A Comprehensive Guide on Moving to Sri Lanka

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  • Sandro Pedace

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

Relocating to Sri Lanka

The Land and Its People 

Sri Lanka is an island nation located off the south coast of India, and is the oldest democracy in South Asia. It’s the 57th most populated country in the world, with an estimated population of over 20 million people and an average growth rate of 0.73% per year. Sri Lanka itself has two capital cities, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte and Colombo, as well as its own currency, the Sri Lankan rupee.

Of the population, approximately 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhists, followed in by Hindus and then Muslims. Sri Lankans benefit from a long life expectancy, over 10% higher than the world average, with inhabitants having a life expectancy of almost 80 years.

One of the official languages of Sri Lanka is Sinhalese, the native language of the Sinhalese people – the largest ethnic group in the country at approximately 16 million. Tamil is the other official language, and is spoken in the Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka; Tamil is also one of the native languages of Singapore. English is spoken widely in business, scientific and education fields (known as a ‘link language’), and languages such as Portuguese and Dutch are used by some Sri Lankans.

The Climate in Sri Lanka

Separated from the Indian Subcontinent, the island of Sri Lanka is primarily made up of flat lands, with mountains only located in south of the country. The highest point of the island is found at Pidurutalagala, and reaches 2,524 meters (8,281 ft.) above sea level.

Sri Lanka has a tropical climate, with average temperatures ranging from 17°C to 33°C and considerable temperature changes between day and night. The island’s rainfall is affected by the Indian Ocean’s monsoon winds and some areas of the central highlands have been reported to receive up to 2500 mm of rain in a month, whilst the east and north east of the island receive little rain at all.

Visas for Sri Lanka

Any non-nationals of Sri Lanka will need a visa to enter the country. The type of visa required is subject to your proposed length of stay and the purpose of your visit. The Department of Immigration & Emigration is responsible for visa services, passports, citizenship and border control; full details can be found on their website, including details on short stay visas, residence visas and citizenship applications.

For business, tourism and transit purposes, visitors will require an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), which is an official authorization for a short visit to Sri Lanka. Restrictions may apply for certain business activities or entering the country as part of the media; full details can be found on their official site, where you can also apply for an ETA. Visitors from Guinea, Liberia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Mali and Sierra Leone will need to report to the nearest overseas mission on arrival into Sri Lanka to obtain their ETAs. Visitors with an ETA may request an extension to their stay for up to 90 days at a time; these can be applied for on the website of the Department of Immigration and Emigration. Longer stays will require a residence visa, which will then need to be renewed annually.

Visitors who are nationals of the Republic of Singapore, the Republic of the Maldives or the Republic of Seychelles do not require a visa for stays of up to 30 days.

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  • Sandro Pedace

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

  • Isabelle Jacobs

    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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