Temporary visas

Staying short-term in Sri Lanka

Temporary visas

As of the 1st of January 2012, any short-term visitors to Sri Lanka are required to have completed an online application for Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), and paid the appropriate processing fee.

The ETA allows an initial stay of 30 days, though two additional months may be granted by the Department of Immigration and Emigration Head Office (DI&E) , once you have arrived. Further extension to make a total stay of six months may be considered, depending on need and reason.

Short-term visits

A short term visit can be for tourism, business or transit. A tourist visitor can have one of the following reasons to visit Sri Lanka:

  • Tourism, i.e. on holiday or sightseeing
  • Medical purposes, including Ayurvedic, herbal or yoga
  • To participate in sporting activities, competitions or cultural events
  • To visit family or friends

If you are unable to complete the online application prior to arrival, a visa can be obtained in person from the Sri Lankan High Commission in the country you are travelling from; by post prior to travel or upon arrival at the ETA commissioning counter in Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), Colombo.

To apply for a short term tourist or business visa the following items are required:

  • A passport that is valid for at least six months after your arrival date.
  • A copy of your itinerary - a confirmed round trip ticket, or confirmed departure ticket.
  • A recent bank statement or proof of sufficient funds to cover the duration of your stay.

Who can apply for a visa through the ETA system and where?

  • The applicant: The person who wants to obtain a Visa may apply himself / herself on the ETA website . Alternatively, you can use E-visums to apply for your Sri-Lanka e-visa  and they will help you through the process for a small fee.
  • A third party: A third party such as a travel agent, airline, friend, or relative may complete both the application and payment process on behalf of the visitor.
  • Registered agents: An ETA application can be submitted through a registered agent in Sri Lanka, who is officially appointed and authorized by the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DI&E). These agents offer support and assistance as is necessary, and are able to complete the process on your behalf.
  • At a local Sri Lankan overseas embassy: The application can be submitted to a local Sri Lankan embassy, along with the relevant fee, and will be issued within 3 working days. This method is recommended for anyone who wishes to have a visa endorsed on their passport.
  • At the head office of the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DI&E) in Colombo: A resident of Sri Lanka may invite a foreign national for a holiday or short business trip to Sri Lanka by submitting the ETA application in person at the Department of Immigration and Emigration Head Office, 41 Ananda Rajakaruna Mawatha, Colombo 10.
  • On arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), Colombo: Upon arrival, you can proceed to the ETA issuing counter, to complete the ETA form, and pay the relevant fee. You can pay electronically, or using a currency that has been approved by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. The ETA issued will be valid for 30 days, but if a referral notice is served, entry will be refused, and you will be returned to your original country of departure.

Temporary business visas

Visitors to Sri Lanka for business purposes are able to apply for several various visas - a single, dual or multiple visit visa, which is valid for up to 30 days. A business visitor is able to participate in business meetings and negotiations; conferences workshops and training programmes, and any art, music or dance events. 

A business visa can be extended by completing the application for extension. This is available online  and at the Head Office of the DI&E. The proposed extension should be terminated at least two months before the expiry of your passport.


A tourist or business visa cannot be converted into a residency visa, and a separate application must be made.

Diplomatic and official visits

Any foreigner wishing to visit Sri Lanka on an official or diplomatic visit should submit an application through the DI&E, the relevant Sri Lankan Government entity, or a Sri Lankan overseas embassy. This is part of the Residential Visa Guest programme, which also covers travellers who are in transit, and are only in Sri Lanka for brief period, and also to offer incentives for foreign investors. A gratis (free) visa will be granted in the following cases:

  • If the visitor holds an Official or Diplomatic passport.
  • If the visitor holds a normal passport, but prior arrangements have been made between the government of Sri Lanka, and the corresponding country.

For personal visits, an official or diplomatic passport holder should complete the normal application procedure to obtain an ETA. For official visits concerning the government of Sri Lanka, an ETA application should not be made.

Further reading

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