Sri Lanka: new rules for travellers | Condé Nast Traveller India


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Coconut Tree Hill, Mirissa, Sri Lanka. Photo: Pascale Amez on Unsplash

After a 10-month hiatus, Sri Lanka is finally opening its doors to foreign travellers. While there are no flights between India and the island nation yet, they can’t be too far. The 

reopening is understandably cautious, with some restrictions on travel. Here are the highlights:

  • You will have to take at least three, maybe four PCR tests for COVID, including one before you board. Vaccinations don’t count for now
  • There is no minimum stay required
  • No mandatory quarantine. But for the first 14 days, you will have to stay in a ‘Level 1’ hotel
  • During these 14 days, you can leave the hotel but only to visit a list of certified tourists sites, and that too within a bio-bubble. 

What airports are open?

Travellers can arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport (Colombo) and Mattala International Airport (Hambantota).

How to apply for a Sri Lanka visa now

When applying for your online visa, you will be required to download the “Visit Sri Lanka” mobile app, which will help coordinate and facilitate your travels within the country once you get there. You will also need two other things:

  • A pre-confirmed booking at a Level 1 ‘Safe and Secure’ hotel (more on that later)
  • A COVID-19 local travel insurance cover that will cost you $12 (Rs.875)  for a policy of $50,000 (Rs.36,49,275), for a period of one month
Mirissa, Sri Lanka. Photo: Sasha Set on Unsplash

COVID tests for entry into Sri Lanka

  • Prior to boarding, you will need a negative PCR test result from an accredited laboratory 96 hours before travel
  • You will undergo two prepaid PCR tests once you arrive. The first one, at your hotel, prior to check-in. And the second one 5-7 days later, or if any symptoms develop before that. If you are staying longer than seven days, a fourth PCR test is needed. Your tests will have to be paid for at the visa stage, depending on the number of days.
  • If you happen to test positive, you can isolate yourself at the hotel initially. If necessary, you can even arrange to be transferred to a hospital or designated hotel for quarantine. Don’t worry, the costs will be covered by your COVID-19 insurance.

Bio-bubble and more

During the first 14 days of your stay in Sri Lanka, you are required to stay at a Level 1 ‘Safe and Secure’ hotel. Level 1 hotels are a selected list of hotels that are in compliance with all COVID-19 health protocols and tourism guidelines. During this time, you can make use of all the facilities in the hotel. 

You can even visit a few tourist attractions such as the Yala National Park and the Sigiriya Fortress, but only in the bio-bubble that will be created for you (list of attractions here). The bubble will make sure that you get to enjoy your initial stay, while still being as safe as possible. This means that you will have to travel on fixed itineraries, and every stop, including a coffee break on route, will have to be mapped beforehand. 

Going out into the community

Once the 14 days have passed and all your tests are negative, you are free to step outside your bubble and explore the beauty of Sri Lanka. But the authorities remind you that you still need to travel responsibly: avoid public transport, choose contactless payments wherever possible, always wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Greet people with folded hands, and avoid shakes or hugs. 

A holiday with rules? We’ll take that for now.

Get more information about travelling to Sri Lanka here.



Updated: January 21, 2021 — 11:17 am

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