The Sri Lanka visa is only valid if all the visa requirements are met, and the trip takes place during the validity period of the visa. In principle, the tourist visa and business visa are meant for short stays in Sri Lanka, for example to go on a holiday or a business trip lasting a few days to a few weeks. If so desired, it’s also possible to stay longer, provided a number of additional requirements are met.
Standard validity period
The standard validity period of the Sri Lanka visa is 30 days. This holds for both business as well as tourist visas (read here who these visas are meant for). This period starts from the moment that the traveler reports at the passport check after arrival in Sri Lanka. During the application for the visa, you are asked for the expected date of arrival. The traveler can arrive in Sri Lanka a maximum of 90 days earlier or 90 days later than this date. If the actual date of arrival differs more than 90 days from the filled in date of arrival in the application form, this can result in the visa losing its validity.
Sri Lanka visa application
Extending the validity
If the traveler wishes to stay in Sri Lanka for longer than 30 days, an extension can be arranged after arrival. The validity of the Sri Lanka visa can be extended up to a maximum of 90 days. This can be arranged quite easily at the Immigration Service Centre in Colombo (No. 330, Galle Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka, +94-727-591-591).
Address of the Immigration Services Centre: No. 330, Galle Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Requirements for extending the Sri Lanka visa
In theory, all travelers with benign intentions are approved for an extension, up to a maximum period of 90 days. Regardless, it can never be guaranteed beforehand whether an extension will be granted. With an extension you will be asked, among other things, for address information of the accommodation, a filled in extension form (available at the Immigration Services Center in Colombo), and a physical passport photo of the traveler.
The extension needs to be picked up personally by the traveler. In case of a business trip, a letter from the employer is also required which proves that an extension is necessary. Take note: with an extension of the visa, the passport of the traveler is required to be valid for at least two months after leaving Sri Lanka. In rare cases, a second extension can be applied for (up to 90 additional days), however these are not granted often in practice.
Losing the validity
Travelers that want to stay in Sri Lanka longer than the final date which is stamped in the passport on arrival (or after extension) risk deportation and exclusion from future applications for visas and extensions, as well fines and/or arrests. This also applies to travelers that break any of the other requirements for the visa. The Sri Lanka immigration service is also entitled to, without needing to provide a reason, void the visa and/or bar travelers from entering. In practice this only happens to travelers of whom the immigration service suspects might pose a threat to the safety and/or law enforcement of Sri Lanka. This holds for all travelers and all types of visa, regardless of the way in which they were applied for.
Apply more than 90 days early!
In theory, the Department of Immigration & Emigration of Sri Lanka; only processes applications of travelers that arrive in the country within 90 days of submitting the application. However, applications can be submitted earlier through this website. If the trip starts in more than 90 days, the application is put on hold. Exactly 90 days before arrival, the application is processed as normal. Applicants don’t need to worry about this, this happens entirely automatically. Travelers that book their ticket earlier can thus apply for a visa right away. They will receive their visa automatically and on time.