Sri Lanka travel restrictions and Coronavirus

As with most nations, there are certain entry restrictions when visiting Sri Lanka. Most foreign nationals cannot enter without a visa or travel authorisation, and these requirements vary from country to country.

Due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Sri Lanka has introduced a number of new travel restrictions to deal with the global pandemic. It is one of many nations around the world that have taken steps to limit travel.

How could the new Sri Lanka travel restrictions affect you?

Sri Lanka entry restrictions due to the Coronavirus Outbreak

Since it was first identified at the end of 2019, COVID-19 has spread to many areas of the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a pandemic and has advised against travel unless absolutely necessary.

Many countries, including Sri Lanka, introduced entry restrictions as a measure to help reduce the rate of transmission.

Sri Lanka’s travel restrictions for COVID-19 affect visas and transport, as well as requirements for passengers arriving in the country.

How has COVID-19 affected Sri Lanka visas?

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Sri Lanka has made some alterations to its visa policy.

The below is a timeline of actions taken in response to COVID-19 in Sri Lanka:

  • March 12th: visas on arrival suspended, all visa applications must be made before entering the country.
  • March 14th: Sri Lanka temporarily stopped granting all visas for travellers of the following nationalities:
    • Austria
    • Bahrain
    • Canada
    • Denmark
    • France
    • Germany
    • Iran
    • Italy
    • Netherlands
    • Qatar
    • Republic of Korea
    • Spain
    • Sweden
  • March 19th: travellers from the United Kingdom were added to this list and banned from entering Sri Lanka.
  • March 29th: all types of visa and Electronic Travel Authorisations suspended for all foreign nationals with immediate effect, until further notice.

Sri Lankan nationals who have been overseas within the last 14 days are permitted to return to their home country but may be placed in quarantine upon arrival.

Foreign nationals who already have valid visas or electronic travel authorisations (ETAs) will no longer be able to use them to enter Sri Lanka as they have been temporarily declared invalid. These travellers are not allowed to visit the island state until this ban is reversed.

Anyone arriving in Sri Lanka from another country will be quarantined and screened for COVID-19.

Restricted flights and cruises to Sri Lanka

Most incoming flights to Sri Lanka have been cancelled in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is currently unknown how long this will be the case.

The only flights currently operating in and out of Sri Lanka are repatriation flights returning people to their home countries and humanitarian flights.

All passengers and crew members who leave the aircraft must complete a Health Declaration Form, undergo medical screening upon arrival in Sri Lanka, and self-isolate for 14 days.

Sri Lanka has also closed its doors to all passengers on cruises. While it is still allowing cruise ships to dock at its ports to refuel and/or take supplies onboard, passengers are not allowed to disembark the vessel.

What measures has Sri Lanka taken against COVID-19?

Sri Lanka has taken various other steps to control the coronavirus outbreak. As well as limiting travel, consular services in a number of Sri Lankan diplomatic missions overseas have been limited to urgent or emergency requests, which are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

At certain times during the pandemic, curfews and lockdowns have been declared in parts of the country and museums, cinemas, and schools were closed.

Sri Lanka ETA extension during COVID-19

The government of Sri Lanka recently announced the extension of all Sri Lanka visa types to help travellers affected by coronavirus travel restrictions. Visas will be extended for 60 days, from 7th October until 5th December 2020.

Foreigners in Sri Lanka who require a visa extension are asked not to visit the Department of Immigration and Emigration at this time. Further information about paying the extension fee and getting the extension endorsed will be issued at a later date.

Anyone wishing to leave Sri Lanka during this extension period may pay the visa fee at the airport and will not face an overstay penalty.

General travel restrictions for Sri Lanka

Under normal conditions, eligible international travellers should apply for an ETA for Sri Lanka online in advance.

The Electronic Travel Authorisation is a digital document that authorises the traveller to visit the island state for tourism, business, or transit.

Nationals of eligible countries can complete an online application for the Sri Lanka ETA, after which the approved document is emailed to the applicant. It must then be printed and presented along with the traveller’s passport at Sri Lankan border control.

Check the requirements for the ETA for Sri Lanka to see which nationalities are eligible.

There are stricter entry restrictions for nationals of certain countries, who must visit a Sri Lankan diplomatic mission to apply for a traditional consular visa.

Customs restrictions for Sri Lanka

When travelling to Sri Lanka, there are restrictions on certain items, such as alcohol, firearms, jewellery, animals, and plants.

Some items, such as tobacco products and narcotics, are banned outright and may not be brought into the country, according to Sri Lanka customs requirements.

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