Drone photo of Blue beach island in south Sri Lanka at sunset

How to Apply for a Sri Lanka E-Visa: Step-By-Step Guide (2024)

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Planning on applying for a tourist visa for Sri Lanka? Here is what you need to know.

Sri Lanka official e-visa portal
Old Sri Lanka ETA website

In mid-April of this year, Sri Lanka announced that it was retiring the former ETA system (or Electronic Travel Authorization – essentially an e-visa), and that it was outsourcing the e-visa handling to a company called VFS Global – an organization that handles visa processing for many governments as well as providing Schengen visa services.

New official Sri Lanka e-visa website

Some kerfuffle ensued as the old ETA website unceremoniously simply returned a 404 error instead of being redirected, and it appeared that the single entry ETA had been scrapped – not to mention that it seemed that the visa fees were doubled to US$100. The immigration website and consulate websites hadn’t been updated, and travelers were unsure as to whether the new Sri Lanka e-visa website was legitimate and official.

There was also some confusion over the pricing: the difference in the old ETA and new e-visa is that the old ETA allowed double entry within 30 days and cost approximately US$50 (previously US$35 a few years ago), whereas the new “Standard Visitor Visa” allows double entry within 60 days and costs just under US$100 once you add on the new service fees charged by VFS Global.

Following feedback, the government announced on May 7th 2024 that it was reinstating the basic, single-entry tourist visa priced at US$50.

Though it had a somewhat rocky start, the new online Sri Lanka visa system has found its footing and it is relatively fuss-free. Read on for the steps to apply for your Sri Lanka visa online.

You may also like: Important things to know before traveling to Sri Lanka and this 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary for first time visitors

1. Register for an account

Screenshot of Sri Lanka e visa system step 1

First of all, you will need to register for an account on the Sri Lanka e-visa website here: https://www.srilankaevisa.lk/, note that this is the only official online visa website for Sri Lanka.

A one-time password will be sent to your e-mail address, input the OTP and hit the “Sign Up” button to create an account.

2. Choose type of visa

Screenshot of Sri Lanka e visa system step 2

There are now a few different options for tourist visas as well as business visas – for the purposes of this guide I will focus on tourist visas. Note that if you are applying for a business visa you likely need to provide a company invitation letter.

Types of Sri Lanka visas available (accurate as of July 2024):

Screenshot of types of Sri Lanka e-visas available
Type of tourist visaValidityEntry TypeCovered ActivitiesSri Lanka E-Visa Fees (not including service fees – an additional US$10 or US$18.50. Does not include charges towards payment gateway, taxes and other transaction fees)
Single entry for 30 days30 daysSingle– Sightseeing/Holidaying
– Visiting friends and relatives
– Medical treatment including Ayurveda and Yoga
– Participating in sports events competitions and activities relating to cultural performances
US$40 (US$50 once fees added)
Standard Visitor Visa6 months with 60 days stay limitDoubleSame as aboveUS$75
1 Year – Multiple Entry1 year with 90 days stay limitMultipleSame as aboveUS$200
2 Years – Multiple Entry2 years with 180 days stay limitMultipleSame as aboveUS$300
5 Years – Multiple Entry5 years with 180 days stay limitMultipleSame as aboveUS$500
10 Years – Multiple Entry10 years with 180 days stay limitMultipleSame as aboveUS$1000

Looking for more Sri Lanka travel tips and destination guides? Click here for everything you need to help plan your trip to Sri Lanka!

3. Upload documents

Screenshot of Sri Lanka e visa system step 3

The next step involves uploading your passport photo and passport bio page – note that the system only accepts JPEG files up to 1 MB in size, and the passport photo background needs to be white coloured. You will then be asked to crop your passport photo.

4. Verify your passport details

Screenshot of Sri Lanka e visa system step 4

Next, you will need to verify your passport details which are auto-generated from the passport bio page that you just uploaded to the system – just make sure that the details are accurate.

Read more: Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka? Here is my take

5. Input contact details

Sri Lanka e visa system step 5 contact details

The next step of the Sri Lanka visa application is pretty straightforward – just input your contact details. Note that only the fields marked with an asterisk are required.

6. Provide additional details

Sri Lanka e visa system step 6 additional details

Essentially what this step of the process is asking for is your arrival and departure flight info, and where you will be staying in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka e visa system step 7 additional applicant

After this step, scroll down and you can add another applicant by clicking the “Add Applicant” button at the bottom of the page – handy if you are traveling with family and friends. As far as I can tell, children will need their own submission.

7. Review application and payment

Sri Lanka e visa system step 8 review application

Children are charged the same as adults under this new system. You can click on “review my application” to double check that all the details are accurate, then complete payment for the application.

Sri Lanka e visa system step 9 payment

The payment gateway currently only accepts JCB, Mastercard and Visa – I was charged US$150 for 3 people.

Screenshot of Sri Lanka e visa system step 10 payment details

Once the payment is complete, you will be taken to a confirmation page with the application reference number (the same thing will be e-mailed to you). This is not the e-visa.

Screenshot of Sri Lanka e visa system application tracking

With this information you can also track the status of your application online.

8. Wait for the Sri Lanka electronic visa approval

Sri Lanka electronic visa approval notice

So, how long does it take for the Sri Lanka e-visa to be approved? I submitted my online Sri Lanka visa application and received an e-mail confirmation that my “…visa application is currently being reviewed by the Sri Lanka Immigration and is in process” 3 hours later. Another 4 hours later and I received the approved e-visa and a PDF attachment in my e-mail inbox – so all-in-all, my electronic Sri Lanka visa was issued in under 8 hours.

That being said, it can take the Sri Lanka electronic visa 24 hours and up to process and it doesn’t seem to be consistent across the board – some travelers report that they received their approval the next day, while others say that it took a few business days to receive their approved e-visa.

I would therefore recommend applying at least 1-2 weeks ahead of your flight. To save time at the airport you should also fill out the digital arrival form as paper forms may not always be handed out in-flight.

Is it easier or harder to apply for a Sri Lanka E-Visa now?

Railway in Ahangama town in southern Sri Lanka

Sure, the old ETA system looked a bit dated and wasn’t always the most user-friendly system – payment processing issues were also common. But it worked. And the processing time was always fairly swift, I used to receive the approved ETA within 24 hours.

The new Sri Lanka online visa system is much more detailed than the former “ETA” system with more steps, and takes a little longer to complete but the process is clear and concise. I had no issues with payment unlike with the former ETA system.

However, in the past, the visa fee was waived for children under the age of 12 – the new visa system charges children the same amount as adults. On the upside, the new system provides far more options for multiple entry visas that have longer validities.

Sri Lanka visa on arrival

Sri Lanka visa on arrival counters

Travelers from eligible countries can also opt to apply for a 30-day Sri Lanka visa on arrival at the international airport. However, the lines can be significant – especially during the peak travel season – so I don’t usually recommend this option for people who are arriving late at night or traveling with children and/or the elderly.

Important notes about the Sri Lanka e-visa

  • You can apply for an e-visa 6 months before your date of entry into Sri Lanka. If you apply more than 6 months before your trip your visa may not be valid.
  • Ensure that your passport has at least 6 months validity remaining.
  • If you are a passport holder of one of these countries you are exempt from obtaining a tourist standard 6-month e-visa to visit Sri Lanka: Singapore, Maldives, Seychelles, Czech Republic. Here is a detailed visa exemption list.
  • You can apply for a transit e-visa waiver which is valid for 2 days.
  • While it used to be possible to extend your Sri Lanka e-visa/ETA, according to the official FAQ it states that you can no longer extend a Sri Lanka e-visa.

You may also find these guides helpful:

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