Sri Lanka Local Laws Foreign Nationals Should Know

sri lanka local laws

Once you have decided that you wish to visit Sri Lanka and its stunning temples, enthralling wildlife parks, and paradise beaches, there are a few steps that you should take next.

The first is to get your Sri Lanka ETA. Nationals of most countries will require a visa to travel to Sri Lanka. There are only 3 countries that are exempt of obtaining a visa. For citizens of eligible countries, the easiest type of visa to process is the Sri Lanka Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). This is usually processed in under 24 hours after completing the simple Sri Lanka ETA eVisa application form and making the payment by credit or debit card. Your eVisa will then be sent to the Email address that you supplied, ready to be shown to the immigration authorities on arrival in Sri Lanka.

Another sensible thing to do when visiting Sri Lanka, or any other country with a very different culture than your own, is to research the local laws that operate there. What follows is a summary of the main Sri Lanka laws for tourists to be aware of, including Sri Lanka alcohol laws and drug laws in Sri Lanka.

Local Laws and Customs in Sri Lanka Regarding Religion

Sri Lanka is a deeply religious and conservative society and it is important to keep this in mind when visiting. The majority of the population are Buddhist, followed by Hindu but there are also significant numbers of Christians and Muslims too.

In the West, it is common to see images of the Buddha used to adorn things and even to sell products, but in Sri Lanka this is considered offensive. There have been cases of travelers not being granted entry into Sri Lanka because they were displaying tattoos of the Buddha. Likewise, it is a serious offense to be disrespectful around images or icons of the Buddha. Tourists are advised not to pose for photographs in front of statues of the Buddha either.

When visiting temples it is important to use common sense and be respectful. You should cover up in places of worship as well as removing hats and shoes. It is also advisable not to take photographs in temples.

Drug and Alcohol Laws in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has very strict drug laws. All types of drug are illegal in the country, and this includes cannabis. In theory, the death penalty still exists for drug offenses, but in practice, this means life in prison. It is simply not worth the risk to attempt to buy, consume and especially sell drugs in Sri Lanka.

Although alcohol is permitted and sold, it is socially frowned upon to be drunk in public so only drink in moderation. Alcoholic beverages are usually unavailable on public holidays. You will also notice that almost all waiters in Sri Lanka are men as women are not permitted to sell alcohol on the island.

Other Local Laws and Customs in Sri Lanka

Here are some other local laws and customs that you should also bear in mind during your stay in Sri Lanka:

Homosexuality is illegal in Sri Lanka so you won’t find gay bars or clubs etc. As was mentioned previously, this is a very conservative society and this extends to sexuality. Despite being prohibited, prosecutions of same-sex couples are almost unheard of. Try to avoid excessive displays of affection in public and you will be fine.
It is a legal requirement in Sri Lanka to carry personal identification at all times. In the case of foreign visitors, this means your passport.
Nude sunbathing and topless sunbathing for women is not allowed in most parts of Sri Lanka.

As long as you behave sensibly and treat the Sri Lankans and their beliefs with respect then you should have a great and problem-free experience in this beautiful country, as the overwhelming majority of visitors do.

Remember to give yourself enough time to obtain your Sri Lanka ETA eVisa before setting off for your Sri Lanka vacation.