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Sri Lanka Launches Visa-Free Program to Elevate Tourism

Sri Lanka, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage, has taken a bold step to invigorate its tourism sector. The Department of Immigration and Emigration has officially launched a visa-free program, effective immediately, as part of a pilot initiative approved by Cabinet Ministers on October 24, 2023 (Approval No: 2311885/6021023). This program, set to run until March 31, 2024, opens the door to a world of exploration for nationals from seven countries.

Eligibility and Passport Types

Under this pioneering scheme, nationals of China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan are granted a visa-free regime. The privilege extends to individuals holding Diplomatic, Official, Public Affairs, Service, and Ordinary passports from these specified countries.

Visa Validity and Entry Conditions

Travelers availing themselves of this opportunity can enjoy a visa-free stay of 30 days, with the added flexibility of a double-entry option. This means visitors can enter and exit Sri Lanka twice within the 30-day visa period, providing ample opportunities to immerse themselves in the country’s diverse offerings.

Sri Lanka ETA Application Process

To facilitate seamless travel, applicants must submit their Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) applications online. The ETA application process typically takes around three working days, ensuring a swift and efficient experience for travelers.

Documents Required

While applying for the free visa, travelers need to provide essential documents such as a valid passport, travel insurance, proof of sufficient funds, and flight bookings. The payment gateway screen, currently present during the ETA application submission, is expected to be removed soon, as assured by the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DIE).

Visa Status Tracking

To keep applicants informed, the DIE has implemented an online system for tracking the status of ETA applications. This ensures transparency and ease of access for travelers.

General Rules

It’s important to note that this free visa regime is exclusively applicable to nationals of the seven designated countries. Citizens of other nations are advised to adhere to the general rules and regulations governing the Sri Lanka ETA.

Extension of Free ETA

While the free ETA cannot be extended beyond the initial 30-day validity period, travelers seeking a more extended stay can apply for an extension, subject to the payment of the appropriate fee.

Processing Time and Recommendations

Though the standard processing time for ETA applications is three working days, applicants are encouraged to apply well in advance to mitigate any potential delays and ensure a smooth travel experience.

Sri Lanka’s decision to introduce a visa-free program underscores its commitment to welcoming global travelers and fostering a thriving tourism industry. As visitors from these seven nations embark on a journey to discover the unparalleled beauty of Sri Lanka, this initiative is poised to elevate the country’s status as a premier tourist destination.

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