Sri Lanka Cruise Visa Guide: Entry Requirements & Tips

The "Pearl of the Indian Ocean," Sri Lanka, entices cruise tourists with its breathtaking beaches, historic ruins, and lively culture. But when disembarking for shore excursions, visa requirements come into play. Here's a comprehensive guide to navigate this aspect of your Sri Lankan cruise adventure:

Understanding Sri Lanka's New E-Visa System for Cruise Passengers

Important Update (April 29, 2024): Sri Lanka has switched from the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to a new e-visa system. This change could affect the visa process for your Sri Lankan cruise stop. The new e-visa system simplifies travel authorisation, and cruise passengers planning excursions may need this new e-visa to explore Sri Lanka.

Determining Your E-Visa Needs for Your Sri Lankan Cruise Stop

Here's a quick guide to help you decide if you need an e-visa:

E-Visa Recommended if:

  • You plan on venturing beyond the port city and exploring Sri Lanka's diverse attractions.
  • Your shore excursion extends beyond 2 days.
  • You want the flexibility to explore further on future trips to Sri Lanka within the e-visa validity period (depending on the chosen type).

Free Transit Visa might suffice if:

  • Your shore excursion stays within the port city or immediate vicinity.
  • You have a short layover (less than 2 days) in Sri Lanka.

Important Note: Since visa requirements are subject to change, it is always advisable to confirm the most recent details with the Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration prior to your cruise.

Types of E-Visas for Cruise Visitors to Sri Lanka

For cruise visitors looking to explore Sri Lanka, there are primarily two relevant types of e-visas based on their stay duration and planned activities:

  1. Transit E-Visa: This visa is ideal for those who plan to stay in Sri Lanka for a short duration, typically less than 48 hours. It is also perfect for passengers who wish to leave the ship and enjoy brief shore excursions.
  2. Tourist E-Visa: Suitable for passengers who intend to stay in Sri Lanka for up to 30 days. This visa is necessary for those who want to explore the country more thoroughly beyond short shore visits.

Cruise visitors should apply for the e-visa that best fits their travel needs to ensure smooth entry and travel within Sri Lanka.

Documents Required for a Sri Lanka E-Visa for Cruise Passengers

To apply for a Sri Lankan e-visa for cruise passengers, ensure you have the necessary documents ready before starting the online application process on the Sri Lankan e-visa website. Here's what you'll need:

  • Valid Passport: It is essential that you have a passport that is up to date and has at least 6 months remaining on it when you intend to leave Sri Lanka.
  • Digital Passport Photo: A recent digital passport photo meeting the specified size and format requirements.
  • Proof of Onward/Return Ticket: Confirmation of your cruise itinerary showing your departure from Sri Lanka.
  • Accommodation Details: Proof of your booked accommodation in Sri Lanka (if applicable).
  • Method of Payment: The e-visa processing fee must be paid with a working debit or credit card.

Qualifications for Cruise Passengers Seeking an E-Visa for Sri Lanka

To determine if you're eligible to apply for a Sri Lanka e-visa as a cruise passenger, consider the following criteria:

  1. Nationality: Certain nationalities are eligible for an e-visa. You should check the Sri Lankan e-visa portal to see if your nationality qualifies.
  2. Purpose of Visit: The e-visa is typically granted for tourism or transit purposes. Ensure your cruise stop in Sri Lanka aligns with these categories.
  3. Validity of Passport: Your passport must remain valid for a minimum of 6 months after the date of your entry into Sri Lanka.
  4. Supporting Documents: You may be required to provide details of your cruise itinerary, return or onward tickets, and proof of accommodation if you plan to stay off the ship.
  5. Health Requirements: You might need to meet certain health requirements or provide vaccination certificates based on your country of origin.

Applying for an e-visa for Sri Lanka during your cruise visit is possible if you meet these requirements. Always check the latest information on the e-visa portal, as regulations can change.

How to Apply for a Sri Lankan E-Visa as a Cruise Passenger

Applying for a Sri Lanka e-visa is a straightforward process that can be completed online. Here are the steps to apply for your e-visa:

  • Verify Eligibility: Start by checking if you are eligible for a cruise e-visa based on your nationality by visiting the e-visa portal.
  • Prepare Necessary Documents: Collect all required documents to fill out the application form.
  • Complete the Online Application: Fill out the e-visa application form on the Sri Lankan e-visa website, ensuring all provided information is accurate.
  • Pay the E-Visa Fee: Pay the online visa application fee with a credit/debit card that is made for international use.
  • Print Your E-Visa: Once your e-visa is approved and emailed to you, print it out to present upon your arrival in Sri Lanka.

These procedures will help you apply for an e-visa for a cruise to Sri Lanka and make sure you are ready for your trip.

Sri Lanka Cruise e-Visa: Fees and Processing Times

The fees and processing times for a Sri Lanka e-visa for cruise passengers differ depending on the type of visa (tourist or transit), nationality, chosen processing speed, and the number of entries (single, double, or multiple).

Expedited services are available at higher costs for those requiring quicker processing. You can check the most current fee structure on the Sri Lanka e-visa fee page.

The cost of e-visa is also influenced by the chosen processing time:

  • Standard Processing: Takes between 1 to 6 working days.
  • Urgent Processing: For an extra charge, expedited processing shortens the processing period to 1 to 3 business days.
  • Super Urgent Processing: Provides processing within 24 hours for those needing the quickest turnaround, at an extra cost.

Can cruise passengers disembark in Sri Lanka with a transit e-visa?

It's important to note that a transit e-visa only allows a stay of up to 48 hours and is intended for travellers passing through without leaving the airport or port.

Obtaining a tourist visa is recommended for those unsure about the duration of their ship’s stay or visiting multiple ports. A tourist e-visa ensures that passengers can leave the ship and explore Sri Lanka’s attractions.

Visa on Arrival for Sri Lanka Cruises: Is It Advisable?

While obtaining a Visa on Arrival (VOA) for Sri Lanka is possible, it's not recommended for cruise passengers due to potentially long wait times. Given that cruise stops are usually short, securing a tourist e-visa online before arrival is more practical. This approach allows passengers to maximise their time exploring rather than waiting in immigration lines. Travellers should also print and bring their e-visa confirmation to facilitate faster processing at cruise check-in.

What are the top places to visit in Sri Lanka during a two-day cruise stop?

Cruise passengers docking in Sri Lanka for up to two days have the opportunity to see a number of must-see destinations that offer a look into the island's rich culture and natural beauty. Here are some of the top nearby places to visit:

  • Colombo:
    • Gangaramaya Temple: This is not just a place of worship but a museum showcasing a mix of modern architecture and cultural essence.
    • Galle Face Green: A long open space along the seafront, perfect for a relaxing stroll and to taste local street food.
    • Pettah Market: Experience the bustling local markets and the vibrant street life of Colombo.

  • Galle (if the cruise docks near the southern coast):
    • Galle Fort is a small, walkable area with lovely architecture, shops, and history that is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
    • Unawatuna Beach is a great place to unwind by the sea or take a quick swim. It is only a short drive from Galle.
    • Japanese Peace Pagoda: offers panoramic views of the ocean and is a serene place for reflection.

  • Kandy (a bit further away, but possible if you plan):
    • A hallowed Buddhist location, the Temple of the Tooth is home to a relic—the Buddha's tooth.
    • Royal Botanical Gardens: Located in Peradeniya, close to Kandy, it's known for its vast collection of orchids and lush greenery.
    • Kandy Lake: Centrally located, the lake offers a peaceful escape with lovely views of the surrounding hills.
  • Negombo (closer to the airport):
    • Negombo Beach: Known for its long sandy beaches and the nearby traditional fish markets.
    • Dutch Fort: Although in ruins, it offers a historical glimpse and is close to some of the oldest churches in Sri Lanka.
    • Muthurajawela Marsh: offers boat tours to see the unique wetland wildlife and flora.

These attractions are accessible within short travel times from the main ports and offer a rich experience of Sri Lankan culture, history, and natural beauty.

Additional Tips for a Smooth Sri Lankan Cruise Experience

  • Check your cruise line's policies: Some cruise lines may handle e-visa arrangements for passengers. Confirm their procedures to avoid any confusion.
  • Double-check disembarkation procedures: Understand the process for clearing customs and immigration upon arrival at the Sri Lankan port.
  • Prepare for Sri Lankan currency: While some vendors may accept USD, having Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) is recommended for local purchases.

With a bit of planning and the right e-visa in hand, you're ready to explore the captivating wonders of Sri Lanka during your unforgettable cruise adventure!


  • How can I apply for a Sri Lankan visa as a cruise ship passenger?

    Cruise ship passengers can apply for an e-visa online through the Sri Lanka e-visa website or acquire a visa in advance of their trip from a Sri Lankan embassy or consulate.

  • How much time can I spend in Sri Lanka using a visa for a cruise ship?

    Typically, an e-visa allows a stay of up to 30 days, but the actual duration may depend on your nationality and the terms of your specific visa.

  • Are there specific ports in Sri Lanka where cruise ships are allowed to dock?

    The primary port for cruise ships in Sri Lanka is the Port of Colombo. Depending on the cruise itinerary, other possible entry points include Galle and Trincomalee.

  • Can I extend my visa while in Sri Lanka if my cruise ship departs later than planned?

    Visa extensions can be requested at the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo; the process varies based on the cause for the extension and is subject to approval.

  • What currency and payment options are available at Sri Lankan ports?

    The Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) is the local currency. ATMs and currency exchange services are accessible at major ports, and credit cards are widely accepted in urban areas.

  • What are the emergency contacts or consular services available for tourists in Sri Lanka?

    Always have the contact information for your embassy or consulate. For immediate assistance, dial 119 for police and 110 for an ambulance in Sri Lanka.

  • What is the yearly average temperature in Colombo?

    Colombo enjoys a tropical climate with an average yearly temperature of 26.5 °C (79.7 °F), with minimal monthly variations.


Although this information was last updated in May 2024, we recommend verifying with the appropriate agencies, embassies, and airlines to ensure complete accuracy regarding your travel plans.