A Sri Lanka visa is required for all nationalities in the world to enter Sri Lanka as a tourist. Anyone traveling to Sri Lanka must first obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) online. On arrival at the airport, a visa will be issued and stuck in your passport. The visa will be a small sticker with a QR code, about a quarter the size of your passport page.
There are a handful of nationalities that cannot apply for an ETA online. They must seek help from a local travel agent in Sri Lanka to represent them as a sponsor and apply on their behalf at the Immigration and Emigration in Colombo.
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SRI LANKA VISA REQUIREMENTS BY NATIONALITY
Minimum passport validity required to enter Sri Lanka as a tourist
Passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival in Sri Lanka.
VISA EXEMPT nationalities
Due to COVID, VISA EXEMPTION is temporarily suspended. ETA is REQUIRED even for VISA EXEMPT nationalities.
ETA eligible nationalities
- All nationalities except the 4 below
ETA eligible nationalities (REQUIRE a Sri Lankan sponsor)
- Côte d’Ivoire
SRI LANKA VISA EXEMPTION
Due to COVID, VISA EXEMPTION is temporarily suspended. All VISA EXEMPT nationalities must obtain an ETA to travel to Sri Lanka.
SRI LANKA ETA ONLINE (aka, SRI LANKA VISA ONLINE)
Sri Lanka ETA is for tourism, visiting friends/relatives, yoga training and medical treatment purposes.
Sri Lanka ETA is also referred to as a visa, online visa or e-Visa. But technically, ETA is not a visa, it’s just an authorization necessary to travel to Sri Lanka.
Once you arrive in Sri Lanka, at the first port of entry, the immigration officer will issue a visa, print and stick it in your passport. The sticker is about one-fourth the size of your passport page and contains a visa number and QR code.
How long is the Sri Lanka ETA valid for
Sri Lanka ETA is valid for 6 months from the date of approval.
You can travel anytime within that 6 months and you will get 30 days on entry.
When to apply for Sri Lanka ETA
Apply for your Sri Lanka ETA at least 2 weeks before your trip.
ETA processing time is 24 hours. In most cases, you will receive your ETA approval immediately. But in some rare cases, the processing can take up to 10 working days.
There have been incidents where the fee payments weren’t working and travelers had to get the ETA on arrival.
Applying at least 2 weeks before your trip will give you ample time to handle any unexpected issues like the above.
How long can you stay in Sri Lanka on an ETA
Sri Lanka ETA allows you to stay up to 30 days.
If you need to stay longer than 30 days, you can extend your Sri Lanka visa online or at the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo for 60 days. If you need even more time, you can extend it again for another 90 days.
The total time you can stay in Sri Lanka on a single ETA cannot exceed 180 days.
Sri Lanka ETA application process
Start your Sri Lanka ETA application online. It takes about 10 minutes to fill. You don’t need any documentation or digital photos to upload.
I have a detailed article on how to fill and apply for Sri Lanka ETA online. You can just follow along with the steps and you will receive your ETA within minutes.
No documents are required for obtaining ETA online. No copies of passport, photograph or any documents are necessary to upload.
No photo is required to upload to obtain ETA online.
The fee for obtaining Sri Lanka ETA online is $20 USD for nationals from SAARC countries and $35 USD for all other nationalities.
|Nationals from SAARC countries||$20 USD|
|Nationals from any country other than SAARC country||$35 USD|
ETA processing time
Sri Lanka ETA processing time is 24 hours.
In most cases, the ETA will be approved right away. But in some rare cases, the processing can take up to 10 working days.
ETA application tracking
The ETA application status can be tracked on the Sri Lanka ETA Check Status page. You would need your ETA confirmation or reference number. If you don’t remember your ETA confirmation or reference number, you can also use your passport number and nationality to track your ETA status.
If you are having any trouble with your ETA application, you can contact the ETA office in Colombo. Following are their contact details
ETA OFFICE CONTACT IN COLOMBO
Phone: +94 719967888
SRI LANKA ETA ON ARRIVAL (aka, SRI LANKA VISA ON ARRIVAL)
There have been quite a few payment-related issues with the online ETA system. Therefore the Sri Lanka Immigration and Emigration Department has introduced “ETA on arrival” for those who have tried to obtain an ETA online but failed due to payment issues.
Keep in mind that some refer to Sri Lanka ETA on arrival as Sri Lanka visa on arrival. They both are the same.
If you see a payment error during your online ETA application, print the screen with the error. This will work as proof for you to board the flight and obtain an ETA on arrival at the airport.
How long can you stay in Sri Lanka on the ETA on arrival
Sri Lanka ETA on arrival allows you to stay up to 30 days.
If you need to stay longer than 30 days, you can extend your visa online or at the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo for 60 days. If you need even more time, you can extend it again for another 90 days.
The total time you can stay in Sri Lanka on a single ETA cannot exceed 180 days.
ETA on arrival application process
Sri Lanka ETA on arrival counters are available at the following international airports only.
- Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo
- Mattala International Airport in Mattala
You will have to fill and submit a paper application. You will be charged a fee of $5 USD in addition to the usual ETA fee for this “ETA on arrival” facility.
The entire procedure may take a few minutes to 30 minutes depending on how busy the ETA on arrival counter is.
You can make the payment in USD, LKR or its equivalent in any major foreign currency in cash or using a credit card.
You must present the following documents.
- Completed ETA application form
- Your original passport
- ETA fee payment in cash or credit card in USD, LKR or its equivalent in any major foreign currency
No photo is required to obtain ETA on arrival.
ETA on arrival fee
The fee for obtaining ETA on arrival at the airport is $25 USD for nationals from SAARC countries and $40 USD for all other nationalities. It’s just $5 USD additional compared to the fee for obtaining the ETA online.
|Nationality||ETA on arrival fee|
|Nationals from SAARC countries||$25 USD|
|Nationals from any country other than SAARC country||$40 USD|
The ETA on arrival procedure may take a few minutes to about 30 minutes depending on the crowd. Since most people can obtain ETA online, it’s safe to assume that there won’t be many at the “ETA on arrival” counters.
SRI LANKA ETA FROM COLOMBO (BY A SRI LANKAN SPONSOR)
The following nationalities cannot apply for ETA online or on arrival. They would need to apply at the Immigration and Emigration Department in Colombo through a local sponsor in Sri Lanka. This can be a travel agent in Sri Lanka who can represent you as your sponsor.
- Côte d’Ivoire
I was told that nationals holding Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Somalia passports also cannot apply for ETA online and they would need a local sponsor in Sri Lanka. This is the information I received from a local travel agent and I don’t have an official source for this information.
SRI LANKA TOURIST VISA FROM THE EMBASSY
Sri Lankan missions abroad do not issue short-term visas. They only issue long-term visas for stays up to 90 days. For short-term visas, you will have to apply for an ETA online or on arrival.
Those seeking to stay 90 days or longer in Sri Lanka can also get an ETA online and then extend the visa from within Sri Lanka.
Long-term visas are only for special purposes and you must have a valid reason to apply.
When to apply
Apply for your Sri Lanka tourist visa at least two weeks before your travel dates. The visa processing takes 3-7 business days and if you are receiving your passport by mail, it can take longer.
- Visa application form (you can download from the Sri Lanka mission website)
- Original passport with at least one blank page
- One recent passport-size photo
- Invitation or sponsor letter from your host in Sri Lanka
- Bank statements showing adequate funds
- A letter explaining the reason for requesting a long-stay visa
- Return flight tickets
One recent passport-size photo is required for a Sri Lanka tourist visa application.
The visa fee is about $135 USD charged in the local currency where the Sri Lankan mission is located.
Tourist visa processing time is 3-7 business days.
ENTRY AND EXIT PROCEDURE AT THE AIRPORT
Entering Sri Lanka by air
When you arrive at the airport, grab and fill an arrival card found near the immigration counters. Below is a sample arrival card and the instructions to fill it.
Write the following information on your arrival card.
- 1. Flight No./Name of the Ship [Comment: Enter the flight number you arrived on. You can find the flight number on your boarding pass]
- 2. Passport No. [Comment: Enter your passport number]
- 3. Nationality [Comment: Enter your nationality as per your passport]
- 4. Name with initials [Comment: Enter your full name as it appears in your passport]
- 5. Address in Sri Lanka (Mandatory) [Comment: Enter your hotel/hostel address in Sri Lanka where you will stay the first few days]
- 6. No. of accompanying children (Fill separate cards) [Comment: If traveling with children, enter the number of children you are traveling with. You also need to fill a separate arrival card for each of the children]
- 7. First port of embarkation [Comment: Enter the city/country where you arrived from. Ex: If you flew from Tbilisi, Georgia to Colombo, Sri Lanka via Doha, Qatar, your first port of embarkation will be Tbilisi, Georgia]
- 8. Purpose of visit [Comment: Select “Holiday”. If traveling for any other purpose, select the appropriate option]
- Date and Signature [Comment: Enter the date and sign]
- 9. For office use only [Comment: Leave this field blank]
A print of your ETA is not necessary as the immigration officers can scan your passport and look up your ETA. But carry one for the airline. Airline staff would insist on seeing proof of your ETA approval.
At the immigration counter, the officer will issue a visa, print it and stick it in your passport. The visa will be about a quarter the size of your passport page containing a visa number and a QR code.
You may be asked questions such as how long you plan to stay, etc. You may be asked to show your proof of return ticket as well. If you are flying on a one-way ticket, make sure to get proof of onward travel.
Leaving Sri Lanka by air
I’m still in Sri Lanka. When I leave, I will update this section with exit formalities.
Sri Lanka is wild and beautiful. It almost feels untouched. No wonder many travel websites have been including Sri Lanka in their top countries to travel list every year.
A Sri Lanka visa is required for anyone visiting Sri Lanka for tourism purposes. However, the visa is quite easy to obtain online. You can stay up to 30 days in Sri Lanka. You can extend your visa twice, 60 days once and 90 days again.