While Sri Lanka offers a way to get a 30-day Tourist Visa online, getting it extended is not as convenient. In order to extend your stay in Sri Lanka as a tourist, you will need to personally visit the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo and apply for one.
The process is pretty straight forward but can be time consuming since the office gets quite busy. I went through this process myself and the following post details what you can expect.
LAST UPDATED: March 28, 2018
- Updated link for form thanks to Marjorie! She also provides a great tip applying for a Multiple Entry Visa if you plan on using Sri Lanka as a launching pad to visit nearby countries.
- Added contact for 3rd Party Visa Service
How to extend your 30-day Sri Lanka Tourist Visa (Electronic Travel Authorization):
1. Pick a day you want a pay a visit to the Department of Immigration and Emigration. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm with an hour long break for lunch in the middle.
2. The day before you plan to go, print out and complete this form. It is also mandatory to include a passport sized photo with the application so stick one on if you have one. There is a photo station at the office if you don’t have access to a photo but you will save a lot of time if you go in with the application fully completed and a picture in hand.
Here’s everything you need to bring with you:
- Completed form
- 1 x Passport photo
- Cash / credit card for visa extension fee (amount per country is below)
- Water & snacks
- Some form of entertainment (book, movies, podcasts, etc)
- Patience, everything is done in waves so you’ll be sitting around a few times waiting for something to happen.
3. The most convenient way to get to the office, which is actually located just outside of Colombo city limits, is using the taxi hailing services PickMe or Uber. It is imperative to get there as the office opens at 8:30 am to have the shortest waiting time. Unfortunately, the stretch of road heading to this side of town is jam packed with morning rush hour traffic. Depending on where you are coming from, give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to get to this office.
4. Suhurupaya is the name of the office and you can enter that in the taxi app you are using or just tell your driver to take you to the Immigration office. Most of them know should know where that is. The ride should cost anywhere from 150 - 500 Rupees (~USD 1 - 3.50) so don’t get hit with the "tourist tax" by a driver trying to take advantage of an uninformed tourist.
This is the location of the office:
5. Once you arrive, you will see a big blue sign that says Department of Immigration & Emigration with an entrance right alongside it. Go through the doors and you’ll see a rather busy waiting area.
6. Walk to the back of this room, take the exit, and cross the little street to the building that the office is really in.
7. Head up the stairs and take the first glass door to your right.
8. After entering the building, walk past the front desk and stairwell towards the two sets of elevator banks. The one on your left goes to floors 09-19 while the one on the right goes to G - 08. The office you are looking for is on the 4th floor so take the elevator bank on your right to go upstairs.
9. Get off on the 4th floor, turn right towards a room with a C on it and a sign that says Welcome To The Visa Division. Walk through the doors, pull out your completed application and passport and hand it to the clerk sitting at the desk right after you enter this area. He will hand you a number token and ask you to sit in Wing C nearby and wait for that number to be called.
- If the clerk issuing the number token asks you to stick on your passport photo to your application, there is a bottle of glue located in Wing C by the pillar.
10. Head to Wing C, take a seat, and watch the monitors by the wall for your number to flash. At the bottom of the screen are the numbers that are due to be called so you can see how far back in line you are.
There is also an extension fee schedule posted on the wall by the monitors in this area so you can see how much your extension is going to cost.
11. Once your number is called, hand over your token to the clerk behind this desk who will scan it and then tell you to proceed to Area B. Head out the doors of this room, walk straight along the hallway to a door labeled B called Visa Application Acceptance Unit and walk in.
You will see another monitor hoisted on the wall on the pillar for Waiting Area B. Take a seat here and wait for your number to be called. Once your number flashes, head to the counter indicated for your number. It is really an office, not a counter, and there are four of them labeled A - D that are all lined up against each other.
I was called into counter B. After waiting 5 minutes for the visa officer to show up, I handed him my passport and application. He flipped through the pages, scanned my passport and asked me to go pay for the extension. Payments are made in Area C (where you started) so thank the officer and head back to that other area.
12. Head back to Area C and find the Shroff Counters which are located behind the desk that issues number tokens in step (9).
13. Take a seat and wait for your number to flash on the screens.
14. Once called, hand over your token number and confirm the amount that you have to pay for your country of origin. The teller is going to quote you a price in Rupees after a conversion from USD. You can either pay in cash in Rupees or hand them a Visa or MasterCard and be charged in USD.
As a Philippines passport holder, I was on the hook for USD 30. Since I was paying with a credit card, it didn't really matter what the Rupees rate was.
After you complete the payment, get your receipt and head over to the waiting area behind Wing C in step (10).
15. This is the last step and you might be here for a while so bust out the entertainment you brought with you whilst keeping an eye on the monitor for your token number.
16. Once your token number is called, head to the counters up front, hand over your token number, sign the release sheet, and get your passport back. Check whether the visa extension sticker is in your passport with a new expiry date. You’re all set!
I was granted a 60-day extension.
17. On your way out, you could also check out the food court by the entrance you came into in step (5) for some cheap eats. There is a wide range of food from Sri Lankan food to burgers. I got a fried rice lunch for 450 Rupees (~USD 3).
PERSONAL VISA EXTENSION TIMELINE:
0840 Arrived at Suhurupaya
0855 Sat down in Wing C after getting number
0920 Number called, scanned and headed to Area B
0933 Number called in Area B, handed passport and application before going back to Area C for payment
0938 Sat down in Area C and waited
1020 Paid $30 and moved to waiting area for visa issuing
1111 Picked up application forms and passport with visa extension sticker
Hooray! You get to stay in Sri Lanka a little longer. What are you most excited to see or do now that you can stay on the island a little longer?
About The Author
Nico Atienza is a third culture kid who took a year off from his life to make his dream of circumnavigating the globe come true. Apart from his love of travel, he is making videos for his Youtube Channel, an award winning volunteer who knows how to travel for free using miles & points, and is also probably trying to figure out how to tell his next story.