Sri Lanka, a stunning island nation near India’s southern tip, offers travelers a tropical and affordable destination to explore. The Sri Lankan government has made the visa application process simple for international travelers, with various types of visas available depending on the purpose of the visit.
For those visiting the country for tourism, an online application process for obtaining a visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is available. By acquainting themselves with Sri Lanka’s visa regulations and grasping the diverse visa categories, travelers can effortlessly prepare for their adventure to this enchanting nation.
Citizens of a few eligible countries do not need to get a visa or an electronic travel authorization before traveling to Sri Lanka. The island nation grants gratis (free of charge) visas upon arrival to citizens of three countries – Maldives, Seychelles, and Singapore – as part of reciprocal agreements aimed at fostering cultural exchange and strengthening diplomatic ties. Travelers from these countries can obtain a complimentary visa upon arrival at any port of entry in Sri Lanka.
Citizens of the Maldives are granted a 30-day stay, which can be extended up to 180 days. Travelers from Seychelles can enjoy a 60-day stay with this facility, with the option to extend their visit up to a maximum of 90 days per calendar year. Lastly, visitors from Singapore are allowed a 30-day stay, which can also be extended up to 180 days. Note that for citizens of Maldives, the visa fee exemption is granted up to 90 days. They need to pay for the remaining period. Travelers are encouraged to contact the Sri Lankan embassy or consular missions in their home countries to learn about the latest developments in gratis visa agreements.
Sri Lanka offers short-term visitor visas or Electronic Travel Authorizations (ETAs) to travelers visiting the country for various purposes. Prior approval is required before arrival for a Sri Lanka ETA, which is available in three categories: Tourist, Business, and Transit.
Sri Lankan ETA for tourism is designed for sightseeing, holidaying, visiting friends and relatives, medical treatment (including Ayurvedic and yoga), and participation in sporting events, competitions, and cultural performances.
Sri Lanka ETA for business caters to those participating in business meetings and negotiations, conferences, workshops, seminars, short-term training programs (less than one month), art, music, and dance events, religious events, and symposiums.
Sri Lankan ETA for transit is for travelers transiting through Sri Lanka for up to two days and is free of charge. Applicants are required to submit documentary proof, such as an onward flight ticket.
Sri Lanka offers a 30-day ETA for tourist purposes, featuring double entry, as well as a 30-day ETA for business purposes, also with double entry. The second entry can be made within the initial 30-day period, and the remaining days will be granted for the second visit to Sri Lanka.
The online ETA facility is not available for certain activities, including participating in media or journalist conferences, workshops, or seminars, engaging in meetings with political parties or groups, and participating in NGO or INGO activities, irrespective of the duration of the stay. To obtain the appropriate visa for these purposes, travelers must secure approval from the relevant authorities of the Government of Sri Lanka.
An application for Sri Lanka ETA can be submitted through various methods. Applicants can submit the application themselves, have a third party submit it on their behalf, or apply at Sri Lanka Overseas Missions. Alternatively, they can submit the application at the head office of the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DI&E) in Colombo or upon arrival at the port of entry in Sri Lanka.
Travelers from nine countries, including Syria and North Korea, cannot apply for an ETA independently and are required to obtain a visa in advance from a Sri Lankan diplomatic mission.
Note that the Sri Lankan ETA for business can only be obtained from the country’s overseas missions or the head office of the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DI&E) in Colombo. Multiple, double, or single-entry business ETAs can be secured from Sri Lanka Overseas Missions and the Visa Section of the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo.
Eligibility for employment visas in Sri Lanka requires all applicants, regardless of nationality or type of work, to obtain an entry visa before traveling to the country. The Department of Immigration in Colombo processes approval for entry visas for employment, and Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions do not issue entry visas for employment without prior approval from the Immigration Department in Colombo.
It is essential for employment seekers not to use the online visa system (ETA) or tourist/business visas to travel to Sri Lanka, as a change of visa type is not permitted within the country. Employment visas are required for foreigners working in state-approved projects, banks, non-governmental organizations, diplomatic missions, private companies, and various other categories of personnel.
The application procedure for obtaining an employment visa involves three steps: obtaining entry visa approval from the Department of Immigration in Colombo, collecting the entry visa endorsement from the nearest Sri Lankan Diplomatic Mission, and obtaining employment visa endorsement on the passport at the Department of Immigration in Colombo upon arrival.
Foreigners intending to work in Sri Lanka should first secure a valid employment offer or contract from a Sri Lankan employer. The employer is responsible for applying to the Department of Immigration for entry visa approval. Once approved, the foreigner can obtain the entry visa endorsement from the nearest Sri Lankan Diplomatic Mission and then travel to Sri Lanka.
Upon arrival in Sri Lanka, the foreigner’s passport must be referred to the Department of Immigration for stamping the employment visa before the expiry of the initial visa granted at the port of entry. It is important to note that foreigners seeking employment must not travel to Sri Lanka with tourist or business visas, as changing visa classes after arrival is not possible.
The general list of documents required for entry visa approval includes a completed visa application form, a letter from the Sri Lankan employer confirming the employment terms and conditions, business registration documents of the employer, visa recommendation letters from relevant government institutions, and a copy of the applicant’s passport data page.
The applicable government visa fee and tax for this visa type are Sri Lankan Rupees 20,000.00 (62.85 USD) per year.
The Sri Lankan Government’s My Dream Home initiative invites individuals from across the globe who satisfy certain requirements to retire in Sri Lanka. This program provides a long-term resident visa, issued in two-year segments, allowing retirees to reside in the country with their spouses and unmarried children under 18 years old.
To be eligible, a foreign national must be over 55 years of age, deposit US$ 15,000 in an approved foreign currency fixed deposit account in a Sri Lankan bank, and remit a monthly amount of US$ 1,500 for the principal applicant and US$ 750 for each dependent to a savings or current account in a Sri Lankan bank.
Applications are processed at the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo. Foreign nationals planning to apply for this retirement visa may enter Sri Lanka with a 30-day tourist visa through the ETA service. After arrival, they can submit an application to be processed by the Department of Immigration.
The required documents for the retirement visa application include the following:
Retirement visa holders must adhere to Sri Lanka’s rules and regulations and pay relevant taxes. They must also submit six months’ bank statements from the fixed deposit and savings account to the Controller (Visa) of the Department of Immigration and Emigration.
Foreign students intending to pursue full-time academic studies at a recognized institution in Sri Lanka should get student visas, which are valid for the duration of the course. Before traveling to the country, students must obtain an Entry Visa. The Department of Immigration in Colombo is responsible for processing entry visa approvals for students, and Sri Lankan Diplomatic Missions will not issue Entry Visas without prior approval from the Immigration Department in Colombo.
It is important to note that students should not use the online visa system (ETA) or a tourist/business visa to travel to Sri Lanka, as changing visa types is not allowed within the country.
The application procedure involves three steps:
Students can apply for a Student Entry Visa at the Immigration Visitor Service Center in Colombo, which is fully approved and authorized by the Department of Immigration. This center is recommended for inviting foreign nationals to Sri Lanka and offers additional services, such as document collection, visa delivery, and special discounted rates for visa extensions.
To apply, a foreign student should first contact their education provider and secure admission to a study program. The education provider then applies for entry visa approval from the Department of Immigration. After receiving approval, the student can obtain the Entry Visa from the nearest Sri Lankan Diplomatic Mission and travel to Sri Lanka. Upon arrival and before the visa’s expiry, the student’s passport must be presented to the Department of Immigration for stamping the student visa.
International students under 18 years old in Sri Lanka may need a guardian who can stay for the same duration as the student or until the student turns 18. In rare cases, students over 18 may require a guardian for cultural or religious reasons. They need a Sri Lanka visa for student guardians.
Foreign investors who can invest a minimum of $250,000 in convertible foreign currency in new ventures approved by the Board of Investment, relevant government authorities, existing or new companies, or shares listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange are eligible for an investor visa. The dependents of the applicant are also eligible for this visa.
Successful applicants receive a multiple-entry investor visa valid for up to five years. Investor visas are issued only in Colombo by the Department of Immigration upon submission of the required supporting documents. If the application is successful, a visa approval letter is issued to the applicant, stipulating rules and regulations.
Required documents include a visa application form in quadruplicate, photocopies of the applicant’s passport and marriage certificate (if applicable), two photographs of the applicant and dependents, a medical report, evidence of remittance, a police report, and details of the investment project.
Investor visa holders must not engage in any employment, trade, or business other than that specified in the visa without written permission. They must comply with immigration, tax laws, and other regulations in Sri Lanka and refrain from political or other activities that may be detrimental to the country’s security.
The Golden Paradise Visa is a special residence visa for foreign investors who want to live in Sri Lanka while contributing to its economy. This long-term resident visa program allows investors and their families to enjoy the benefits of living on the paradise island.
Eligibility requirements include opening a Golden Paradise Foreign Currency Account with a minimum deposit of USD 200,000 in a local bank licensed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, providing proof of deposit, a police clearance report from the country of domicile, a medical report from an authorized local hospital, a copy of the passport’s bio-data page, and necessary documents for spouse and dependents. Applicants must also complete a Residence Visa application and Personal Particular Form.
Holders of the Golden Paradise visa have the opportunity to invest, reside, and study in Sri Lanka. Investment options include government-sanctioned investments, acquiring condominium properties, leasing land and buildings, and purchasing Sri Lanka Development bonds. To apply for the visa, submit the necessary documents to the Department of Immigration and Emigration’s Head Office. The visa remains valid for a duration of 10 years.
The Ministry of External Affairs in Sri Lanka is responsible for coordinating and facilitating visits by foreign media personnel, adhering to specific guidelines. There are three types of journalist visas available: Visa for Journalists, Visa for Filming Documentaries/Feature Films, and Visa for Journalists Seeking Work in Sri Lanka.
Foreign media personnel must obtain a visa from a Sri Lankan Embassy/High Commission/Consulate before arriving in Colombo. Visa approval for journalists is processed only in Colombo by the Ministry of External Affairs, and Sri Lankan Diplomatic Missions will not issue visas for journalists without prior approval.
Media Accreditation is a requirement for all foreign media personnel visiting Sri Lanka, which is granted by the Department of Government Information.
The application procedure for a journalist visa consists of three steps. First, applicants must submit the visa application with the required documents at the Sri Lanka Diplomatic Mission accredited to their country or contact the Immigration Visitor Services Centre in Colombo for assistance. The application will be referred to Colombo for approval. Second, the Sri Lanka Diplomatic Mission accredited to the applicant’s country will issue the visa, allowing the applicant to travel to Sri Lanka. Finally, upon arrival in Sri Lanka, journalists should contact the Public Communications Division of the Ministry of External Affairs in Colombo to obtain a recommendation letter for Media accreditation.
Sri Lanka’s diverse visa policy caters to a wide range of visitors, including tourists, business travelers, retirees, students, and foreign investors. By offering various visa types, such as the Electronic Travel Authorization, Gratis Visa on Arrival, and long-term residence visas like the Retirement and Golden Paradise Visas, Sri Lanka attracts visitors from around the globe. It is essential for travelers to familiarize themselves with the visa requirements and processes to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to this mesmerizing island nation. As policies may change over time, it is advisable to consult the Sri Lankan embassy or consular missions for the most up-to-date information.