Physical visa or ETA?

Explaining the differences between the physical and digital visas:

The big difference between the e-visa (ETA) and the physical visa is that the former can be applied electronically and the physical visa can not. The latter must be applied for at one of the consulates of Sri Lanka.

To apply for a physical visa, you must:

Check whether you need a physical visa. Ask yourself the following questions and if you answer one of these questions with 'yes' then you need to apply for a physical visa:

  • Do I want to stay in Sri Lanka for more than 90 days?
  • Will I join an organization based in Sri Lanka?
  • Am I a journalist and do I make media productions?
  • Do I participate in media events and political meetings?
  • Do I work with NGOs?

If you have answered yes to one of the above before you head to the consulate, please check your passport to see if there is a blank page for sticking the physical visa in your passport. If this empty page is not available, you will need to request a new passport before you continue with your application.

Make sure to check what type of physical visa you want to have e.g Tourist visa, Business visa etc.

Once granted, the physical visa is put in the passport by an employee of the consulate. This differs to the ETA as it is downloaded and printed out by the traveler at home.

Disadvantages of applying for a physical visa:

  • Higher costs
  • Longer processing time

The physical visa must be applied for by those travelers who do not fulfill all conditions set by the Sri Lankan government.

Like the e-visa, the physical visa has different standards:

  • The tourist visa: must be applied for a temporary stay for visiting friends, excursions, visiting nature parks and the like.
  • The business visa: must be applied for a temporary stay where voluntary work can be done but it is forbidden for the traveler to become an employee with an organization that is located in Sri Lanka. These business visas are available in a single-entry, double-entry or multiple-entry. The big difference is that with a multiple-entry you can travel to Sri Lanka several times during a half year without having to apply for a new visa, single entry you can only travel to Sri Lanka once
  • The immigration visa: must be applied for for a permanent residence where you as a traveler can be an employee of an organization based in Sri Lanka.
  • The transit visa: must be requested by the traveler using Sri Lanka as a transfer airport.
  • Click here to apply for an e-visa for Sri Lanka