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How to get a Visa for Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka, the Pearl of the Orient, is one of those countries with a relatively easy ETA or Electronic Travel Authorization policy that ensures quick and smooth travel planning. All applicants who wish to apply for a tourist visa must hold a valid passport that remains valid for at least another six months from the date of arrival in Sri Lanka and must have at least one blank page. As an advisory, do have a photocopy of your passport in case you misplace your original passport. Ensure that the picture is as recent as possible and follows all the guidelines for a passport photo. It is always desirable to have a few extra photographs if you wish to travel to a place that requires permits.

For tourism, foreign nationals arriving in Sri Lanka may enter the country using an ETA, a consular visa, or a visa on arrival.
Nationals of around 170 different sovereign states, including the USA, Canada, Japan, and all EU countries, are eligible to apply for the ETA, which grants them a travel authorization for Sri Lanka. The ETA is valid for three months after the issue. Eligible citizens can apply for the ETA for Sri Lanka through a simple online form along with the requisite application fee to receive an approved travel authorization electronically linked to the applicant’s passport. Once approved, it is advisable to print out the visa approval. Visitors who arrive with the ETA may stay in Sri Lanka for up to 30 days, although an extension of up to 180 days may be requested. Application for the extension should be submitted to the Department of Immigration visa section by visiting the Department or through an authorized agent. To complete the process in one day, arrive at the office by 10 a.m and expect it to take at least four hours.

There is a counter at Bandaranaike International Airport for people who arrive without a visa. However, you’ll have to wait with the other visa-less masses (which can take several hours) and pay a higher fee for getting access into Sri Lanka, which can get a bit exhausting.

A tourist visa with double entry for 30 days applied in advance costs $35, whereas the cost at the port of entry costs $40. Double-call tourist visas are valid for 30 days, while transit visas are free and valid for two days. A special requirement for U.S. nationals visiting Sri Lanka is to prove sufficient funds for one’s stay in the country. Additionally, all travelers must have proof of having been vaccinated for Yellow Fever.

Keep in mind that any foreign currency over $15,000 must be declared at the point of entry. Individuals arriving with a tourist visa are restricted to engage exclusively as ‘tourists,’ which include sightseeing, medical tourism, enrolling in sporting activities, and cultural activities. Travelers who are uncertain of which activities count under tourist visa regulations should be aware of this information before entering the country. Sri Lanka has the usual list of prohibited imports, including drugs, weapons, fresh fruit, and anything remotely pornographic. It is always advisable to be aware of the intricacies ahead of arrival to ensure that precious time is not lost in transit.

Sri Lanka is the epitome of beauty where land meets the sea, and as you fly down to Colombo, you will see the expanse of the Indian Ocean unfold in all its glory. Once you think of visiting this remote island, do get all the paperwork ready so that you can save valuable time to take in as much as this beautiful exotic destination will have in store for you!

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