For most western nationalities including Australians and New Zealanders, a 30 day Tourist Visa is granted at the time of entry to the country. Thereafter, extensions are made through the Department of Immigration, which is located at No: 41, Ananda Rajakaruna Mawatha, Colombo 10, Sri Lanka
A visa extension gives a 3 month stay in the country, inclusive of the 30 days granted at the time of arrival. A further 3 month extension is possible, but at a fee. This should be paid before 3.30pm. Never wait till your visa has expired before you renew it. If you want an extension, apply for it well in advance as immigration laws could change.
When you go for an extension of your visa, make sure you have your passport, return air ticket, foreign exchange receipts and travellers cheques. The whole process should take you about one hour.The office of the Department of Immigration is open Monday through Friday from 9.00am to 4.30pm. However, on all Public Holidays the department is closed. The url of the Department of Immigration and emigration , Sri lanka is http://www.immigration.gov.lk/index.html
It is recommended that you obtain a travel insurance policy which covers theft, loss and medical problems. A policy that covers ambulances or an emergency flight home is always best. Since there are a wide range of policies available, you could select one to suit your requirements. However, make sure to read the small print, so that you are clear on what you will receive. It is advisable to select a policy which pays doctors and hospitals directly, instead of you having to make such payments on the spot and make your claim thereafter. Should you have to make your claim later, make sure you keep all documentation.
Driving Licence & Permits
A temporary Sri Lankan driving licence will be required if you wish to drive yourself. In order to obtain this, you will have to produce your home country driving licence and preferably an international driving permit too. If you have only your home country driving licence, a special permit, which is valid for only 30 days, will have to be obtained at a cost of Rs.600/- from the Registrar of Motor Vehicles located at Elvitigala Mawatha, Colombo 5.
The Automobile Association of Ceylon, located at 40, Sir Macan Markar Mawatha, Galle Face, Colombo 3, next to the Holiday Inn hotel, could endorse your International Driving Permit. The association is open Monday through Friday except on holidays, and the endorsement process takes only a few minutes. Should you decide to hire a car from a hiring company, the company could obtain this endorsement for you, for which you will need to pay a small fee. It is Cheaper to hire a vehicle with a driver.
A certificate indicating that you have been vaccinated against Yellow Fever is necessary, if you are coming from an area infected with this disease. However, keeping a record of all other vaccinations you have received will be prudent.
Before leaving home make copies of all important documents such as your passport data page & visa page, credit cards, travel insurance policy, driving licence, air and train tickets, etc. One set of copies should be left at home with someone, while you carry another set of copies, but separate from the originals.