If you’re visiting Sri Lanka for a short holiday, then you will need to apply for a visa before arriving. It is possible to obtain a tourist visa on arrival, but you want to get on with your holiday as soon as possible right. To help you get off to a good start on your holiday, we share this step-by-step guide on how to apply for a tourist visa to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful countries to visit. Immerse yourself into the Sri Lankan culture, be amazed by the hospitality of the local residence, enjoy the lovely hot weathers and learn more about Sri Lankan history on your next trip.
But to experience this and more, you first need to apply for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) before you can enter the country.
Firstly, we would like to highlight that we are no experts in this area, we do not help applicants obtain visas. We do not work for the Sri Lankan Department of Immigration & Emigration. We are simply travelers who have applied for an ETA to Sri Lanka on a number of occasions, and we want to pass on our own knowledge and experience on to, our fellow travelers. We do not suggest you take this as formal or official advice, yet should you require further assistance in obtaining any other form of visa application, then please proceed through the relevant channels for such advice.
Secondly, when we apply for an ETA visa to Sri Lanka, we apply as British citizens. There may be different eligibility criteria for other nationals.
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Do I need a visa to Sri Lanka?
Yes, in order to visit Sri Lanka, you will require an entry visa. You can obtain this online before you leave for Sri Lanka, or you can obtain it on arrival.
We will go through how to obtain a visa before your travel or how to obtain a visa to Sri Lanka on arrival.
How much will a Tourist Visa to Sri Lanka cost?
An application for a holiday visa to Sri Lanka from South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Countries will cost $20.00, all other applicants will be charged $35.00.
Children under 12 years old are free.
Does Sri Lanka give visas on arrival?
Yes, you can obtain a visa on arrival to Sri Lanka. Within the immigration hall, you should see a sign for Visas on arrival. Proceed here to complete the relevant forms and pay the fee.
Fees for SAARC countries will cost $25.00, while other travelers will cost $40.00.
Once you’re granted a tourist visa for Sri Lanka, proceed to the immigration lines, for your passport to be checked and allowed to pass into Sri Lankan borders.
Why delay your trip and spend more money to obtain your visa on arrival, when you can easily apply for a tourist visa to Sri Lanka online. It will save you time and money.
How long can I stay on a visa in Sri Lanka?
An ETA visa, permits visitors to stay in Sri Lanka for up to 30 days, although this can be extended for up to 6 months.
If you intend to extend your stay to the maximum of 6 months, you must apply for the application in person at Head office of the Department of Immigration & Emigration, Colombo.
You can find out more information on applying for the extension at the official Sri Lanka immigration website.
How long does it take to get a visa to Sri Lanka?
It could take anything between 3-20 days to receive a response, which is via email.
In our experience, authorisation of our entry visa for Sri Lanka, has taken a matter of minutes to confirm. On a few occasions it’s taken a couple of hours.
Although it hasn’t taken us long, for our visa to be granted, it doesn’t mean to say you will receive confirmation within minutes.
Neither have we ever been rejected a visit visa to Sri Lanka, but it is possible to have an application rejected. In which case your application will be transferred to the nearest Sri Lanka Overseas Mission and you can contact them for further information.
You can check out the FAQ on the official Sri Lankan ETA Visitor Visa for Sri Lanka website.
What documents required for a visa?
You will only require your passport number to make an application for a short stay holiday visa to Sri Lanka.
You will enter your passport number into the online application, where required.
Any other type of visa to Sri Lanka, such as citizenship, residency visa, my dream home visa etc, may require other documents. You can find out more information on other types of visas available, on the official Department of Immigration and emigration Sri Lanka website.
What type of ETA is available
Firstly, what is an ETA?
An ETA stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation.
This gives the applicant authorisation to enter a country for the purpose of tourism (holiday/vacation), business travel or transit.
What can you do on each visa?
As a tourist, you can do the following on an ETA visa to Sri Lanka
- Sightseeing, holidaying,
- Visiting friends and relatives
- Medical treatment including Ayurvedic and yoga
- Participate in sporting events, competitions and activities relating to cultural performance
Business travelers can do the following on an ETA visa
- Participate in business meetings and negotiations, ,
- Conferences, workshops and seminars
- To take part in short term training programs (less than one month)
- Participate in art, music and dance events
- Participate in religious events
A transit visa, is transiting through Sri Lanka to reach another country.
When should you apply for a visa to visit Sri Lanka?
The good thing is, that you don’t need to apply for a visa, months in advance, although you should consider applying within a month or two before your departure date.
This will give you sufficient time, to resolve any issues you may have, should your visa get declined.
Step by step guide on how to apply for a tourist visa to Sri Lanka
We have provided you with more information on what an ETA visa is, what type of visa you can apply for, how long you can stay in Sri Lanka for and how you could go about extending the visa.
You should have an idea of which visa you now require; all you have to do is apply for the correct one. Let’s go through this step by step.
Step 1 – How to apply for a Visa to Sri Lanka
The first thing you need to do, to apply for a short holiday visa to Sri Lanka, is to visit the official website.
In the middle of the screen you will see a few options, home, apply, fees, check status and contact us.
To apply for your ETA to Sri Lanka, click on the apply button.
You’re now given five options to select:
- By the applicant
- By Third party
- At Sri Lankan overseas mission
- At the head office of department of immigration and emigration (DI&E), Colombo
- On arrival at the port of entry in Sri Lanka
If you are applying for you and your family members you’ll want to select “by the applicant”
The other options are for travel agents, airlines or someone applying on your behalf (By third party).
In this step-by-step guide to applying for a tourist visa to Sri Lanka, we will be focusing on applying for the visa “by the applicant” (you).
Once you have clicked “by the applicant”, you’ll be led to the terms & Conditions page.
Step 2 – Terms and Conditions
Once you click apply, you will be prompted to agree to the ETA applications terms and conditions.
Unfortunately, if you do not agree to the ETA applications terms and conditions, you won’t be able to visit Sri Lanka, as you won’t have a visa.
We would strongly recommend reading the terms and conditions, before you click the “I agree”. This is to ensure you are familiar with what you are permitted to do in Sri Lanka on a holiday visa. For example, you can’t take up any work in the country, etc.
Step 3 – ETA Application Process
We mentioned before the different visas for Sri Lanka. Depending on your purpose of travel, click “apply for individual” (unless you’re applying for someone else or as a group, then select the relevant option).
You should be applying for either a tourist ETA, Business ETA or Transit ETA.
Step 4 – Applicants Information
This section is very simple, all you have to do is enter your personal details into the application form.
If you are not sure what the question means, or the answer, hover your arrow over the question mark and it will provide you with further information to aid you with completing the form.
You must enter all boxes that is marked with a red asterisk. You must enter the information as detailed in your passport.
The last section of the form, is the declaration. Select the correct options and the tick box to verify the information you have provided is correct, before selecting the next button.
Tip: Always double check the information is correct, before clicking the next button.
Step 5 – Payment of your visa to Sri Lanka
Your nearly there, you just need to enter a valid debit or credit card, to make the purchase of your visa to Sri Lanka.
Once you have submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation email that the visa submission has been received.
Once your visit visa for Sri Lanka has been granted, you will be notified via email.
If you are not granted a visa to visit Sri Lanka, you will be notified of such and what action you should take next.
In our experience, we have never been declined a visa and we visit annually. But must stress, while it is unlikely your visa will be rejected, but each situation is different and there are no guarantees.
Tip: We would recommend printing a copy of your visa for your record and take this with you, in the event you are required to provide a copy.
Planning your Sri Lankan Holiday
Now you have your visa authorised, you’ll want to make a Sri Lankan Itinerary. To help with the planning, check out these best tours and transfers in Sri Lanka:
Places to stay in Sri Lanka
It really is that simple to apply for a tourist visa to Sri Lanka. It only takes minutes to complete the form and to receive a response.
What makes this so convenient is the application is done online, making the process quick and easy.
With this step-by-step guide, you should breeze through the application form, that way you’re one step closer to visiting such a beautiful island.
If you haven’t already done so, your last step will be to plan your trip, research how much it will cost to travel in Sri Lanka, where to go, where to stay and where to eat.
Continue your Sri Lankan travel planning, with these useful posts:
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- Bucket List of Sri Lanka
- Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage – Should you visit?
- Kingsbury Hotel Review – Colombo
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- Staple Foods of Sri Lanka and 11+ foods you must try
- Temple Etiquette – Do’s and don’ts
- Sri Lanka Travel Guide
- Things to do in Colombo
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- Wales Park Residence review – Kandy
- Hotel Sigiriya Review – Sigiriya