– Last updated on March 11, 2019

– This post originally appeared on www.whereintheworldisnico.com and has been optimized for this site.

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

– Mayeu M pointed out that someone calls numbers for Visit Visas and Residence Visas.

While Sri Lanka offers a way to obtain 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 straight forward but can be time-consuming since the office gets quite busy. I went through this process myself in 2017 and 2019 and the following post details what you can expect.

5 step process to renew your Sri Lanka Tourist Visa
5-step process to getting your visa extended


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.

TIP

If you apply for the extension before lunch, you are going to get your passport back before the day ends. On the other hand, if you apply much later in the day, you might be asked to come back the next day to pick up your passport.

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:

  1. Completed form
  2. 1 x passport photo
  3. Cash/credit card for visa extension fee (amount per country is below)
  4. Water & snacks
  5. Some form of entertainment (book, movies, podcasts, etc)
  6. Sweater if you get cold easily
  7. Patience, everything is done in waves so you’ll be sitting around a few times waiting for something to happen.

TIP

There is a refillable water station in the hallway just outside of the area labeled “A”

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. The Department of Immigration & Emigration 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.

Token collection counter
This is where you hand in your completed form to get a token
Completed form with picture and token

TIPS

1. If you don’t have a passport photo, there is a photo station to your right as you walk into this room. You can get 4 photos for 250 Rupees (~1.75 USD). You cannot get a number token unless your application has a photo. 

2. 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 through 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.

TIP

While the immigration officials recommend that you have a onward
ticket and evidence of why you want to extend your stay on the island, I got very little indication that is 100% necessary. Nevertheless, your YMMV but I didn’t get the impression that supporting documentation of any kind is required.

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. You will be seated in this section for a while so get your entertainment ready and periodically keep an eye out on the large monitor above the desk for your number to be called.

TIP

There is a counter near the entrance of Area C which sells some short eats and coffee. If they sell out, you can purchase more snacks, fresh juice, and a nice rice & curry lunch at the cafeteria on the 7th floor.

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 Sri Lankan 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).

Waiting for my passport in 2017

15. This is the last step and you will have to wait here until your passport is ready to be released. When I visited in 2017, the large monitor on top of the desk would indicate which tokens were available for pickup. In 2019, someone just started reading out token numbers which caused a large mob to form up front. I suggest getting a seat in the first 2 rows so you are able to hear the numbers being called without having to get up.

People waiting to collect their passport
Waiting for my passport in 2019

TIP

Someone comes on the PA system periodically and starts calling out numbers for tourist visas and residence visa applicants to pick up their passports. Your number might also flash on the screens above when your passport is ready for pick up.

Citizens' Client Charter at the Department of Immigration & Emigration Sri Lanka

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).

TIP

You can extend your stay one more time by repeating the same process as above but you will pay an additional 10,000 Rupees (~USD 56) government tax on top of your extension fee. They might scrutinize your application more since you’ve already had one extension so bring some supporting documents with you. If successful, you can extend you stay for another 60 days for a grand total of 150 days.


PERSONAL VISA EXTENSION TIMELINE (2017):

08:40 am

Arrived at Department of Immigration & Emigration

08:55 am

Sat down in Wing C after getting number

09:20am

Number called, scanned and headed to Area B

09:33am

Number called in Area B, handed passport and application before going back to Area C for payment

09:38am

Sat down in Area C and waited

10:20am

Paid $30 and moved to the waiting area for visa issuing

11:11am

Picked up application forms and passport with visa extension sticker 


PERSONAL VISA EXTENSION TIMELINE (2019):

09:50 am

Arrived at Department of Immigration & Emigration

09:57 am

Sat down in Wing C after getting number

10:01am

Number called, scanned and headed to Area B

10:07am

Number called in Area B, handed passport and application before going back to Area C for payment

10:10am

Sat down in Area C and waited

12:15pm

Paid $30 and moved to the waiting area for visa issuing

02:09pm

Picked up application forms and passport with visa extension sticker 

Visa Extension Services

You’re in luck because there are many 3rd party agencies that can do it for you for a fee. One such agency that was recommended to me by a friend is Island Visa Services. I rang them up and they quoted me 12,500 Rupees (~USD 82), which includes the visa fee and pick up/drop off service, to renew my visa based on my Philippines passport. It was a little more than I wanted to spend which is why I did it myself.

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?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
avatar

Nico Atienza

Travel + Technology Content Creator

Nico is a third culture kid extraordinaire who has spent time living in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and the U.S. He travels the world looking for the best stories, views, and eats.


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