The rumours are true, since the 1st of August 2019, the Government Immigration Department of Sri Lanka is offering free one-month tourist visas. This for citizens of 48 countries and will be valid for the next 6-months, till the 31st of January 2020. So if you have not already, book your flight to Sri Lanka and get your free tourist visa for Sri Lanka!
With this new scheme, you will save $35 on online visa fees or $40 for your visa on arrival.
How can I get a free visa for Sri Lanka
To get a free visa for Sri Lanka, you must first be from one of the eligible countries. To check if your country is on the list of free visa countries, click here. Then, there are two ways to get the visa:
Online tourist visa for Sri Lanka
The first one is through the official website of the Department of Immigration of Sri Lanka. Which is a fairly easy process, you just fill out the form and receive your Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) in your e-mail. Detailed information about the process can be found here.
Note: there are quite a few visa application websites out there. However, these are not always the official one, even though it may seem so. The official one is www.eta.gov.lk. Always use this one to avoid excess fees and problems!
Visa on arrival for Sri Lanka
The second method is a visa on arrival. After you land in Sri Lanka, make your way to the visa on arrival facility in the airport, where you have to fill out the necessary documentation. Followed by walking to the immigration desk, where they will check your passport and visa, after which you will be allowed to enter the country.
Online visa or visa on arrival?
The quickest way is to arrange your visa is online through the official website, this because it can get quite busy at the airport. Furthermore, it is also recommended by the Sri Lankan Immigration Department. Arranging your free visa for Sri Lanka upfront means less time wasted at the airport!
In the last years, tourism has grown significantly in Sri Lanka. After the end of the civil war, many people have found their way to the pearl in the Indian ocean. Above that, Sri Lanka has also been rated the number 1 destination to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet.
The Ministry of Tourism initially had a plan to boost tourism even further, this by introducing the free visa scheme from the 1st of May 2019 onwards. Which would result in a tourism boom in the months with generally lower tourists visiting the island.
However, due to very unfortunate events on Easter-Sunday, when the island was hit by a terrorist attack. This resulted in a complete fallout and decline in tourism, after which the government decided to suspend the free visa for Sri Lanka scheme.
After tourism picked up again, the government decided to re-introduce the scheme from the 1st of August 2019!
The list of countries eligible for the free tourist visa in Sri Lanka
Thailand, Iceland, United Kingdom, United States of America, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Switzerland, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Ukraine, Philippines, Russia and the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden).