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Working in Colombo?

Join InterNations to meet other expats where you live and read more articles like Working in 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

Working in Colombo

Colombo is not the capital city of Sri Lanka, but it certainly is its major hub, both for economy and culture. The local job market is therefore active and expats can surely find some interesting opportunities in different sectors. Find out more in our guide!

Local Economy

As the major industrial, commercial and administrative hub for the entire country of Sri Lanka, Colombo is an important business district with ample opportunity for employment or investment. The western province of the city alone accounts for roughly 50% of the country’s GDP, with the city itself boasting a GDP of 35 billion USD. The headquarters of the vast majority of Sri Lankan corporations can be found in the business districts of Colombo, including the Bank of Ceylon, Aitken Spence and Bharti Airtel Lanka. Some of the biggest industries which contribute to the economy of Colombo are the production and export of chemicals, glass, textile materials such as leather goods, cement and jewelry. Sri Lanka’s World Trade Centre can be found in the city. This 40 story high, twin tower complex is the home of some of Asia’s most prevalent commercial companies.

Job Hunting in Colombo

As Colombo is such a prominent business location, the jobs market is extremely competitive and expats seeking employment should be prepared to find job hunting a difficult task. Sri Lankan locals, particularly graduates, will be given priority over foreigners when it comes to filling coveted vacancies. Most expats find work in the private sectors of industries such as hospitality, travel and tourism and customer relations, where English as a first language is a benefit. The manufacture and sales of textiles, materials and clothing also provide interesting executive and managerial positions which some expats are interested in. With handy websites such as Sri Lanka Jobs and JobBook, foreigners can browse through an extensive selection of job listings, and make essential contacts, before even entering Colombo. 

Income Taxation in Colombo

Anyone who is a resident in Colombo will be charged on a progressive scale tax rate on all of their taxable net income. Profits and earned income derived from overseas will also be assessed and are liable to be taxed by the Sri Lankan Inland Revenue. The tax rate ranges depending on the amount of income — from a minimum of 4% to a maximum of 24%. Employees and corporations are required by law to employ a PAYE system and deduct the taxable amount from a workers wages. More information and advice can be obtained from the Inland Revenue website

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