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Everything you need to know about Sri Lanka’s ETA, Visa and Visa Extension

Sri Lanka is finally welcoming tourists again and that is something many of us were waiting for! This amazing island has been on our bucket list for quite a while now and we couldn’t wait to finally travel again. Travelling during the ongoing pandemic does bring some extra worries and regulations, but when travelling responsibly and safely we can finally enjoy the free life again. We did not want to miss out on any of the beautiful places or race through the country, so we decided to extend our 30-day Visa to buy us a little time. Due to the Coronavirus all travellers to Sri Lanka are advised to first obtain an ETA before arriving to Sri Lanka, this will ensure a 30-day Visa on arrival but is not extendable online beforehand. After a lot of research and uncertainty, we managed to get the Visa and extension. Read further to find out how we did it.

ETA application and Visa on arrival

Before entering Sri Lanka you need to apply for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) online. This application ensures you are allowed in the country and that you will receive a 30-day double entry Visa on arrival free of costs when paid for the ETA. The ETA application is very simple, you only need to fill in this online form and submit it on the official website of the government here. The ETA is electronic, so no stamp or label will be placed in your passport. You will get a confirmation and approval email. Ours seemed to be automatically approved with an email like this below:

You need to print this ETA approval notice and take it with you to the Visa desk by arrivals at the airport, where you will get your Visa. The costs for the application for the ETA is 35 USD. Note that the ETA is NOT a Visa, and is therefore not extendable online. To extend your Visa you need to go to the Department of Immigration & Emigration in Colombo before the end of your 30-day Visa period. 

Visa Extension

To extend your 30-day Visa you can do two of the following:

First, you have to be in the country with the Visa stamp in your passport. Once attained you can extend your Visa online using the Visa number in your passport via this link which will be approved in approximately 24 hours.

Your other option will be to go to the Department of Immigration & Emigration in Colombo. This is a little further out of the tourist centre of Colombo in Battaramulla. This is what we chose to do purely because we were in Colombo and didn’t want to take any chances with online approval.

The office opens at 8:30 and we advise to be there as early as possible to avoid the crowds in the Visa office. Traffic to Battaramulla can also be very busy so allow yourself (and your tuktuk driver) enough time to possibly break down or take a wrong turn just like ours. When you arrive, ask the officers to navigate you to the Visa office building (We didn’t even have to ask because we stood out like a sore thumb between all the locals with no tourist in sight). Walk up the small stairs and take the elevator to the 4th floor, and turn right to the Token Issuing Counter. Here you will receive a number and an application form (do not throw away this receipt, you will need this at every counter). We printed out and filled in the application form previously, which saved us a lot of hassle in the waiting room. You can download the Visit Visa Extension – Online fillable application form here.  You can ask to extend your Visa up to 3 months/90 days. Our Visa got extended even when we did not complete the full form; we “forgot” to fill in the second form with the requirements for the return air ticket (because we didn’t have any). 

You will also need to attach a passport photo. If you don’t have these with you, you can make these in the same room as the token issuing counter for 250 LKR for 4 photos. After filling in the form and attaching your passport photo you can walk to the next room across the hall to the Application Acceptance Area to deliver the form and your passport. Then you will go back to the first room to the Shroff Counter to pay for your application. Most European countries (including the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany) will pay 100 USD or 21,000 LKR. After paying you will walk another 10 meters to the next waiting room where you can enjoy a potential Johnny English movie in slow motion whilst you wait for your application to be approved. When your number is called, collect your passport at the Issuing Counter and you are ready to go and enjoy your extended stay in beautiful Sri Lanka! For us the whole process took 1.5 hours, considering we were one of the first, hand-in of the forms opened at 9:00am, and collecting of the Visa opens at 10:00am. We were guided every step of the way by the staff, so don’t worry if the whole process seems daunting to you.

Please note: This information is based on our own experience in November 2021 and some extra Corona-related regulations could be in place.  

Now, if you’re in Colombo to get your Visa Extension then you should read our travel guide to visiting Colombo to get a few hints and tips.

Travelling Translated

Travelling Translated

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