In order to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19), the government of Sri Lanka has taken far-reaching measures. These have serious consequences for tourists and business travellers that want to visit Sri Lanka. In this article (updated on 06-08-2020), you can read the current state of affairs and advice regarding your travel plans.
How serious is the coronavirus problem in Sri Lanka?
Currently, there are relatively few cases of coronavirus in Sri Lanka. On 6 August, 2,839 infections were reported with 11 casualties. Because not everyone can be tested for the coronavirus, it cannot be said for certain whether these numbers paint an accurate number of the reality of the situation. Despite this relatively low number, the government of Sri Lanka has taken exceptionally strict measures. A travel ban has been put in place for all tourists and business travellers until further notice, even if they possess a valid visa.
Sri Lanka has taken resolute measures to stop the further spread of the coronavirus
Can I currently apply for a Sri Lanka visa?
It is currently possible to submit a visa application for Sri Lanka. However, new applications are not immediately processed by the immigration service. The visa applications will be put on hold until the travel ban of Sri Lanka is lifted. Eearlier, it was announced that the country would allow travellers to enter again starting 1 August. However, this has been postponed, the travel ban remains in effect. As soon as it is permitted again to travel to Sri Lanka, additional requirements will likely apply. Travellers will need to apply for a visa before departure, and the visas will be more expensive initially. Aside from that, a number of health-related requirements will be implemented. As soon as the immigration service starts processing visa applications, the visas will most likely be issued within a matter of days.
I already have an ETA or Sri Lanka visa, can I still use it?
When a visa application for Sri Lanka is approved, an ETA/Visa is issued with a validity term of half a year. Within those six months, you can enter the country twice on the same visa. However, both the first and second stay must lie within 30 days of the first arrival in Sri Lanka. This means that once a visa has been issued, it no longer matters which expected date of arrival was filled in on the application form.
Because of the coronavirus, it is currently not possible to travel to Sri Lanka. However, if the validity term of the visa hasn’t expired yet after the travel ban is lifted, then the visa can likely still be used. Take note: the government of Sri Lanka has not officially confirmed this yet. To be on the safe side, it is recommended that you consult this page, which is updated regularly, after the travel ban has been lifted and before travelling to Sri Lanka.
I’m still in Sri Lanka, what do I do?
It is currently advised to leave Sri Lanka as soon as you are able to if this is still possible. There is a curfew in place from 24:00 to 4:00, and certain regions have specific curfews aside from the national one, making movement extremely limited. Although a number of airlines have decided to resume their flights, air traffic between Colombo and Europe is still very limited. Until 1 August, flights for tourists and business travellers are only possible from Sri Lanka to another country, and not to enter Sri Lanka from abroad. It can therefore still be very difficult to leave Sri Lanka if you have not been able to do so yet. Because this applies to a large number of travellers, the government of Sri Lanka has announced that all visas of people currently still in the country are automatically extended until 11 July, free of charge. To do this, an appointment needs to be made through the website of the immigration service of Sri Lanka. Travellers that will be leaving the country before 11 July can also make the costs of extending the visa at the airport. For more information on the possibility of repatriation flights, visit the government's foreign travel advice page. Consular help is no longer provided by telephone.
Travellers returning to the UK from Sri Lanka are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
When is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka again?
Travelling to Sri Lanka is currently virtually impossible, as almost all flights to and from the island have been cancelled. Although the authorities of Sri Lanka had previously announced that they would allow travellers to enter again starting 1 August, the airports in Sri Lanka remain closed. Furthermore, the British government currently still discourages travelling to the country unless absolutely necessary. Regularly consult this page about the coronavirus in Sri Lanka to stay informed about the developments.
Disclaimer: this article has been put together with great care and is regularly updated. Nevertheless, no rights can be derived from the information on this page. The situation regarding the coronavirus changes rapidly and information from various government sources are not always aligned. Before going on your trip, check with your airline about the current state of affairs regarding travelling to Sri Lanka on an ETA or different visa type.