Sri Lanka is a gorgeous tropical island to opt for if you are looking to get away from the chilly winters in Europe. Full of exotic flora and fauna, the mountains have stunning panoramic views while the beaches are extraordinarily beautiful not just to look at but also to give yourself a sun tan and have some fun with the waves. The versatile landscapes in Sri Lanka makes the country very popular amongst travelers from across the globe. Be it the outdoor adventurer, the cultural tourist, the foodies, the animal lovers or the honeymooners, endless options are available for visitors of all ages!
Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka?
The most important question for travelers to Sri Lanka from Europe at this stage is with regard to the safety in terms of the covid-19 pandemic. In July 2021, a third wave of the pandemic hit Sri Lanka but with quick and decisive action taken by the government’s Covid Task Force, the vaccination drive in the country was implemented at a very fast pace, and within a month, half of the country’s total population had been fully vaccinated. As per the vaccine doses currently administered in the country (Dec 31st 2021), Sri Lanka has fully vaccinated over 70% of its entire population.
So, Sri Lanka is indeed safe for travel now, and with other restrictions eased, the tourism industry is ready to welcome travelers from across the world. In December 2021 itself, over 70,000 tourists visited the country, which has really helped the industry gain confidence towards a speedy recovery.
In this article, we will brief you in on a few pointers that should be kept in mind if you are planning on travelling to Sri Lanka from Europe. Documents, regulations, covid protocols, accommodation, itinerary, vaccination details, emergency contact numbers and more – all the information is available.
Regulations and Documentation
A passport and a visa is a must for travelling to Sri Lanka. It is best to obtain a visa, also known as an Electronic Travel Authorization, in advance before you arrive in Sri Lanka. These are generally granted for up to 30 days and can be obtained online from the following website: eta.gov.lk. In order to obtain a visa, you must provide proof of a return ticket, and sufficient funds that will cover your expenses. Visa facilities are available at the airport when you arrive in Sri Lanka but for ease of travel, and to ensure no delays at the airport, it is advisable to apply for an ETA in advance.
Also, with regard to the entry requirements, you must make sure your passport has a minimum of six months’ validity from your expected date of departure from Sri Lanka, and at least one blank page to place the entry stamp. If you plan to stay in Sri Lanka for more than one month, you can apply for a visa extension through the Department for Immigration and Emigration. Call them on +94 70 710 1050 or visit their website to make an appointment.
Covid protocols and travel process
Travelers to Sri Lanka from Europe must make sure they are fully protected with the Covid-19 vaccination and must have proof of vaccination. A PCR test is required within 72 hours before entering Sri Lanka; the negative result must be presented at the airport before boarding the flight to Sri Lanka. Travelers who fulfill the vaccination and PCR result requirements do not need to undergo any quarantine upon arrival in Sri Lanka, and are free to travel anywhere in the country after presenting a health declaration form.
Partially vaccinated, or non-vaccinated travelers can also visit Sri Lanka as long as their PCR test results are negative, but will have to stay under the protection of a “Tourism Bio Bubble” created for international visitors by the tourism industry of Sri Lanka. You will also have to pay in advance for the mandatory PCR tests to be carried out throughout your stay (40USD per test).
All foreign nationals visiting the country are required to pay a local covid insurance of 12 USD, with a one-month cover – 50,000USD.
Anyone considering to travel must be aware that these restrictions could change with the new variants and more covid-19 waves being affected in each country. Remember to check these regulations with the relevant local authorities just before your departure to be sure of what to expect. Also get in touch with your insurance provider regarding the coverage before you travel.
The Ministry of Tourism has all travel health protocol details published on their website. Depending on your vaccination status and PCR test result, quarantine may be necessary upon arrival to Sri Lanka. Children below 12 years who are not vaccinated do not have any restrictions IF parents they are travelling with are fully vaccinated. Children between 12-18 years who are not vaccinated but are travelling with vaccinated parents must undergo Covid-19 testing and stay at a Level 1 Safe and Secure certified hotel until a negative PCR result is released. One dose of Pfizer for 12–18-year-old children jabbed at least 2 weeks before travel is sufficient to categorize them as fully vaccinated.
If you are not vaccinated, and are travelling to Sri Lanka from Europe, you will be restricted to travel within a bio-bubble and will need to complete the following:
- payment for Covid-19 Insurance
- payment for PCR tests
- confirmation of a level 1 hotel booking
- a negative PCR result taken within 72 hours prior to departure
- a completed health declaration form
- PCR test upon arrival
- A PCR test 7 days after arrival; if negative, you can exit the Bio-Bubble.
Passengers who have recovered from COVID-19 within 6 months, regardless of vaccination status, will need to fulfill the same criteria mentioned above under the unvaccinated travellers category.
It is advisable to do some research on the things to do in Sri Lanka, and based on your preferences, list down a few things that you’d like to do and see. You could spend a few days along the coastal areas, enjoy a wildlife safari, indulge in the serene greenery of the hills, do some mountain climbing, white water rafting, camping, and lots of shopping! Get in touch with travel agents such as Blue Lanka Tours and we will help you plan a customized itinerary. Advanced bookings for vehicle and accommodation are advisable in order to avoid disappointment.
The tropical weather in Sri Lanka is what Europeans are looking forward to during the chilly winter months in their home countries. Be prepared for a load of sunshine and happiness during your visit. Bring along lightweight and comfortable clothing for the most part of your stay. If you plan to visit temples in Sri Lanka, you should be wearing modest attire. A jacket may be needed for the colder highlands in central Sri Lanka. In addition to that, mosquito repellants, sunscreen, sunglasses a hat, face masks, any other medication you need, and be sure to carry water wherever you go in Sri Lanka.
Emergency contact numbers
When in Sri Lanka, here are the contact numbers of a few local authorities that you might need to help you with your tour, covid protocols, documentation and other regulations.
- Sri Lanka Tourism: 1912
- SL Covid Task Force: 1919
- Sri Lanka Airport: +94 11 226 4444
Because Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the world that are open to tourists at present, it is the ideal destination to visit if you are looking for a wide range of activities and landscapes to enjoy in one holiday destination. Apart from the few covid protocols and entry requirements to visit Sri Lanka, everything else is open for tourists and the tourism industry is striving hard to give foreign nationals an amazing vacation in Sri Lanka.