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 01-04-2021), 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. However, since the start of October 2020, the number of infections in the country has quickly risen, especially in the district Polunnaruwa and in Colombo. On 1 April, 92,706 infections were reported with 483 deaths. Because not everyone can be tested for coronavirus, it cannot be said for certain whether these numbers paint an accurate picture of the reality of the situation.
Since 21 January 2021, tourists are allowed to enter Sri Lanka again under strict requirements. Since 17 February 2021, people that have been in the United Kingdom in the 14 days before their arrival in Sri Lanka are also allowed to enter. These tourists can only stay at hotels that have received a Safe and Secure level 1 certificate from the Sri Lanka government. Since 18 March, tourists who have been fully vaccinated can also enter the country again, without needing to stay at Safe and Secure level 1 hotels.
Sri Lanka has taken resolute measures to stop further spread of the coronavirus
Can I currently apply for a Sri Lanka visa?
Since 21 January 2021, applications for the tourist visa for Sri Lanka are being approved again. The visa has to be applied for before departure; it cannot be applied for on arrival in Sri Lanka. Currently, due to a technical problem, it is not possible to apply for a visa on e-Visa.co.uk. You can, however, already apply for the visa on the website of the Sri Lankan immigration service.
Strict rules apply for acquiring a visa. Travellers must have already booked a hotel certified as a Safe and Secure hotel level 1 by the Sri Lankan authorities. Additionally, an amount equal to 12 American dollars has to be paid each month you stay in Sri Lanka for a Covid-19 insurance, which covers an amount of at least 50,000 American dollars. Travellers must fill in a health form (Health Declaration Form) before departure. Furthermore, they must carry a negative PCR test result (in English) which was taken a maximum of 96 hours before departure. Finally, travellers are required to pay in advance for the PCR tests that will be taken in Sri Lanka. The costs per test are 40 American dollars.
The rules are more lenient for travellers who have been fully vaccinated at least 2 weeks before their arrival in Sri Lanka. On arrival, they must present proof of vaccination. If it is not in English, they must also carry one certified in English. Next, the traveller is transported to a quarantine hotel or centre where a PCR test is taken, and where the traveller must remain until the results are in. Once they arrive at their accomodation, they must inform local health authorities about their vaccination and show the PCR test result from the quarantine centre or hotel. On the seventh day after arrival, another PCR test must be taken. If tested negative, they will be granted permission to freely travel through the country.
What rules apply during the stay in Sri Lanka?
On arrival at the hotel in Sri Lanka, all travellers older than 12 years are tested for the coronavirus before check-in, including those that have already been vaccinated. A second PCR test is taken at the hotel five to seven days later. Travellers that are staying longer than 14 days must have a third test taken between day 10 and day 14. If tested positive, you will be isolated at the hotel and if necessary transported to the hospital. A negative test result means you do not have to go into isolation and you can freely make use of the hotel's facilities.
During the first 14 days of your stay, you will stay in a bubble of other individuals, with whom you can visit various locations in Sri Lanka. During these two weeks, you are not allowed to contact the local population outside this bubble. Wearing a mask and keeping one and a half metre distance from others is mandatory in public areas. You can change hotels during these 14 days, but only if that other hotel is also certified as Safe and Secure. After 14 days, you are allowed to contact the local community, but you are still advised not to shake hands or hug others, use public transportation as little as possible, pay contactless as much as possible and to regularly wash your hands.
Travellers returning to the United Kingdom from Sri Lanka must provide all of their travel details and be able to present a negative Covid-19 test result. This test must have been taken a maximum of 3 days before you are scheduled to depart for the UK. You will also be required to take 2 additional tests once you are in the United Kingdom, which must be booked before you arrive. Travellers returning from Sri Lanka are required to self-isolate for 10 days.
When is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka again?
Starting 21 January 2021, tourists are allowed to enter Sri Lanka under strict requirements. Business travellers are still subject to the travel ban. Although the Sri Lankan government is welcoming foreign tourists again, the British government currently still advises against travel to this country unless necessary.
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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.