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International Shipping to Indonesia: Cross-border eCommerce Guide

Written by
Published on
August 10, 2018
Updated on
June 20, 2023

Update 14th Jan 2020: Indonesia will be revising its de minimis value down to US$3 from an earlier US$ 75 on the 30th January 2020 as confirmed by Indonesia's Directorate General of Customs and Excise, Ministry of Finance. You can find more details about how this could affect your shipments, at our latest announcement.

Interested in expanding to one of the largest markets by population in Southeast Asia? This is part of a larger series on Indonesia’s eCommerce scene, which you can find more on in our guide to Indonesia’s eCommerce insights and shipping tips!

As the fourth most populous country in the world, Indonesia has 272.1 million people spread across 14,752 islands. Its e-commerce market is booming as more Indonesians shop online via their smartphones. With its huge domestic market, revenue from e-commerce is projected to grow from US$9.13 billion in 2018 to US$16.86 billion by 20221.

In Indonesia, the Greater Jakarta metropolitan region, also known as Jabodetabek, is densely populated and has fairly developed infrastructure and logistics facilities which are conducive to online shopping. As a result, plenty of online shopping tends to happen within this region according to Google and Temasek’s 2019 e-conomy report2. Jabodetabek is a portmanteau of Jakarta and its surrounding areas: Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, South Tangerang and Bekasi.

Guide to International Shipping to Indonesia

As an online merchant, you may want to jump at this opportunity to expand your e-commerce business and start a customer base in Indonesia. However, figuring out how to ship to Indonesia for the first time could feel daunting. You'll need to find a logistics provider who can reach your Indonesian customers, know what you can and cannot ship into the country, and how to collect payment for your products.

While your shipping experience may vary from carrier to carrier, this article aims to outline the general shipping procedure you need to follow and explain various processes that occur in cross-border shipping.

1. Finding the right shipping partner

In international shipping, a.k.a cross-border shipping, the right shipping partner can make or break your delivery experience. Different shipping partners have strengths in different parts of the supply chain. Some companies specialise in only one stage of delivery while others provide end-to-end eCommerce shipping services that cover all stages. Look out for a shipping partner that best suits your eCommerce needs.

Generally, you’ll want to look out for partners who have the following:

  • Has local expertise
  • Knows what you can and cannot ship into the country
  • Knows how to collect payment for your products - Cash on Delivery is still an important payment method in Indonesia.

In cross-border shipping, the journey a package undergoes involves multiple stages:

  • First Mile - The shipment moves from the merchant’s warehouse to the port
  • Origin Customs Clearance - Clearing goods for export from your country
  • Freight - The shipment moves from the home country’s port (origin) to the destination port (destination).
  • Destination Customs Clearance - Clearing goods for import in the destination country
  • Distribution - Parcels arrive at a warehouse or distribution centre to be sorted and assigned to the right vehicles before the last mile delivery stage.
  • Last Mile - The shipment moves from the destination port to the customer’s home

As an example, goods could be shipped by truck from the merchant’s warehouse in Singapore to Changi Airport (SIN) where it is cleared for export. From there, the goods are shipped via air freight towards Soekarno-Hatta Airport (CGK) in Jakarta and go through Indonesian customs clearance. After that, the delivery is distributed via van or motorcycle to the customer’s office or home.

One way to save money on shipping is to use multiple smaller shipping partners at different stages of the delivery, but this may prove hard to manage for many merchants. On the other hand, there are shipping partners with strong networks in Malaysia who manage these logistics network partners for you at a similarly competitive rate.

With regards to freight, there are multiple types of freight options for you to ship goods into Malaysia. Each of them has varying levels of speed and cost. The methods and their pros and cons are:

Air freight:

For many eCommerce merchants, air freight is the transport mode of choice as it provides fast and reliable deliveries but tends to be the costliest freight option. Considering Indonesia’s geography, it has major airports to service various parts of the country. The primary airport for the Jabodetabek is the Soekarno-Hatta Airport (CGK).

Sea freight:

Sea freight is cheaper but slower than air freight. During times when air freight supply is tight and air cargo space isn’t guaranteed, sea freight may be a more economical, or even faster option compared to air freight delays caused by supply crunches.

Consider your delivery deadlines and shipping model before picking this option. Jakarta’s main port is the port of Tanjung Priok (IDTPP).

Looking for B2C or B2B shipping services to get your products into Indonesia? Janio's flexible and modular services cover both direct to consumer and freight options, tailored to your business's unique needs! Get a free logistics consultation with us below!

Air, Land or Sea, our flexible shipping solutions keep your deliveries going forward

2. Packaging your products

Appropriately packaging your products for shipment is important in international shipping. There are many ways to package your products for shipment: boxes, envelopes, poly mailers, and mailing tubes. Including additional packing materials, such as bubble wrap and packing peanuts, helps to prevent your products from bouncing around within the package during shipment.

Thinking about expanding your online store to Indonesia? Get the latest tips and tricks in our latest Indonesian e-book, now updated with Ramadan-related info!

2020 Guide to Entering Indonesia's eCommerce Market

3. Choosing the right level of service

Carriers usually offer multiple tiers of service in shipping. These delivery options mainly differ in the features they offer, such as:

  • Delivery time
  • Weight limit
  • Whether they offer track & trace
  • Free pick-up at origin address
  • Compensation in the event of loss of shipment

Typically, the more features offered, the higher the shipping fee is. Choose one that best suits your shipping needs and budget.

4. Provide package details

Carriers will need merchants to provide package details to generate the documentation required by Indonesia’s customs. The type of information carriers most commonly require are:

  • Sender’s details and address
  • Recipient’s details and address
  • Country of manufacture
  • Declared value and the currency
  • Harmonised System (HS) Code of Item3
  • Item Description
  • Item weight and dimensions
  • Item quantity

Always check that this information has been entered accurately. An invalid recipient's address will incur additional costs in customs and shipping charges if the shipping company sends the packages back to you. Under-declaring the value of the items of your shipments on the commercial invoice could result in a fine if the custom clearance agencies suspect that the declared value is below actual price. The courier may also charge you additional fees for undervaluing your goods.

5. Print the shipping labels and documents and attach them to your package

Paste the shipping label, which contains the information you’ve entered in the previous step, securely onto the parcel. The addresses and bar-codes on the shipping label must be in clear view for the scanning of details during the shipping process. Place all supporting documents inside a clear plastic pocket and tape it onto the package. Do note that some of these documents, such as the Customs Declaration and commercial invoice, will require your signature.

6. Passing the shipment to the carrier

Depending on the delivery option selected and service level the carrier offers, they will collect the package from you either at the sender address you specified or at one of their drop-off points in the origin country.

Once your package is in the carrier’s hands, you'll be given a tracking code to track your package on their tracking platform, unless the delivery option you chose does not offer tracking services. Your customer can also use this tracking code to find out if the package is still in the origin warehouse, transiting via air freight, or en route to their address.

Understanding More About the Shipping Journey

While actions required of the sender usually ends once the package is in the carrier’s hands, the shipping journey involves many more processes that your shipping partner carries out on your behalf. The following are two examples of key processes that occur when shipping to Indonesia:

Customs Clearance

Indonesia’s customs requires extensive documentation prior to clearing goods for import. For this, most carriers engage local customs brokers who are accustomed to the standard procedures and required format of documentation. Minimally, the carrier must present a pro-forma invoice, commercial invoice, airway bill, packing list, and insurance certificates. Certain categories of products, such as food and pharmaceuticals, may need additional certificates to be submitted to the relevant regulatory agencies.

Additionally, they will charge an import duty for incoming goods based on the goods classification from Indonesian Customs Tariff Book or Harmonized System Code4. In 2020, Indonesia recently updated its de minimis ruling which impacts duties and taxes on many goods, garments, shoes and bags included. To find out more, check out our article on the recent Indonesia 2020 de minimis changes.

The process of providing the documentation is as follows:

1. The carrier will notify the customs office prior to the arrival of goods and submits import documents electronically through electronic data interchange in a standardised format.

2. The customs office will conduct a physical inspection of imported goods.

All imported consumer goods must have a label which identifies the importing agents. The Indonesian customs requires information on product labels to be clearly written or printed so that it can be easily seen and understood. Product labels should be written or printed in the Indonesian language, Arabic numbers, and Latin letters. The use of other languages will only be permitted when there are no matching terms in the Indonesian language, or if the goods are to be subsequently traded abroad.

Additionally, the following are prohibited on labels:

  • Claims on the effect of the product on health, whether preventative and/or curative
  • Incorrect or misleading information
  • Comparisons to other products
  • Promotion of certain similar products
  • Any additional information that has not yet been approved

Besides the above, there are many more processes for controlled items. Different controlled items each have their own individual permit application process. Different items are subject to different tariff rates, which in turn are affected by various trade policies or free trade agreements between countries.

To ensure that your package doesn’t get stuck in customs, it is important to work with a logistics provider who is well-versed with the latest developments in customs regulations to better navigate the ever-changing landscape of customs processes.

Collecting Cash on Delivery

When your customers choose to pay for their purchases via cash on delivery, the last mile fulfilment stage of your supply chain becomes more complicated.

The following happens if cash on delivery is used:

1. Online merchants will specify the amount to be collected in cash upon delivery when they pass the parcel to the logistics provider.

2. The logistics provider generates an invoice-cum-delivery challan, which indicates delivery details as well as the value of goods delivered, and attaches it to the parcel for easy retrieval.

3. The deliveryman is authorized to collect the cash payment from the recipient immediately upon the successful delivery of the parcel. While it may be called ‘cash on delivery’, some logistics providers accept card payments and hence, the deliveryman may also carry a card swiping machine.

4. The deliveryman deposits the collected cash in his office. The logistics provider will hand over the cash to the online merchant, usually in the original currency paid i.e. rupiah, after deducting applicable handling charges. Some logistics providers offer additional currency conversion services which convert the rupiah collected into the currency of the merchant’s country before transferring the money.

In Indonesia, 49 per cent of online consumers5 paid for their e-commerce purchases via cash on delivery in 2017. While that number has dropped lately, more than 1 in 106 eCommerce transactions are still paid via cash on delivery. Offering cash on delivery in your payment options is recommended when venturing into the Indonesian market because it will help facilitate your e-commerce sales. However, not every logistics provider supports cash on delivery because some don't have the additional payments infrastructure and processes they need to implement to offer the payment method. Should you decide to offer cash on delivery on your e-commerce site after weighing the pros and cons, find a logistic partner who is able to facilitate it.

Cross-border shipping, especially the back-end processes, might sound very complicated. Fortunately, merchants can engage logistics providers who offer fulfilment services that will manage the packing, labelling, shipping and customs clearance of parcels on the merchants’ behalf. Having a reliable and proficient shipping partner can help solve the troubles you may encounter and ensure seamless cross-border shipping to Indonesia.

If you'd like to find out more about how we can solve your SEA eCommerce cross-border delivery needs, come and have a conversation with us.

Air, Land or Sea, our flexible shipping solutions keep your deliveries going forward

Interested in eCommerce in Indonesia? Find out more about Indonesian eCommerce scene here:


  1. Statista - eCommerce - Indonesia
  2. Google Temasek e-Conomy SEA 2019
  3. Foreign - Harmonized System Codes (HS Code) Commodity Classification
  4. UNStats - Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding Systems (HS) (Classifications, Commodity Codes, Commodity Description, HS, HS code search, WCO)
  5. Statista - Popular online payment systems in Indonesia 2017
  6. Statista - Indonesia: e-commerce payment methods 2019