A complete guide to everything you need to know about visas for Sri Lanka from Australia. The Sri Lankan ETA (e-visa) process explained and a step-by-step guide on what you need to do to apply and extend.
Sri Lanka, the teardrop island gem of the Indian Ocean is truly one of the most diverse and incredible travel destinations in the world. From scenic highland train rides through enchanting tea plantations to idyllic surf beaches, Sri Lanka has a little something for every traveller. However, did you know that you need to get visas for Sri Lanka from Australia and nearly all other countries?
Although Sri Lankan visa requirements aren’t painfully confusing, they can all be a little overwhelming at first. This is especially true if you’re used to “visas on arrival”, which are common in many other countries in Asia. In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about acquiring visas for Sri Lanka for Australian citizens. However, much of the information, especially when it comes to visa extensions, is relevant for other nationalities as well.
Most of the information gathered in this blog post is based on my own experience with Sri Lankan visas and extensions as an Australian, as well as up-to-date sources to ensure you get the best tips and advice.
Do Australian Citizens Need a Visa for Sri Lanka?
If you skipped the introduction, the short answer is yes. Australians need a visa to visit Sri Lanka. This is known as an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization). An ETA is a digital “e-visa” that grants a traveller entry to Sri Lanka without needing to visit an embassy or consulate in their home country.
Passport holders from almost every country require a Sri Lankan ETA prior to arriving. The only exceptions are travellers from Singapore, Maldives and Seychelles.
Since the new (2012) ETA e-visa system is electronic, travellers don’t need to be in their home country at the time of applying. This means that Aussies can get their visas for Sri Lanka from within Australia or anywhere else.
The process for the initial ETA can be completed online. If you’re looking for an easy way to get your Sri Lankan e-visa, as well as a bunch of more information for Australians and other nationalities, https://www.byevisa.com/eta-srilanka-visa is a fast and reliable bet.
Visas For Sri Lanka – Which One Do I Need?
There are three types of Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETA) for Sri Lanka. These are:
- Tourist: 2x entries valid for 30 days
- Business: 2x entries for 30 days
- Transit: Single entry for 2 days
The Sri Lanka Tourist ETA and Business ETA is valid for 30 days and grants you 2x entries. This means you can depart Sri Lanka after arriving on your ETA and re-enter the country a second time within the 30-day visa period without needing to reapply.
Note that you’ll only get 180 days to enter Sri Lanka after being issued a Tourist ETA, and only 90 days to enter on a Business ETA.
Sri Lanka Tourist ETA
If you’re planning to visit Sri Lanka on a holiday or for recreational purposes, you’ll need a Tourist ETA (30 days). This is the Sri Lankan e-visa that most travellers will need. It covers people visiting Sri Lanka for:
- visiting friends and family
- participating in sporting events
- receiving medical treatment
Sri Lanka Business ETA
Those visiting Sri Lanka for business or to earn money will require a Business ETA. Below I have listed the criteria for this Sri Lankan visa:
- Participating in business meetings or negotiations
- Participating in seminars, workshops or conferences
- Undergoing training programs
- Participating in art, music or dance events
- Participating in religious events
Sri Lanka Transit ETA
The third ETA is specifically for visitors who are simply passing through Sri Lanka and is only valid for 2 days. So, if you are merely stopping by in Sri Lanka on the way to another nation, you will still require a 2-day Transit visa if you want to clear immigration.
However, visitors who are on short stopovers and aren’t leaving the airport won’t need to apply for a Transit ETA.
How to Apply for a Sri Lankan Visa from Australia
As mentioned, after the introduction of ETA “e-visas”, applications for Sri Lankan entry is much easier. Applicants can complete the process with just an internet connection and their required documents.
Required Documents & Information
In order to be issued Sri Lanka visas from Australia, travellers need the following:
- Valid passport with at least 6 months from the date of entry to Sri Lanka
- Address of where you will be staying (you can enter the address of your first lodging if you plan to move around)
- Valid email address, phone number and other personal information
- Visa fee (more on this below)
Upon arriving in Sri Lanka, Aussies need to have:
- A valid ETA (Sri Lankan Electronic Travel Authorization)
- Valid passport
- Confirmed proof of onward travel
- Proof of sufficient funds to stay in Sri Lanka for the duration of the visa (bank statements or continuing income)
Applicants can apply for a Sri Lankan visa online at the Sri Lankan ETA website or by using Byevisa. The latter option is handy for those who prefer to securely pay with PayPal rather than their credit card since all visa fees are in United States Dollars ($USD). Remember to factor in your credit card international transaction and exchange fee if paying with a Credit Card.
Whichever option you choose, the process involves filling in an online form and uploading digital copies of your passport. The entire process is fairly straight-forward. Just make sure that you enter the correct details as fees are non-refundable.
Sri Lankan ETA fees depend on your nationality and tend to vary.
The government ETA processing fee for Sri Lankan visas from Australia is $35USD for a Tourist ETA and $40USD for a Business ETA (both are “double-entry”). Remember also that fees are only payable in United States Dollars. So, depending on your bank, there may be international conversion and transaction fees on top of this.
Sri Lanka Visa Extensions
Clearly, getting a Sri Lankan ETA for the initial 30-days is straight-forward. However, visitors looking to stay longer than 30 days will need to go through an additional process upon arriving in Sri Lanka. This process is known as a “visa extension”.
Official sources are quite limited in terms of providing useful information for this process. However, below I’ll detail the entire ordeal based on my experience to help you understand what you’re in for.
Extension Process and Step-by-Step Guide
The visa extension process involves filling out an extension application form, complete with a passport photo, and paying a fee. While it might sound simple, it is usually a lengthy process and it’s best to do your homework beforehand. We arrived at the office opening time of 8:30 AM and didn’t have our extension sticker until 2:30 PM that afternoon.
Applicants can only apply for a Sri Lankan visa extension in person at the immigration office in Battaramulla, Colombo. Therefore, if you’re flying into Colombo for a lengthy visit around the beautiful island, make sure to tick off the extension before you leave the capital.
Most applicants, including Australians, can apply for a Sri Lanka visa extension on top of their initial ETA up to 90 days for the first extension. This can then be extended one more time for an additional 90 days (a total of 180 days extension).
Step 1: Download and Complete the Form
Trust me, you’ll want to print and complete this form prior to arriving at the immigration office in Battaramulla. You can download the extension form here.
Fill out the form and make sure to have at least 1x recent passport photo with you (taken within 6 months).
Passport photo size for Sri Lankan visa extension: 35mm x 45mm. Head must be between 70-80% from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head with a white background.
Step 2: Arrive at the Immigration Office
The visa extension office is located on the fourth floor of the Immigration Office Sri Lanka, in Battaramulla. This is approximately 37 KM from the airport or 10 KM from Colombo Fort. I’d suggest taking a Rickshaw at least an hour before opening time to ensure you arrive as early as possible. A good tip is to download the Pickme app for accurate fares and trip estimates.
Immigration Office business hours: 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Once you arrive, make your way across the street and enter the building from the first glass door. Take the elevators on the right upon passing the front desk to the fourth floor.
Exit the elevator and turn right towards the Visa Division. Hand your already completed form and passport photo to the clerk and receive your “token”. The earlier you arrive at the immigration office, the faster it will be for you as the process is manual and lengthy. The earlier you get your token dictates how fast the process is for you.
Step 4: Wait to be Called
Now we play the first leg of the waiting game. Follow the signs to the waiting room and do just that, wait until your number appears on the monitor. Eventually, your token will be called and you will be forwarded to the Visa Applications Acceptance Unit.
This room is again just another room where you will need to wait to be called once again. See? I told you it was an arduous process. This time, there are monitors with four rooms labelled A to D. Wait for your token to be called and enter the corresponding office.
Here, a visa officer checks your application, asks you a couple of quick questions then prompts you to return to where you started to pay your fees at the Visa Division.
Step 5: Pay Your Sri Lanka Visa Extension Fee
Once you arrive at the payment counter, wait again for your number to be called and pay your relevant fee for your nationality. Australians will need to pay $30USD by credit card or equivalent in Sri Lankan rupees in cash.
For other nationalities, you can check the latest fees on the Sri Lankan immigration website. I’d suggest bringing extra cash in Rupees just in case.
Upon paying, take your receipt and head to the final Visa Issuing room.
Step 6: Wait to Receive Your Visa Extension
If you thought the previous rooms’ waiting times were ungodly, unfortunately, this last room is even worse. Keep yourself entertained while you wait to finally receive your passport with your shiny Sri Lankan visa extension sticker. Check the monitors for your token number. Once called, sign the release form and that’s it, you’re done!
Sri Lankan Visa Extension Tips:
Below I’ve compiled a few tips for Australians and other nationals looking to get Sri Lankan visa extensions.
- Make sure to print and pre-fill the form and bring a legitimate passport photo
- Arrive before opening time (8:30 AM)
- While there is a canteen at the extension office, it might be a good idea to bring food and snacks
- Bring a book or other form of entertainment
- DOUBLE CHECK your visa sticker to ensure that the agents have issued everything correctly after undergoing the extension ordeal!
More Sri Lankan Travel Guides and Articles
I hope that this guide to getting visas for Sri Lanka from Australia and other nations has been helpful in planning your trip to this incredible country. If you have any specific questions about the process, make sure to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you straight away.
For more Sri Lanka travel guides and blog posts, check out the list below.