This travel advice for a safe trip to Sri Lanka is meant for business travellers and tourists. To ensure your safety during your stay in Sri Lanka, it is wise to take a good look at this travel advice before travelling to Sri Lanka.
On this page you will find travel advice regarding the general safety and rules in Sri Lanka. For most recent updates on the coronavirus, please go to the page about coronavirus measures in Sri Lanka.
This travel advice has been carefully compiled for you, based on information found on the UK government website. Travelling to Sri Lanka is possible, but travellers should prepare themselves well. However, following all travel advice is no guarantee for a risk-free trip. Therefore no liability can be accepted in case of injury or damage resulting from the use of the information in this travel advice for Sri Lanka.
Current travel advice: Travel not recommended (8 June 2022)
The economic and political state of Sri Lanka is currently unstable. There are shortages of fuel, gas, nutrition and medicine due to a shortage of currency to import these necessary goods. Because of this, the people regularly perform demonstrations since 31 May 2022. As a result, the population has been demonstrating regularly since 31 May 2022. This occasionally leads to violent intervention by the authorities, such as the use of tear gas and water cannons. There are also frequent power outages in several areas. Keep an eye on the local news to avoid risky situations as much as possible. Avoid crowded places and demonstrations, and follow the advice of local authorities. The state of emergency declared on 6 May has already been lifted. Sri Lanka hopes for as many tourists as possible to get the economy going again.
Sri Lanka is hoping to welcome as many tourists as possible to get the country’s economy going again. It is important for tourists to prepare well for their trip to Sri Lanka in terms of security and travel documents. The following information has been carefully compiled to give you the best possible idea of the necessary preparations, such as applying for a Sri Lanka visa on time.
Travel documents and insurance
Sri Lanka visa
Tourists and business traveller need a visa for Sri Lanka. Travellers with a European, UK, or Irish passport can easily apply for an ETA Sri Lanka aanvragenonline. With this electronic travel permit, they are allowed to travel to Sri Lanka once for a maximum stay of 30 days. After arriving in Sri Lanka, the visa can be extended to up to 90 days, one time. To apply for the visa, you do not yet need to have booked a flight. However, once you arrive in Sri Lanka, you need to be able to show a ticket for your return flight or transit flight, and be able to prove that you have sufficient financial resources to pay for your stay in Sri Lanka.
If you have a different travel purpose than tourism, you should check the Sri Lanka visa requirements.
Passport and driving licence
To be able to apply for the visa, you need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your arrival date in Sri Lanka. Adults and (minor) children each need their own passport, to which the visa can be linked. If your passport does not meet the requirements, you need to apply for a new passport. If you intend to drive a car in Sri Lanka, you need to have an International Driving Permit (IDP). This must be obtained before travel. Once in Sri Lanka, this is no longer possible.
For your safety in Sri Lanka, it is highly advisable to take out travel insurance. Make sure that all your planned activities are covered by the insurance and that the travel insurance covers your entire stay. Please note that some continuous travel insurances only cover a certain number of days of stay abroad, which might have already been used during previous trips in the respective calendar year. The insurances for which this applies are not explained in this travel advice, so please contact your insurance company.
This travel advice is not written by a doctor. Always consult your general practitioner or a specialized doctor for personal advice on vaccinations and potential personal health risks in Sri Lanka.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises you to get a number of specific vaccinations before travelling to Sri Lanka. This may not apply for those who have already been vaccinated sufficiently in the past and all the required vaccines are still working. These are vaccinations for yellow fever, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, DTP, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, rabies, Japanese encephalitis and measles. Sometimes it is not necessary to take all these vaccinations. The necessity depends, among other things, on the duration of your stay, the areas you will be visiting on the island, the type of activities you will be undertaking and your medical history.
Protection against mosquitos
Sri Lanka is home to mosquitoes that can transmit diseases, including Zika, chikungunya and dengue fever. It is therefore advisable to ensure adequate protection against mosquito bites. This can be done by wearing long trousers and sleeves, or by regularly applying insect-repellents.
Due to the current medicine shortages in Sri Lanka, travellers must bring their own medications with them. This also goes for medicine that is easily purchased in the UK or Ireland. You could have to stay in Sri Lanka longer than foreseen (for example due to Covid-19), so be sure to bring sufficient medication. If you use prescription medicine that is prohibited in other countries (like sleeping pills and some strong painkillers), or you are unsure about the legality, please check with the NMRA whether you can take them with you or whether you need a special declaration.
Download the My Travel Health (USA) or the KnowAsYouGo (UK) app. These applications contain advice on travelling abroad regarding health and safety. You can consult these apps in cases of unexpected diarrhoea, bite wounds, heatstrokes, or other diseases.
Stay in contact
It is important that the people at home know about your travel plans. Make sure they know how to reach you, even if you buy a SIM card in Sri Lanka, for example. Make sure that both the people back home and yourself have copies of your insurance and credit card details, vaccination certificates and travel documents. Put the emergency contact in the UK or Ireland under ICE (In Case of Emergency) in your contacts, so that emergency services always know how to reach it. It is also useful if they have the IMEI number of your mobile phone. You can find out this number by dialling *#06# on your phone, after which the details will appear on the screen.
Furthermore, it is advisable to register your trip with the UK embassy. After applying for your visa on this website, you can register your trip with the embassy. This is not mandatory. However, it is easier to receive help from the government in case of emergency. You will also receive push notifications of disease outbreaks or other sudden unsafe situations.
General advice for Sri Lanka
In order to eliminate as many risks as possible during your trip, it is important to carefully follow the safety advice. Never ignore instructions from local authorities or from your place of residence. Ignoring this advice can lead to unpleasant consequences.
Safety and protection
- Carry your wallet on your body in your pockets, not in a loose bag. Never lose sight of your belongings, not even for a second. Especially in trains, stations or other crowded places, theft is common with tourists. Do not struggle if you are robbed. Do not wear flashy jewellery or other unnecessary accessories. Report any theft to the local police immediately.
- Do not attend demonstrations or other gatherings that are politically sensitive. Follow the local news to be aware of any demonstrations or possible attacks.
- Always keep a close eye on your important (travel) documents and keep a copy of all important (travel) documents outside your hand luggage and digitally on your phone. Store anything you do not immediately need in a safe place.
- Pay with cash as much as possible, and only withdraw money from ATMs at banks or large hotels to prevent credit card fraud.
- Stay away from drugs. Dealing or possessing drugs is punished much more severely than in Europe. It can even be punishable by death.
- On some beaches, there is a risk of dangerous currents running into the sea. You should therefore follow local advice about swimming in the sea to avoid drowning.
- Take all landmine warnings seriously. Especially near military bases and in the north and east of the country. Always stay on the marked paths and roads.
Additional advice for women
- Never travel alone in public transport, taxi, or by rickshaw. Especially not after sunset. If you must travel alone, use trusted drivers, such as those at hotels. In general, avoid remote and poorly lit places.
- HKeep your travel information to yourself and do not share it with strangers. Always lock the door properly, both when going in and out.
- Only go to massage parlours with a good reputation. Find out more from trusted information points such as your hotel.
Laws and cultural points of interest
- Obey local rules and laws and respect their norms and values. For example, you could be fined for smoking in a place where it is prohibited.
- It is not allowed to cover your face with clothing or anything similar since the terrorist attack in June 2019 that killed 250 people. If you are suspected of having a terrorist motive, you will be detained in Sri Lanka.
- By law, everyone must be able to identify themselves at all times. For foreigners, only a passport is valid proof of identity. Without valid identification, you may be detained.
- In general, there are no strict rules for informal clothing. However, it is wise for women to dress appropriately. When entering a Buddhist temple, legs and shoulders should be covered, shoes taken off, and headgear removed. Sunbathing naked or topless is prohibited.
- All Buddhist statues and artefacts should be treated with respect. In the past, tourists have been convicted of mistreating them. Buddha tattoos are also not allowed and must be covered. Tourists were once banned from entering Sri Lanka because of such a tattoo. Posing for a picture with a Buddha statue is also not allowed.
- Do not photograph soldiers or government buildings.
- Homosexuality is punishable in Sri Lanka, please take this into account.
In the south and southwest of Sri Lanka, the monsoons last from June to August. In the northeast, the wet season is from October to February. During these periods, flooding may occur. It is therefore recommended to be extra alert during these periods in these areas to local reports on possible safety risks. Also ask your accommodation providers about the risks. Always follow the instructions of the authorities
In case of emergency
Should you find yourself in a crisis, take the following actions. First contact the local authorities. The general emergency number is not always answered, so make sure you have the following phone numbers at the ready.
Important phone numbers
|General emergency number||119|
|Police||+94112433333 and +94112421111|
|Your travel insurance||Note these down before you travel|
|British High Commission (embassy) Colombo||+94 11 5390639|
If the local authorities cannot solve the problem, immediately let a family member, friend or acquaintance at home know where you are and what your situation is. You can also call for help via the emergency line of your travel insurance. In case of an emergency, you can also contact the UK embassy in Sri Lanka 24 hours a day. The office of the British High Commission is at Colombo 7 in Colombo.
Disclaimer: This travel advice for Sri Lanka is composed with care, nevertheless, e-Visa.ie accepts no liability for any problems, damage or injury resulting from the use of this information. You should always be alert during your trip in Sri Lanka and you are responsible for your own safety during your trip and stay in Sri Lanka, as well as for the choice of whether or not to make a certain trip. Before you travel to Sri Lanka it is advisable to consult the latest safety updates of the British government (www.gov.co.uk) or consult the British Embassy in Sri Lanka and / or information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.