Whether or not you are a beachgoer, there’s a charm in the sand of Sri Lanka, that draws you closer each time you touch base with this little tropical island. It’s either roads shadowed by palm trees or the lively macaque monkeys along with the jungles, maybe even those lovely tea farms that you can gaze at from a shivering train bridge. Sri Lanka is made of dreamy getaways where you’d keep coming back.
Sri Lanka and tourism
Though the tourists have been coming to this beautiful island for ages, this recognition of a fresh tropical getaway is new (after the recent end to Civil War in the year 2009), it’s taking speed skyrocket style. Sri Lanka was ranked as the top country for travel in 2019 by Lonely Planet.
Getting a VISA beforehand is a recommendation that I give too often for Sri Lanka, here’s taking you through basic procedures of obtaining a VISA for this beautiful island.
ETA for Sri Lanka
Before I tell you anything else, here’s something that commands your attention. Rather than having an eVISA system in place, Sri Lanka has an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization)
You need to apply for the ETA and pay a fee with that (we paid about $20 per person). The ETA can be availed online at the official website here: http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/ and it is as much of a breeze as getting a regular subway ticket in your city, except online. The whole process requires minimal documentation, plus it might only take a little over 15 minutes to get yourself one.
Visa fees for Indians (along with SAARC nations) is 20$. This ETA is valid for 30 days with double entry.
Visa fees for foreigners (other than SAARC nations) is 35$. The ETA is valid for 30 days with double entry.
Transit Visa and Visa for children under the age of 12 years from any nationality is FREE.
SAARC nations are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Processing time for ETA
The processing time for the Sri Lankan ETA is about 24 hours, and you get a confirmation on the same email, which includes your ETA number, name, validity, and mode of entry. You can check the status of your application and track it online.
If you’re an Indian who doesn’t wish to get an ETA, you can also opt for VISA on arrival facilities. You have to shell out 25$ in cash (4600 LKR), obviously slightly higher than online fees plus the extra time you’d spend standing in queues. Make a wise choice.
Here are a few more things that you would need for clearing immigration at the airport:
- A passport with at least six months validity
- Printout of your ETA approval.
- Sufficient funds to last for the intended period of stay in Sri Lanka
- Confirmed onward/return tickets, if applicable.
The immigration formalities are just the usual, and a few basic questions like your purpose of arrival and duration of stay in the country are asked upon your arrival. They’d check your passport, ETA, and sometimes ask you for your booking details and sufficient funds for the stay. We didn’t face all that hassle, as it was just an ETA and passport.
The moist air playing with you while you ride on a tuk-tuk in this island country, its old-world charm, enticing train journeys, and its vast oceans and beaches, Sri Lanka, is serendipity all its worth and meanings. If you still don’t feel like leaving at the end of your VISA validity, here’s how you can get an extension very quickly:
After the regular 30 days VISA, you can continue with your stay for another 60 days by requesting an extension. You can get one at the Department of Immigration Emigration (Head Office) in capital Columbo where you have to be physically present and have your application and the following documents in place:
- Return flight tickets.
- Details about the place of accommodation.
- Duly filled application along with a photograph of the applicant.
You can check for more details on this official website here.
And hey, one more thing, never miss having String hoppers with Coconut Sambal when roaming around in the streets of Sri Lanka, Bon Voyage!