Skip to main content

Cookies on the DFA website

We use cookies to give the best experience on our site while also complying with Data Protection requirements. Continue without changing your settings, and you'll receive cookies, or change your cookie settings at any time.

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

Overview

General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation:

Avoid non-essential travel until further notice:

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises against all non-essential travel overseas until further notice. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.

If you are currently travelling outside of Ireland:

Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate. For this reason, where commercial flights are still an option, we recommend that people who wish to do so make arrangements to return to Ireland as soon as possible.

We are working with airlines to show maximum flexibility to those passengers who need to change their existing flight arrangements. Where commercial flights are no longer available, we are working side-by-side with our international partners to identify alternative options where possible.

It may not be feasible or possible for everyone who wants to travel back to Ireland to do so in the short term. We ask Irish citizens remaining abroad to make decisions that safeguard their health and well-being and that they follow local public health and safety requirements.  We ask that they remain in close contact with family, friends and their local Irish Embassy or Consulate. 

We know that this is a stressful situation for citizens and our embassy network is working around the clock to provide people with all the information and assistance that we can, bearing in mind the situation is unfolding across multiple countries and is not one under our control. 

What to do on entering Ireland from abroad:

The Irish Health Authorities require anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, to restrict their movements on arrival for 14 days. Check the Irish Health Service COVID-19 Advice Page for full information on these requirements. This includes Irish residents. Exemptions are in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff.

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 especially their Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Security status

Avoid non-essential travel.

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.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sri Lankan Government has suspended the visa-on-arrival system. Any visitors with a compelling reason to visit Sri Lanka must obtain a visa in advance.

The Sri Lankan Government decision, and more information on Sri Lankan visas can be found here: https://www.mfa.gov.lk/notice-suspension-of-visa-on-arrival/

The Sri Lankan Government has instituted a curfew in some areas of the country, and there are restrictions on incoming passengers. Some airlines have ceased flying from Colombo. Irish citizens should follow the instructions of local authorities and confirm or rebook their flights home. Any Irish citizen who wishes to contact the Embassy can do so via the Embassy contact tab above.

Cruise ship passengers will not be permitted to disembark in Sri Lanka. All persons having travelled to Italy, South Korea and Iran in the last 14 days will be quarantined for a period of 14 days. 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. Health screenings have been introduced at all international airports. If you display symptoms of infection, you may be quarantined or kept in hospital.

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. 

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

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

Tel: +94 11 258 7895
Fax: +94 11 259 8705/06

Email: Email us