How to Apply for an ETA for Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a very popular travel destination that is known for its beautiful beaches and culture. Even though Americans are not granted visa-free access into Sri Lanka, it is very easy to gain access to the country with very little hassle. Americans who are interested in visiting will need to apply for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) in order to enter Sri Lanka. Thankfully, the Sri Lankan government has recognized the importance of tourism to its economy and made the ETA process extremely easy to navigate and complete. In fact, the whole application process can be done in about 15 minutes or less if you have the proper information already on hand.
In order to be granted entry into Sri Lanka as a US citizen, you must apply for an ETA. This is not the visa. Instead, it is authorization for a short visit to the country. If the ETA is approved by the immigration authorities, the immigration authorities will grant you a short-stay visa at the port of entry in Sri Lanka.
The short-stay visa is double-entry and valid for 30 days from the time you enter. The ETA itself is valid for six months from the day you apply. For those who are interested, it is also possible to extend your stays in Sri Lanka for up to six months.
In order to start the process, the first thing you want to do is head to the Sri Lanka Electronic Travel Authorization System. Just choose your language and click on “apply.” However, if you want, you can also look at the FAQ section to make sure you understand how everything works. In my opinion, the Sri Lankan government has done a good job making sure everything is clear since you can find information on the different visa types and purposes of visit. They also include sample ETA acknowledgments and approval forms to give you an idea of what to expect once you complete the application.
Depending on the purpose of your visit, you click on “apply” and click on the option based on the purpose of your visit. Most people will probably apply for an individual, but there are other options for groups and applying for 3rd parties among others. I applied as an individual for the purposes of tourism and sightseeing.
Once you click on the purpose of your visit, you just fill in your information. Since I applied for an individual, I cannot speak for what kind of documents are required for the other types of visits.
The nice thing about the Sri Lanka ETA is that you do not need to upload any documents. Therefore, no passport scans, photographs, or anything else is needed. The only information you need will be your passport number, passport issue and expiration date, intended date of arrival, airlines and flight number with point of origin, and your address in Sri Lanka along with some other basic information.
When you complete all that information, you will have the option to review your information before proceeding to the payment page.
You can easily pay the visa fee of $35 with any major credit card or a bank transfer, but if you use a credit card, there will be a small credit card fee which will boost the cost of the ETA to $36. This is cheaper than what I have seen on older posts which typically quote $40.
Once your credit card payment is verified and accepted, you will be sent an ETA acknowledgement with a reference number. The acknowledgment also states that ETA approval will be sent within 24 hours, so all you have to do is wait. It is important to note that this is dependent on whether it is a weekend in Sri Lanka, so it could be longer than 24 hours depending on the day that you applied.
I cannot speak for everyone who uses this system, but when I applied on a weekday, I completed the application, paid the fee, and received the ETA acknowledgment. About two minutes later, I got the approval. It could not have been faster.
Overall, applying for an ETA for Sri Lanka was extremely easy. After all was said and done, the entire process from start to receiving ETA approval was completed within less than half an hour. If I have to be honest, this was an extremely easy and simple process that anyone can complete.