Official Travel Advice for Sri Lanka
Summary - There were outbreaks of violence across parts of North Western Province on 13 May, and an island-wide night-time curfew was imposed.
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Advice current as at 4:00 am 19 May 2019.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka, due to the current evolving security situation following attacks on 21 April 2019. This advice does not apply if transiting Colombo airport, providing that passengers remain airside in the airport.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Sri Lanka. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. On 21 April 2019, bombs were used to attack 3 churches and 3 hotels in Sri Lanka: in central Colombo, in the northern suburb of Colombo Kochchikade, and in Negombo roughly twenty miles north of Colombo; and in the east of the country in Batticaloa. According to official figures more than 250 people were killed, including at least 8 British nationals.
Security has been stepped up across the island and a State of Emergency remains in place. The Sri Lankan authorities have made a number of arrests in relation to the attacks, and security operations are ongoing, including controlled explosions of suspicious packages and vehicles, and temporary evacuations of buildings. The authorities have also announced emergency regulations that, until further notice, ban the wearing of clothing or objects that conceal the face in such a way that prevents the wearer’s identification.
There were outbreaks of violence across parts of North Western Province on 13 May, and an island-wide night-time curfew was imposed
If you’re in Sri Lanka, you should:
- remain vigilant, keep up to date with developments and follow the advice of local security authorities and hotel security staff;
- keep a low profile, avoid crowded public places, large gatherings (including religious gatherings and places of worship) and any demonstrations. All of the attacks on 21 April were carried out either in places of worship or in places where foreign visitors were affected. Any further attacks may be targeted against similar locations;
- keep in touch with family and friends, ensuring they are aware of any plans you may have.
If you’re in Sri Lanka and you are already due to leave or now wish to do so, keep in regular contact with your airline, tour operator and travel insurance company (where applicable) to ensure you are aware of arrangements that may be in place for customers. If you’re travelling independently, you should make your own arrangements to leave via commercial means, in consultation with your travel insurance company. If you choose to remain in Sri Lanka, then you should check that your insurance policy provides adequate cover.
You should ensure you have confirmed, pre-arranged travel plans in place before leaving your accommodation for the airport. Travel within Sri Lanka may be subject to delays - you should check with your travel provider well in advance and allow extra time. Colombo Airport is operating, but with increased security checks and long queues for taxi pick-ups. Some airlines are advising their passengers to arrive early for check-in, in light of increased security screening. You should check with your airline about suggested check-in times. As above, follow the instructions of the local authorities.
The Sri Lankan Government continues to use curfews, including to support ongoing security operations. Most recently these have been put in place at short notice, and some have been limited to certain areas, so you should keep up to date with developments and avoid travelling during periods of curfew in affected areas. The Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed that passengers with a passport and a valid flight ticket (including electronic ticket) can travel to the airport during curfew periods.
If you have been directly affected by the attacks or need urgent consular assistance, call the British High Commission in Colombo on +94 11 5390639, and select the emergency option from where you will be connected to one of our consular staff. If you’re in the UK and worried about British family or friends in Sri Lanka, call the FCO in London on 020 7008 1500 and follow the same steps.
If you have witnessed or been affected by any of the attacks in Sri Lanka, consult this guidance on support available to victims of terrorism. This includes a 24/7 support line, offering emotional support for anyone affected by an attack, and it is free to call.
Terrorists are very likely to carry out attacks in Sri Lanka. See Terrorism
You need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. See Visas
Dengue fever occurs throughout the country. See Health
Sri Lanka can be affected by severe weather such as like tropical cyclones and monsoon rains. A general alert has been issued by the Centre for Disaster Management over the onset of the South Western Monsoon (check local advice before setting out. See Natural disasters
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.
Quick Facts Tourist Information for:Sri Lanka
Drive on the: left
Visitors/Tourists: 856,000 in 2011
Tamil (official language) 15%
Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte
Largest City: Colombo