How to avoid motorcycle fines in Bali

How to avoid motorcycle fines in Bali

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.

More on Bali Overview

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.

Reviewed by

Stuart McDonald co-founded with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Further reading

Art & culture

Festivals & events

General ideas

Health & safety

Money & costs


Visas & immigration

Weather & climate

29 other destinations in Bali

Learn more about Pemuteran

Some great diving

Learn more about Medewi

Don’t go, it’s awful!

Learn more about Balian

Good swell, swell vibes

Learn more about Sidemen

Ubud without the hordes

Learn more about Sanur

Sleepy Sanur

Learn more about Amed

Bay after bay after bay

Learn more about Bukit

Beaches and more beaches

Learn more about Ubud

Eat Pray Traffic

Learn more about Munduk

Mountain getaway

Learn more about Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan

Surf and snorkelling

Learn more about Padang Bai
Padang Bai

Welcome to Bali!

Learn more about Candi Dasa
Candi Dasa

Old school beach resorts

Learn more about Amlapura

Explore rice fields and water palaces

Learn more about Tulamben

Dive a wreck

Learn more about Lovina

Black sand beach town

Learn more about Kuta


Learn more about Seminyak

Big sunglasses, good bars

Learn more about Jimbaran

Great beach BBQ

Learn more about Canggu

Villas and ricefields

Learn more about Gunung Batur
Gunung Batur

A popular climb

Learn more about Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida

Go now

Learn more about Nusa Ceningan
Nusa Ceningan

We love this joint

Learn more about Legian

Beach bums

Learn more about Bedugul

Cool weather, succulent strawberries

Learn more about Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa
Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa

Fancy pants resorts

Learn more about Denpasar

The capital

Learn more about Gilimanuk

West as Bali gets