Indians are not very lucky when it comes to visa related matters. But then there are certain tourist visas which are comparatively easier for Indians to get. Sri Lanka is one such country. In fact, it is one of the easiest Tourist visas Indians can get. Here is how you can get a Sri Lankan Tourist visa if you are an Indian. This also applies for the people from SAARC countries. So all you have to do is apply online for Sri Lankan Electronic Travel Authorization.
What to know before Applying
As it was already mentioned, it is almost certain that you will get a Tourist visa for Sri Lanka. So you can apply for it either before or after buying a flight ticket.
You don’t have to worry that your visa will get rejected by chance after you have bought a flight ticket. So whenever you find a great deal, go buy the flight ticket and then apply for the visa. Port of departure, airline and flight number are asked in the application form. But they are not mandatory fields.
♦ Make sure that you have a passport that is valid for no less than 6 months from the date of arrival.
♦ Find/book a hotel where you want to stay when you arrive in Sri Lanka, so that you can use the address of that hotel as your “Address in Sri Lanka”. Check out the last part of this post for a hotel suggestion.
Applying for Sri Lankan Tourist visa /ETA
To be able to travel to Sri Lanka, what you need is an ETA – Electronic Travel Authorization. For simpler communication let’s consider ETA as the visa itself. As per the official website, ETA is Electronic Travel Authorization granted online through the web based visa system implemented by the Department of Immigration and Emigration, Sri Lanka.
An ETA is issued only for Short Visits to Sri Lanka such as 30 days or less, for Business, Tourism and Transit purposes. The ETA is initially limited to 30 days from the date of arrival, but it may be extended.
Steps for Applying ETA
- Go to the Official Website for Sri Lankan ETA
- A popup window might show up. Click ‘Ok’ after reading it. Though the information isn’t relevant to Indians
- Click “English”/ “Hindi” on the left side from the language options
- From the Tabs on top, click “Apply”
- A new window will open up, read the instructions carefully and click “I agree”
- On the left side, you can find a box with a heading “Tourist ETA”
- Click “Apply for an Individual” or “Apply for Group” depending on your requirement
- Fill in all the details and click next in the case of “Apply for an Individual”
- Fill in the details, click next and “Add member”, in case of “Apply for Group”
- Once all the required fields are filled in, click next and Review the form
- If all the information is correct, proceed to payment; otherwise edit and proceed to payment
- Visa Fee for Indians is 20USD (after the Bank service charge you will pay $21)
- You can pay using Visa, Master and American Express Cards only
- If you don’t have any such cards, you will have to go to Sri Lanka Overseas Missions and apply for ETA. New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai have office. Find the address from here.
- Once the payment is done, you will receive an ETA acknowledgment receipt
- Now you have to wait for the processing of your ETA
- Within 48 hours, you will receive your Sri Lankan Tourist ‘ETA Approval notice’ to your given email
FAQs regarding the Application form
♦ Intended Arrival Date*
An ETA holder is entitled to enter Sri Lanka within three months from the date of issue of the ETA. So you can start planning accordingly and find an intended arrival date.
♦ Purpose of Visit*
Since this post is about ETA for tourists, the purpose of visit is ‘Sightseeing or Holidaying‘.
♦ Port of Departure
The airport from which you are flying to Sri Lanka. (In my case it was Chennai International airport).
The airline company with whom you are flying, if you have booked your tickets already. Keep it blank if you haven’t booked a flight. (In my case it was Indigo).
♦ Flight/Vessel Number
If you have already booked a flight, check for the Flight number. It will be something like “6E1203”. If you haven’t booked a flight yet, leave it blank.
♦ Address in Sri Lanka*
Address of the hotel where you are staying as soon as you arrive. If you are visiting friends or family, then use that address.
♦ For Group ETA
Fill in your details on the first page and click next. It will take you to another page where you have to fill in ‘Member information’. Once you filled in all the information, click on the checkbox and confirm that all the information provided is correct and then press “Add member”. Repeat this procedure to add all the members.
Receiving the ETA email
Once you make the payment, you will receive the first email stating “Your ETA application to visit Sri Lanka has been received.” along with the reference number.
Once everything is fine and your ETA is approved, you will receive a second mail with a header “ETA APPROVAL NOTICE.” This is the actual letter you need when entering Sri Lanka.
The email goes like this, “We are pleased to inform that your application for ETA has been approved providing that the particulars submitted by you in regard to relevant particulars, including passport number, nationality, and the date of birth are correctly entered.”
In this mail you can find your ETA Number, Validity of ETA, type and number of entries, purpose of visit etc. You can either take a print out of this email or save it on your phone when you arrive at your port of entry.
Arriving in Sri Lanka
While arriving at Sri Lankan immigration, it is advisable to keep a copy of the ETA approval with you to be produced at the port of entry in Sri Lanka. But even the copy on your smartphone will work. I personally didn’t carry a printed copy.
You should also have a confirmed return ticket and Sufficient funds to meet the expenses during the stay.
Personally I felt Sri Lankan immigration was one of the easiest I had come across so far. It was very swift and hassle free. They only checked my passport. After going through the information on their system, an entry was stamped onto my passport. There was not much questioning or cross checking of documents. (This was on June 2019).
Practical Tips for Sri Lanka
- While booking flights from India, Chennai and Madurai airports offers the cheapest flights to Colombo, Sri Lanka. If you can book from these airports, up and down flight cost will come under ₹10,000/- Check Skyscanner for the best deals.
- Book a hotel near the airport with Free airport transfer for your arrival day’s stay. I have booked Oreeka Hotels for my first stay. They give Free airport transfer along with the room booking. Add breakfast and dinner to your room booking if you are staying here, as it is slightly away from the town.
- If you are comfortable with riding a two wheeler, rent a scooter from Negombo. That way traveling around is much cheaper rather than relying on Tuktuks or taxis. Also, it offers immense freedom. In Sri Lanka, they drive the same way as in India.
- I rented a scooter from Shane Tours, at Lewis Place, Negombo. They actually delivered the scooter to my hotel. Here is their Phone: +94 77 858 0282
- If you are up for a road trip adventure, rent out a Tuk-tuk (rickshaw) and go all around Sri Lanka. You can soon read about my tuktuk adventure here.
I hope you will plan a holiday in Sri Lanka soon. If you have any doubts do get in touch.
Sri Lanka is one of those destinations where Indians can have a holiday under ₹50,000/- Another such destination is Malaysia. If you want to know the procedure for a special Malaysian visa for Indians, check out the post on eNTRI visa.
- Official Sri Lanka ETA Website
- List of Sri Lanka Overseas Missions in India
- Dept of Immigration and Emigration, Sri Lanka