Sri Lanka will allow travelers from 36 countries to enter the country without needing to obtain a visa beforehand for up to 6 months. Eligible nationalities will be able to get a visa on arrival from May 1.
Update: This programme has been suspended following the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka in 2019.
See the countries that are currently eligible for Sri Lanka ETA.
The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal made by John Amaratunga, the Tourism Minister, hoping the new policy will help to boost tourism.
The visa-exempt countries will include citizens from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, and EU nationals. The government will trial the new scheme before making a decision on whether to make the policy permanent.
Tourism in Sri Lanka has boomed over the last decades. The number of annual visitors has increased from under 500,000 to over 2 million. The new scheme will aim to improve the figures even more.
John Amaratunga, said: “In the next phase of this programme, we plan to set up a permanent system at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) to issue visas on arrival, as is the practice in many countries.”
“This will be a major step forward in attracting more visitors this year,” he said.
What will eligible travelers need to do when they arrive in Sri Lanka?
Visitors from the eligible countries will be able to go to Sri Lanka without completing any paperwork beforehand. They will just need a passport to complete the short application form at the border.
The application will just involve entering some basic details such as the visitor’s full name, address, passport details, and travel dates. The process will be quick and, once approved, the visa on arrival will allow travelers to spend up to 6 months in Sri Lanka.
For stays of longer than 6 months, or if someone wants to live or work in Sri Lanka, it is still necessary to go to an embassy or consulate to complete a visa application. The visa on arrival will be for tourism purposes.
Which nationalities will be eligible for the visa on arrival for Sri Lanka?
Travelers from the following countries will be able to get the visa on arrival for Sri Lanka:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United States
- All European Union countries
What will other nationalities need to do to enter Sri Lanka?
Travelers who are not eligible for visa-free entry need to obtain a visa for Sri Lanka. People from 21 countries can apply for a Sri Lanka eTA. The online application is quick and simple. Applicants just need to enter a range of information and pay a fee using a credit or debit card.
The eTA allows travelers to spend up to 30 days in Sri Lanka for tourism or business or up to 2 days for transit purposes. Once the eTA application has been submitted, the travel authorization is sent to applicants by email.
People from countries who are not eligible for visa-free entry or the Sri Lanka eTA need to go to their nearest Sri Lankan embassy or consulate to complete a visa application.