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By No owner — last modified Jan 16, 2013 03:30 PM

 Sri Lanka - Formalities

Clearance

An agent is required to clear into and out of Sri Lanka.

Preferably establish contact with an agent before arrival so they can arrange for your permission to enter the harbour. Permission will be granted along with a (strictly kept) arrival time.

It is advisable to be able to communicate with Sri Lankan authorities (or your agent) en route and provide them with regular updates.

See Sri Lanka/Clearance Agents for a list of agents. Whilst agents must charge as per a government price tarif, there are still price differences between the different agents, so ask for several quotes and shop around. Typical cost reported (March 2017) was between US$225-$325.

Emailing the agent in advance with the following details may save you time hanging around waiting: Yacht Name, LOA, beam, draft, flag, port of registry and registration number. Name of Master, Masters Passport No., Last Port, Departure Date. No. of Crew and crew details, including nationality and passport numbers. If anyone is flying out of Sri Lanka list them as passengers and not crew.

There are some restrictions on cruising and anchorages along the coast following the conflict that ended in 2009. The coastal areas are gradually opening up, but check with your clearance agent for more information.

Clearance Procedure on Arrival

Clearance must be carried out through this agent, both on arrival and departure. The agent is supposed to ensure that the captain complies with port and immigration regulations, that he has sufficient funds in foreign exchange for the fees and that all port dues and customs duties are settled before departure.

It is recommended that you call your chosen agent on VHF about half an hour out (before calling Port Control), and again as you get closer. They will contact the officials to meet you on arrival.

Arriving yachts must also call the Port Authority on VHF Channel 16 when approximately 1.5NM off, to notify them of arrival, but it is common that yachts will be contacted by the Port Authority prior. (Keep a listening watch on VHF Channel 16 at all times when operating in Sri Lankan territory.)

A Port Authority official will come out to the boat during office hours (06:00-12:00, 13:00-16:00 Monday to Friday) to fill in an arrival report (yacht details, crew list, etc.).

The agent appointed will come to the yacht. Usually the agent will bring the health officer for the quarantine inspection, who will board the yacht and inspect it before granting pratique. Then the yacht will be inspected by a Customs officer, who will require the last port clearance. Crew lists and details of any passengers or crew who are leaving the vessel have to be given to Immigration.

Expect to be boarded by Health control, Immigration, Customs and Port Security. Be aware that these officials may ask for "gifts" after having searched the boat. Do not be intimidated into doing so, if you do not wish it.

The port authority will indicate the area in each port where yachts may anchor. The Port Authority tightly controls yacht movements and anchoring – particularly in Trincomalee – and schedules are kept to the minute. (A January 2016 report from a cruiser said that they arrived seven minutes early and were required to wait.) Yachts should not move from their original mooring without the Harbour Master's permission. Permission is also needed before hauling out a yacht. Land the dinghy at the appointed places in each port.

Departure
On departure a clearance certificate must be obtained from Customs. If the yacht is sailing along the coast, a clearance certificate must be obtained for calling at other ports in Sri Lanka. Access is only permitted to official ports of entry.

Last updated March 2017.

Immigration

Passports must be valid for at least 6 months on arrival.

On-line visa application

Sri Lanka requires that you apply and be approved for a visa PRIOR to arrival. You apply for the visa on-line at www.eta.gov.lk, and pay approximately US$35 per person during the application process (by credit card).

Tourist visas are valid for 30 days and can only be extended for up to 6 months by going to the head Immigration Office in the capital city of Colombo.

If you attempt to clear into Sri Lanka WITHOUT a pre-approved visa, you may be asked to leave Sri Lanka waters immediately, or you may be charged a significant fee to process you visa on demand. In January 2015 several yachts arrived without a visa and were charged $200 USD per person, no receipt provided, for a visa.

For more information, please visit the Immigration website.

Notes:

  • Sometimes, the online system gives out functional errors like refusing and locking credit cards, etc. Therefore, if you can apply for your visa prior to arrival, immigration should go smoothly.
  • It is recommended to apply for a Visitors Visa rather than a Transit Visa, because if you overstay your Transit Visa there are hefty fines to pay.
  • Be careful to enter all data on-line correctly (Name/passport number, etc.). Especially take care when entering the number 0 and letter O.
  •  

    Any crew or passengers leaving the yacht in Sri Lanka must get a landing endorsement from Immigration or police before leaving the harbour. It is an offence for someone who is not a crew member, or no longer a crew member, to move ashore without a landing endorsement. Likewise, the master may not engage any crew while in Sri Lanka without permission from Immigration or police. A new crew list should be given to the police if there are any crew changes.

    Last updated March 2017.

Customs

Firearms must be declared on arrival and held in custody by Customs until departure. Ensure that a receipt is obtained for the firearms and retain all documentation.

All electrical and electronic goods such as cameras or radios must be re-exported.

Customs permission has to be obtained for any item that is taken off or put on board the yacht, including ship's stores and items being repaired. In Galle the Customs at the harbour gate will often check the contents of any bags carried.

Yachts may stay up to two months.

Importing spare parts can be an expensive business. See this cruisers experience in March 2017.

Last updated March 2017.

Health

Malaria prophylaxis is recommended.

Vaccines for Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended.

There is no risk of yellow fever in Sri Lanka. The government of Sri Lanka requires proof of yellow fever vaccination only if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever.

Fees

Port dues: US$200 for the first month or part thereof, which must be paid on arrival. $175 for subsequent months. Payment made at one port is valid for other ports. US$20 customs fee. Overtime clearance fee (approximately US$10).

Above fee includes agent fee, but excludes costs of visas.

On-line visa application: US$35 per person

Customs charges if the yacht departs after 24 hours: 2400 LKR (US$25 including tips).

No overtime fees apply as all formalities are completed within normal working hours.

A note about Agency fees:
All agencies must charge as per the tariff issued by the government, which has not changed since 2008. This is as follows:

1) The first 10 days or part thereof: US$100

2) Thereafter for each additional 10 days or part thereof: US$50

3) If one stays for 30 days, agent must be paid: US$200

4) SLPA charges for 30 days: US$100

Be sure to get a quote from your potential agent PRIOR to visiting Sri Lanka. You should ask for an itemized list of ALL government and agent fees which will be incurred during your estimated stay in Sri Lanka.

A few cruisers reported (March 2017) that agent fees ranged from US$225-$325.

Some agents take a more "concierge" approach and offer additional services, not just simple clearance services. Check what is being offered as well as how much it costs: services vary.

Some agencies request or require that you pay them for their services prior to arrival via electronic funds transfer (EFT bank transfer). You may however want to seriously consider paying your agent in local currency or US dollars, with a paid receipt in return. If you do accept the EFT option, be sure to clarify who is going to pay the bank fees prior to transferring the funds.

Last updated March 2017.

Restrictions

Anchorage in any other area in Sri Lankan territorial waters except a port of entry is forbidden to yachts, unless in distress or an emergency situation.

You must carry a form of official photographic identification with you at all times otherwise you may be detained.

You can be fined if you ignore instructions not to smoke or drink in certain public areas.

Dangerous and toxic substances (oil, gas, chemicals, paint) must be disposed of responsibly via your agent.

Local Customs

Cover your legs and shoulders, and take off shoes and hats if you are entering a Buddhist temple.

Do not pose for photographs by standing in front of a statue of Buddha. The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is a serious offence and tourists have been convicted for this.

You must be prepared to stand your ground and walk away if negotiating anything in Sri Lanka.

Clearance Agents

You are required to have a shipping agent when clearing into and out of Sri Lanka. This applies to all yachts and all ports. You must select and correspond with your agent PRIOR to arrival. Most shipping agents have their main office in the capital, Colombo. However, they often subcontract the clearance process to local firms in Trinco and Galle.

For information on charges by agents see Fees.

Barwil Meridian Navigation
Tel:+94 (074) 517532
Agents.
GAC Shipping Ltd.
No. 284 (P.O.Box 1116) , Vauxhall Street , Colombo 02
Tel:+94-11-4797900 / Mobile: +94-773-313-639 Fax:+94 -11-4797910
Chinthaka Wijesundara | Operations Executive
Services are focused on facilitating clearance procedures on entry and facilitating departure with all the correct authorities. These agents have a representative in Trincomalee.
Isle Shipping
Tel:+94 77 373 0461
Contact Upali.
Manaco Marine
Tel:+94 112 592 055 / +94 112 592 056 / cell phone +94 771 766 769
Main office in Colombo, with a rep. in Trincomalee. M. B. M. Rizwan, Deputy General Manager of Operations. The local Trinco Manaco Marine representative works for Victory Shipping: victorytco@sltnet.lk
Marlan Jayasuriya
Tel:077 5839541
Agent.
Tango Shipping Agency
29, Kachchiwatta Rd , Megalle , Galle
Tel:+94 (0) 716834708 / +94915625867 / +94915637401 Fax:+94 912227120 ,VHF Channel 16/68 (24/7)
Arranges all types of pleasure craft clearance and documentation details. Supply of freshwater and fuel. Assist with provisioning and travel guidance.
Vin Ocean Shipping Limited
(Colombo Office) , No. 267/15, Galle Road , Colombo - 03
Tel:94 11 2 301476 / 94 11 3 143747 Fax:94 11 2 836916
Agents.
Vin Ocean Shipping Limited
(Galle Office) , No. 245, Circular Road , Magalle, Galle
Tel:94 77 2 443016 Fax:94 11 2 836916
Agents.
Windsor Reef Navigation (Pvt) Ltd
No:6/1, Closenberg Road , Magalle , Galle, Sri Lanka
Tel:+94777901046, +94777901045, +94777907425, +94912248804 Fax:+94914380737 ,VHF Channel 16, 69, 72
Opening hours: 24/7
Offices are not more than 100 metres from Galle harbour entrance.
Zodiac DBS (PVT) Ltd
30/63, Longdon Place , Colombo 00700 , Sri Lanka
Tel:+94 11 2585653 / Mobile: +94 773577035 (24 hours) Fax:+94 11 2500770
Contact Kithsiri Paliskara – General Manager, Operations. Clearance service for yachts in Colombo, Galle and Trincomalee. Also can assist with emergency repairs, spares, provisions, crew change, medical assistance, transport, tours etc.

Pets

Animals should possess a vaccination record and quarantine certificate. The Sri Lankan quarantine office should be informed (this can be done via your agent) and allowed to inspect the animal and issue a certificate. It is only after that step, that the animal can be taken ashore.

Rabies is widespread and in 1989 over one hundred people had died of it in Sri Lanka.

Last updated March 2015.

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