How to plan a trip to Sri Lanka from India with COVID-19 restrictions

So have you been planning you first international trip after COVID-19 and been considering Sri Lanka? Well, you’ve come to the right place as I visited Sri Lanka recently and this article is all about planning a trip to this beautiful island nation in the Indian Ocean. This post isn’t won’t give you an itinerary (that’ll come later), but covers all the logistics for planning your trip.

If you prefer a video, here’s a quick guide to planning your trip to Sri Lanka from India:


Planning for you travel

Full vaccination is must

This is compulsory if you want to travel to Sri Lanka. Also, the second dose needs to be at least 14 days before the departure date. Sri Lanka accepts both Covishield as well as Covaxin as valid vaccines. This certainly makes Sri Lanka an attractive destination to those who were vaccinated with Covaxin. 

Take a few prints of your  final vaccine certificate - they’ll come handy during your entry to Sri Lanka as well as later when you check-in into hotels. 

Apply for an Online visa

There’s no visa on arrival anymore and you need to apply in advance for your travel there. It’s a fairly simple process and filling up the form takes only about 10 minutes. There’s a fee of $20 for the visa. The visa is valid for 30 days and you can enter the country twice in that duration.

Apply online here.

Online visa application

Once you apply online, the ETA will come in your email within a few hours. I had it in my inbox in an hour but it was in the spam folder. Just make sure you check all folders a few hours after your application. 

Book your flight

There are quite a few of direct flights to Sri Lanka from most major Indian cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. I flew in from Mumbai and the flight is a bit late in the night. I started at about 8.30PM and reached at about 11.30PM. Sri Lankan Airlines is an obvious choice and I can easily recommend them for the journey. IndiGo also have a few direct flights from some Indian cities like Chennai.

RTPCR before you travel

You also need to take an RTPCR test 72 hours before you travel. This is compulsory along with the a final vaccination certificate. I booked my test for home collection and that works great. If you live in Mumbai or Pune, SRL Labs are great - the booking is done promptly and they always come on time to collect the sample. The reports are typically available within 24 hours of taking the test.

Complete Online health declaration for Sri Lanka

Once you have the negative RTPCR report, I would strong recommend doing an online health deceleration for Sri Lanka. This isn’t a compulsory step, but it saves a lot of time when you are immigration. 

Here’s the link.

Health Declaration Form


Experience at immigration

My experience at immigration was absolutely flawless. Thanks to the online health declaration form, it took only a second for me to get the documents verified through QR code scanning and after that immigration took only a minute more.

While you are in Sri Lanka

Always wear a mask

Mask compliance in Sri Lanka is excellent and almost everyone wears a mask always. If you are caught without masks, you might also get a heavy fine. Make sure you always wear one too. I typically have at least two extra masks with me in the bag just in case I lose a mask, I can always quickly find another one within a minute. 

Planning for your return

RTPCR test in Sri Lanka

It is necessary to get an RTPCR test done in Sri Lanka before you take a flight back home to India. The test has to be done within 48 hours of your flight to India. The easiest way to get this done would be by asking your hotel to book it for you and this is what I did. You can also visit a clinic and get the test done there.

Update Air Suvidha online

Once your RTPCR report comes to you and it’s negative, you also need to upload the same on Air Suvidha website. Here’s the link for Air Suvidha.

Air Suvidha form

Other important details

Travel insurance

Travel insurance has always been essential, but even more so in the present times. When picking an insurance make sure they cover covid-19 related complications properly. Take a pain which will cover your expenses in the unfortunate scenario of you testing positive when you take the RTPCR test before departure.

Internal flights and trains in Sri Lanka

Air taxis and trains are the best way to move around in Sri Lanka. When I was there, these weren’t accessible so can’t give any specific tips but I’ve been told by other fellow travellers that these work great too, especially the trains. In fact, I would love to revisit Sri Lanka someday just to explore the train journeys there.

Taking a local SIM

This is, of course, optional, but I would certainly recommend this. I took a data only plan from Dialog for Sri Lankan Rupees 1499 and it was enough for my ten days. You can easily add more data online through their web portals.

Self-driving in Sri Lanka

Self driving is possible in Sri Lanka and you can get a car from the airport itself. Learn more about it here.

Flying a drone in Sri Lanka

Flying a drone in any country can be tricky and one needs to take all proper approvals before flying it. DO NOT fly a drone unless you have proper permission to fly one - you could be arrested for doing so, especially in the urban areas. Here’s a link to know more about Drone regulations

Travel Videos on Sri Lanka

Here are a few travel videos I made during mu stay in Sri Lanka. Stay tuned for more detailed articles on places to visit in Sri Lanka soon as well.




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