In order to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19), the government of Sri Lanka has taken far-reaching measures. These have serious consequences for tourists and business travellers that want to visit Sri Lanka. In this article (updated on 02-04-2020) you can read the current state of affairs and advice regarding your travel plans.
How serious is the coronavirus problem in Sri Lanka?
Currently, there are relatively few cases of coronavirus in Sri Lanka. On 2 April, 146 infections were reported with 3 casualties. Because not everyone can be tested for the coronavirus, it cannot be said for certain whether these numbers paint an accurate number of the reality of the situation. Despite this relatively low number, the government of Sri Lanka has taken exceptionally strict measures. A travel ban has been put in place for all tourists and business travellers, even if they possess a valid visa.
Sri Lanka has taken resolute measures to stop the further spread of the coronavirus
Can I currently apply for a Sri Lanka visa?
It is currently still possible to submit a visa application for Sri Lanka. However, new applications are not yet processed by the immigration service. The visa applications will be put on hold until the travel ban of Sri Lanka is lifted. Once that happens, all applications will be processed right away and visas will likely be issued in a matter of days.
I already have an ETA or Sri Lanka visa, can I still use it?
When a visa application for Sri Lanka is approved, an ETA / Visa is issued with a validity term of half a year. Within those six months, you can enter the country twice on the same visa. However, both the first and second stay must lie within 30 days of the first arrival in Sri Lanka. This means that once a visa has been issued, it no longer matters which expected date of arrival was filled in on the application form.
Because of the coronavirus, it is currently not possible to travel to Sri Lanka. However, if the validity term of the visa hasn’t expired yet after the travel ban is lifted, then the visa can likely still be used. Take note: the government of Sri Lanka has not officially confirmed this yet. To be on the safe side, it is recommended that you consult this page, which is updated regularly, after the travel ban has been lifted and before travelling to Sri Lanka.
I’m still in Sri Lanka, what do I do?
It is currently advised to leave Sri Lanka as soon as you are able to. There are curfews in place (different per region) making movement extremely limited. Likewise, almost all flights to and from the island have been cancelled. This means it can be very difficult to leave Sri Lanka if you have not been able to do so yet. Because this applies to a large number of travellers, the government of Sri Lanka has announced that all visas of people currently still in the country are automatically extended until 12 May, free of charge. The British government is working with airlines to bring British travellers back. For more information on the possibility of repatriation flights, visit the government's foreign travel advice page. Consular help is no longer provided by telephone.
When is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka again?
Travelling to Sri Lanka is currently virtually impossible, as almost all flights to and from the country have been cancelled. It is currently not known how long the travel ban of the Sri Lankan government will last. Until now, it has always been extended by one week. It is expected that the current measures in place will be extended in this manner at least several more times. In addition to the government's travel ban, there are also airlines that have already announced that they will not be flying to and from Sri Lanka for a longer period of time. For instance, SriLankan Airlines has cancelled all flights until 21 April. Regularly consult this page on the coronavirus in Sri Lanka to stay up to date on developments.
Disclaimer: this article has been put together with great care and is regularly updated. Nevertheless, no rights can be derived from the information on this page. The situation regarding the coronavirus changes rapidly and information from various government sources are not always aligned. Before going on your trip, check with your airline about the current state of affairs regarding travelling to Sri Lanka on an ETA or different visa type.