Like many countries, there are certain entry restrictions when visiting Sri Lanka. Most foreign nationals cannot enter without a visa or travel authorization, and these requirements vary country to country.
Due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) originating in Wuhan, China, Sri Lanka has introduced a number of new travel restrictions to deal with the global pandemic. It is one of many nations around the world that have taken steps to limit travel.
How could the new Sri Lanka travel restrictions affect you?
Sri Lanka Entry Restrictions Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak
Since it was first identified at the end of 2019, COVID-19 has spread to areas of the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a pandemic and has advised against travel unless absolutely necessary. Many countries, including Sri Lanka have introduced restrictions on travel.
Some of these new restrictions affect which travelers are granted visas, while others restrict access to Sri Lanka via certain forms of transport.
How Has COVID-19 Affected Sri Lanka Visas?
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Sri Lanka has made some alterations to its visa policy, which are expected to last until at least April 7th.
The below is a timeline of actions taken in response to COVID-19 in Sri Lanka:
March 12th: visas on arrival suspended, all visa applications must be made before entering the country.
March 14th: Sri Lanka temporarily stopped granting all visas for travelers of the following nationalities:
- Republic of Korea
March 19th: travelers from the United Kingdom were added to this list and banned from entering Sri Lanka.
March 29th: all types of visa and Electronic Travel Authorizations suspended for all foreign nationals with immediate effect, until 7th April.
Sri Lankan nationals who have been overseas within the last 14 days are permitted to return to their home country, but may be placed in quarantine upon arrival.
Foreign Nationals who already have valid visas or electronic travel authorizations (ETAs) will no longer be able to use them to enter Sri Lanka as they have been temporarily declared invalid. These travelers are not allowed to visit the island state until this ban is reversed, his is expected to happen on 7 April at 23.59 hrs (local Sri Lanka time).
Anyone who has recently arrived in Sri Lanka from another country will likely be quarantined and tested for COVID-19.
Conversely, foreign nationals already in Sri Lanka will be able to extend their Sri Lanka eTA until 12th April, if necessary. This can be done either by visiting the Department of Immigration and Emigration Colombo on 8th-9th April or completing the process at the airport on departure. Travelers wishing to extend their visa at the airport should allow plenty of time as long queues are expected.
Restricted Flights and Cruises to Sri Lanka
All incoming flights to Sri Lanka have been canceled in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. This will be the situation for at least 2 weeks. Sri Lanka will continue to assess the situation as events unfold and may extend this ban on flights.
Sri Lanka has also closed its doors to all passengers on cruises. While it is still allowing cruise ships to dock at its ports to refuel and/or take supplies onboard, passengers are not allowed to disembark their vessel.
These restrictions make it difficult for any international traveler to enter the country via one of Sri Lanka’s border entry points.
What Measures Has Sri Lanka Taken Against COVID-19?
Sri Lanka has taken various other steps to control the coronavirus outbreak. As well as limiting travel, consular services in a number of Sri Lankan diplomatic missions overseas have been limited to urgent or emergency requests, which are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Other precautionary measures include:
- The country’s 11 national museums have been closed indefinitely
- Public gatherings have been banned
- Cinemas have been ordered to suspend film screenings until further notice
- All schools will be closed until at least April 20, 2020
- A COVID-19 information hotline has been set up
- Curfew in 19 districts until 1st April, no traveling between districts permitted
General Travel Restrictions for Sri Lanka
Under normal conditions, international travelers going to Sri Lanka cannot enter the country without a visa or electronic travel authorization (ETA).
The Sri Lanka ETA is a digital document that authorizes the traveler to visit the island state for tourism, business, or transit.
Nationals of eligible countries can complete an online application for the Sri Lanka ETA, after which the approved document is emailed to the applicant. It must then be printed and presented along with the traveler’s passport at Sri Lankan border control.
Check the requirements for the ETA for Sri Lanka to see which nationalities are eligible.
There are stricter entry restrictions for nationals of certain countries, who must visit a Sri Lankan diplomaic mission to apply for a traditional consular visa.
Customs Restrictions for Sri Lanka
When traveling to Sri Lanka, there are travel restrictions on certain items, such as alcohol, firearms, jewellery, animals, and plants.
Some items, such as tobacco products and pornography are banned outright and may not be brought into the country, according to Sri Lanka customs requirements.