How to apply for a Sri Lankan visa online

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Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) from the Department of Immigration and Emigration of Sri Lanka

It’s very easy to get a tourist visa to Sri Lanka. Out of all the visas I’ve applied for so far, this was definitely the easiest and the quickest. Yes, it is possible to get a visa on arrival, but it costs USD 5 more (USD 35 on arrival versus only USD 30 online), and you’d have to queue up at the airport. Getting an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) online beforehand is cheaper and more convenient, and it saves time.

Air and sea crew members are exempt from obtaining an ETA, as well as citizens of the Maldives, the Seychelles, and Singapore who stay for 30 days or less. Citizens of Cameroon, Guinea, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone cannot apply for a visa online, and must obtain one from the nearest Sri Lankan diplomatic mission.

All I had to do was visit the official ETA website at eta.gov.lk, enter the required information, pay by credit card, and voilà, I got an automated email acknowledging receipt of my application. Just two minutes later, I got a second email containing the visa approval notice (see image above).

And that’s it! The double-entry ETA is valid for six months from the date of approval, and only for a 30-day stay.

Do you need to bring a print-out of your ETA? I didn’t think it was necessary, but the lady at the AirAsia X check-in counter at klia2 in Kuala Lumpur insisted that we print out our ETAs and would not hand over our boarding passes without them. However, the immigration officer at Bandaranaike International Airport barely looked at the print-outs and just stamped our passports wordlessly without even asking for return tickets.
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