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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.

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Employment in Sri Lanka

Economic Overview

Today Sri Lanka is one of the fastest growing economies in the world; Sri Lanka’s economy emerged on the international marketplace as a plantation economy, exporting rubber, cinnamon and tea in the 19th century. However, whilst these commodities still remain important to Sri Lanka’s export market, the introduction of the free market economy in 1977, promoting private enterprise, has seen a rising importance in sectors such as telecommunications, clothing and textiles, information technology, petroleum refinement and finance as well as production. Sri Lanka’s main export partners are the USA (21%) and the UK (11%) in areas such as textiles, tea and rubber, whilst India (20%) and China (14%) are Sri Lanka’s main import sources of petroleum and foodstuffs.

In fact, the private sector now accounts for over 80% of the country’s economy, with the service sector contributing 60% of Sri Lanka’s GDP, and agriculture falling to just 12%.

Overseas employment now also contributes highly to Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange, with 90% of Sri Lankan expatriates living and working in the Middle East.

Job Hunting in Sri Lanka

The job market in Sri Lanka is also continuing to evolve and grow, with the emergence of new markets and new government led development plans across an assorted range of industries from aviation to energy, tourism and financial services, to name a few. The Government itself is still the largest employer, with over 13% of the work force attributed to state run institutions.

Employers in Sri Lanka are keen to embrace skills and experience from across the world, which ensures there are plenty of opportunities for those moving into the country as well as those already in residence.

Sri Lanka is fast becoming a hub for business and has seen impressive growth already in sectors such as IT; it’s definitely a country to watch out for.

Sri Lanka does host several job sites, such as whereby employers and employees can advertise and apply for a variety of roles across all industries, available in both English and Sri Lankan. is part of the e-Society Development Program, initiated by former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksha in 2005, designed to embrace the increasing focus on IT services and to provide a marketplace for some of the best opportunities in Sri Lanka.

Work Permits for Sri Lanka

As mentioned in our article on moving to Sri Lanka, any non-national will require a visa to enter the country. However, which visa you have may dictate whether you are entitled to take up work whilst you’re in Sri Lanka.

If you are looking to work and live in Sri Lanka you will need a residence visa; this visa will not only allow you to enter the country but to work, study or volunteer. Residence visas are granted for a variety of different residence needs, which you can investigate by visiting the website of the Department of Immigration and Emigration. However, the best way to get a residence visa if you intend on working in the country is to find an employer first and let them help guide you through the application process.

Please note that visitor visas cannot be converted for a longer term residence. Some work can be carried out on a Visitors Permit but only if this was issued for business purposes, not a Tourist Visit Visa.

May 30, 2024, 1:30 AM
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Let's meet and spend another stunning evening between Colombo's skyline. "Indulge your senses at Ahasa, suspended 100 meters above, with handcrafted beverages and breathtaking ocean views, destined

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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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