Expat guide Timor Leste & the healthcare, education system & local expat clubs

Timor Leste

Timor Leste

Timor Leste, East Timor to some, has seen the iron grip of colonizers dating back in the 16th century, starting with the Portuguese, then with the Dutch. In the 20th century, its neighbor Indonesia took over. Before its 2002 independence, Timor Leste’s campaign to freedom left a trail of lost lives, which left echoes of destruction on the land and the people. Yet with its independence in the 21st century, Timor Leste decided to leave all that was lost behind and start anew. Asian yet European at the same time, Portuguese influence is delicately intertwined in the culture, which is both refreshing and alluring. Moving to Timor Leste? Read our handy guide below...

Timor Leste

Expat Clubs

There are no expat meet up clubs as such in Timor Leste and most expats communicate online through websites such as ExpatWoman.com

International Schools 

Dili International School

Dili International School is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, authorized to offer the Middle Years Programme and the Primary Years Programme. It offers the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), an internationally-accepted University entrance qualification from Australia, for Years 11 and 12.

Curriculum: International Baccalaureate

Address: 14 Rue Avenue de Portugal, Pantai Kelapa, Dili, Timor Leste

Tel: +670 77177102

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.distimor.org


QSI International School of Dili

QSI International School of Dili, is a private non-profit institution that opened in September of 2005 and offers a high quality education in the English language for elementary and secondary students. The warm and welcoming school community make it an ideal place to receive a quality education from QSI.

Address: Marconi, Aldea 4, Fatuhada, Dili, Timor Leste

Tel: +670-332-2389

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.qsi.org

Local News in English

Guide Post Timor

East Timor's news, business and travel info publication in English


Country Information 

Location: Asia

Capital City: Dili

Currency: United States Dollar

Language: Tetum, Portuguese

Calling Code: +670

Internet TLD: .tl (.tp is being phased out)

Electricity: The country runs on 220V 50Hz.

Emergency Numbers:   
  • Ambulance: 110
  • Fire: 115
  • Emergency: 112

Residents Visa and Work Permit information

Citizens from Portugal and Indonesia are exempted from tourist visa restrictions; they may stay and enter Timor Leste visa free for up to 90 days. Other nationals will have to obtain a visa through a Timor Leste embassy or consulate. Alternatively, they are also eligible for visa on arrival via Land Border Arrival or via air/seaport.

For non-Indonesian/Portuguese travellers who are entering Timor Leste though Land Borders, they have to arrange for a Visa Application Authorization prior through a Timor Leste embassy or consulate.

Documents required for Visa Application Authorization: 
  • Completed application form  
  • A scan of your passport bio-page;
  • Scan of ticket for departure (air, land or sea) or other acceptable evidence of departure arrangements;
  • Scan of bank statement or other acceptable evidence that you have sufficient funds for your travel and holiday in Timor-Leste.
  • If a host will cover your expenses for travel and stay, scan of a completed Sponsorship Form (see the Forms page). If your sponsor is not a citizen of Timor-Leste, you must provide a copy of your sponsor’s passport as well as his/her residency permit. If your sponsor is a citizen of Timor-Leste, please provide a copy of his/her National Electoral card.

Other requirements:

  • Intention of a genuine visit (as tourist or business trip).
  • Sufficient funds to support themselves for period of proposed stay without breaching visa conditions.
  • Accommodation arrangements.
  • Hold a passport, or travel document, with an expiry date not less than 6 months from the date of entry into Timor-Leste. The passport must have at least a whole unused page for the visa sticker.
  • Hold a return or onward ticket, or show ability to fund own departure.
  • Pay US$30 visa fee in cash. Note that there may be no ATM or money change facilities at the border post.

Expats seeking to obtain residency in Timor Leste must apply for a the specific Visa to Establish Residence through an embassy or consulate. This cannot be granted on arrival and must be arranged in advanced before travelling. Similar documentation applies including the following conditions:


The applicant must:

  • Demonstrate an intention to remain on a permanent basis in Timor-Leste.
  • Demonstrate means of subsistence.
  • Demonstrate accommodation arrangements.
  • Demonstrate that s(he) does not have a criminal or police record.
  • Demonstrate that s(he) is physically and psychologically fit.
  • In case of application for a visa to establish residency with the purpose of performing a professional activities, applicants must also demonstrate:
  •       employment offer, or
  •       interests in a company, or
  •       professional competence for performing an independent profession, or
  •       any other document related with the intended activity.

Once the expat arrives in the country under this type of visa they will have to apply for a residence permit through the Immigration Service in Dili. There are two types of permits, temporary (2 years, renewable), and permanent (5 years, renewable).

From Immigration Service of Timor Leste site.


Most foreigners visiting in Timor Leste settle in the capital Dili. They’re made up of mostly diplomats, NGOs and volunteers. It is very common to find expats sharing accommodations. These facilities usually come with cooking and laundry facilities. Air conditioning is not common, so expats purchase fans. Also some shared rentals are not furnished. Cleaning services are available at $25 per month. Shared accommodations are advertised in prominent landmarks. It would be an advantage to learn the language, as this will facilitate searching for accommodation as well as communicating with the locals. Rent for shared accommodations range between $150 to $200 per month.

Another type of accommodation popular in Dili is Kos style, similar to homestays. Expats who opt for this type of housing lives with a Timorese family, has their own room, usually with their own bathrooms and generally become part of the household. It’s a good way to immerse in the culture and learn the language. Rent is inexpensive at $150 monthly.

Expats also rent houses for themselves. This option is more expensive with rent starting at $400 up to $1000 per month. Facilities like air conditioning, statellite TV, cooking equipment, washing machine and back up power come with the rental. And most of these are serviced units, with regular cleaning and general maintenance. 

Driving License

Car hires are more popular way of getting around Timor Leste . Expats used to road conditions in their home countries or other countries will have to adjust as the road conditions in Timor Leste are poor. Expats may use their domestic and international license drive legally in Timor Leste for up to 3 months. Beyond that, they will have to obtain a local license through the Department of Transport in Dili.

Documents required:
  • 4 Passport size photos
  • Medical certificate (a form is given to the applicant, which is then taken to a hospital to be filled up by a physician)

Applicants will have to take a workshop on road safety and then pass a driving test. 


The state of the medical services and facilities in Timor Leste is poor. Tuberculosis is prevalent in the country. Expats are urged to take standard precautionary vaccinations, especially against Mosquito borne illnesses such as Dengue fever. Health insurance coverage that includes medical evacuation and repatriation is also highly advised.

Insurance Companies

Global Rescue

Global Rescue provides medical services to remote places with little to no adequate healthcare facilities. They provide members with immediate services in times especially in emergency situations.

Address: 177 Milk Street, Suite 700, Boston, MA 02109

Tell Free: +1 800 381-9754

Tel: +1 617 459-4200

Fax: +1 617 507-1050

Website: www.globalrescue.com


Pacific Prime

Pacific Prime offer a wide range of policies to meet your individual needs, including benefits such as dental, maternity, inpatient, outpatient, specialist consultations, and many others.

Address: 1 Hung To Rd, Hong Kong

Tel: +852 38589 0531

Website: www.pacificprime.com




Bairo Pite Clinic

The Bairo Pite Clinic, was created following a merger between the Bairo Pite Clinic and the Hospital of Hope, is an in-country partner of the Australian international aid organisation, The Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific (AFAP). Today BPC remains one of the most highly visited healthcare providers in the country.

Address: Bairo Pite, Dili, East Timor

Tel: +670 332 4118

Website: bairopiteclinic.org


Guido Valdares National Hospital

This is the national hospital of East Timor. It is located in the eastern part of the capital. It has 260 beds, with secondary and tertiary healthcare services.

Address: Dili, Timor-Leste

Tel: +670 311 022