Sri Lanka is a favoured destination with many Europeans but many visitors do not know how to prepare for their visit to this country in regards to a visa or eTA electronic travel authorisation. As we shall explain later in this article, an eTA is the document issued through a simplified travel authorisation system that enables visitors to this country to avoid the long and complicated visa application procedures previously necessary. Here we will explain in detail how to obtain this popular travel document that enables you to visit Sri Lanka under the best conditions with minimum preparation and delay.
What is an eTA for Sri Lanka and how does it function?
Let us take a few moments to remember what exactly an eTA is and how this travel authorisation functions. In fact you need to understand the differences between an eTA and a classic visa before completing your application and ensure that you fulfil the conditions to be eligible for application.
An eTA is an electronic authorisation that authorises you to travel to Sri Lanka under the best conditions and in the same way as a visa but with a few exceptions nonetheless. Firstly, this document authorises you to stay for a maximum of 30 days, or a month, in this country. A few months ago the eTA became free of charge for certain visitors when applied for online for visits between August 2019 and January 2020.
Therefore, if you plan to stay for longer than 30 days in this country then you will be required to apply for a classic visa. It is also possible to apply for an extension to an eTA when you are in the country but this will undoubtedly cause you to waste some time. It is therefore preferable to plan for a longer stay in advance.
Another particularity you should know about the eTA is that it is only available to visitors from certain countries including the United Kingdom and Ireland of course. You will also need to hold a passport of which the expiry date is at least 6 months after your return flight. Theoretically, the Sri Lankan government also requires you to prove you have sufficient funds to cover your visit. However, this proof is rarely requested apart from longer visits.
You should also be aware that an eTA application can only be completed online through a specialised website that offers access to this application form such as the one we recommend here on our website. As to when you should complete this application procedure we recommend that you do so several weeks before your departure date in case of any unforeseen delays. You are able to apply for your eTA a maximum of three months before your departure date.
As this is an electronic travel authorisation, an eTA is not supplied as a paper document and is uniquely a digital document that is attached electronically and automatically to your passport. You may of course print the confirmation that you receive by email but this is not obligatory as you will not be required to present a physical document during your travel or on your arrival in Sri Lanka.
Here we would reiterate the fact that applying online for an eTA is far more practical and less expensive than completing an application in the country or at an embassy.
The different steps of the eTA visa application for Sri Lanka :
Let us now continue with the practical side as we explain, step by step, how to complete your eTA application online and how to obtain this travel authorisation as rapidly and easily as possible.
- The first stage of course consists of visiting a website that offers you access to an official application form, preferably in your native language, such as the website we recommend on this website. We advise you to carefully choose this service provider as the quality of the service and the online assistance provided can differ greatly between one and another.
- Once you access this application form, you should complete it on the basis of one form per person. There is however an exception to this rule for children under the age of 16 who plan to travel with their parents in which case their names simply need to be stated on the parents eTA application form. No fees are payable for children less than 12 years old. It is however necessary that your children’s names appear on the same passport as yourself.
- On this application form you will notably have to enter your passport number. This is the unique number that can be found on the same page as your photograph. You will also have to state your full name which should be the same as that entered on your passport, as well as your date of birth and the issue and expiry dates of your passport. You will also be required to state the name of the airport from which you will be departing and enter your complete home address. Other questions will then be asked concerning the reason for your visit to Sri Lanka. It should be remembered here that an eTA is not suitable in the case whereby you wish to work in this country. You will also be asked to state the address at which you will be staying during your visit, such as that of your hotel or guest house. If you haven’t yet arranged your reservation then don’t worry as proof of this address is not required. Finally you will need to state your telephone number ensuring that it is in the correct format, with your home country code included. The email address that you enter on the application form is also extremely important as the response to your application will be sent there.
- When you have completed the application form you will have the opportunity to check through your answers before definitively submitting it. It is highly recommended that you take the time you need for this step before clicking on the submission button as a simple mistake, such as misspelling a word, could lead to the refusal of your application. Once you are satisfied with your answers click on the confirmation button.
- You will then be transferred to the payment page. Although the eTA for Sri Lanka is actually free for residents of certain countries you will still be required to pay for the transfer and processing costs of your file. These costs can vary in their amount from one website to another. This payment is generally required to be completed using a credit or debit card through a secure server. It is obligatory in order for your application to be submitted.
- Once the payment process has been completed you will receive a response to your application within a few days by email. We note that generally the response arrives around 24 hours following the submission of an application form. It is also possible, depending on the website used, that you will receive an initial email confirming the registration of your application.
At this point there is nothing further you need to do as, if your eTA application is approved, it will be automatically and digitally attached to your passport.
In which cases is it necessary to apply for a classic visa:
As we explained earlier, an eTA application is only suitable for a certain category of visitors and even then depends on certain criteria. If you do not fulfil the criteria then you may still apply for a classic visa.
This notably concerns visitors that are not a resident in one of the member countries of this programme; they are required to apply for a traditional visa from the Sri Lankan Embassy in their home country.
In the same way, if you plan to stay longer than 30 days in this country you will need to apply for a classic visa as an eTA is not valid for a visit lasting longer than this.
Finally, the reason for your visit is also important. The eTA programme was implemented specifically for tourist visits or visits to friends and family. You cannot therefore use it for any professional activity in this country for example.
It should also be noted that whatever solution you choose you will need to hold a passport as Sri Lanka cannot be visited using a simple proof of identity.
If your situation requires that you apply for a visa for Sri Lanka then you will need to complete the application in your home country. It should be noted here that this procedure is longer than that for an eTA application and you should therefore ensure that you apply well in advance of your planned departure date to ensure your travel plans run smoothly.