Sri Lanka Implements Free Visa on Arrival Program to Attract Foreign Visitors

sri lanka visa free program

The government of Sri Lanka announced on August 1st that it will grant free one-month visas on arrival to foreign visitors of 38 countries.

A few months ago, Sri Lanka intended to offer a Sri Lanka 6-month visa on arrival to citizens of 36 countries starting May 1st. However, following the terrorist attack that took place on April 21st, during Easter Sunday, the plan did not continue. By implementing the Sri Lanka free program foreign visitors will be able to get their visa upon arrival at a port of entry in the country.

The launch of new Sri Lanka visa program is an effort by the Sri Lanka government to draw in tourism, which has been negatively affected by the Easter bomb attacks that ended the lives of 263 people. Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said that foreign visitors wishing to travel to the country for tourism or business purposes can either obtain the Sri Lanka ETA or visa on arrival.

According to data provided by the Sri Lanka government, there has been a decline of 45 percent in foreign arrivals in the month of July compared to the same period last year. After the attacks, many tourists cut their holidays short, while many others cancelled their holiday altogether. Tourism had become the country’s third-largest foreign currency earner. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe assures that Sri Lanka is safe and that “security has returned to normalcy.”

Other measures taken by Sri Lanka to revive the tourism industry include reducing airline ground charges, aviation fuel prices, and departure fees for at least six months. Many hotels have also announced discounts and packages to attract visitors.

At this time, citizens of 21 countries need to get a visa in advance through a Sri Lanka embassy or consulate. All other foreign visitors are eligible for the Sri Lanka ETA or the visa on arrival (only available at the Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo). Eligible travelers can easily complete the online Sri Lanka ETA application in a matter of minutes. Opposed to the visa on arrival, the Sri Lanka ETA can be obtained quickly from the comfort of their home or office. Applicants of the Sri Lanka ETA can fill out the online form through a phone, tablet, computer or laptop.

What Countries Are Eligible for the New Sri Lanka Visa on Arrival?

The new visa free program is available as off today, August 1st, to citizens of 38 eligible countries. Travelers from the following countries will be able to visit Sri Lanka with the visa on arrival or ETA online for stays of up to one month:

  • Thailand
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czechia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Norway
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United States of America
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • South Korea
  • Canada
  • Singapore
  • New Zealand
  • Malaysia

Some eligible travelers for the visa on arrival, such as British citizens, are also eligible to get the online Sri Lanka ETA. The visa on arrival can be obtained at Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. Travelers can expect long queues at the airport to get their visa to enter the country. Meanwhile, if the traveler already has an approved ETA, they will not be required to stand in line to get the visa on arrival.

To get the Sri Lanka ETA, foreign visitors need to meet the following requirements:

  • A passport from an ETA-eligible country valid for at least 6 months upon entry to Sri Lanka
  • A scanned copy of the passport information page
  • A valid credit or debit card to pay the Sri Lanka visa application fee
  • A current email address to receive the Sri Lankan ETA in the applicant’s inbox.

Once an applicant submits their application, it takes about 24 hours for the system to process the Sri Lanka ETA. When the online visa is authorized, the traveler will receive the notification on the email address they provided on their application. Applicants can complete the online form for the Sri Lanka ETA at any time, however, they are still advised to apply a couple days prior to their expected departure date. The ETA for Sri Lanka grants its holder a stay of 30 days in the country.

Many travelers that are not eligible for the Sri Lanka ETA are eligible for the online visa on arrival. They will still need to have a passport, valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry in Sri Lanka.