In our role as project managers, we have a great deal of experience of visiting Sri Lanka, buying property and carrying out building projects. Our foreign clients are often surprised at how differently things work here and although this is a huge part of the fun, there are some issues to be aware of.

When to visit: Sri Lanka has more bank holidays per year than almost any other country, so if you plan to have a productive visit full of meetings or shopping for fittings, you should pick your timing carefully. Some of the main holidays to be aware of are:

  • One bank holiday on the day of full moon each month (Poya).
  • Three bank holidays in mid-April for Sinhala & Tamil New Year
  • Two bank holidays in mid-May over the Buddha's day of enlightenment (Vesak).
  • Certain Christian holidays, including Christmas Day and Good Friday.
  • Certain Muslim holidays.
A full list is available here...

Land Acquisition: Foreigners can find the process of buying property in Sri Lanka more difficult and confusing than at home. This makes it interesting and exciting, but means that you must have a trusted agent to help you through. Willow can put you in touch with experts to help protect you from unexpected problems.

There are significant legal and tax implications of buying property in Sri Lanka, so again, you should appoint suitable legal and financial representation.

Foreign Investment: The Colombo to Galle stretch of the new highway has recently opened and has greatly reduced journey times: Colombo is now only an hour away and Colombo airport can be reached in under two and a half hours, depending on the time of day. In addition, the airport at Hambantota, about two hours drive from Galle, is being expanded to become an international airport. Combined with this, Sri Lanka's economy is growing rapidly, as is the tourist industry, making Galle and the south-coast increasingly attractive for foreign investment.

Visas: Obtaining a tourist visa to Sri Lanka is very straightforward, but for a longer stay the process gets more complicated. A range of options is listed below; note that these are subject to change so please see for full details.

  • Tourist Visa: A one month tourist visa to Sri Lanka should be obtained online through the following website:, which can be extended to a total of three months by visiting the Department of Immigration in Colombo. Once that three month visa is up, it may be possible to visit the Department of Immigration and extend it by a further three months, to a total of six. Note that a charge is applicable at each stage.
  • Residence Visa: A one year residence visa may be issued under two circumstances. Firstly, where you are investing in the country or secondly where you plan to pursue vocations that are 'not prejudicial to the best interests of the population'. To pursue either route, the first step is to contact the Board of Investment (BoI).
  • My Dream Home: If you are over the age of 55, you are eligible for a renewable two year residence visa, provided you open a Sri Lankan bank account into which you deposit US$15,000, plus a monthly remittance of US$1,500 and a further US$750 for any dependents.