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Moving to Colombo?

Join InterNations to meet other expats where you live and read more articles like Moving to Colombo with relevant information for expats.

Sandro Pedace

Living in Sri Lanka, from Switzerland

"On coming to Colombo, I was dreading the culture shock. However, expats and local contacts gave me some great advice. "

Isabelle Jacobs

Living in Sri Lanka, from Belgium

"It was fun to find other cricket fans among the expats around here and watch some matches at a Colombo club together. "

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Colombo at a Glance

Moving to Colombo

Colombo is a lively but livable city, with interesting architecture, quaint boulevards, but a relatively small population and consequently not many expats. Moving to this city can therefore be difficult, but after an initial phase can surely be a rewarding experience. Find out more in our expat guide!

About the City

For thousands of years, the conveniently located harbor of Colombo has played an integral role in the sea trading routes between the Eastern and Western worlds. Colombo was the capital city until 1982. Today, the city continues to be a major industrial hub, and the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. It is also the largest city in the country. Known as being one of the most diverse cities in Asia, Colombo is home to a range of residents from a vast selection of ethnic and national backgrounds. Of the around 700,000 strong population, the most predominant ethnic groups are Sinhalese, Moors and Tamils. In recent years, there has been an insurgence of expats relocating to the city from overseas, and as a result, there are also sizeable communities of Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, and Indian inhabitants. Sinhala and Tamil are the joint official languages; however English is widely spoken, especially in the service industry.

The Climate in Colombo

The climate in Colombo is classified as a tropical monsoon climate. The weather is hot throughout the year, with temperatures rarely dropping below 27°C (80.6°F). The only extreme change in weather that Colombo experiences is the monsoon season which takes place twice a year, between May and August and then again between October and January. Extremely heavy tropical rains can be expected during these seasons. The average annual rainfall in the city comes to around 2,400 mm. Despite the wet weather in the monsoon seasons, the city still experiences high levels of heat. Throughout the remainder of the year, the weather is extremely hot, bright and dry, with sunshine typically lasting for around 10 hours every day.

Visas for Sri Lanka

There are eight different sub categories of permanent residency visa available for expats moving to Colombo. The first and most common form of visa is the employment visa or working permit. Potential expats are eligible for this type of visa if they can provide evidence in the form of a business letter or official offer of invitation from an institution, company or diplomatic organization in Sri Lanka. This visa is applicable to foreigners who intend on working voluntarily in the country. The investor visa is available for anyone who wishes to relocate to Colombo in order to invest capital or begin a business venture. The religious visa offers permanent residency to members of the clergy and the student visa allows university students from overseas to live and study in Sri Lanka. There are other ways in which expats can obtain a residence permit and start a new life in Colombo, including the ‘My Dream Home’ visa program, which welcomes senior foreign nations to retire in the country. The visa categories are listed in full detail, and advice can be obtained from the foreign ministry official website.

InterNations Expat Magazine