Can I travel to Colombo without a visa?

by Alice

Introduction to Visa-Free Travel

Traveling internationally often involves navigating a web of visa requirements, which can be a daunting aspect of planning a trip. However, some countries offer visa-free or visa-on-arrival options to ease this burden, encouraging tourism and simplifying the entry process for visitors. Colombo, the vibrant capital of Sri Lanka, is one such destination that offers various visa-free or visa-on-arrival arrangements, making it more accessible to travelers from different parts of the world.

Sri Lanka is a country known for its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality. Colombo, as its capital, serves as the gateway to this island nation’s numerous attractions. Understanding the visa policies of Sri Lanka, particularly Colombo, is crucial for ensuring a smooth and hassle-free travel experience. This article aims to provide comprehensive information on the visa-free travel options to Colombo, covering eligible nationalities, the length of stay, the visa exemption application process, and important reminders for prospective travelers.


Eligible Nationalities

Sri Lanka has implemented a relatively flexible visa policy to encourage tourism and international business. Depending on your nationality, you might be eligible for visa-free entry, visa-on-arrival, or an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). Here is a detailed breakdown of the various categories:


Visa-Free Entry:

Singapore: Citizens of Singapore can enter Sri Lanka without a visa for stays up to 30 days.


Maldives: Maldivian nationals can also enjoy visa-free entry for stays up to 30 days.

Seychelles: Citizens of Seychelles are granted visa-free access to Sri Lanka for a period of 30 days.


Nationals of countries not included in the visa-free list may be eligible for a visa-on-arrival. This option is generally available to most travelers, allowing them to obtain a visa upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.

Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA):

For many other nationalities, an ETA is required before traveling to Sri Lanka. The ETA is an online system that provides prior approval for travel to Sri Lanka, allowing for a smoother entry process. The ETA is valid for a period of up to 30 days and can be extended if necessary.

It is important to verify the specific visa requirements for your nationality before making travel arrangements, as these policies are subject to change.

Length of Stay

The length of stay permitted in Sri Lanka varies depending on the type of visa or entry permit obtained:

Visa-Free Entry:

Travelers from Singapore, Maldives, and Seychelles can stay in Sri Lanka for up to 30 days without a visa. This period can sometimes be extended upon request, subject to approval from Sri Lankan immigration authorities.


Those obtaining a visa-on-arrival typically receive a visa valid for 30 days. If a longer stay is desired, it is advisable to inquire about extension options at the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo.

Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA):

The ETA allows for a stay of up to 30 days, with the possibility of a 30-day extension. Travelers must apply for the extension before their initial 30-day period expires.

It is crucial for travelers to adhere to the permitted length of stay to avoid penalties or legal complications. Extensions, while possible, are not guaranteed and should be planned for well in advance.

Visa Exemption Application Process

For those who are eligible for visa-free entry, the process is straightforward, involving minimal formalities. However, for travelers who require an ETA or a visa-on-arrival, the application process involves a few additional steps:

Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) Application:

Online Application: Travelers should visit the official Sri Lankan ETA website to fill out the application form. The form requires basic personal information, passport details, and travel plans.

Fee Payment: An ETA processing fee must be paid online using a credit or debit card. The fee varies depending on the nationality of the traveler and the type of visa requested.

Approval: Once the application is submitted and the fee is paid, the ETA is usually processed within 24 to 72 hours. Travelers will receive an email confirmation with the ETA approval.

Entry: Upon arrival in Sri Lanka, travelers should present their ETA approval along with their passport to immigration officials.

Visa-On-Arrival Application:

Arrival at Airport: Travelers opting for a visa-on-arrival should proceed to the designated visa-on-arrival counters at Bandaranaike International Airport.

Application Form: An application form must be completed with personal details and travel information.

Fee Payment: A visa-on-arrival fee is required and can be paid at the airport. The amount varies depending on the traveler’s nationality.

Approval: The visa is usually granted on the spot, allowing entry into Sri Lanka for up to 30 days.

Extension of Stay:

Application for Extension: To extend the stay beyond the initial 30 days, travelers must visit the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo. An extension application form needs to be filled out and submitted along with supporting documents such as a valid passport, proof of sufficient funds, and a detailed reason for the extension request.

Fee Payment: An extension fee is applicable and must be paid upon submission of the application.

Approval: The extension process can take several days, and travelers should apply well before their current visa expires to avoid overstaying.

Important Reminders

When planning a trip to Colombo, it is essential to keep the following reminders in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

Check Visa Requirements: Always verify the latest visa requirements and policies for your nationality before booking your travel. Changes in visa regulations can occur, and it is crucial to be up-to-date to avoid any last-minute complications.

Valid Passport: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in Sri Lanka. This is a common requirement for international travel and helps prevent issues at immigration checkpoints.

Sufficient Funds: Be prepared to show proof of sufficient funds for your stay in Sri Lanka. This can include bank statements, credit card statements, or proof of employment. Immigration officials may request this information to confirm that you can support yourself during your visit.

Return Ticket: Carry a return or onward ticket as proof of your departure plans. This is often required by both airline staff and immigration officials to ensure that travelers do not intend to overstay their visa.

Health and Safety: Familiarize yourself with any health advisories or vaccination requirements for travel to Sri Lanka. It is advisable to have travel insurance that covers health, accidents, and unexpected cancellations.

Local Laws and Customs: Respect local laws and customs to ensure a respectful and trouble-free stay. Sri Lanka is known for its cultural diversity and rich traditions, and being mindful of local etiquette will enhance your travel experience.

Accommodation Arrangements: Have your accommodation booked and confirmation details readily available. This information might be requested upon entry, and having it on hand will facilitate a smoother immigration process.

Emergency Contacts: Note down important contact numbers, including those of your country’s embassy or consulate in Sri Lanka. In case of emergencies, having these contacts readily available can be immensely helpful.


Traveling to Colombo without a visa is possible for many nationalities, making it a convenient destination for tourists from around the world. Whether you are eligible for visa-free entry, a visa-on-arrival, or an ETA, understanding the requirements and processes involved is essential for a seamless travel experience. By keeping informed about the latest visa policies, preparing necessary documentation, and respecting local regulations, travelers can enjoy the rich cultural tapestry and stunning landscapes that Colombo and Sri Lanka have to offer. Safe travels!



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