Sri Lanka’s pristine beaches, breathtaking waterfalls, and scenic hiking trails have turned this South Asian country into an incredibly popular tourist destination for travelers from all over the world. If you would like to experience everything the island has to offer, you may do so by flying into one of Sri Lanka’s international airports, or by cruise ship, arriving at one of its seaports.
All citizens —except those from the Maldives, Seychelles, and Singapore— visiting the island country are required to carry an approved Sri Lanka visa in order to be granted entry at one of the Sri Lankan border entry points. The Sri Lanka eVisa is the quickest and easiest way to gain entry into the country and does not require visiting an embassy or witing in line at a port of entry in Sri Lanka.
Obtaining a visa on arrival in Sri Lanka is also possible for certain citizens, though it is not available at all points of entry, and usually entails quite some waiting in long lines upon arrival.
Ports of Entry to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has 11 designated ports of entry that welcome international tourists, including 4 airports and 7 seaports. Since Sri Lanka is an island, it has no land border crossings or land entry points. Years ago, though, a natural bridge used to exist between Sri Lanka and India and there are plans to build a bridge that would connect both nations by land once again.
Sri Lanka’s International Airports
If you are wondering what airport you would fly into with your ETA when you visit Sri Lanka, the answer is pretty simple since the tiny nation has just 2 international airports. In practice, though, most airlines —including Emirates, Qatar, Turkish and Swiss— fly into Bandaranaike International Airport. Sri Lanka’s main International Airport is located 30 kilometers (roughly 18.6 miles) north of the capital of Sri Lanka.
- Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA)
- Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA)
Sri Lanka’s International Seaports
The most important seaport in Sri Lanka is undoubtedly Colombo Port, which not only welcomes foreign tourists but also offers a variety of boat tours you won’t want to miss. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka has other sea entry points which you may want to look into while planning your next vacation to the island:
- Galle Harbor
- Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksha Port (Hambanthota)
- Trincomalee Harbor
- Kankesanthurei Harbor
- Thalaimannar Pier
- Norochcholai Pier
If you are traveling to Sri Lanka on a cruise ship, make sure to read our guide on the best time of year to visit Sri Lanka, which will help you choose the ideal travel dates to ensure a wonderful vacation.
Can I Get a Visa on Arrival at Sri Lanka’s Border Entry Points?
Nationals from all countries except the Maldives, Seychelles, and Singapore are eligible to apply for an ETA Sri Lanka online. This can be done from your smartphone, tablet or personal computer and requires no more than 10 minutes to complete a simple online form.
There are a number of countries whose citizens do not qualify for a visa on arrival to Sri Lanka, also known as VOA. Nevertheless, these citizens are eligible to apply for a Sri Lanka Electronic Travel Authorization. This is a much more practical way to gain entry into the island country:
- The Democratic Republic of Congo
- Cote d’Ivoire
- North Korea
- Sierra Leone
International tourists holding a passport issued by a different country from those listed above who wish to wait in line at a Sri Lankan port of entry for a visa on arrival may do so. However, requesting a VOA usually involves paying the visa fees in cash and wasting precious vacation time queueing.
The easier way to enter Sri Lanka is to apply for an eVisa. The application procedure is simple and most requests are approved within 48 hours. Arriving to Sri Lanka with an approved Sri Lanka ETA means you will not have to worry about carrying the exact amount of cash to cover issuance fees or finding the right documents to obtain a VOA. With that out of the way, you can get straight to the fun part of your trip.