Immigration to sri lanka

Living and Working in sri lanka

 A herd of Asian Elephant in Sri Lanka Sri Lanka is known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ due to its incredible natural beauty, awesome beaches and sparkle bright blue cerulean waters. A physical environment of wide-ranging diversity makes the country one of the world’s most beautiful and scenic countries in the world. If golden beaches, rising waves, misty mountains, mighty elephants, stealthy leopards, giant whales, a majestic past, lovely tea and warm smiles could sum up a country, that would be Sri Lanka. With a history spanning paradise, including a rich colonial heritage, the island provides a diverse landscape, speckled with adventure and ripe for discovery. Colombo is Sri Lanka’s largest city by population. The official capital, Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte, is also within the urban area of Colombo. Colombo metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and 752,993 in the Municipality. It is the financial center of the island and a tourist destination. 

Sri Lanka’s location makes it an easily accessible and eagerly sought after destination for those looking to cosset in a naturally rich environment. With many sites and scenes bottled up in to a small island, a traveler could be riding the waves in the dawn and admiring the green carpeted mountains by dusk. Travel destinations in Sri Lanka provide an array of holiday experience from sun kissed beach holidays to a marathon of wildlife watching, pumping adventure sports and pilgrimage to some of the oldest cities in the world.

Several types of people can immigrate to Sri Lanka. Among them are Retirees, investors, students and travelers. The country law allows the retiree to live in the country under a long term resident visa, issued in two year blocks. Many factors combined, generate keen interest in investors for Sri Lanka as a preferred investment destination in the region. When it comes to education, the country is all about giving students inspiration to develop their knowledge and skills, freedom to be creative, and support to help them achieve their best. While your stay you may enjoy from a thrilling safari adventure in the depths of  Yala, to a soothing fresh air among tea brushes in the cool countryside. You will definitely discover that Sri Lanka has a special experience for every traveler. So dive in, your adventure awaits!

Traveling information

Sri Lanka is currently experiencing the worst economic crises. It has defaulted on international loans and is facing shortages of food, fuel, medicines, cooking gas, imported goods etc. in some areas. Therefore, a high degree of caution in Sri Lanka has to be exercised. The situation has given rise to protests over economic situation especially in Colombo, the capital city and could erupt anytime. Therefore, if you plan to travel to Sri Lanka, you need to be extra cautious and follow instructions of local authorities on travel and safety.

All Tourist, Business and Transit travelers to Sri Lanka must have Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for entering in to Sri Lanka. The ETA is issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DI&E), Colombo with a Fee, which is non-refundable and non-transferable. Initially the ETA is valid for 30 days from the date of arrival in Sri Lanka, however it can be extended up to 6 months. You can get the detailed information of ETA, Fees and also apply online from 

Fully vaccinated visitors with approved vaccinated certificates do not need to present a negative Covid-19 test, however, it is important to take out comprehensive travel insurance for travelling to Sri Lanka. 

Travel options:

The two means to reach Sri Lanka is by Air and Water ways. It is very convenient to reach by air as there are many flights from around the world. There are direct flights from Asia, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. Among the 5 international airports in Sri Lanka, the Bandaranaike International Airport located in the capital city Colombo is the major & busiest airport. The nearest country to Sri Lanka is India. There are direct flights to Sri Lanka from four major cities of India, mainly Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai.

Trains and buses are the two main mode of public transportation in Sri Lanka. Travelling inside the country by road is the most convenient method. The main centre for connectivity is the Central Bus Stand in the capital of Colombo. You can opt between private and public buses which take you to the different corners of the island. The public bus services provide people a safe, dependable and comfortable road passenger transport at a reasonable fare system which involved a staff dedicated to service. The National Transport Commission has decided to increase the minimum bus fare to Rs.40 and minimum train fare to Rs.20. There are online Bus Ticket Booking, where you can book Bus Seat ahead of your journey. For detailed information and booking please visit:

While bus routes are widely available in the country, trains are less costly. We highly suggest you take a train just to enjoy the amazing views of the glorious countryside. Department of Railways and SLT-MOBITEL have introduced a Web application for online train seat reservation. To book your seats, please Log on to

All train season ticket (monthly pass) holders are allowed to travel on Sri Lanka Transport Board buses free of charge. If budget is not a concern, you can hire radio or private taxis and also hire a two-wheeler or a tuk-tuk for your entire stay.

Apart from this there are many taxi services that operate in the country. They range from luxury cars to the very popular three wheelers used by many taxi services. You have the opportunity to experience the freedom of travelling across Sri Lanka with the most affordable self-drive car rental options in the island. You just have to plan your trip with the flexible rental plans and hire vehicles either on a short-term or a long-term basis. It’s very safe for foreigners to travel in the country throughout day, because local people have a special care and respect for foreigners. Violent crimes against foreigners are infrequent. When travelling around the country, you can make arrangements through reputable travel companies, so that you’ll be more comfortable and enjoy your journey to the fullest. 

We recommend you to go through the Foreign Travel advice on Safety, Health, Political, Financial, Climate and other important situations before you embark on your journey into Sri Lanka.

How to immigrate to Sri Lanka 

There are four kinds of visas which are issued for people to enter and stay in Sri Lanka. 

  • Visit visa (Tourist Visit Visa & Business Purpose Visa)
  • Residence Visa
  • Gratis / Official Visa
  • Transit Visa

Visit Visa:

The Visit Visa is issued for a short stay for Sightseeing, holidaying, for medical treatment for participating for some culture or sports activities etc.  For such activities Tourist visa is issued. However, for business meetings and conferences, religious activities and other activities related to Business developments, the Business Visa is issued. Short Visit visa known as Transit Visa is also issued while transiting through Sri Lanka. A 2-day free ETA for transit is given for which proofs of transit/travel is required. 

Documents required 

  • Duly filled ETA application (download)
  • Passport (The validity of the passport must be at least six months beyond the date of entry into Sri Lanka)
  • Two recent photographs (standard photo format)
  • Return air ticket
  • Proof of hotel accommodation or an invitation from hosts in Sri Lanka

To find the online application and the detailed information on the ETA, please visit:

A Residence Visa: 

A Residence visa is issued for non-Sri Lankan citizens visiting Sri Lankan for special purposes like work/investment etc. A prior approval must be obtained from the Department of immigration & Emigration at the Embassy or online. Applicant arrives in the country on an Entry Visa and has to apply for a Residence Visa within 30 days from the Department of Immigration and Emigration of Sri Lanka. 

The following documents are required:

  • Visa application Form B (Filled)
  • Valid Passport with two unused pages (at least 6-month validity from the date of arrival in Sri Lanka)
  • Photocopy of the Data & Photo pages of the Passport
  • Copy of the Entry Visa approval document
  • Latest passport size photographs – 2 nos.
  • Visa Fees
  • Proof of Travel Itinerary

The Residence Visa is granted to individuals who fall in the following category: 

  • Project Professional personnel whose services are required for projects approved by the state and expatriate personnel employed in projects under Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka and their dependents
  • Personnel employed at banks and their dependents
  • Volunteers
  • Personnel attached to Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Personnel employed in a project, institution or organization under diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka
  • Personnel employed in a private company and their dependents.
  • Investors who desire to invest monetary capital in Sri Lanka
  • Those who want to engage in business activities in Sri Lanka
  • Religious Category – Members of the Clergy
  • Students in Universities & Educational Institutions approved by the State
  • Registered Indians covered by the 1954 Agreement.
  • Ex – Sri Lankan and dependents
  • Family Members of a Sri Lankan
  • Spouse holding foreign nationality and Children holding foreign nationality
  • Dream Home visa- Senior foreign nationals who wish to a prolonged stay in Sri Lanka on Residence
  • Medical visa – for people under medical treatments
  • Court/Judicial matters- for people with pending court cases

Gratis Visa:  Gratis Visa or Visa for Free in Sri Lanka is granted only to Diplomatic and Official Passport holders from certain countries. 

Transit visa: A Transit Visa for visitors travelling to another destination with short & temporary stops in Sri Lanka.


The native people of Sri Lanka are known as “Sinhalese” who are the largest ethnic group. The Sinhalese constitutes 74% of the total population of Sri Lanka, followed by 18% of the Tamils who are the second largest ethnic group. 

The majority of Sinhalese practice Buddhism and a significant number are Christians. Hinduism is practiced by the Tamils of Sri Lanka and so is Christianity by a minority Tamil speaking population. The Third largest practiced religion in Sri Lanka is Islam, which was believed to be brought in Sri Lanka during the time the country became an ancient trading center. The Christians in Sri Lanka constitutes to approximately 6.1% of the total population, which consists of Catholics, Protestants, Lutherans etc. According to the JW 2021 service report there are nearly 7,121 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sri Lanka. 

The Portuguese and British brought with them Kaffirs from Africa during their reign. So they became an ethnic group in Sri Lanka who are partially descended from Portuguese traders and Bantu slaves who were brought as laborers and soldiers to fight against the Sinhala Kings. There are other communities too. Among them are Chetties from South India. Burgher community is one of the smallest communities. They are living in all parts of the country in small numbers,  among them are the Dutch Burghers who are of mixed Dutch, Portuguese Burghers and Sri Lankan descent. 

The list goes on and that it’s outstanding. In spite of the varied religion and traditions, the people of Sri Lanka are friendly and extend a warm smile to foreigners. Many go all the way out with the full teeth smile, which is very sincere. You get this smile even from police officers! The local people are eager to help strangers. Their hospitality and generosity move them to invite others to their homes. We are sure you will enjoy your stay in Sri Lanka. 

Unemployment rate 

In the first quarter of 2022 the unemployment rate in Sri Lanka was 4.30%, it increased to 4.60 in the second quarter. 

The youth unemployment is high in spite of being highly educated because they wait longer before entering the work force, mainly to seek government jobs. 

Research has shown that the fresher’s who come out schools/colleges do not have the skills required for a job and therefore employers will not hire them, which leads to unemployment. This means that the educational system needs to change to offer skill development and vocational training required for the labor market. On the other hand, the public and private sector higher education providers have opened more opportunities to meet the rising demand for higher education in Sri Lanka.  Therefore, more and more youths are seeking higher education, resulting in acute youth unemployment and under-employment situation. 

To find the latest unemployment figure, please

Economy of Sri Lanka 

As most of the countries, Sri Lanka too faced an adverse effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected the countries earning sectors mainly tourism, exports, food, agriculture, small & medium scale industries and many others.

Economic growth has slowed down since then thus having a negative effect on employment and poverty. The situation accelerated mainly due to the severe financial crises which Sri Lanka ever experienced since its independence in 1948. 

In its efforts to improve the crises the World Bank is repurposing resources from existing projects to support the most urgent needs of Sri Lanka. They are also coordinating with other development partners on advises to restore economic stability. The Sri Lankan government has presented a budget with reforms and measures aimed to restructure its debt and increase revenue.  The World Bank estimates that Sri Lanka’s economy will contract 4.2% in the year 2023. 

In 2021 the GDP in Sri Lanka was worth $88.93 billion dollars according to Trading Economics, which is 0.04% of the world economy. The exports alone fetched $14.99B in 2021 which is a 15.4% increase from 2020. Exports contribute to the great extent in the economy of Sri Lanka. Annually, Sri Lanka produces close to 300 million kg of tea, out of which almost 98% is exported. Some of the major products and services that it exports are: 

  • Logistics Services
  • Food, Feed & Beverages Products
  • Fish & Fisheries Products
  • Apparel & Textiles (52%)
  • Boat and Ship Building ($82 million in 2021)
  • Coconut & Coconut based Products
  • Rubber & Rubber Based Products ($294 million in 2020)
  • Spices, Essential Oils & Oleoresins
  • Ceylon Tea
  • Diamonds, Gems & Jewelry
  • Ayurvedic & Herbal Products
  • Engineering Products
  • Chemicals & Plastic Products
  • Ornamental Fish
  • Construction, Power & Energy services
  • Handloom Products
  • BPM & ICT services (Innovation, Creativity and problem-solving)
  • Wellness Tourism services

Sri Lanka is mostly exporting to The United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Sri mostly imports from china, India, UAE, Malaysia and Singapore. Its main imports are Refined Petroleum, Crude Petroleum, Packaged Medicaments, Broadcasting equipment and Light Rubberized knitted fabric.

For latest economic statistics on Sri Lanka, please visit:

Renting and buying of real estate’s for foreigners


Sri Lankan laws prohibit foreigners to buy land, however they are eligible to own land under the following criteria:

  • Leasing the freehold land (up to 99 years)
  • Shareholder in a private firm with a trustee who is a Sri Lankan resident
  • Inheritance
  • Gifted by Parents
  • By getting dual citizenship
  • Buying an apartment or a condominium

A foreigner or a company must be a 50% shareholder with a local counterpart to own a land in Sri Lanka. Such companies are exempted from 15% land tax. Foreigners are also exempted from VAT tax on purchase of an apartment / condominium. However, stamp duty on leased and purchased property are applicable as per standard rates. To buy land the Foreigners need to get funds in to Sri Lanka via Inward Investment Accounts (IIAs) at the local Bank. They cannot get loans/mortgage from local banks, but the non-resident Sri-Lankans and residents with dual citizenships can. 

Steps to buy land/property in Sri Lanka: 

  1. With lawyers assistance, verify of the documents are legal and the evaluate the land registry. Finalize the amount and arrange for the funds. In cases of loans, you can evaluate and compare on LankaPropertyWeb and get the best deal.
  2. Preparing the ‘Deed of Transfer’ with the Lawyer’s help for complete details and accuracy to avoid legal trouble in the future.
  3. Pay Stamp Duty to Register the “Deed of Transfer” at the land registry in Sri Lanka
  4. Get the original copy of the Deed after registration. In case of Loan, the Deed has to be submitted to the Bank as security. The Deed is returned after the loan is paid off.

For more information on buying land in Sri Lanka, please visit:


Renting a place to live in, is a better option in Sri Lanka for foreigners or expats due to high price of real estate. Secondly many options are available within a wide range of budget. The most popular inhabited cities are Colombo, Galle and Kandy where 15% Sri Lankan citizens live, rest of the population live in rural regions of the Island. The expats and the tourists prefer to live in coastal areas because of the scenic beauty and weather, even though its costly compared to the cities. 

In cities fully furnished rental houses/flats with 2,3 or 5 bedrooms are available. Condominium, which are very popular in Sri-Lanka are also available. Rents varies from based on locality & facilities provided. The Sri Lankan renting system is very simple & there are two main ways to rent – “Tenancy Agreement” and “A Lease” contract. It is advisable to hire an agent to rent a house.

For more detailed information, please visit:

Moving to Sri Lanka

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Translation Of The Documents

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