Sri Lanka Visas, Permits and Immigration

by Jose Marc Castro on August 11, 2009

VISAsrilanka200Foreign nationals who wish to enter Sri Lanka for the purpose of tourism, leisure, business, discussions, seminars, conferences, mass media, technical assistance, meetings, studies, etc. are required to have a valid passport.

Sri Lanka Immigration

There are seventy(70) nationalities that are exempt from the visa fee (for tourist purposes) and can stay for a maximum of thirty (30) days upon arriving at Colombo Airport. Individuals whose places of residence do not have a Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate may receive the original approved papers upon arriving at the airport, to be presented to the Immigration Officer for endorsement.

Applicants looking for a visa will have to forward the required documents and send their inquiries to the nearest Sri Lankan Consulate or Embassy in their current place of residence. In some cases where applicants do not have a Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate in their place of residence, they will have to send their applications directly to Sri Lanka. Notification and approval of entry visas will be done by the Immigration Department in Colombo. There are a number of statutes and laws governing immigrants, citizens, and expatriates in the country that should be carefully followed.

These visas issued are valid for three months with the prior permission of the Controller of Immigration and Emigration, extendible depending on necessity.

Immigration Laws

The main law governing foreign nationals and immigrants is the Immigrants and Emigrants Act No. 20 of 1948 with regulations and amendments providing details on the coverage of residency and employment of people coming into Sri Lanka. The prescribed authorities are:

•    The Immigration and Emigration Controller in Colombo
•    Heads of Sri Lanka Missions abroad

The immigration and emigration controller is responsible for issuing travel documents in accordance to the powers vested in the Act. All persons entering, staying, and leaving the country are assessed every now and then to ensure that they are not overstaying.

As for citizenship, applications for dual citizenship are available as well as applications for the resumption of Sri Lankan citizenship. Children of Sri Lankans born out of the country are also eligible to apply. With the provisions of Act No. 39 of 1988, stateless persons may be granted citizenship.

Visa Immigration Services

The seventy (70) nationalities exempt from the visa fee (for tourist visa) include: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Philippines, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Herzegovina, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (China), Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Bahrain, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South America, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Yugoslavia.

The two basic types of visas in Sri Lanka are Tourist and Business. Each has a validity period of thirty (30) days. Visitors can request extensions by applying directly at the Department of Immigration and Emigration 23 Station Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka. Extensions are issued at the discretion of authorities requiring proof that applicants have a minimum amount of US$30 for each day during the entire stay and an onward or return ticket for travel. Visa extension fees may vary depending on the applicant’s country of residence.

There are also hand-over applications. Multiple entry, visit and transit visa applications should be made at the nearest Sri Lankan Mission. If no Mission is present in your current place of residence or mission arrangements cannot be properly made, the case may be forwarded to and fixed by the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Sri Lanka for legal entry and stay in the country. The Department is also responsible for applications for residence visas and visas under the Special Resident Guest Scheme.

If the travel document has yet to reach the maximum validity date, it should cover more than a period of two (2) months. This is often the period that applicants plan to stay in Sri Lanka. Visit visas will check items such as a return air ticket and sufficient maintenance funds in currency, traveller’s cheques or credit cards.

Approved tourists from nationals listed in Schedule ‘A’ will be provided landing visas for thirty (30) days at the port of entry in Sri Lanka. Two (2) months’ extension beyond thirty (30) days will be provided at the Department of Immigration and Emigration (Head Office) as needed. However, further extension will only be granted if the applicants’ reasons are valid. The restriction does not apply to ex-Sri Lankans. Individuals who intend to enter the country other than holiday or tourist reasons should obtain the necessary visa.

As for residence visas, the following are the requirements set forth under the law.

1. Expatriate personnel whose services are required for projects approved by the State.
2. Expatriate personnel employed in projects under Board of Investment of Sri Lanka.
3. A foreign national
– Who desires to invest monetary capital or
– To engage in business activities in Sri Lanka.
4. Members of the Clergy.
5. Religious Workers and Religious Students.
6. Volunteers.
7. Personnel attached to Non-Governmental Organizations.
8. Foreign students
– In Universities
– Educational Institutions approved by the State
– Other Institutions
9. Registered Indians covered by the 1954 Agreement.
10. Ex Sri Lankans.
11. Spouses of Sri Lankans.
12. Children of Sri Lankans but holding foreign nationality.

Visa Types

Tourist Visa

This is issued to foreign nationals who wish to enter Sri Lanka for limited periods of time for purposes such as excursions, sightseeing, relaxation, family visits, and funerals. Individuals with this type of visa are prohibited from engaging in any other paid or unpaid activity. Tourist visas are issued with a maximum of two (2) visits per calendar year. Changing visa categories in Sri Lanka is not permitted as indicated by current visa regulations. Over 100 nationalities are required Entry Visas before arriving, but arrangements can be made immediately at Colombo airport if visitors do not have a Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence.

Residence Visa

This is issued to foreign nationals who wish to stay in Sri Lanka for long periods of time for purposes such as business, investment, education, seminars or meetings, advertising, employment and other work-related schemes. For these purposes, any of the 4 visas can be issued:

•    Work Visa
•    Student Visa
•    Spouse Visa
•    Guardian Visa

Work visas are issued after the required documents have been submitted by the applicant to the Department of Immigration and Emigration. The applicant also needs to provide evidence of existing employment transactions between the current company and the Sri-Lanka-based industry, most preferably through letters, notifications, and other supporting documents.

Student visas are provided for individuals who plan to attend schools, colleges, academies, universities, and other educational institutions based in Sri Lanka. In some cases, the stay may be short or long, as required by the institution. Extensions will have to be made if students stay longer than thirty (30) days.

Spouse visas are issued to foreign nationals who have husbands or wives working in Sri Lanka. The spouse based in Sri Lanka should be holding a residence or work visa. Application may be done together or after approval of the initial work visa. Guardian visas are issued to parents and other caretakers of individuals holding residence visas. These may be parents of foreign students or workers.

Permanent Residence – Resident Guest Visa (RGV)

This is issued to foreign investors, businessmen, and other professionals who have the potential to improve the economic and social-cultural state of Sri Lanka. The Resident Guest Scheme has been created by the Sri Lankan Government to provide incentives and entice more investors into the country.

Multiple Entry Business Visa

This is issued to individuals who come in and out of Sri Lanka for business or investments. Since tourists are only allowed up to a maximum of two (2) visits per year, the MEBV, or Multiple Entry Business Visa, provides you with a validity period of up to twelve (12) months with unlimited entry and departure.

An Entry Visa Approval from immigration authorities in Colombo is initially required before arrival. After obtaining the Entry Visa Approval, an Entry Visa from Sri Lankan Embassies or Consulates is needed next before arrival in the country.

Sri Lankan Embassies or Consulates do not issue Entry Visas without an Entry Visa Approval. For individuals whose countries of residence do not have a Sri Lankan Consulate or Embassy, Entry Visas may be issued upon arrival provided that prior arrangements have been made with the Department of Immigration and Emigration. Upon arrival in Sri Lanka, foreign nationals should then obtain Multiple Entry Visa Endorsements from the Department.

Other Purpose Visit Visa

Individuals who wish to visit Sri Lanka for short periods for purposes other than tourism or leisure can obtain Other Purpose Visit Visas. This is issued to those who wish to attend conferences, business discussions, meetings, seminars, mini-courses, and technical programs. An Entry Visa is initially required before arriving in Sri Lanka.

Visa Extension

The duration of Visa Extension will depend on the Department and your reasons for overstaying. You will be required the following:

•    Visit visa application
•    Copy of the bio-data page of the passport
•    Two (2) passport-size photographs
•    Visa fee

Types of Permits

Work Permit

A work permit is required for individuals employed in Sri Lanka-based companies, industries and institutions. To apply for one, you will need proof of employment of transaction from the company of your country of residence and from the company based in Sri Lanka. Letters, notifications and other documents that provide proof of the existing investment or business transaction or position or employment offer are required.

US citizens looking to get a tourist visa are issued one upon arrival for a maximum stay of thirty (30) days, with extensions made at the Immigration Office in Colombo.

Business visas require the following:

•    A signed passport with a validity of at least six (6) months beyond the date of entry
•    Two (2) passport-size photos
•    Completed application and credit card authorization forms
•    Copy of flight itinerary indicating return trip
•    A business letter of responsibility, typewritten on your company letterhead and addressed to the Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate

Another requirement set forth is that the employer should proceed with the work permit of foreign recruits. A recommendation should be obtained from the relevant line Ministry where the Department of Immigration and Emigration will issue one year visa which is renewable. Generally Ministry will recommend for candidates, where that skill is not freely

{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Anton Dawson February 3, 2010 at 12:29 am

Hai i am Anton, planning to come to sri lanka and get married to my girl friend who is working in dubai.I would like to ask you for some advice to how to go about this matter.If you could please send me an e-mail stating what i should do before i come there.Thank you.


Stela January 29, 2011 at 10:00 am

Hi Anton, did you get any infgo about? We are in te same situation. Thanks


diane June 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm

We would like to buy a property and live in Sri Lanka, what would the procedure be to do so.


khayyam February 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm

diane we would like to do the same, did you manage to get any useful info, please let us know we would be grateful


B.Philip August 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm

I would like to start a retail outlet at a prime location in Srilanka, i would like to know the procedures regarding visa and licence. I am an Indian national.


R.Dilshard Kareem November 24, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Please I need some correct advise.I am a Sri lankan citizen, and Muslim by race ,My wife is Philiphino and she is the gurdian and the custodian of three kids of her own ,age 11,5, and 3 .I am planind to bring my family to settele down in sri lanka in Decemeber of 2010 .I beleive my wife can receive the on arrival 30 days Visa and hope to apply for the spouce of Sri lankan immigration registartion,But, though I am the present gurdian and the Father of these kids through marrigae to my wife ..can they be allowed the priveldeg of chi;ldren of forigh nationality status to apply for the Immigration registartion.Or will they be granted Visa as a temproriy Touris ONLY ??? please help me to understand this situation in order to avoid any dissapointments of seperated family …(also my wife is Muslim convert and hoping to convert all three kids in to Muslim in order to live in Sri lanka longer .(at present I am working and living in Sri lanka My family is in Philiphines)


amir January 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm



Jagathambal @ Prema December 20, 2010 at 9:55 am

Hi, I am prema from Malaysia. I would to get some information about marriage to a sri lanka guy there. My boy friend is at sri lanka now and we plan to get married soon but we do not know what are the procedure.


dennis January 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm

perhaps the site should update itself about the my new home program


sakthi February 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm

helo dear sir iam srilankan & my wife all so .but my wife have a german passport .so i have a srilankan pass we plae to go 2 srilankan soon so my wife want to get a visa or not how please sent me a detalis my email so kindly give me a details sir


ANVER March 27, 2011 at 12:05 pm



Anderson samuel March 20, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I am working for an Indian company.My company is about to get an order from one more Indian company who are asking us to provide only service work( erection of turbines which they provide).

What willbe the procedures for getting work permits and how do we get the same.


hussain mobushar March 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm

i am from pakistan and my wife from sri lanka we live in cyprus we have two kids they born in cyprus we can apply citizen ship for kids in cyprus if its possible what we have to do please help us and give us some advices


gracey July 9, 2011 at 8:53 am

i want to know if i can apply residence visa outside of sri lanka. i am wife of sri lanka citizen. i dont have time to go now to sri lanka but for the future for sure i need that. another thing is we have time deposit in sri lanka but we cannot put my name because the bank said i dont have citizenship their. please reply.


Lucky July 14, 2011 at 8:19 am

i an an undergraduate. this is my final year final semester. after my degree i expect to go to Australia for a job. but i have not experiences. but i like any legal job in that country. how can i get a work permit?


petula July 25, 2011 at 6:46 am

hi, I.m a british national and and wife of a Sri Lankan citizen. I have obtained Rsidece visa through my husband but can i work on a spouse residence visa?


A Ponnusamy August 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm

what are the required documents/procedures to get a work permit in srilanka


nagarajan September 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Hi i am nagarajan indian citizen , planning to married my girl friend sri lanka citizen .Right know working dubai me and my girl friend .I would like to ask you for some advice to how to married about my girl friendr.If you could please send me an e-mail stating ,

can you pls advice me Better married India or dubai
Thank you.


firdhouse October 13, 2011 at 12:53 am

Good day! I am a Sri Lankan. I want to marry my girl who is presently working in Taiwan . How can I process her documents so that she can come here & we will get married here.
please advice. thank you


Faisal October 14, 2011 at 5:56 am

I am from Pakistan and hold spouse residence visa.Can I work with this visa?


saliya October 15, 2011 at 11:27 pm

hi im srilankan who wish to marry philippines girl in srilanka.could u plz help me to know requrements for our marriage nd wht type of visa she needs to have to go to srilanka.plz send me ur reply on you


bewildered October 31, 2011 at 4:59 am

Will this system be exempted for dual citizenship holders who are having both sri lankan and another foreign country citizenships. It is obvious that Sri lankan citizenship holders who are residing in another country need not have to get an entry visa but purpose behind this newly introduced system may have some other objective


arun November 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm

i am indian citizen , my girl frd from sri lanka ,, i going to marry with her in sri lanka after marry i can apply sri lanka paasport ,, whats documents needs to sri lanka passport , i want settle in sri lanka


Umair Gul November 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm

im frm philippines and my fiance is pakistani and wer planning to have atlest 20 days holiday in sri lanka this coming december 2011, but at the same time we would like to get married civil wedding, since we both dont need visa, do you think its possible they will allow us to get married there even wer both tourist.?


Mohamed November 8, 2011 at 11:27 am

Hi, Can u pls tell me , the fines and other charges of overstay in Sri Lanka


oehring November 19, 2011 at 10:04 pm

I am a ex srilankan. I have German Pass port . German & Srilanka still not duel citizenship. I like get sri lankan pass port but I can´´t get German law is very hard.plece give me advice My husban is German


Marija1980 January 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Hi ! I have one question. My husband is a german, and he worked in Sri Lanka for an NGO from 2005-2008. Now he can get job again there, but now we have hear that srilankan government giving the work permit again to the same person only after period of 5 years out of Sri Lanka, and that is for my husband in year 2013… Did somebody know someething about that ? Thanks !!!


afshan aamir February 3, 2012 at 6:09 am

i am afshan aamir im pakistani want to immigrate srilanka plz help me


Abdul Azeem Butt February 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Hey.. Anyone please help me out by giving the contact details of a VISA Agency that can help in dealing with the work permit and visa issues for the candidates of abroad for Sri Lanka??


Kavita Kurup February 27, 2012 at 6:52 am

I am looking for a consultacy who could help our company with work permits for Srilanka. We are based in India.


Y. C. Pragash March 17, 2012 at 11:45 am

I would like to know the Visa Extension of the Tourist visa for a Canadian. Which are the place in Sri Lanka our Emigration & Immigration Offices are available?
Thank you.


sweta totah May 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I am from Mauritius my boyfriend from sri Lanka we want to get married in sri lanka and we want to stay in Mauritius together i want to know he can get visa him thanks


h vincent May 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm

we are nz citizens going to sri lanka in july. we would like to stay longer than 30 days and understand we will need a visa extension. do we have to have a return air ticket to get an extension.we dont have a return ticket from sri lanka to bangkok as would like to know we can stay longer before we book a air ticket.airtickets get expensive if you have to change the date on them.thanks


chami August 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm

iam srilankan person.. my girl friend have a italy visa.. next year we are married, so how get for italy visa for me. how long time look at the takes for italy visa..


karthik November 4, 2012 at 7:27 am

Dear Sir,
AS i am karthik who is srilankan. I am going to marry a Indian girl & i would like to bring (migrate) her colombo. so please advice me what kind of procedures & visa are related this migrate. i expect your earliest reply.

thanking you.


michell November 21, 2012 at 12:59 am

hi michelle from philipppine planning to go srilanka to meet my boyfriend family. i need some tips what kind of visa i will apply or should i get any help from my boyfriend for the sponsor o visa?


ryan September 24, 2014 at 7:19 am

eazy just go online visa section in sri lanka and follow the steps and u will receive your visa withing 3 to 4 days ..just print it out and provide to Immi officer upon your arrival.


Rubel December 2, 2012 at 5:24 am


I am from Bangladesh. I want to work in textile industry in Sri Lanka in Managerial position.

How can i procceed to get visa and work permit.

Please advise


Jennilyn Juagar January 1, 2013 at 9:06 pm

hi i'm jenny im working now in qatar,,,, we have plan to merried his own land in srilanka… we get merried there, after i finish my contract… in doha. what are the requirements and things to do before i go there… how much i need to pay in embassy….and after my married i will stay longtime there?


A. Wijesekara USA April 22, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Juagar, If your spouse is Srilankan citizen, you can apply for residence visa. Then you can live over there. Contact your Qatar srilanka consulate general office and get the information.


wayne April 11, 2013 at 11:15 am

how easy is it for me (uk citizen) and my wife who is sri lankan to both relocate to sri lanka


Jaydy July 14, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Please where can I get the electronic copy of the form to apply to Religious affairs ministry for residence visa approval for a foreigner who is a christian priest?


Sharon July 19, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I am likely to be offered a 2 year posting for a UK company in Colombo, based in an outsource partners office. I think I would need a residence visa and/or work permit. I am trying to find out if my boyfriend can come with me. It seems I can get a spouse visa to bring him along but I take it we would need to be married. Is there anything that enables a non-married couple to both get a visa.
If we were married before we came (bring forward plans we already have) does the spouse visa enable him to find work when we move over there or would he need to have found it before he travels?


Hannah August 23, 2013 at 11:06 am

Hi Sharon I am having a similar problem, I have been employed by a company in Sri lanka and wish for my partner to come with me however we are not married either. It seems the only long term way I have found he may be granted a visa to come with me for the duration of the stay is to get married as I am aware finding a job for him in Sri Lanka will be very hard if he were to only go out there on a visiting 30 day visa. If anyone has any advice I would really appreciate it. Thank you


janni August 15, 2013 at 11:59 pm

its possible srilanka and philippine can merriage here in qatar?


aenid August 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm

hi i need to know how much is the working visa here in sri lanka? im working in the salon…


Irina Sultanova July 25, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Hello my name is Irina and I am currently living in Sri Lanka but my Kazakhstan Passport is expiring in 8 months. I am staying in sri lanka on a valid Residents Visa can I stay in sri lanka with an expired passport but valid visa and still get my Sri Lankan Passport eventually. Thank you so much


anurudda July 26, 2014 at 11:14 am

i am working at qatar so i want to visit dubai an get the job in dubai how can i apply.


c.kamala October 15, 2014 at 3:59 am

duel citizen in Canada & Sir Lanka. when I visit to sir Lanka how many month i can stay?


hersie alburo November 1, 2014 at 7:28 am

Hi. I’m hersie I need a help. What visa I will get.? I’m gonna marry a srilankan and stay their in his country im from Philippines. I dont know how to process this one.


prasanna February 4, 2015 at 2:54 am

Hi, I am prasanna from srilanka. I would to get some information about marriage to a Malaysia girl here. My girlfriend is at Malaysia now and we plan to get married soon but we do not know what are the procedure.


bilal February 22, 2015 at 1:37 pm

i am indian national i married srilankan national how can i stay my wife in srilanka.


Srinivas Rao June 26, 2015 at 8:27 am

Hi I am Indian working here in Sri Lanka, i want to settle here with my family , what is the procedure to get residence visa for my family members.


Sudheer July 29, 2015 at 2:56 am

Hi i am Indian, i want to come to Sri Lanka for the work, what is the procedure and what questions might ask during the visa interview?Please advice me.


Ven.Pannasami August 16, 2015 at 5:51 pm

I’m Ven.Pannasami from Myanmar.I want to ask how to do to get the religious visa in Sri.
Please Sent me with the step in details and the troubles which I can get if something wrong.


Chamath egodage September 9, 2015 at 3:50 pm

I’m chamath egodage, I’m a sri Lankan, I have been staying here for 2 years, I got married an Indian girl, I want her bring to my country, what is the procedure? Please tell me, my visa will be canceled next February and My wife didn’t make a passport, I want to reply as soon as possible. Thank you, sir


rick sivley October 4, 2015 at 6:59 am

Hi I am from the United States and I would like to find out information on my mother and I moving to Sri Lanka to retire. She is 76 and I am 56 and I would like to know what are the requirements and also I may or may not start a small business there. Possibly a restaurant or Some small business on the beach.
Is it possible to have a long-term residency in Sri Lanka without starting a business?
If I must open a business it would be a business similar to
A small restaurant
Boat rental
Tourist fishing boat
Go-kart track

Thank you


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