Resources - Travel Tips

Visas for Sri Lankans

Visa, Health and Immigration

With a few exceptions, most countries in the world require Sri Lankan passport holders to have a visa stamped on their travel document prior to arrival.

There is no legal right to a visa, and we are not an accredited visa advice company. Please read our disclaimer.

We cannot and do not influence, expedite nor guarantee visas. We offer a logistics service for our regular and legitimate clients, and it is the client's responsibility to submit all documents requested by them, on time.

We do not provide "dummy itinerary letters" or "dummy hotel bookings".

We advise you to check with us on visa requirements prior to ticketing, as sometimes a long lead time is required to process the visa. For others, you can collect your stamped passport the same evening. Please obtain your visas early.

If you have dual citizenship or permanent residency of another country, and passport or PR holders of that country also require a visa for the country that you are applying to, your application will be referred to the Consulate in that other country. This process can take about 7-30 days, and additional fees may be payable. Please check with us even if you do have a non-Sri Lankan passport, and are applying in Sri Lanka.

Certain consulates require ticketing prior to issuing the visa, others vice versa. It may be necessary to obtain your visa at Consulates in India, Thailand or Singapore, if the respective country is not diplomatically represented in Sri Lanka.

Airside Transit Visas for Sri Lanka passport holders are required for Hong Kong, for each entry. Special TWOV (Transit WithOut Visa) arrangements are available on Cathay Pacific, for holders of valid UK, USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Schengen visas only.

Visas can vary in duration from single entry for the specified period of travel, to 10-year multiple entry.

Schengen visas

The Schengen Common Area visa rules state that you have to obtain your visa from the Embassy or Consulate representing your main destination. If, and only if this cannot be identified, you should go to the Embassy representing your first point of entry into the Schengen area. Multiple entry visas are not required if you are travelling within Schengen countries, as long as you do not exit the Area. A transit in a non-Schengen state is considered a transit, so you will require a multiple entry visa. Once the visa has been granted, a Schengen visa allows the holder to enter into, and depart from, any country in the Schengen area, strictly within the validity of the visa. It is very important to enter the area on or after the first date of validity, and exit the area, on or before the last date of validity. Any exceptions may be subject to denied boarding or a deportation stamp.

Schengen countries now allow use of visas in previous passports, as long as the previous passport remains valid (if replaced due to lack of pages, and as long as the previous passport is carried). US visas are usually five year multiple entry visas (with limits on each stay), UK Visit visas are usually valid for multiple entry and for a maximum stay of six months, and there are also 2 year, 5 year and 10 year visas for qualified travellers (with a maximum stay of six months per stay) at a higher fee. Canada visas are usually granted until the last day of validity of the current passport. Schengen visas (called Category C) do not allow a continuous stay of over 90 days in the area within a 180 day period, and remuneration or unpaid work is not permitted. A first Schengen visa is usually granted for the precise period of travel for tourists, with a few exceptions. Applicants may be requested to report to the Embassy to show entry and exit stamps after their return to Sri Lanka, in some cases.

List of Embassies and High Commissions

Before you get your visa, you should have a valid Passport. Please ensure that your occupation is clearly stated, except in the case of small children. For more information on this: please see Sri Lanka Immigration.


Purpose of the documentation

The purpose of the documentation is to show that -

1. You have demonstrable ties in Sri Lanka to return to, which can be personal, professional, family, property, business, social and financial;

2. Either you or your local or foreign sponsor have sufficient funds in order to support yourself without recourse to work, if you are applying for a tourist visa. The requirements for other visas are different. A sponsor does not mean a host, who is merely offering their residence for your accommodation, but someone who is funding your trip for a specific purpose. Your holiday should be affordable: you should not be spending a substantial amount of your annual income, so that you will be financially secure after your trip. Provide a  reasonable trip budget to ascertain this

3. You have a clear plan for your trip whether it be business, tourist or staying with friends or relatives; from day to day. You may choose to include your initial correspondence for meetings, tours, domestic flights, or other tentative bookings relevant to your itinerary.

If the standard documentation does not demonstrate these objectives sufficiently, you should provide other documentation, even though they have not been specified, to establish these three things.

Many consulates accept application forms downloaded (and printed) from the web. A current trend is the introduction of online application portals, which either give you an e-visa or provides you with a template to submit a validated, structured application to print and present at a Processing Centre (occasionally with a follow up e-Appointment facility). Some Consulates limit the number of applications accepted each day, and on reaching this limit, they close the counter.

Please be truthful and provide complete information as requested with your application. Too much clutter and documentation like legal size Original Deeds and Wills and Testaments can be counterproductive. Take care to provide only documentation as specifically requested, or sufficient information to demonstrate the three pillars above, to visit the country concerned. If you have a concern on providing originals, provide copies notarised by a Justice of the Peace, a Grama Sevaka or a Commissioner of Oaths. Original documents if you choose to present them, will be returned to you.

Interviews are rarer now, though for the United States, for example, it is still mandatory. Applicants should remain calm, and answer all questions as truthfully and comprehensively as possible. Visa officers are trained in cross-examination, and attempting to deceive or losing one's temper will not achieve your purpose, and will result in you being denied your visa.  There are severe penalties such as 10-year or lifetime bans for producing false documents.  It is better to state in a covering letter why you cannot produce a required document, or explain why a document may be perceived to be discrepant but is not,  rather than attempt to forge it.  Last minute preparation of documents, including opening new bank accounts and getting utility bills in the name of the applicant, are unlikely to be productive. Very Important: Please be transparent and open about past refusals.

Covering Letters

A covering letter is often not listed in any Documents Required Checklist. A free form letter can introduce yourself and the purpose of your trip in brief, for developed countries including but not limited to, the UK, Schengen Area, rest of the European Union, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, USA and Japan. These are suggestions for individual paragraphs. Try and make it a readable A4 with your personal letterhead.

1. Introduction to you. Your profession and where you currently work, and for retirees, your previous work record
2. Your past record of travel within the past 5-10 years (depending on the frequency of your travel), in the format, "Country (month/year)"
3. The purpose, and a brief plan for your current trip, with accommodation booking(s) or a letter from the host(s), for the stay.
When calculating the number of days, count all calendar days which are involved. e.g. arriving 02 August leaving 08 August, is [2,3,4,5,6,7,8 =] 7 days.
4. Any significant matters in your financials, or other documentation regarding your current status, that merits further clarification or detailed explanation, and any significant visa refusals in the past with reasons for refusal.
Attach: At a Glance Listing of documents that you are attaching
Attach: Your Travel Budget. Flights, accommodation, other transport and meals, miscellaneous expenses, with a final conversion to the currency of the country that you are applying to.
Attach: Day by day destination plan for your trip

Document Listings
Here are some documentary listings (not "requirements"), which are suggested. This list is not exhaustive, and may change according to the status of the applicant, and of course the country of application. Most embassies would have such a list of their suggested documents (also not exhaustive), and may be downloaded at the application stage. For our regular clients, we will not charge for application forms or these guidelines, if they can be downloaded.

1. Your current and previous passport, preferably showing a history of prior travel, and valid for up to 6 months after proposed arrival into the destination country. It is worth taking photocopies of your previous visas to the intended destination, along with two copies of your passport photo page and validity extension page.

2. Three to Six Months Bank statements (whatever is sufficient to establish your financial qualification), a credit card statement and/or other relevant documents, demonstrating your financial means to support yourself during your travel. In the case of business visas, the bank statements and Certificate of Incorporation of your employer will be required. If you are a Director of the Company, produce your annual return copy. Even for business visas, it is necessary to provide personal bank statements for countries such as Thailand, the UK, the Schengen agreement area and Canada (among others). Non-liquid funds such as Fixed Deposits and property should be produced only as part of the evidence to demonstrate ties to Sri Lanka, and not as funding for your trip.

3. A letter from your employer certifying your position. This letter should also either grant leave from work, or detail your business trip and its purpose. The salary particulars, if any, should match those in your bank statements.

4. A letter of invitation from your host (relative, friend, university or business contact) or original hotel reservation with a copy, at the destination(s)

5. Between 1 and 3 recent (within 6 months) photographs of yourself. There are specific photo requirements (head and shoulders only, matte finish, white background, no sunglasses) for some visas, especially the USA and Canada, and a new feature allows an online evaluation of them to see whether they are acceptable. A VFS will have the facility to take the compliant photo in-house at a cost. We provide this service in house, and a professional photo shop will be aware of these requirements.

Other than these basic requirements, some ask for the following in addition
(produce only at their request, or if good faith can be demonstrated only by providing them):
* Notarised copies of original documents that you want returned
* Travel and Health Insurance
* Your parents' passport copies
* Your wedding certificate in English
* an official certificate such as, e.g. the "Attestation d'accueil" when staying with a French citizen, or the "Confirmation Letter of Invitation" for China
* Your certified birth certificate in English, and that of your children.
* A Medical Report from a designated practitioner, for passengers over 70 years of age (e.g. Australia, Schengen area)
* In the case of business visas sponsored by lesser-known companies, the business registration forms and bank statements of both your company and your business partner company.
* Evidence of property ownership in Sri Lanka, including shares, vehicles, land and homes.

As a general rule you should obtain the visa for your ultimate destination prior to obtaining transit  visas (if they are required).


Non-inked scanned fingerprinting or retina scans (a.k.a. biometrics) are routine for many countries, including India, UK, USA, Schengen area (since 02 November 2015), New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Those who refuse to give this will have their visa processing terminated.

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Tourama (Pvt) Ltd
3/1, 304 Union Place,
Colombo 2, Sri Lanka.
Tel: (+94 11) 2326181