Visa & Immigration
Tourists from over 80 countries who visit Sri Lanka are exempt from visa requirements and receive a free 30-day visa on arrival. Those who visit for purposes other than tourism should obtain prior visas from a Sri Lankan Consular Office in their home countries. There is a varying fee for the 30-day visa for nationals of other countries. The 30-day visa can be extended up to 90 days on payment of an additional fee. You’ll need to show a return or onward airline ticket out of Sri Lanka, along with proof of funds, such as travellers cheques or credit card, and provide a copy of the bio-data page of your passport and 02 photographs.
Department of Immigration and Emigration
(Sri Lanka Customs: www.customs.gov.lk )
You are allowed to bring into the country, duty free, 1.5 litres of spirits, two bottles of wine, a quarter-litre of toilet water and a small quantity of perfume and souvenirs with a value not exceeding US $250. Personal equipment such as cameras and laptop computers are allowed but must be declared on arrival. Such items must be taken with him/her upon the visitor’s departure from the country. Non-prescription drugs and pornography in any form are prohibited from being brought into the country and are legal offences.
When leaving the country you are allowed to take with you up to 10kg of tea duty free.
No antiques –[ antique, defined as anything more than 50 years old] – rare books, palm-leaf manuscripts and anthropological material can be exported with permission from
National Archives, 7.
Reid Avenue, Colombo 7.
Tel: +94-11-2694523,+94-11-2696917 www.archives.gov.lk andThe Director General,
Department of Archaeology,
Sir Marcus Fernando Mw,
+94 11 2692840/1 Tel. +94-11-2694727, +94-11-2667155 (www.archaeology.gov.lk)
Purchase and export without licence of any wild animal, bird or reptile, dead or alive, the export of parts of animals, birds or reptiles such as skins, horns, scales and feathers is prohibited. Occasional exports are however permitted exclusively for bona fide scientific purposes. There is a strict prohibition on the export of 450 specified plant species without special permits. The export of coral, shells or other protected marine products is also strictly prohibited.
Applications for special permission to export fauna should be made to,
Department of Wildlife Conservation,
382. New Kandy Road,
(+9411 25060380http://www.dwlc.lk ) and flora should be made toThe Director,
82 Rajamalwatta Road,
Sri Lanka’s Currency
The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee, one hundred cents making one rupee. As ibn most countries the CENT has depreciated beyond any value and one hardly gets a peep out of coins in the cents range. Currency notes are in the Rs.5000. R.s2000, Rs.1000, Rs.500, Rs.100, Rs.50, Rs.20 and Rs.10 denominations.
The lion watermark can be found on a genuine currency note and one needs to check one’s notes when doing any currency transaction lest you end up with counterfeits. Coins are in denominations up to Rs10.
Make sure you have plenty of lower denomination notes (Rs50, Rs100, Rs500), especially when traveling and you need to buy small items, fruit, and eat cheap meals, because change is often hard to come by apart from at hotels and big shops.
Foreign Currency Regulations
Visitors to Sri Lanka bringing in more than US$10,000 should declare the amount to the Customs on arrival. All unspent rupees converted from foreign currencies can be re-converted to the original currency on departure as long as encashment receipts can be produced.
Foreign currency can be changed at authorised exchanges, banks and hotels.
Banks are open from 0900 hrs to 1300 hours Monday to Friday. Some city banks close at 1500 hrs, while some are open on Saturday and Sunday. It’s easy to withdraw money across the island at ATMs using international credit cards or debit cards.
MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. American Express is also often accepted. The tourist board urges caution when paying by credit card due to the potential for fraud. Most hotels, restaurants and shopping centers accept credit cards. Some establishments may try to add a surcharge, which is illegal.
Photo Permits & Entrance Charges.
Sri Lanka is a photographer’s delight. However, permits are required before you can take photographs at certain sites. Entrance tickets to individual sites are available only from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. These tickets cover charges for photography, recording and parking. Rates are quoted in US Dollars and rupee exchange values are subject to fluctuation.
Photography: Restrictions & Permits
Sri Lanka is a tremendously photogenic island, so it’s hardly surprising that most tourists bring along a camera of some kind when they visit the country. The stunning landscapes, the captivating fauna and lush flora, and the stupendous archaeological remains provide great opportunities: a bonus is that Sri Lankans themselves love to be captured on film. They are likely to pose for you as eagerly as if they were being given a screen test for Hollywood’s next Box Office draw. So it’s easy to capture the traditional rural lifestyle. You’ll find villagers, farmers, fishermen and tea pickers jumping to it as soon as you get that camera out of your bag. It’s however a cinch that our politicians are likely to act with a bit more alacrity, especially those who have lost at elections. Your subjects will often ask to have copies of the pictures sent to them. This can be great because most of them have possibly not seen a picture of themselves, ever. It is also understandable that many will also expect a crisp dollar bill in return, after all, this is done in Hollywood too, right ? But you will find these simple and gentle people most endearing and eager to invite you for a cup[ make that glass]of black tea served with a piece of candy, so endearingly nice are they.
There are some important restrictions that apply to photography regarding Buddhist imagery. When you visit a temple or other religious site, remember that photography should not be carried out in a manner suggestive of a lack of respect. For instance, it is strictly forbidden to be photographed in front of or beside any statues and murals.
Tourists who wish to visit/and or photograph the principal ancient monuments in Sri Lanka are required to purchase a ticket from
212/1 Bauddhaloka Mawatha,
Tel:+94-11-2587912, +94-11-2500733, +94-11-2581944 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Central Cultural Fund offices in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Kandy.