Elephants taking a bath at Udawalawe, Sri Lanka
Asia Travel Planning

How To Get A Tourist Visa For Sri Lanka (2020 Update)

– This post originally appeared on www.whereintheworldisnico.com and has been optimized for this site.

– Until January 31, 2020, citizens of 48 countries (including the USA, Australia, U.K., South Korea, and EU countries) are exempt from paying the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) fee but are still required to apply for it before arrival. More info here.

Thinking about heading to Sri Lanka? Unless you are from the Maldives, Seychelles, or Singapore, you will need a visa to visit this beautiful island. The visa does cost money but is rather easy to get!

Sri Lanka, the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, nuzzled east from the tip of the Indian Peninsula, has been welcoming visitors from around the world for many years now. In fact, since the civil war between the government and rebels ended in the late 2000s, the island has seen tremendous development and an influx of tourists.

Even though I grew up in Sri Lanka with expat parents, I left the country in the mid- 2000s to attend college in Malaysia and the United States and only recently returned as a tourist and later on as a resident. 

If you are planning on coming to Sri Lanka, most countries, aside from visitors from Singapore, Maldives, & Seychelles, will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) prior to arriving on the island.

Fortunately, getting this form can be done 100% online and available within 24 hours. 

It is possible to get a visa on arrival at the Colombo International Airport but I highly recommend saving yourself from the hassle of trying to get one upon arrival when there is a sea of other visitors taxing the immigration officials.


The following instructions assume you are currently not in Sri Lanka already and are applying to gain entry into the country for the first time. If you are already in Sri Lanka and would like to extend your ETA, click here.

Here’s How To Get A 30 Day Double Entry ETA For Sri Lanka:

1. Start by going to this page and selecting I Agree at the bottom of the page. This link will take you to the English application. If you would like it in other languages, you can go here.

2. On the top left of the screen, select the correct option under Tourist ETA:

Apply for an Individual if you want to get an ETA just for yourself
Apply for a Group if you want to get an ETA for more than 1 person, including yourself
Apply for a Third Party if you want to get an ETA for someone else.

Sri Lanka Online ETA Landing Page

You can also get an ETA for a Business visit or Transit but I am going to focus on the 30-day Tourist Visa ETA.

3. Fill out the form in its entirety and hit Next at the bottom of the page. It is important to make sure the email address you enter in this form is accurate because that is where your ETA will be sent.

Sri Lanka Online ETA Step 1

4. Review all the information you just entered in this screen and hit Confirm when everything looks right. Then, hit OK twice at the following prompts:

Application fees will be waived for citizens from 48 countries listed here until January 31, 2020.

Normally, the application fee is US$20 for passport holders of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Countries and US$35 for all other nationalities (excluding Maldives, Seychelles, and Singapore)

Click here for the full fee breakdown.

5. In the Payment Options screen click on the icon representing the type of credit card you are going to use for payment and it will send you to the appropriate payment processing screen. The website accepts only MasterCard, Visa, or American Express.

Sri Lanka Online ETA Payment Method

6. Enter in your card details and hit Pay. 

7. Once everything is squared away, you’ll be sent to a confirmation screen with the ETA number. This confirmation will also be emailed to you. Keep a note of the ETA number because you will need that number if you encounter any issues.

8. In less than 24 hours, you will receive the official ETA in your email that you provided in step (3). You are now in possession of an official 30-day visa that has a double entry ability if you choose to visit nearby countries such as India or the Maldives within the 30 days.

Sri Lanka Online ETA Success Email

Enjoy your stay on the island! There’s so much to see and warm hospitality waiting for you!

Do you need to extend your stay in Sri Lanka? Read this.

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Nico Atienza

Chief Storyteller

An expat remote worker based in Colombo, Sri Lanka with a penchant for window seats on planes, travel, and technology that makes everyone’s lives easier.