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Sri Lanka

If you’re travelling to Sri Lanka, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Natural Disasters and Climate
  • Additional Information
  • Embassy Contact

Overview

General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation

General advice to avoid non-essential travel and ‘Normal Precautions’ list of exemptions:

In accordance with Government policy, which is based on official public health advice, the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.

Travel to a very limited set of locations is exempted from this advice. Individuals arriving into Ireland from these locations will not be required to restrict their movements upon entry. These locations currently have a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) security status rating. As of 4 August 2020, these locations are:

  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Norway
  • Slovakia

Inclusion on the list is based on the current epidemiological situation and related public health information in each location. The list and related travel advice will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, based on advice from officials, including public health experts. Any updates or changes will be based on Government decisions. The latest updates will always be uploaded first to this General COVID-19 Travel Advisory. Country-specific tabs will be updated subsequently, and as quickly as possible, but this advisory is the primary source of information for the latest version of the list. The above list was updated on 4 August following the latest review.

If you are considering travelling outside of Ireland:

Irish citizens travelling to locations with a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) rating are advised to follow the public health guidelines of the local health authorities and to continue to practice physical distancing measures, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette etc. The security rating for all other locations remains unchanged at either to ‘avoid non-essential travel’ (“orange”) or to ‘do not travel’ (“red”).

The purpose of the Department’s Travel Advice is to provide information to the general public so that individuals can make informed decisions for themselves.  The COVID19 pandemic continues to accelerate internationally, and there are significant risks associated with international travel. Citizens should be aware of the possible limitations to any consular assistance that could be provided. Any citizens who are considering travel abroad are advised to monitor closely our travel advice and we recommend that citizens download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. Citizens travelling abroad should also register with their local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Should you need to travel for essential reasons, you should inform yourself about any requirements in place in the destination to which you are travelling.  Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate as scheduled. Testing and restrictions may be imposed or may already be in place in other countries. It is important to check with your insurance provider on coverage at this time.

What to do on entering Ireland from abroad:

The Irish Authorities advise anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland and individuals arriving in Ireland from locations with a security rating of ‘normal precautions’ (“green”), to restrict their movements for 14 days, and this includes citizens and residents returning to Ireland. Restricting your movements means staying indoors in one location and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. To ensure that this is being observed all passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are obliged to complete a mandatory Public Health Passenger Locator Form and to submit it to the relevant authority at their port of entry. For further details please see the Irish Government Advice Page. Exemptions are also in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff. Check the Irish Government Advice Page for full information on these requirements and further advice on returning from abroad.

Where to go for more information:

We continue to make updates to our online travel advice for over 200 countries and recommend that you download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. If abroad you should register with your local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Overview

Security status

Avoid non-essential travel.

Security Status Last Updated: 16 March 2020

Latest Travel Alerts

COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus

Emergency responses to the Covid-19 crisis in many countries have included restrictions of flights to/from Europe; imposition of new mandatory quarantine arrangements and new restrictions affecting the admission of Irish people travelling to and within the Asia Pacific region.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade strongly advises against any non–essential travel to the region until further notice.

For more information, please see the latest update on our webpage.

A number of cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in Sri Lanka.

All international airports in Sri Lanka are closed for the operation of inward international commercial passenger flights (i.e. arrivals) until further notice; however, some airlines including Qatar Airways and Sir Lankan Airlines are operating outward flights on an irregular basis should you wish to return home.

The Sri Lankan Government has relaxed its curfew measures in most areas of the country. However, overnight curfew measures and social distancing rules remain in place, while Sri Lankan authorities have quarantined a number of towns where cases have been recorded or there is a perceived heightened risk of the spread of the disease. These quarantine zones may be instituted at very short notice, so we recommend Irish citizens should follow the instructions of local authorities at all times and closely monitor local news sources. Any Irish citizen who wishes to contact the Embassy can do so via the Embassy contact tab above.

The Government of Sri Lanka has requested that all foreign nationals on tourist or business visas, and expatriates involved in the tourism industry should register themselves on the following website: https://register.sltda.gov.lk/.

Cruise ship passengers will not be permitted to disembark in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan authorities have banned the entry of citizens originating from certain countries and have instituted a mandatory 14 day quarantine in respect of others. The list of countries is regularly reviewed by the Government of Sri Lanka, so please contact your tour operator or airline company for information on the latest travel restrictions.

See links below for details. 

Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health

World Health Organisation [WHO]

If you are in Sri Lanka, you should monitor developments regularly and follow the advice of local authorities. Anyone requiring information on Coronavirus can call a 24 hour hotline established by the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health at +94710170717. You can also contact the Police Headquarters on 011 244 4480 / 011 597 8720 or by calling 1999.

Be alert to common signs of infection: respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms.

HSE medical advice to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 is below.

Do:
• wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
• put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands

Don’t:
• touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Additional information on COVID-19 can be found via the following links:

HSE

HPSC

ECDC

World Health Organisation

Terrorist Attacks

A number of explosions occurred in Sri Lanka on Sunday, 21 April 2019, primarily targeting hotels and churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa. The attacks caused the death of at least 250 people including foreign visitors.

Following these attacks, the Government of Sri Lanka has taken a number of steps to counteract the threat of further attacks. You should cooperate with the local security forces, closely monitor local news for updates on the security situation and avoid large crowds. The State of Emergency has been lifted and most travel restrictions have now been removed.

Elections

A General Election will likely take place in Sri Lanka in the coming months. We advise all Irish citizens to avoid political rallies, public gatherings and demonstrations, as these may turn violent at short notice. Please follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local news sources to avoid potentially dangerous events and locations.

Emergency Assistance     

Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in Sri Lanka, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Honorary Consul in Colombo.

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Sri Lanka before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems when you’re in Sri Lanka, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

EU DIRECTIVE ON CONSULAR PROTECTION

Under the EU Consular Protection Directive, Irish nationals may seek assistance from the Embassy or Consulate of any other EU member state in a country where there is no Irish Embassy or permanent representation.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates   
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and Security

Safety and security

Elections

A General Election will likely take place in Sri Lanka in the coming months. We advise all Irish citizens to avoid political rallies, public gatherings and demonstrations, as these may turn violent at short notice. Please follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local news sources to avoid potentially dangerous events and locations.

Terrorist Attacks

A number of explosions occurred in Sri Lanka on Sunday, 21 April, primarily targeting hotels and churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa. The attacks caused the death of at least 250 people including foreign visitors.

We advise Irish citizens to exercise a high degree of caution in Sri Lanka at this time.

Regional travel

Foreign nationals, with the exception of foreign media crews, no longer need to have permission from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence before travelling to the northern districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaittivu and Vavuniya.

However, there is still a heavy military presence in the north and north-east of Sri Lanka. Freedom of movement is possible, but if you’re travelling to the north, you may still come across access restrictions around military establishments and areas where demining operations continue. You can get up-to-date information on access to a particular village or area from the Sri Lankan Military Liaison Officer (tel: +94 11 2430 860).

Landmines

Unexploded mines and ordnances can be a hazard in the north and north-east of Sri Lanka so obey orders from the security forces and signs warning about the danger from landmines. Don’t stray off main routes, particularly in rural areas, and always check with local security authorities before travelling to affected regions.

Crime

While most visits to Sri Lanka are trouble-free, watch out for petty crime such as pick-pocketing, especially in crowded places. Although not very frequent, there have been reports of violent crime against foreigners so always take sensible precautions:

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Credit card fraud has been reported in Sri Lanka so take care of your credit and ATM cards. Use cash wherever possible and only use ATMs attached to banks or major hotels. Don’t let your credit card leave your sight when you use it.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Sri Lanka, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Honorary Consulate of Ireland in Colombo or the Irish Embassy in New Delhi in India if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Sri Lanka, you should be careful. Poor standards of driving and bad road maintenance lead to frequent traffic accidents. If you want to drive, an Irish or international licence alone will not suffice – you’ll need to bring your international driving permit and a Sri Lankan recognition permit to drive in Sri Lanka. You can get a recognition permit at the AA in Colombo. Make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance

Hiring a vehicle

Hiring a car is cheap in tourist areas. However, if you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Public transport

Buses and trains are particularly dangerous modes of transport in Sri Lanka. Consider taking taxis instead, as they’re cheap in tourist areas.

Water safety

Many beaches and coastal areas in Sri Lanka have strong currents, dangerous rip tides and big surf. Always seek local advice before entering the water and be alert to the dangers.

Local Laws and Customs

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Personal identification

It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times, as Sri Lankan laws require persons to carry photo identification with them at all times.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession, dealing and trafficking drugs are severe and include the death penalty. 

Homosexuality

Homosexuality is illegal in Sri Lanka. Caution and discretion are advised at all times.

Clothing

Be sensitive to local norms of dress and sensibilities. Nude or topless sunbathing is generally not allowed, and you should dress modestly when visiting religious shrines or temples.

Photography

You are not allowed to take photographs near government or military establishments. Be respectful when visiting religious shrines or temples. In 2012 three foreign nationals were sentenced to six months in prison with hard labour, suspended for five years, and given a fine for wounding the religious feelings of Buddhists by taking pictures that were deemed insulting. You should not pose for photographs with a statue of Buddha.

Natural Disasters and Climate

Natural disasters and climate

Rain and flooding

Inland flooding and landslides happen frequently in the rainy seasons. Be aware that there are two different rainy seasons in Sri Lanka. It is May to August in the South West, November to February in the North East.

During the rainy season you should consult your tour operator or accommodation provider before travelling and monitor local media for weather warnings.

Tsunami

The December 2004 tsunami killed more than 30,000 people and caused extensive damage in the south western, southern and eastern coasts of Sri Lanka. Be alert for tsunami warnings that may be issued by the authorities. You can also learn more about what to do in the event of a tsunami by checking out the International Tsunami Information Centre website.

Additional Information

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

All holiday travellers to Sri Lanka must have Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before entering to Sri Lanka. You can learn more about ETAs here

If you’re unsure about the entry requirements for Sri Lanka, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy of Sri Lanka in London. You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Passports

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you when travelling to Sri Lanka and you should carry your passport at all times during your stay.

Health

Always check with your health care provider before you travel to Sri Lanka about vaccinations or other preventative treatments you may need.

Malaria and Dengue fever

Malaria and Dengue fever are risks in Sri Lanka. Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by covering up and using mosquito repellents.

Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

We do not have an Embassy in Sri Lanka, please contact Embassy of Ireland India.

Embassy of Ireland
C17 Malcha Marg
Chanakyapuri
New Delhi 110 021
India

Tel: +91 11 4940 3200
Fax: +91 11 4059 1898

Monday to Friday 09:00-13:30 and 14:30-17:00

Contact us

Honorary Consulate Contact

Mr. Manik Pereira
Honorary Consul of Ireland
Pership House (ONE)
No. 72C Bauddhaloka Mawatha
Colombo 04
Sri Lanka

Assistant: Ms. Nilima Ranaweerasinghe,
PA to Co-Chairperson (Pership)
Ireland Consulate – Colombo

Tel: +94 11 4523900 /+94 11 2587895
Tel: Mob:+ 94 773 936126
Fax: +94 112 598705

Email: Email us