COVID-19: Sri Lanka Travel Updates

A fisherman on a post in the sea, Sri Lanka

Updated 15th August 2021.

See here for Southeast Asia Travel COVID-19 overview.


  • 18th August 2021 – From 18th-31st August the government impose strict measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. Only one person is allowed to leave the household at a time and shopping malls, gyms, stadiums, children’s parks and indoor swimming pools are to close. Restaurants remain open at 50% capacity. Source.
  • 13th August 2021 – Sri Lanka to make vaccination cards mandatory for inter-provincial travel and for moving in public spaces from 15th September 2021. Source.

Disclaimer: COVID-19 travel restrictions are changing daily. The following information reflects South East Asia Backpacker’s current understanding of the rules. We work hard to update this information as often and accurately as possible. However, we cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. We strongly advise you to contact the embassy of the country you are visiting for the latest information.

Sri Lanka Travel Restrictions

Can you travel to Sri Lanka right now? SUMMARY:

Yes. Sri Lanka is open to international travellers who hold valid tourist visas. The country is also open for Sri Lankan residents and dual citizens. Travellers do not need prior approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Civil Aviation Authority.

Before you enter Sri Lanka, you will need to:

1. Apply for a tourist visa online at You will need a valid tourist visa before boarding your flight to Sri Lanka.

Before applying for your Sri Lanka tourist visa, you will need:

  • Proof of payment of your booking at a ‘Level 1 Safe & Secure Certified Hotel’. Bookings can be made directly with the hotel or through a ‘Safe & Secure Certified Travel Agent’. Duration of stay and other regulations depend on whether or not you are considered fully vaccinated (see below).
  • Mandatory travel insurance up to $50,000 USD for a period of at least one month. The cost is $12 USD.
  • Payment of PCR tests ($40 US each), depending on your vaccination status. (You must visit to pay for both your insurance and PCR tests prior to travel, whereupon you will receive a unique tourist reference number. You will need this number in order to apply for your visa.)

2. All passengers (above the age of 2) will need to show a negative PCR test within 72 hours before embarking on their journey to Sri Lanka. (You should also check your airline’s requirements.) You will need to show this proof upon arrival at the airport in Sri Lanka.

3. You will need to book a transfer from the airport to your accommodation via a ‘Safe & Secure Certified Travel Agent’.

4. Upon arrival in Sri Lanka, you will be required to have an on-arrival COVID-19 PCR test.

5. Upon arrival in Sri Lanka, you will need to complete a Health Declaration Form.

Please note, the system differs depending on whether or not you have been *fully vaccinated.

If you are fully vaccinated and travelling to Sri Lanka:

  • You will need to take a mandatory PCR test upon arrival in Sri Lanka. (Children below 2 years do not have to take the test unless the parents develop symptoms.)
  • You will need to stay at a Level 1 Safe & Secure Certified Hotel until the results of the PCR test are available (24-48 hours).
  • Once you have received a negative test result, you will be able to leave the ‘bio-bubble’ once the L1 Doctor has issued you with a “Discharge Document”.**
  • Children between the ages of 2-18 who have not been vaccinated will also be able to leave the bio-bubble regarding the parents provide a negative test.
  • Once you leave the bio-bubble, you are not allowed to stay at an L1 Safe & Secure Certified Hotel. You must use the non-L1 Safe & Secure Certified Hotel for the rest of your trip.
  • * A traveller is considered fully vaccinated when they have had two shots of a vaccine that is approved in their country of origin. 14 days must have passed since the traveller has had the 2nd dose of the vaccine before being considered fully vaccinated. If you have had one shot of an approved vaccine and you have also recovered from COVID-19, you will be considered ‘fully vaccinated’. You will need to show a vaccination certificate and/or a doctor’s note explaining your status.

** If you have been in or transited in one of the countries listed by Sri Lanka as high risk in the past 14 days (India, South American countries, African countries), you will have to have a further PCR test on day 7 before you are able to leave the bio-bubble.

If you are not vaccinated and travelling to Sri Lanka:

  • You will need to stay at a Level 1 Safe & Secure Certified Hotel for at least 14 nights/15 days.
  • You will need to take a PCR test upon arrival. (Children under 12 years of age are exempt.)
  • If the results of the PCR test are negative, you will be allowed to stay at a variety of L1 Safe & Secure Certified Hotels during your stay and allowed to use all of the facilities.
  • After producing a negative PCR test, you will also be allowed to visit approved tourists sites in a bio-bubble. You can see the list of approved tourist sites here.
  • After completing 14 days at an L1 Safe & Secure Certified Hotel, you will need to take another PCR test, which if negative, will enable you to obtain your “Discharge Document” from the hotel doctor.
  • If you only plan to stay in Sri Lanka for 5-14 days, you do not need to take a second PCR test.

Traveller report (Non-vaccinated) – “We entered Sri Lanka in early May and we did a two-week quarantine in a hotel. It felt very much like a holiday because we were able to use the hotel amenities after a negative PCR test on our first day. For people who are vaccinated, the country has now reinstated their 1-2 day quarantine rule. So once vaccinated travellers have a negative PCR test here in Sri Lanka, they are able to leave quarantine and enjoy the country! I’ve been here for the past three months and it has been great! Cases are back on the rise again (Delta variant) but they are doing a great job of vaccinating people. As a foreigner, you can go anywhere, but locals are more restricted. All the touristy sites have been open for us recently, except the infamous train ride. We are heading to the train station today to see if we can ride the train later this week as it recently opened to some people.” – Nicole

Face masks

Face masks should be worn in all public settings, as well as maintaining a distance of 1 metre from other people. You must wear face masks when shopping or when travelling on public transport. Children under 2 years old do not have to wear a face mask and you do not have to wear a face covering when exercising. You can read more about the Sri Lankan government’s health and safety guidelines in this PDF.

Internal Travel Restrictions in Sri Lanka

Throughout the pandemic there have been restrictions on inter-provincial travel. There is currently a ban on inter-provincial travel and all public transport for citizens, except those working in agriculture, banking, ports, apparel and other essential services. Restaurants and shopping malls are allowed to operate under strict health protocols. Source.

Curfews in Sri Lanka

There are currently no night time curfews in place in Sri Lanka.

Hotels and Guesthouses

Hotels and guesthouses are still operating in Sri Lanka whilst abiding by the government’s recommended health guidelines. All travellers must book their initial stay in a Safe & Secure Level 1 Hotel. You can see the list of L1 hotels here.

Tourist Sights

Tourist sights are operating according to government guidelines. You can see the list of approved tourist sights here. If you need a tour guide during your stay, you can choose from this list of approved ‘Safe & Secure’ tour gudies.


Dave Noakes Bio Pic, with Nikki Scott
Nikki Scott | Founder & Editor

Nikki is the founding editor of South East Asia Backpacker. At age 23, she left the UK on a solo backpacking trip and never returned. After six months on the road, she founded a print magazine about backpacking in Asia. The rest is history.

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