undang Undang Penanaman Modal/ Direct Investment Law), the law applies to FDI and also Local Direct Investment.

In brief, the law stipulates that FDI is any investment made by a foreign party (private person/ legal entity/country) directly with a legal entity in Indonesia in form of a shared ownership, whether the ownership is partly or wholly owned by a foreign party. Kindly note that the Law 25 of 2007 is not applicable to share ownership through the capital market.

Negative List of Investment/DNI

Law 25 of 2007 stipulates that the government may regulate open business activities and restrict direct investment made by citizens or foreigners through Presidential Regulations.

The latest ruling (when this article is made) is Presidential Regulation 44 of 2016 (Daftar Bidang Usaha Yang Tertutup dan Bidang Usaha Yang Terbuka Dengan Persyaratan di Bidang Penanaman Modal/ List of Business Fields That Are Closed To Investment and Business Fields That Are Conditionally Open For Investment) which in practice are usually called Negative List of Investment (Daftar Negatif Investasi/ “DNI”).

The key to understanding DNI is to understand business classification in  Indonesian Business Industry Classification Code (Klasifikasi Baku Lapangan Usaha Indonesia/ “KBLI”). Once we understand a business activity that we are interested in, then we may check whether the particular activity is open, close, or conditionally open.

An open business activity is indicated by the absence of the code in the DNI, while the code for a closed business activity and conditionally open business activity will appear in the DNI.

Open means that the business activity is 100% open and available for investment (local/FDI), while close will be the opposite. As for conditionally open, it may be classified to restricted for foreign investment (partially ​or fully​ restricted) or requires further arrangements (e.g. required to cooperate with Small Medium Scale Companies).

However, please be advised that there are some business activities that need to be confirmed by the authority in charge as there are some regulations from the technical ministry in charge that may not have been harmonized with the DNI.

Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (Badan Koordinasi Penanaman Modal/ “BKPM”)

By law, the authority in charge of each business activity is the technical ministry. For instance, distributor activity is monitored by Ministry of Trade, mining activity is monitored by Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, etc.

However, in relation to direct investment, the technical ministry can delegate some of their authority (e.g. issuing licenses/permits) to BKPM. Having the delegated authority, BKPM has an authority over most direct investment​ activities in Indonesia.

We can’t ​say “everything” because some business activities like banking and finance are still monitored and regulated by Financial Service Authority/ Otoritas Jasa Keuangan/ “OJK”).

Basic Requirements

The FDI must require the services of a notary to form a PT. Company in order to operate in Indonesia. The company’s business activity must be in line with the DNI guidelines as mentioned above. 

As a PT. Company, it needs at least two persons (private individual/legal entity) as the company shareholders. The minimum shares owned by the minority shareholder is IDR 10 Million. In practice, the company is called Perusahaan Terbatas Penamanan Modal Asing (PT. PMA).

The minimum total investment value per business activity for a FDI must be more than IDR 10 Billion (in practice, adding another IDR 1 Million is enough). The investment can be financed through equity and loan. Kindly note that BKPM may request a higher investment based on the business activity applied.

The total investment must fully reflect in the Authorized Capital stated in the Article of Incorporation of the company. The Paid Up and Issued Capital (Cash deposit) are at least 25% from the Authorized Capital. Subject to the new Ministry of Law and Human Rights (“MLHR”) regulation, the deposit needs to be made within three months after the MLHR approval’s issuance date.

Further, the company is required to have a minimum of one person as a Director and one person as Commissioner. Kindly note that a legal entity is not allowed to hold such position in Indonesia.

As a business entity, a PT. PMA is required to have at least the following basic legal documents/licenses/permits to operate.

  1. Principal License;
  2. Article of Incorporation/Association (“AoI”/”AoA”);
  3. Ministry of Law and Human Rights Approval for the AoI/AoA;
  4. Certificate of Domicile;
  5. Certificate of Tax Registration;
  6. Certificate of Company Registration; and
  7. Business License.

Kindly note that the list above may be increased subject to the type of business activity engaged by the company.

Reference (downloadable via Google Drive)

Company Registration in Indonesia

Perseroan Terbatas/ “PT” is the common type of company registered in Indonesia for doing business

There are many types of company existing in Indonesia like; Perseroan​ Terbatas (PT), Koperasi, Firma (Fa), Commanditaire Vennoostchaap (CV), etc. The first mentioned type, PT Company, is a common type of company registered in Indonesia for doing business.

PT Company is suitable for small, medium-scale business, and large-scale business. Also, this is the only type of company allowed to be registered for the purpose of Foreign Direct Investment/ FDI.

The principles of a PT Company are similar to the term of “Corporation/Limited Liability Company” in the United States. It has the following characteristics: (i) It’s a legal entity; (ii) its ownership is based on shares owned, and (iii) it has a limited liability characteristic (this is a very important factor because it separates the liability of the company from its owners);

PT Company is regulated by the Indonesian Company Law No. 40 of 2007. It is a form of business based on an agreement between the founders. Having said that, the founders of a PT company must be at least two persons (individual and/or legal entity).

Initially, the founders must become also the shareholders, however, they can later sell their share ownership to other persons as long as the shareholders in the company consist of at least two persons. If there is only one shareholder, then the PT Company may lose its limited liability status.


In principle, registering a PT Company for small, medium-scale business and large-scale business will have similar procedures. The only distinction is registering PT for the purpose of FDI. A notary’s assistance is required in registering a PT Company because a notary is a public official that is authorized to create a deed of company incorporation.

The following are the procedures.


The founders are required to enter into a company incorporation agreement. The Ministry and Human Rights/ MLHR as the government ministry in charge of PT Company registration has provided a standard format for the deed of company incorporation agreement. Some items in it are mandatory to be followed, some can be adjusted to suit the needs of the founders and some need to be completed by them. We can consult the notary on those matters.

The following are the most common items that need to be completed by the founders.

  1. Name;
  2. Capital;
  3. Domicile;
  4. Business Activity;
  5. Board of Director;
  6. Board of Commissioners​;
  7. Fiscal year; and
  8. Shares ownership.


Once the founder provides the above information, then the notary will search the company name in MLHR online system. If it’s available, then the notary will reserve it for the founder which will be valid for 60 days.

Next, the notary will draw up the deed using the information given. Since the deed will contain many legal jargons, it is advised to consult the notary for every unclear items stated in it to avoid any issue that might be raised in the future.

If all of the founders agree with the deed, then they are required to sign it in the presence of the notary. Thereafter, the notary will finalize the deed and submit it through MLHR’s online system for their approval.

Kindly note that for the FDI, the founders are advised to apply for a principal license from the Indonesia Investment Coordination Board (Badan Koordinasi Penanaman Modal/BKPM) before they sign the deed.

The PT Company is fully registered as a legal entity and it will have limited liability status after the MLHR issues the approval. The approval will be sent by the MLHR to the notary in electronic form. Upon receiving the approval, the notary will print and give it to the founders along with the final deed.

Post Registration

After the company is registered as a legal entity, the shareholders are required to hold the first general meeting of shareholders to approve all actions made by the founder before the PT Company is registered.

At this stage, the director of the company will assume the leadership role of the company. From administration law perspective, the director is required to apply for basic license and permit as follows.

  1. Certificate of Domicile;
  2. Tax Payer ID;
  3. Business License; and
  4. Certificate of Company Registration.

Kindly note that the above items are only basic requirements for the company to legally operate and run its business activity. The list will go up based on the type of PT Company (Local/FDI), business activity, location, etc.

Reference (downloadable via Google Drive)