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Intercountry Adoption

English

Country Information

Sri Lanka

Country Information

Sri Lanka
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
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Embassy Messages

Colombo

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid for six months from expected date of departure from Sri Lanka.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page required for entry stamp. 

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

Required for yellow fever if arriving from an infected area.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

Foreign currency over USD 15,000 must be declared.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

If exiting with foreign currency over USD 5,000, the full amount brought in or acquired in Sri Lanka must be declared.

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Colombo

210 Galle Road,
Colombo 03,
Sri Lanka
Telephone: +(94) (11) 249-8500
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(94) (011) 249-8686
Fax: +(94) (11) 243-7345
Email: 

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Destination Description

Sri Lanka is a presidential parliamentary democracy with a developing economy. Sri Lanka's beaches, hill country, and archaeological sites attract visitors from around the world. Tourism continues to increase. The capital city of Colombo, the Cultural Triangle (Dambulla, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa), the cities of Kandy and Galle, and many southern beach towns have good tourist facilities, and the roads connecting many of those destinations are generally good and improving.

On May 18, 2009, more than 26 years of conflict ended with the Sri Lankan government defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). During the war, the LTTE had a history of attacks against civilians, though none were directed against U.S. citizens. There have been no terrorist attacks since the end of the conflict, and the government has authority throughout the island. The LTTE remains on the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations. Visitors can travel to all provinces; former prohibitions on visiting some provinces no longer exist.

Please read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Sri Lanka for additional information. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

U.S. citizens visiting Sri Lanka must have either an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) or a visa to enter Sri Lanka. 

U.S. citizens intending to visit Sri Lanka for purposes of tourism or transit require an approval notice from Sri Lanka’s Electronic Travel Authorization System, onward/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds. The Electronic Travel Authorization System is available online or at the port of entry.  Visitors are strongly urged to use the online system to avoid lengthy delays at the port of entry. The online application, fees, and other relevant information are available here.  This travel authorization allows entry for up 30 days.   

Sri Lankan regulations define tourist travel as sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, receiving medical treatment including Ayurvedic and yoga, and participating in sporting events, competitions, and cultural activities. Foreigners entering Sri Lanka on a tourist visa cannot convert their visa to a non-tourist one, and risk deportation if they engage in other activities without the appropriate visa.

Transit passengers are defined as foreigners who expect to enter Sri Lanka and remain for a period not exceeding 2 days while waiting for onward travel. Passengers who do not cross Sri Lankan immigration lines, but who transfer between flights inside the airport, are defined as transfer passengers and do not require an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) approval or a visa.   

U.S. citizens intending to visit Sri Lanka for short-term business activities such as participating in business meetings, engaging in business negotiations, or attending conferences and workshops are required to obtain a business ETA.   Business ETAs are not available online. Business travelers must obtain travel authorization either from the nearest Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate before arrival in Sri Lanka, or at the port of entry in Sri Lanka.  

U.S. citizens intending to visit Sri Lanka for religious or volunteer work or for local employment must obtain entry visas from the nearest Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate before arrival in Sri Lanka. These visas are not available at the port of entry or through the online system.

All visitors staying beyond the expiration date of their visa must obtain a visa extension from the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo and pay the relevant visa fees.

Travelers must have yellow fever and cholera immunizations if they are arriving from an infected area. A yellow fever vaccination certificate must also be obtained by all passengers over the age of one who have traveled through the following African and Latin American countries within nine days immediately preceding entry to Sri Lanka:

African countries – Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, , Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.

South American countries – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

Specific inquiries regarding entry and exit requirements should be addressed to the Embassy of Sri Lanka, 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 483-4025, fax (202) 232-7181. Contact the Sri Lankan Embassy by e-mail; the Sri Lankan Consulate General in Los Angeles at 3250 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2180, Los Angeles, CA 90010, telephone (213) 387-0210, fax (213) 387-0216; or the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York City, #630 3rd Avenue, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 986-7040, fax (212) 986-1836. There are several honorary Sri Lankan consuls general and consuls in the United States. Visit the Embassy of Sri Lanka website for current visa information.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan law allows immigration officials to refer visitors and foreign residents to a physician for examination if a public health risk is suspected. In practice this is a rare occurrence, but travelers should be aware that Sri Lankan law allows for the denial of entry to any foreigner who, upon referral from an immigration officer, is certified by a physician as posing a public health risk. Travelers who refuse a medical examination under these circumstances may be refused entry. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Sri Lanka before traveling.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page

 

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Safety and Security

The Sri Lankan military continues to maintain a significant presence in the north. The system of military roadblocks and checkpoints has largely been dismantled except in the vicinity of military installations and assets known as “high security zones” (HSZ). Although the government and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue operations to locate and dispose of landmines in the north, a number of areas are still mined. Landmines and unexploded ordnance are still found in parts of the Northern, Eastern, and North Central Provinces, particularly in Ampara, Anuradhapura, Batticaloa, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Polonnoruwa, Trincomalee and Vavuniya. As of April 2016, the government’s National Mine Action Center estimated 54 km2 remained to be surveyed and/or cleared in these ten districts.  Travelers in these areas should stay on main, heavily traveled roads, and never walk in forested or agricultural areas or in abandoned properties. Travelers should make themselves aware of, and able to recognize and avoid, any area cordoned off for landmine clearance. Travelers should not touch anything that resembles a landmine or unexploded ordnance and should notify local police if they see something that resembles a landmine. 

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Sri Lanka should be aware of their personal surroundings and follow prudent security practices. Travelers should avoid political rallies, public demonstrations, military installations, and closed areas of HSZs.

Demonstrations in Colombo are a regular occurrence. Most demonstrations are peaceful, resulting only in traffic congestion; however, some have ended in violence between the protesters and police or opposition groups. While the majority of demonstrations are related to internal Sri Lankan politics, protests directed toward western embassies and international organizations are not uncommon. Demonstrations can occur with little or no advance notice. Even those intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. Travelers should check the U.S. Embassy Colombo website for possible updates, enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive e-mail messages or cellular phone short message service (SMS) texts about impending demonstrations and monitor media coverage of local events. Travelers should remain aware of their surroundings at all times, review their personal security plans, and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Sri Lanka occasionally experiences heavy rain fall due to depressions around the island. Heavy rainfall has resulted in flooding in low lying urban areas and near rivers. Landslides have occurred during and after heavy rains in Colombo, as well as Central, Western, Sabaragamuwa, and other Provinces depending upon prevailing weather conditions.  

Crime: There is an elevated criminal threat in Sri Lanka. Most violent crime occurs within the local community. However, reports of violent crime, sexual assaults and harassment directed at foreigners have been increasing in recent months. Police response to assist victims can vary from a few minutes to hours, even in the tourist areas, and particularly in remote areas.

Organized and armed gangs are known to operate in Sri Lanka and have been responsible for targeted kidnappings and violence, although there is no evidence to suggest that U.S. citizens are at particular risk. A British national was killed and a Russian national sexually assaulted and beaten during a violent attack by a gang in a tourist resort in the southern beach town of Tangalle in December 2011. The Sri Lankan justice system can be slower than in the United States and there are a number of outstanding cases of crimes against foreign nationals.

U.S. citizens are advised against travel on public buses in Sri Lanka, as passengers can be targets of criminal activity and bus drivers do not consistently obey driving regulations.

Travelers, especially women, should consider travelling with other people when possible. Western women continue to report incidents of verbal and physical harassment by groups of men. Such harassment can occur anytime or anywhere, but most frequently has taken place in crowded areas such as marketplaces, train stations, buses, public streets and sporting events. The harassment ranges from sexually suggestive or lewd comments to physical advances, and sexual assaults have occurred as well. While most victims of sexual assault have been local residents, an upswing in sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas in the southern beaches underlines the fact that foreign women should exercise vigilance.  

Routine petty crime, especially thefts of personal property and pick-pocketing, is not uncommon if the traveler does not take appropriate safeguards. Street hustlers or “touts” are common around hotels, shopping centers, and tourist sites. Credit card fraud is frequent and can happen in any establishment, or when paying online. Sri Lankan law enforcement have uncovered foreign rings of criminals using “false fronts’” and “pen camera devices” to clone bank cards and steal personal identification numbers at ATM machines in Sri Lanka. Travelers should consider paying in cash whenever possible, and should carefully review billing statements to ensure that purchases displayed on their credit card statements are accurate. Consultation with personal credit card security advisors is encouraged for travelers to develop a protection plan that is best for your travel to Sri Lanka.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to always carry their U.S. passports while in Sri Lanka. U.S. citizens of Sri Lankan origin may be subject to additional scrutiny upon arrival and while in the country.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Sri Lanka is 119. This number only contacts the police and does not provide access to emergency medical services. Although the number is answered 24 hours a day, police responsiveness may vary.

Victims of Crime:

  • U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy. 
  • The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Maldives is 119.  Note: This number is only for the police, not for emergency medical services.
  • Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

  • Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. If you break local laws in Sri Lanka, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you travel. 

In places like military checkpoints, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. When transiting Sri Lanka, ensure your luggage does not contain prohibited or restricted items, such as weapons, ammunition, explosives, gold, narcotics, and pornography, among other items. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit but still illegal in the United States. 

Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Sri Lanka are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Under the Cultural Prosperity Act and the Antiques Ordinance, the unlicensed export of antiques from the country is considered a criminal act.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law.  For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Sri Lanka recognizes limited dual nationality. For further information, please contact the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington, D.C., the Consulate General in Los Angeles, or the Sri Lankan Mission to the United Nations in New York City.

The Sri Lankan police still maintain several checkpoints throughout the country. U.S. citizens are advised to carry identification such as their passports with them at all times while in Sri Lanka. Photography is prohibited in designated high security zones and near many government facilities such as offices and military installations.

U.S. citizens who arrive by yacht or private boat should be aware that all marine harbors are high security zones. Travelers arriving by sea should be prepared for Sri Lankan Navy officials to inspect their vessels and should always wait for radio clearance before coming into port. 

Religious Laws: Tourists should be mindful of restrictions and observances when planning to visit any religious establishment, whether Buddhist or Hindu temples, mosques, churches, or other locations considered sacred by the local population. Posing for a photograph with your back to a statue of Buddha is a serious offense in Sri Lanka, punishable by a fine or arrest. Travelers should also be cognizant of displaying religious imagery, including tattoos of Buddha, while traveling to and transiting within the country, as foreign nationals have been arrested or denied entry to Sri Lanka due to such tattoos.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

Women Travelers: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

LGBTI Travelers: See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Sri Lanka, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The Sri Lankan Supreme Court has directed that steps be taken to provide easy access for persons with disabilities to public buildings. Although there are regulations on accessibility in place, lack of wheelchair access in most buildings limits access for people with disabilities. Potholes and sidewalks in poor repair can make movement very difficult. The road network in Sri Lanka is improving, but many roads remain in medium to poor condition. Sidewalks and road crossings in most major towns tend to be congested with vendors, stray dogs, and groups of people loitering on street corners. 

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Health

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.  

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.

Medical Facilities: There are six large hospitals in the Colombo area, including four facilities with emergency trauma service: Asiri Surgical Hospital; Lanka Hospital; Central Hospital; and the government-run National Hospital. Medical facilities outside Colombo are limited. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of private physicians available on the Embassy website. The availability of medical supplies is uneven; therefore, travelers should carry any special medications with them. Serious medical conditions do require evacuation to the United States or to a nearby country with more advanced medical facilities, such as Thailand or Singapore. Neither Thailand nor Singapore requires U.S. citizens to have entry visas.

Several mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue fever, Chikungunya, and Japanese encephalitis are present in Sri Lanka. Dengue fever, in particular, is widespread in Sri Lanka’s Western Province, where the capital Colombo is located. Adequate mosquito protection is strongly advised. See the section on Entry/Exit Requirements (above) for information on communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in Sri Lanka, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Vehicular traffic in Sri Lanka moves on the left (British style). Traffic in Colombo can be congested. Narrow two-lane highways, overloaded trucks, poorly driven buses, and a variety of conveyances on the road, ranging from ox carts and bicycles to new four-wheel-drive vehicles, make driving dangerous. Unexpected road blocks and one-way streets are common and may not be clearly marked. Many visitors hire cars and drivers for long trips through the country. Individuals who choose to hire three-wheeled vehicles (“tuks” or “three wheelers”) should use metered vehicles or negotiate prices beforehand to avoid confrontations upon arrival. If you are renting a vehicle, you should specifically request one with working seatbelts.

Heavy rains sometimes cause flooding which can make roads inaccessible for several days and bring with them the risk of landslides.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Sri Lanka’s national tourist office.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Sri Lanka, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page

 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Colombo

210 Galle Road,
Colombo 03,
Sri Lanka
Telephone: +(94) (11) 249-8500
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(94) (011) 249-8686
Fax: +(94) (11) 243-7345
Email: 

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General Information

Sri Lanka and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since January 1, 2008.

For information concerning travel to Sri Lanka, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Sri Lanka. 

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Sri Lanka. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone: 1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Email: NSB-IPCA@state.gov
Website

The The Sri Lankan Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). The MOJ determines whether a particular case falls within the jurisdiction of the Hague Abduction Convention. If the MOJ determines a case is within such jurisdiction, the MOJ applies to the High Court of the Western Province (the sole court responsible for such legal actions in Sri Lanka) to issue an order for the return of the abducted child to his or her place of habitual residence. Following submission of the application to the High Court of the Western Province, the Attorney General's Department represents the MOJ in court

The Sri Lankan Central Authority can be reached at:

Ministry of Justice
Superior Courts Complex
COLOMBO 12
Sri Lanka
Telephone number: +94 (11) 232-3022
Fax number: +94 (11) 232-0785

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Sri Lanka, the left-behind parent or the Central Authority of the left-behind parent's country must submit a Hague application to the MOJ. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the Ministry of Justice, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or Sri Lanka central authorities. Attorney fees in Sri Lanka can vary depending upon an attorney's experience and reputation and are the responsibility of the applicant parent. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

 

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, Sri Lanka.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Sri Lanka. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

Sri Lanka does not permit parents to directly submit Hague Convention applications to the High Court of the Western Provence, as this role is only performed by the MOJ. However, parents can retain private attorneys to observe the legal proceedings and report directly to the parents the status of the case. Private attorney fees are the responsibility of the applicant parent.

Sri Lanka offers free (or reduced fee) legal services to certain qualified parties, solely at the discretion of the Legal Aid Commission. Legal aid and free legal services will only be available in cases where the requesting party's income is less than LKR 6000.00 (approximately $60 USD) per month's - this income must be certified by a local administrative officer and the Legal Commission determines that the case merits the free service.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo posts list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

The MOJ states that neither the Sri Lankan government nor any non-government organizations in Sri Lanka offer mediation services to resolve custody disputes. Any mediation efforts between the relevant parties must be arranged privately.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Sri Lanka is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Sri Lanka.

The Commissioner of Probation and Child Care Services in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, advised the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka that foreign citizens residing in Sri Lanka are not permitted to adopt Sri Lankan children.  Foreign citizens who reside outside of Sri Lanka may only adopt Sri Lankan children who are three months to 14 years of age.  U.S. citizens interested in adopting children from Sri Lanka are strongly encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Colombo’s Consular Section by email at consularcolombo@state.gov before formalizing an adoption agreement, to ensure that appropriate procedures (outlined in this country information sheet) are followed, which will make it possible for the Embassy to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Sri Lanka, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determine who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH3 or IH4 immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, prospective adoptive parents must meet Sri Lanka’s requirements to adopt a child from Sri Lanka:

  • Residency: Foreign citizens residing in Sri Lanka are not permitted to adopt Sri Lankan children. There is no requirement that PAPs must reside a certain amount of time in Sri Lanka, either before, during, or after the adoption.  However, both parents must be present at the Sri Lankan court proceedings.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: Both prospective adoptive parents must be over the age of 25 and not less than 21 years older than the prospective adoptive child.
  • Marriage: Under Sri Lankan law, single individuals cannot adopt; married couples must jointly apply for adoption.  Although existing laws in Sri Lanka does not expressly prohibit same-sex couples from adopting, in practice, same-sex couples are not found eligible to adopt a child from Sri Lanka.
  • Income: There is no specific income requirement, but the selection criteria of the Department of Probation and Child Care includes the health, age, and income of the family.
  • Other: Generally, both spouses must be present during the court proceedings unless the court waives personal appearance on the grounds of ill health (supported by the opinion of a medical practitioner who is licensed to practice in the United States).  In such cases, the spouse who is unable to travel must provide a power of attorney to the spouse who will represent him/her in court.
  • Prospective adoptive parents who do not have children will be given preference over parents who already have two or more children.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because Sri Lanka is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Sri Lanka must meet the requirements of the Convention. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Sri Lanka have determined that placement of the child within Sri Lanka was given due consideration, and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Sri Lanka’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

  • Relinquishment: Generally, the birth parent(s) are required to attend the court hearing to formally relinquish custody of the child in front of the judge. If the Department of Probation and Child Care Services cannot locate the birth parents, the judge has the authority to waive the requirement that the birth parents be present.
  • Abandonment: The relevant Provincial Commissioner decides if a child is abandoned in consultation with the Placement Committee in each children’s home. What constitutes abandonment in each case is left up to the discretion of the Provincial Commissioner in consideration of the specific the situation.  If the Provincial Commissioner cannot come to a decision, s/he can refer the issue to a court.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: Foreigners may only adopt Sri Lankan children between three months and 14 years of age.
  • Sibling Adoptions: The Department of Probation and Child Care Services will attempt to keep sibling groups together when matching children with prospective adoptive parents.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Prospective adoptive parents may request to adopt a child with or without special needs and/or medical conditions.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: The process of adopting a child from Sri Lanka can be lengthy. Under Sri Lankan regulations, an application from foreign prospective adoptive parents to adopt a Sri Lankan child must be registered with the Sri Lankan government through one of its diplomatic missions abroad. It generally takes at least one year to match a child with a family. After a child is identified, prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to stay in Sri Lanka from four to six weeks for the court proceedings.
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How to Adopt

WARNING: Sri Lanka is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Sri Lanka before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

Sri Lanka’s Adoption Authority
Department of Probation and Child Care Services

Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Sri Lanka as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or, 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases.

THE PROCESS

Because Sri Lanka is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Sri Lanka must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order, so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Sri Lanka
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt child in Sri Lanka
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

1.Choose a U.S.-Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Sri Lanka is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may provide adoption services between the United States and Sri Lanka. In addition, foreign adoption service providers must apply to the Department of Probation and Child Care Services for authorization to facilitate adoptions in Sri Lanka. If authorization is granted, the adoption service provider will be permitted to work in Sri Lanka subject to conditions stipulated by the Department of Probation and Child Care Services.  Prospective adoptive parents may contact either the Department of Probation and Child Care Services or the U.S. Embassy in Colombo for a list of U.S. accredited adoption service providers authorized to facilitate adoptions in Sri Lanka (see Contact Information below.) The U.S.-accredited or approved adoption service provider will act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the Department of Probation and Child Care Services as part of your adoption dossier. Sri Lanka’s central authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Sri Lanka’s laws.

3. Be Matched with a Child in Sri Lanka

If both the United States and Sri Lanka determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the central authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Department of Probation and Child Care Services in Sri Lanka may provide you with a referral for a child.  The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Sri Lanka. The Department of Probation and Child Care Services will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not.  Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, your adoption service provider communicates that to the Department of Probation and Child Care Services in Sri Lanka. Learn more about this critical decision.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Colombo that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Sri Lanka. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Sri Lankan Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Sri Lanka where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Sri Lankan Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Sri Lanka before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

Remember:The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt the Child in Sri Lanka

Remember: Before you adopt a child in Sri Lanka, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Sri Lanka.

The process for finalizing the adoption or gaining legal custody in Sri Lanka generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: The Sri Lankan adoption authority, the Department of Probation and Child Care Services, plays a significant role on most of the key procedures of adoption, including:
    • Matching: Foreign prospective adoptive parents are not allowed, on their own, to locate children for adoption. Only the Sri Lankan State Receiving Homes and Voluntary Children's Homes that are registered with the Department of Probation and Child Care Services for over five years may perform this function. These Homes (also referred to in this Country Information Sheet as Sri Lankan adoption agencies) must also have specific authorization of the Commissioner of Probation.
    • Allocation Letter from the Commissioner: If the Commissioner of Probation and Child Care Services finds the home study report and other supporting documents to be satisfactory, and if a child is adoptable, the Commissioner will send a letter to the Sri Lankan adoption agency, which will advise the prospective adoptive parents of the proposed match.
    • Interview with the Social Worker: Once the prospective adoptive parents receive their “allocation letter” proposing the match, they may travel to Sri Lanka for the adoption proceedings. (Note:Prospective adoptive parents must not adopt until the U.S. Embassy issues an Article 5 letter in your case.) The Commissioner of Probation and Child Care Services will assign a social worker to the case. Prospective adoptive parents need to schedule an interview with that person. This will occur at the Department of Probation and Child Care Services.
    • Visiting the Child: After the interview, the prospective parents will be issued a letter from the Commissioner authorizing them to see the child at the specified children’s home. The applicants, however, will not be allowed to take custody of the child without the Commissioner’s approval.
  • Role of the Court: Only the District Court of Colombo and the District Court of Colombo South have authority to issue orders of adoption of Sri Lankan children by foreigners. Prospective adoptive parents must hire a Sri Lankan attorney to represent them in the legal proceedings. The U.S. Embassy in Colombo maintains a list of attorneys who have indicated a willingness to assist U.S. citizens in Sri Lankan legal cases.
  • After the court receives the adoption petition, the court requests a report from the Commissioner to determine whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child. The Commissioner has from 14 to 28 days to submit the report. The home study must be included in the Commissioner’s report. If everything is in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations, the court then issues an order of adoption.

    When possible, the birth parent(s) are required to attend the court hearing in order to formally relinquish custody of the child in front of the judge. The adoptive parents are normally present for this step of the process. After the court’s adoption order is issued, copies may be obtained by making an application to the court.

    The court‘s adoption order must be registered with the Registrar General’s Office located at Indika Bldg., Main Street, Colombo 11. This process may take two to three days. The adoption is considered complete after the adoption order is registered and a copy of the Certificate of Adoption is obtained from the Registrar General, located at R.A. de Mel Mawatha, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka.

  • Role of Adoption Agencies: U.S. accredited adoption service providers facilitate adoptions by U.S. prospective adoptive parents in Sri Lanka. The U.S. adoption service provider either conducts or oversees the prospective adoptive parents’ home study to ensure compliance with U.S. and state law. After the provisional approval of Form I-800, the prospective adoptive parents contact the Immigrant Visa Unit, located in the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Colombo at consularcolombo@state.gov, to arrange the issuance of an Article 5 letter. As noted above, prospective adoptive parents are not permitted to locate children for adoption on their own.
  • Role of Attorneys: The attorney can file the petition for adoption in court and represent the prospective adoptive parents throughout the adoption legal proceedings.
  • Time Frame: The process for adopting a child from Sri Lanka can be lengthy. It generally takes at least one year to match a child with a family. Prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to stay in Sri Lanka one to two months to complete court procedures and obtain a Certificate of Adoption and a Sri Lankan passport before scheduling an interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy.
  • Adoption Application: Information on how to apply to adopt a Sri Lankan child, including the application for foreign adoption, may be found on the Department of Probation and Child Care Services website.
  • Adoption Fees: The lawyer’s fee for an adoption case is approximately U.S. $450 (or approximately Rs. 60,000) but may vary. Court fees are U.S. $1 (or approximately Rs. 100).
  • Prospective adoptive parents should refrain from making any payment or giving any reward to any person in consideration of the adoption except such as the court may sanction. Unsanctioned payments may be considered illegal under Sri Lankan law and lead to legal action.

    In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.

  • Documents Required:
    • Certified copies of the birth certificate of both prospective parents;
    • Certified copies of the marriage certificate of the prospective parents;
    • Certified copies of health certificates of both prospective parents;
    • A letter(s) from the current employer of the prospective parent(s) listing employment and salary information;
    • Police reports of the prospective parents;
    • Copies of the passports of both prospective parents; and
    • A home study report prepared by a U.S.-accredited agency or by the Sri Lankan Central Authority. You may find information on how to obtain a home study report from the Central Authority in Sri Lanka

      Note: Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington, D.C. to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.

6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Birth Certificate

If you have finalized the adoption in Sri Lanka, you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.

If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

After a court adoption order is issued, adoptive parents need to obtain an adoption certificate from the Department of the Registrar General, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  The adoption order must be submitted to:

Department of Registrar’s Office
Central Record Room
Maligawatte, Colombo 10

The adoptive parents may then apply at the Department of Registrar’s office for a new birth certificate with the adoptive parents listed as the parents and the child’s new surname included.  This process can take several months.  Normally, adoptive parents initiate the process and request the Department of Registrar’s office to forward the birth certificate to their U.S. address.

Sri Lankan Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Sri Lanka.

Once adoptive parents have the adoption order and adoption certificate, they must take it to the Department of Probation and Child Care Service in order to obtain a letter requesting the issuance of a Sri Lankan passport for their child. After receiving the letter from the Commissioner, the adoptive parents can apply for a Sri Lankan passport from the following:

Department of Immigration and Emigration
Passport Section
1st Floor, #41 Ananda Rajakaruna Mawatha
Colombo 10

Adoptive parents will need to bring the certificate of adoption, their child’s original birth certificate, and the letter from the Commissioner. The child’s passport will be issued with the name of on the adoption order. If the child is given a new name by the adoptive parents, this needs to be indicated on the final adoption order.

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Colombo.  After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel Sri Lanka
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.  To find information about obtaining a visa for Sri Lanka, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Sri Lanka, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

POST-ADOPTION RESOURCES
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption.  There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families.  There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

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After Adoption

POST-ADOPTION/POST-PLACEMENT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

Sri Lanka requires the following post-adoption reporting from parents:

  • Quarterly progress reports on the child until the adoption is legally confirmed in their state of residence;
  • Semi-annual process reports on the child, including his/her photograph, for a period of three years from the date on which the final adoption order in Sri Lanka is issued;
  • Annual reports for the child until he or she reaches ten years of age.

Post-adoption reports should be conducted by a social worker from the family’s U.S. Hague accredited adoption service provider through a home visit and include information on the adopted child’s physical and emotional development, health, and adjustment to the family environment. This report must be authenticated by the Sri Lankan Embassy in the United States, and forwarded to the Department of Probation and Child Care Service.

We urge you to comply with Sri Lanka’s post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents. Please visit the Department of Probation and Child Care Services website for more information about Sri Lanka’s post-adoption reporting requirement.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka
210, Galle Road
Colombo 03, Sri Lanka
Tel: +94-11-249-8500
Fax: +94-11-243-7345
Email: consularcolombo@state.gov
Internet: https://lk.usembassy.gov/embassy/colombo/

Sri Lanka’s Adoption Authority
Department of Probation and Child Care Services
69, S. De S. Jayasinghe Mawatha
Kohuwela, Nugegoda
Sri Lanka
Tel: +94-11 285 3575 or 94-11-2853553
Fax: +94-11 285 2393
Email: pcc@sltnet.lk
Internet: http://www.probation.gov.lk/

Embassy of Sri Lanka in the United States
Embassy of Sri Lanka
2148 Wyoming Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20008
Tel: (202) 483-4026/ 28
Fax: (202) 232-7181
Email: slembassy@slembassyusa.org
Internet: www.slembassyusa.org/

Sri Lanka also has consulates in the following cities in California:Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and Denville.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Tel:1-888-407-4747
Email: AdoptionUSCA@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
 
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 60 Months
B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None One 6 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 None Multiple 36 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 12 Months
H-1B None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-2A None N/A N/A 3
H-2B None N/A N/A 3
H-2R None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 36 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 36 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 36 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 36 Months
L-2 None Multiple 36 Months
M-1 None Multiple 12 Months
M-2 None Multiple 12 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 12 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 12 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 12 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 12 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 36 Months
R-2 None Multiple 36 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Monthly 48 Months
U-2 None Monthly 48 Months
U-3 None Monthly 48 Months
U-4 None Monthly 48 Months
U-5 None Monthly 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 60 Months
V-2 None Multiple 60 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 60 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available. These may be obtained from the Registrar General, Colombo. If the date of registration is not known by the requester, a search of the registers for a period not exceeding three months is possible. A fee may be charged for this service.

Death Certificates

Available. Death certificates may be obtained from the Registrar General, Colombo. If the date of registration is not known by the requester, a search of the registers for a period not exceeding three months is possible. A fee may be charged for this service.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available. Marriage certificates may be obtained from the Registrar General, Colombo. If the date of the registration is not known by the requester, a search of the registers not exceeding three months is possible.

Same-sex marriage is not recognized.

Divorce Certificates

Available. Divorce certificates may be obtained from the Registrar of the District Court where the decree was granted.

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update.

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Identity Card

Please check back for update.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

If you are a resident of Sri Lanka:

Submit your application for Police clearance certificate at the Police headquarters - 31, Olcott Mawatha, Pettah, Colombo 12 (Police Welfare Building at the Police headquarters) with the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of National ID card.

Women who use their husband's family name must submit a copy of the marriage certificate and an affidavit stating the maiden name and the name after the marriage.

  1. Photocopy of birth certificate.
  2. Photocopy of passport.
  3. A fee of 500 LKR.

The clearance certificate will be mailed to your address by registered post in approximately 3-4 weeks.

Download the application form for the police clearance certificate. Application forms are also available at the police headquarters.

If you reside outside of Sri Lanka:

Submit your application for Police clearance certificate at the closest Sri Lankan Diplomatic Mission with the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of National ID card.

Women who use their husband's family name must submit a copy of the marriage certificate and an affidavit stating the maiden name and the name after the marriage.

  1. Photocopy of birth certificate
  2. Photocopy of passport

A fee of 1000 LKR or equivalent amount is charged for the service. The clearance certificate will be mailed to your address by registered post in approximately two months. Download the application form for the police clearance certificate.

You may also submit your application along with the other documents directly to the Deputy Inspector of Police, with a bank draft of 1000 LKR drawn for Deputy Inspector of Police, Police Headquarters. The clearance will be mailed directly to the applicant in approximately two months. This process is more suitable for applicants who live in a country that does not have a Sri Lankan Diplomatic Mission.

Prison Records

Available only to and upon the request of the U.S. Embassy, Colombo. All requests for such information should be sent on the standard Form OF-l66 to the Embassy. Routine requests are usually answered within three weeks.

Military Records

Available upon direct application by the applicant to the officer in charge of records of the Sri Lanka Navy, Army or Air Force.


Passports & Other Travel Documents

Sri Lankan Passports and Identity Certificates may be used for travel to the United States and other countries. An Identity Certificate is issued to residents of Sri Lanka whose national identity is in doubt. It is valid for only one year and expires on the holder's return to Sri Lanka. The majority of persons issued Identity Certificates are stateless Hill Country Tamils who originally were brought to Sri Lanka to work on tea plantations. Other persons whose families have lived in Sri Lanka for some time but who have never obtained Sri Lankan citizenship are also issued Identity Certificates by the Government and use them for foreign travel.

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Colombo, Sri Lanka (Embassy)

210 Galle Road Colombo 3
Sri Lanka

Tel: (94) (1) 2448-007 - effective August 16, 2003
(94) (11) 2448-007 - effective October 18, 2003
After hours and emergencies: (94) (11) 448-601

Fax: (Consular section) (94) (11) 436-943

Visa Services

All visa categories for Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 483-4025 (202) 232-7181

Los Angeles, CA (213) 387-0210 (213) 387-0216

New York, NY (212) 986-7040 (212) 986-1838

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Colombo
210 Galle Road,
Colombo 03,
Sri Lanka
Telephone
+(94) (11) 249-8500
Emergency
+(94) (011) 249-8686
Fax
+(94) (11) 243-7345
Sri Lanka Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

Sri Lanka
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
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Embassy Messages

Colombo

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid for six months from expected date of departure from Sri Lanka.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page required for entry stamp. 

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

Required for yellow fever if arriving from an infected area.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

Foreign currency over USD 15,000 must be declared.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

If exiting with foreign currency over USD 5,000, the full amount brought in or acquired in Sri Lanka must be declared.

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Colombo

210 Galle Road,
Colombo 03,
Sri Lanka
Telephone: +(94) (11) 249-8500
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(94) (011) 249-8686
Fax: +(94) (11) 243-7345
Email: 

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Destination Description

Sri Lanka is a presidential parliamentary democracy with a developing economy. Sri Lanka's beaches, hill country, and archaeological sites attract visitors from around the world. Tourism continues to increase. The capital city of Colombo, the Cultural Triangle (Dambulla, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa), the cities of Kandy and Galle, and many southern beach towns have good tourist facilities, and the roads connecting many of those destinations are generally good and improving.

On May 18, 2009, more than 26 years of conflict ended with the Sri Lankan government defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). During the war, the LTTE had a history of attacks against civilians, though none were directed against U.S. citizens. There have been no terrorist attacks since the end of the conflict, and the government has authority throughout the island. The LTTE remains on the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations. Visitors can travel to all provinces; former prohibitions on visiting some provinces no longer exist.

Please read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Sri Lanka for additional information. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

U.S. citizens visiting Sri Lanka must have either an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) or a visa to enter Sri Lanka. 

U.S. citizens intending to visit Sri Lanka for purposes of tourism or transit require an approval notice from Sri Lanka’s Electronic Travel Authorization System, onward/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds. The Electronic Travel Authorization System is available online or at the port of entry.  Visitors are strongly urged to use the online system to avoid lengthy delays at the port of entry. The online application, fees, and other relevant information are available here.  This travel authorization allows entry for up 30 days.   

Sri Lankan regulations define tourist travel as sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, receiving medical treatment including Ayurvedic and yoga, and participating in sporting events, competitions, and cultural activities. Foreigners entering Sri Lanka on a tourist visa cannot convert their visa to a non-tourist one, and risk deportation if they engage in other activities without the appropriate visa.

Transit passengers are defined as foreigners who expect to enter Sri Lanka and remain for a period not exceeding 2 days while waiting for onward travel. Passengers who do not cross Sri Lankan immigration lines, but who transfer between flights inside the airport, are defined as transfer passengers and do not require an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) approval or a visa.   

U.S. citizens intending to visit Sri Lanka for short-term business activities such as participating in business meetings, engaging in business negotiations, or attending conferences and workshops are required to obtain a business ETA.   Business ETAs are not available online. Business travelers must obtain travel authorization either from the nearest Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate before arrival in Sri Lanka, or at the port of entry in Sri Lanka.  

U.S. citizens intending to visit Sri Lanka for religious or volunteer work or for local employment must obtain entry visas from the nearest Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate before arrival in Sri Lanka. These visas are not available at the port of entry or through the online system.

All visitors staying beyond the expiration date of their visa must obtain a visa extension from the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo and pay the relevant visa fees.

Travelers must have yellow fever and cholera immunizations if they are arriving from an infected area. A yellow fever vaccination certificate must also be obtained by all passengers over the age of one who have traveled through the following African and Latin American countries within nine days immediately preceding entry to Sri Lanka:

African countries – Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, , Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.

South American countries – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

Specific inquiries regarding entry and exit requirements should be addressed to the Embassy of Sri Lanka, 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 483-4025, fax (202) 232-7181. Contact the Sri Lankan Embassy by e-mail; the Sri Lankan Consulate General in Los Angeles at 3250 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2180, Los Angeles, CA 90010, telephone (213) 387-0210, fax (213) 387-0216; or the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York City, #630 3rd Avenue, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 986-7040, fax (212) 986-1836. There are several honorary Sri Lankan consuls general and consuls in the United States. Visit the Embassy of Sri Lanka website for current visa information.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan law allows immigration officials to refer visitors and foreign residents to a physician for examination if a public health risk is suspected. In practice this is a rare occurrence, but travelers should be aware that Sri Lankan law allows for the denial of entry to any foreigner who, upon referral from an immigration officer, is certified by a physician as posing a public health risk. Travelers who refuse a medical examination under these circumstances may be refused entry. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Sri Lanka before traveling.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page

 

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Safety and Security

The Sri Lankan military continues to maintain a significant presence in the north. The system of military roadblocks and checkpoints has largely been dismantled except in the vicinity of military installations and assets known as “high security zones” (HSZ). Although the government and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue operations to locate and dispose of landmines in the north, a number of areas are still mined. Landmines and unexploded ordnance are still found in parts of the Northern, Eastern, and North Central Provinces, particularly in Ampara, Anuradhapura, Batticaloa, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Polonnoruwa, Trincomalee and Vavuniya. As of April 2016, the government’s National Mine Action Center estimated 54 km2 remained to be surveyed and/or cleared in these ten districts.  Travelers in these areas should stay on main, heavily traveled roads, and never walk in forested or agricultural areas or in abandoned properties. Travelers should make themselves aware of, and able to recognize and avoid, any area cordoned off for landmine clearance. Travelers should not touch anything that resembles a landmine or unexploded ordnance and should notify local police if they see something that resembles a landmine. 

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Sri Lanka should be aware of their personal surroundings and follow prudent security practices. Travelers should avoid political rallies, public demonstrations, military installations, and closed areas of HSZs.

Demonstrations in Colombo are a regular occurrence. Most demonstrations are peaceful, resulting only in traffic congestion; however, some have ended in violence between the protesters and police or opposition groups. While the majority of demonstrations are related to internal Sri Lankan politics, protests directed toward western embassies and international organizations are not uncommon. Demonstrations can occur with little or no advance notice. Even those intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. Travelers should check the U.S. Embassy Colombo website for possible updates, enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive e-mail messages or cellular phone short message service (SMS) texts about impending demonstrations and monitor media coverage of local events. Travelers should remain aware of their surroundings at all times, review their personal security plans, and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Sri Lanka occasionally experiences heavy rain fall due to depressions around the island. Heavy rainfall has resulted in flooding in low lying urban areas and near rivers. Landslides have occurred during and after heavy rains in Colombo, as well as Central, Western, Sabaragamuwa, and other Provinces depending upon prevailing weather conditions.  

Crime: There is an elevated criminal threat in Sri Lanka. Most violent crime occurs within the local community. However, reports of violent crime, sexual assaults and harassment directed at foreigners have been increasing in recent months. Police response to assist victims can vary from a few minutes to hours, even in the tourist areas, and particularly in remote areas.

Organized and armed gangs are known to operate in Sri Lanka and have been responsible for targeted kidnappings and violence, although there is no evidence to suggest that U.S. citizens are at particular risk. A British national was killed and a Russian national sexually assaulted and beaten during a violent attack by a gang in a tourist resort in the southern beach town of Tangalle in December 2011. The Sri Lankan justice system can be slower than in the United States and there are a number of outstanding cases of crimes against foreign nationals.

U.S. citizens are advised against travel on public buses in Sri Lanka, as passengers can be targets of criminal activity and bus drivers do not consistently obey driving regulations.

Travelers, especially women, should consider travelling with other people when possible. Western women continue to report incidents of verbal and physical harassment by groups of men. Such harassment can occur anytime or anywhere, but most frequently has taken place in crowded areas such as marketplaces, train stations, buses, public streets and sporting events. The harassment ranges from sexually suggestive or lewd comments to physical advances, and sexual assaults have occurred as well. While most victims of sexual assault have been local residents, an upswing in sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas in the southern beaches underlines the fact that foreign women should exercise vigilance.  

Routine petty crime, especially thefts of personal property and pick-pocketing, is not uncommon if the traveler does not take appropriate safeguards. Street hustlers or “touts” are common around hotels, shopping centers, and tourist sites. Credit card fraud is frequent and can happen in any establishment, or when paying online. Sri Lankan law enforcement have uncovered foreign rings of criminals using “false fronts’” and “pen camera devices” to clone bank cards and steal personal identification numbers at ATM machines in Sri Lanka. Travelers should consider paying in cash whenever possible, and should carefully review billing statements to ensure that purchases displayed on their credit card statements are accurate. Consultation with personal credit card security advisors is encouraged for travelers to develop a protection plan that is best for your travel to Sri Lanka.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to always carry their U.S. passports while in Sri Lanka. U.S. citizens of Sri Lankan origin may be subject to additional scrutiny upon arrival and while in the country.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Sri Lanka is 119. This number only contacts the police and does not provide access to emergency medical services. Although the number is answered 24 hours a day, police responsiveness may vary.

Victims of Crime:

  • U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy. 
  • The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Maldives is 119.  Note: This number is only for the police, not for emergency medical services.
  • Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

  • Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. If you break local laws in Sri Lanka, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you travel. 

In places like military checkpoints, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. When transiting Sri Lanka, ensure your luggage does not contain prohibited or restricted items, such as weapons, ammunition, explosives, gold, narcotics, and pornography, among other items. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit but still illegal in the United States. 

Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Sri Lanka are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Under the Cultural Prosperity Act and the Antiques Ordinance, the unlicensed export of antiques from the country is considered a criminal act.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law.  For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Sri Lanka recognizes limited dual nationality. For further information, please contact the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington, D.C., the Consulate General in Los Angeles, or the Sri Lankan Mission to the United Nations in New York City.

The Sri Lankan police still maintain several checkpoints throughout the country. U.S. citizens are advised to carry identification such as their passports with them at all times while in Sri Lanka. Photography is prohibited in designated high security zones and near many government facilities such as offices and military installations.

U.S. citizens who arrive by yacht or private boat should be aware that all marine harbors are high security zones. Travelers arriving by sea should be prepared for Sri Lankan Navy officials to inspect their vessels and should always wait for radio clearance before coming into port. 

Religious Laws: Tourists should be mindful of restrictions and observances when planning to visit any religious establishment, whether Buddhist or Hindu temples, mosques, churches, or other locations considered sacred by the local population. Posing for a photograph with your back to a statue of Buddha is a serious offense in Sri Lanka, punishable by a fine or arrest. Travelers should also be cognizant of displaying religious imagery, including tattoos of Buddha, while traveling to and transiting within the country, as foreign nationals have been arrested or denied entry to Sri Lanka due to such tattoos.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

Women Travelers: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

LGBTI Travelers: See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Sri Lanka, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The Sri Lankan Supreme Court has directed that steps be taken to provide easy access for persons with disabilities to public buildings. Although there are regulations on accessibility in place, lack of wheelchair access in most buildings limits access for people with disabilities. Potholes and sidewalks in poor repair can make movement very difficult. The road network in Sri Lanka is improving, but many roads remain in medium to poor condition. Sidewalks and road crossings in most major towns tend to be congested with vendors, stray dogs, and groups of people loitering on street corners. 

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Health

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.  

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.

Medical Facilities: There are six large hospitals in the Colombo area, including four facilities with emergency trauma service: Asiri Surgical Hospital; Lanka Hospital; Central Hospital; and the government-run National Hospital. Medical facilities outside Colombo are limited. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of private physicians available on the Embassy website. The availability of medical supplies is uneven; therefore, travelers should carry any special medications with them. Serious medical conditions do require evacuation to the United States or to a nearby country with more advanced medical facilities, such as Thailand or Singapore. Neither Thailand nor Singapore requires U.S. citizens to have entry visas.

Several mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue fever, Chikungunya, and Japanese encephalitis are present in Sri Lanka. Dengue fever, in particular, is widespread in Sri Lanka’s Western Province, where the capital Colombo is located. Adequate mosquito protection is strongly advised. See the section on Entry/Exit Requirements (above) for information on communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in Sri Lanka, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Vehicular traffic in Sri Lanka moves on the left (British style). Traffic in Colombo can be congested. Narrow two-lane highways, overloaded trucks, poorly driven buses, and a variety of conveyances on the road, ranging from ox carts and bicycles to new four-wheel-drive vehicles, make driving dangerous. Unexpected road blocks and one-way streets are common and may not be clearly marked. Many visitors hire cars and drivers for long trips through the country. Individuals who choose to hire three-wheeled vehicles (“tuks” or “three wheelers”) should use metered vehicles or negotiate prices beforehand to avoid confrontations upon arrival. If you are renting a vehicle, you should specifically request one with working seatbelts.

Heavy rains sometimes cause flooding which can make roads inaccessible for several days and bring with them the risk of landslides.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Sri Lanka’s national tourist office.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Sri Lanka, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page

 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Colombo

210 Galle Road,
Colombo 03,
Sri Lanka
Telephone: +(94) (11) 249-8500
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(94) (011) 249-8686
Fax: +(94) (11) 243-7345
Email: 

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General Information

Sri Lanka and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since January 1, 2008.

For information concerning travel to Sri Lanka, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Sri Lanka. 

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Sri Lanka. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone: 1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Email: NSB-IPCA@state.gov
Website

The The Sri Lankan Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). The MOJ determines whether a particular case falls within the jurisdiction of the Hague Abduction Convention. If the MOJ determines a case is within such jurisdiction, the MOJ applies to the High Court of the Western Province (the sole court responsible for such legal actions in Sri Lanka) to issue an order for the return of the abducted child to his or her place of habitual residence. Following submission of the application to the High Court of the Western Province, the Attorney General's Department represents the MOJ in court

The Sri Lankan Central Authority can be reached at:

Ministry of Justice
Superior Courts Complex
COLOMBO 12
Sri Lanka
Telephone number: +94 (11) 232-3022
Fax number: +94 (11) 232-0785

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Sri Lanka, the left-behind parent or the Central Authority of the left-behind parent's country must submit a Hague application to the MOJ. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the Ministry of Justice, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or Sri Lanka central authorities. Attorney fees in Sri Lanka can vary depending upon an attorney's experience and reputation and are the responsibility of the applicant parent. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

 

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, Sri Lanka.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Sri Lanka. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

Sri Lanka does not permit parents to directly submit Hague Convention applications to the High Court of the Western Provence, as this role is only performed by the MOJ. However, parents can retain private attorneys to observe the legal proceedings and report directly to the parents the status of the case. Private attorney fees are the responsibility of the applicant parent.

Sri Lanka offers free (or reduced fee) legal services to certain qualified parties, solely at the discretion of the Legal Aid Commission. Legal aid and free legal services will only be available in cases where the requesting party's income is less than LKR 6000.00 (approximately $60 USD) per month's - this income must be certified by a local administrative officer and the Legal Commission determines that the case merits the free service.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo posts list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

The MOJ states that neither the Sri Lankan government nor any non-government organizations in Sri Lanka offer mediation services to resolve custody disputes. Any mediation efforts between the relevant parties must be arranged privately.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Sri Lanka is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Sri Lanka.

The Commissioner of Probation and Child Care Services in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, advised the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka that foreign citizens residing in Sri Lanka are not permitted to adopt Sri Lankan children.  Foreign citizens who reside outside of Sri Lanka may only adopt Sri Lankan children who are three months to 14 years of age.  U.S. citizens interested in adopting children from Sri Lanka are strongly encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Colombo’s Consular Section by email at consularcolombo@state.gov before formalizing an adoption agreement, to ensure that appropriate procedures (outlined in this country information sheet) are followed, which will make it possible for the Embassy to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Sri Lanka, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determine who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH3 or IH4 immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, prospective adoptive parents must meet Sri Lanka’s requirements to adopt a child from Sri Lanka:

  • Residency: Foreign citizens residing in Sri Lanka are not permitted to adopt Sri Lankan children. There is no requirement that PAPs must reside a certain amount of time in Sri Lanka, either before, during, or after the adoption.  However, both parents must be present at the Sri Lankan court proceedings.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: Both prospective adoptive parents must be over the age of 25 and not less than 21 years older than the prospective adoptive child.
  • Marriage: Under Sri Lankan law, single individuals cannot adopt; married couples must jointly apply for adoption.  Although existing laws in Sri Lanka does not expressly prohibit same-sex couples from adopting, in practice, same-sex couples are not found eligible to adopt a child from Sri Lanka.
  • Income: There is no specific income requirement, but the selection criteria of the Department of Probation and Child Care includes the health, age, and income of the family.
  • Other: Generally, both spouses must be present during the court proceedings unless the court waives personal appearance on the grounds of ill health (supported by the opinion of a medical practitioner who is licensed to practice in the United States).  In such cases, the spouse who is unable to travel must provide a power of attorney to the spouse who will represent him/her in court.
  • Prospective adoptive parents who do not have children will be given preference over parents who already have two or more children.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because Sri Lanka is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Sri Lanka must meet the requirements of the Convention. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Sri Lanka have determined that placement of the child within Sri Lanka was given due consideration, and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Sri Lanka’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

  • Relinquishment: Generally, the birth parent(s) are required to attend the court hearing to formally relinquish custody of the child in front of the judge. If the Department of Probation and Child Care Services cannot locate the birth parents, the judge has the authority to waive the requirement that the birth parents be present.
  • Abandonment: The relevant Provincial Commissioner decides if a child is abandoned in consultation with the Placement Committee in each children’s home. What constitutes abandonment in each case is left up to the discretion of the Provincial Commissioner in consideration of the specific the situation.  If the Provincial Commissioner cannot come to a decision, s/he can refer the issue to a court.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: Foreigners may only adopt Sri Lankan children between three months and 14 years of age.
  • Sibling Adoptions: The Department of Probation and Child Care Services will attempt to keep sibling groups together when matching children with prospective adoptive parents.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Prospective adoptive parents may request to adopt a child with or without special needs and/or medical conditions.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: The process of adopting a child from Sri Lanka can be lengthy. Under Sri Lankan regulations, an application from foreign prospective adoptive parents to adopt a Sri Lankan child must be registered with the Sri Lankan government through one of its diplomatic missions abroad. It generally takes at least one year to match a child with a family. After a child is identified, prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to stay in Sri Lanka from four to six weeks for the court proceedings.
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How to Adopt

WARNING: Sri Lanka is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Sri Lanka before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

Sri Lanka’s Adoption Authority
Department of Probation and Child Care Services

Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Sri Lanka as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or, 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases.

THE PROCESS

Because Sri Lanka is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Sri Lanka must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order, so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Sri Lanka
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt child in Sri Lanka
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

1.Choose a U.S.-Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Sri Lanka is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may provide adoption services between the United States and Sri Lanka. In addition, foreign adoption service providers must apply to the Department of Probation and Child Care Services for authorization to facilitate adoptions in Sri Lanka. If authorization is granted, the adoption service provider will be permitted to work in Sri Lanka subject to conditions stipulated by the Department of Probation and Child Care Services.  Prospective adoptive parents may contact either the Department of Probation and Child Care Services or the U.S. Embassy in Colombo for a list of U.S. accredited adoption service providers authorized to facilitate adoptions in Sri Lanka (see Contact Information below.) The U.S.-accredited or approved adoption service provider will act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the Department of Probation and Child Care Services as part of your adoption dossier. Sri Lanka’s central authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Sri Lanka’s laws.

3. Be Matched with a Child in Sri Lanka

If both the United States and Sri Lanka determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the central authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Department of Probation and Child Care Services in Sri Lanka may provide you with a referral for a child.  The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Sri Lanka. The Department of Probation and Child Care Services will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not.  Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, your adoption service provider communicates that to the Department of Probation and Child Care Services in Sri Lanka. Learn more about this critical decision.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Colombo that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Sri Lanka. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Sri Lankan Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Sri Lanka where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Sri Lankan Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Sri Lanka before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

Remember:The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt the Child in Sri Lanka

Remember: Before you adopt a child in Sri Lanka, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Sri Lanka.

The process for finalizing the adoption or gaining legal custody in Sri Lanka generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: The Sri Lankan adoption authority, the Department of Probation and Child Care Services, plays a significant role on most of the key procedures of adoption, including:
    • Matching: Foreign prospective adoptive parents are not allowed, on their own, to locate children for adoption. Only the Sri Lankan State Receiving Homes and Voluntary Children's Homes that are registered with the Department of Probation and Child Care Services for over five years may perform this function. These Homes (also referred to in this Country Information Sheet as Sri Lankan adoption agencies) must also have specific authorization of the Commissioner of Probation.
    • Allocation Letter from the Commissioner: If the Commissioner of Probation and Child Care Services finds the home study report and other supporting documents to be satisfactory, and if a child is adoptable, the Commissioner will send a letter to the Sri Lankan adoption agency, which will advise the prospective adoptive parents of the proposed match.
    • Interview with the Social Worker: Once the prospective adoptive parents receive their “allocation letter” proposing the match, they may travel to Sri Lanka for the adoption proceedings. (Note:Prospective adoptive parents must not adopt until the U.S. Embassy issues an Article 5 letter in your case.) The Commissioner of Probation and Child Care Services will assign a social worker to the case. Prospective adoptive parents need to schedule an interview with that person. This will occur at the Department of Probation and Child Care Services.
    • Visiting the Child: After the interview, the prospective parents will be issued a letter from the Commissioner authorizing them to see the child at the specified children’s home. The applicants, however, will not be allowed to take custody of the child without the Commissioner’s approval.
  • Role of the Court: Only the District Court of Colombo and the District Court of Colombo South have authority to issue orders of adoption of Sri Lankan children by foreigners. Prospective adoptive parents must hire a Sri Lankan attorney to represent them in the legal proceedings. The U.S. Embassy in Colombo maintains a list of attorneys who have indicated a willingness to assist U.S. citizens in Sri Lankan legal cases.
  • After the court receives the adoption petition, the court requests a report from the Commissioner to determine whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child. The Commissioner has from 14 to 28 days to submit the report. The home study must be included in the Commissioner’s report. If everything is in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations, the court then issues an order of adoption.

    When possible, the birth parent(s) are required to attend the court hearing in order to formally relinquish custody of the child in front of the judge. The adoptive parents are normally present for this step of the process. After the court’s adoption order is issued, copies may be obtained by making an application to the court.

    The court‘s adoption order must be registered with the Registrar General’s Office located at Indika Bldg., Main Street, Colombo 11. This process may take two to three days. The adoption is considered complete after the adoption order is registered and a copy of the Certificate of Adoption is obtained from the Registrar General, located at R.A. de Mel Mawatha, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka.

  • Role of Adoption Agencies: U.S. accredited adoption service providers facilitate adoptions by U.S. prospective adoptive parents in Sri Lanka. The U.S. adoption service provider either conducts or oversees the prospective adoptive parents’ home study to ensure compliance with U.S. and state law. After the provisional approval of Form I-800, the prospective adoptive parents contact the Immigrant Visa Unit, located in the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Colombo at consularcolombo@state.gov, to arrange the issuance of an Article 5 letter. As noted above, prospective adoptive parents are not permitted to locate children for adoption on their own.
  • Role of Attorneys: The attorney can file the petition for adoption in court and represent the prospective adoptive parents throughout the adoption legal proceedings.
  • Time Frame: The process for adopting a child from Sri Lanka can be lengthy. It generally takes at least one year to match a child with a family. Prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to stay in Sri Lanka one to two months to complete court procedures and obtain a Certificate of Adoption and a Sri Lankan passport before scheduling an interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy.
  • Adoption Application: Information on how to apply to adopt a Sri Lankan child, including the application for foreign adoption, may be found on the Department of Probation and Child Care Services website.
  • Adoption Fees: The lawyer’s fee for an adoption case is approximately U.S. $450 (or approximately Rs. 60,000) but may vary. Court fees are U.S. $1 (or approximately Rs. 100).
  • Prospective adoptive parents should refrain from making any payment or giving any reward to any person in consideration of the adoption except such as the court may sanction. Unsanctioned payments may be considered illegal under Sri Lankan law and lead to legal action.

    In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.

  • Documents Required:
    • Certified copies of the birth certificate of both prospective parents;
    • Certified copies of the marriage certificate of the prospective parents;
    • Certified copies of health certificates of both prospective parents;
    • A letter(s) from the current employer of the prospective parent(s) listing employment and salary information;
    • Police reports of the prospective parents;
    • Copies of the passports of both prospective parents; and
    • A home study report prepared by a U.S.-accredited agency or by the Sri Lankan Central Authority. You may find information on how to obtain a home study report from the Central Authority in Sri Lanka

      Note: Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington, D.C. to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.

6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Birth Certificate

If you have finalized the adoption in Sri Lanka, you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.

If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

After a court adoption order is issued, adoptive parents need to obtain an adoption certificate from the Department of the Registrar General, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  The adoption order must be submitted to:

Department of Registrar’s Office
Central Record Room
Maligawatte, Colombo 10

The adoptive parents may then apply at the Department of Registrar’s office for a new birth certificate with the adoptive parents listed as the parents and the child’s new surname included.  This process can take several months.  Normally, adoptive parents initiate the process and request the Department of Registrar’s office to forward the birth certificate to their U.S. address.

Sri Lankan Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Sri Lanka.

Once adoptive parents have the adoption order and adoption certificate, they must take it to the Department of Probation and Child Care Service in order to obtain a letter requesting the issuance of a Sri Lankan passport for their child. After receiving the letter from the Commissioner, the adoptive parents can apply for a Sri Lankan passport from the following:

Department of Immigration and Emigration
Passport Section
1st Floor, #41 Ananda Rajakaruna Mawatha
Colombo 10

Adoptive parents will need to bring the certificate of adoption, their child’s original birth certificate, and the letter from the Commissioner. The child’s passport will be issued with the name of on the adoption order. If the child is given a new name by the adoptive parents, this needs to be indicated on the final adoption order.

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Colombo.  After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel Sri Lanka
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.  To find information about obtaining a visa for Sri Lanka, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Sri Lanka, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

POST-ADOPTION RESOURCES
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption.  There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families.  There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

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After Adoption

POST-ADOPTION/POST-PLACEMENT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

Sri Lanka requires the following post-adoption reporting from parents:

  • Quarterly progress reports on the child until the adoption is legally confirmed in their state of residence;
  • Semi-annual process reports on the child, including his/her photograph, for a period of three years from the date on which the final adoption order in Sri Lanka is issued;
  • Annual reports for the child until he or she reaches ten years of age.

Post-adoption reports should be conducted by a social worker from the family’s U.S. Hague accredited adoption service provider through a home visit and include information on the adopted child’s physical and emotional development, health, and adjustment to the family environment. This report must be authenticated by the Sri Lankan Embassy in the United States, and forwarded to the Department of Probation and Child Care Service.

We urge you to comply with Sri Lanka’s post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents. Please visit the Department of Probation and Child Care Services website for more information about Sri Lanka’s post-adoption reporting requirement.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka
210, Galle Road
Colombo 03, Sri Lanka
Tel: +94-11-249-8500
Fax: +94-11-243-7345
Email: consularcolombo@state.gov
Internet: https://lk.usembassy.gov/embassy/colombo/

Sri Lanka’s Adoption Authority
Department of Probation and Child Care Services
69, S. De S. Jayasinghe Mawatha
Kohuwela, Nugegoda
Sri Lanka
Tel: +94-11 285 3575 or 94-11-2853553
Fax: +94-11 285 2393
Email: pcc@sltnet.lk
Internet: http://www.probation.gov.lk/

Embassy of Sri Lanka in the United States
Embassy of Sri Lanka
2148 Wyoming Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20008
Tel: (202) 483-4026/ 28
Fax: (202) 232-7181
Email: slembassy@slembassyusa.org
Internet: www.slembassyusa.org/

Sri Lanka also has consulates in the following cities in California:Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and Denville.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Tel:1-888-407-4747
Email: AdoptionUSCA@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
 
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 60 Months
B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None One 6 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 None Multiple 36 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 12 Months
H-1B None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-2A None N/A N/A 3
H-2B None N/A N/A 3
H-2R None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 36 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 36 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 36 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 36 Months
L-2 None Multiple 36 Months
M-1 None Multiple 12 Months
M-2 None Multiple 12 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 12 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 12 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 12 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 12 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 36 Months
R-2 None Multiple 36 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Monthly 48 Months
U-2 None Monthly 48 Months
U-3 None Monthly 48 Months
U-4 None Monthly 48 Months
U-5 None Monthly 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 60 Months
V-2 None Multiple 60 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 60 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available. These may be obtained from the Registrar General, Colombo. If the date of registration is not known by the requester, a search of the registers for a period not exceeding three months is possible. A fee may be charged for this service.

Death Certificates

Available. Death certificates may be obtained from the Registrar General, Colombo. If the date of registration is not known by the requester, a search of the registers for a period not exceeding three months is possible. A fee may be charged for this service.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available. Marriage certificates may be obtained from the Registrar General, Colombo. If the date of the registration is not known by the requester, a search of the registers not exceeding three months is possible.

Same-sex marriage is not recognized.

Divorce Certificates

Available. Divorce certificates may be obtained from the Registrar of the District Court where the decree was granted.

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update.

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Identity Card

Please check back for update.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

If you are a resident of Sri Lanka:

Submit your application for Police clearance certificate at the Police headquarters - 31, Olcott Mawatha, Pettah, Colombo 12 (Police Welfare Building at the Police headquarters) with the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of National ID card.

Women who use their husband's family name must submit a copy of the marriage certificate and an affidavit stating the maiden name and the name after the marriage.

  1. Photocopy of birth certificate.
  2. Photocopy of passport.
  3. A fee of 500 LKR.

The clearance certificate will be mailed to your address by registered post in approximately 3-4 weeks.

Download the application form for the police clearance certificate. Application forms are also available at the police headquarters.

If you reside outside of Sri Lanka:

Submit your application for Police clearance certificate at the closest Sri Lankan Diplomatic Mission with the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of National ID card.

Women who use their husband's family name must submit a copy of the marriage certificate and an affidavit stating the maiden name and the name after the marriage.

  1. Photocopy of birth certificate
  2. Photocopy of passport

A fee of 1000 LKR or equivalent amount is charged for the service. The clearance certificate will be mailed to your address by registered post in approximately two months. Download the application form for the police clearance certificate.

You may also submit your application along with the other documents directly to the Deputy Inspector of Police, with a bank draft of 1000 LKR drawn for Deputy Inspector of Police, Police Headquarters. The clearance will be mailed directly to the applicant in approximately two months. This process is more suitable for applicants who live in a country that does not have a Sri Lankan Diplomatic Mission.

Prison Records

Available only to and upon the request of the U.S. Embassy, Colombo. All requests for such information should be sent on the standard Form OF-l66 to the Embassy. Routine requests are usually answered within three weeks.

Military Records

Available upon direct application by the applicant to the officer in charge of records of the Sri Lanka Navy, Army or Air Force.


Passports & Other Travel Documents

Sri Lankan Passports and Identity Certificates may be used for travel to the United States and other countries. An Identity Certificate is issued to residents of Sri Lanka whose national identity is in doubt. It is valid for only one year and expires on the holder's return to Sri Lanka. The majority of persons issued Identity Certificates are stateless Hill Country Tamils who originally were brought to Sri Lanka to work on tea plantations. Other persons whose families have lived in Sri Lanka for some time but who have never obtained Sri Lankan citizenship are also issued Identity Certificates by the Government and use them for foreign travel.

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Colombo, Sri Lanka (Embassy)

210 Galle Road Colombo 3
Sri Lanka

Tel: (94) (1) 2448-007 - effective August 16, 2003
(94) (11) 2448-007 - effective October 18, 2003
After hours and emergencies: (94) (11) 448-601

Fax: (Consular section) (94) (11) 436-943

Visa Services

All visa categories for Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 483-4025 (202) 232-7181

Los Angeles, CA (213) 387-0210 (213) 387-0216

New York, NY (212) 986-7040 (212) 986-1838

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Colombo
210 Galle Road,
Colombo 03,
Sri Lanka
Telephone
+(94) (11) 249-8500
Emergency
+(94) (011) 249-8686
Fax
+(94) (11) 243-7345
Sri Lanka Country Map

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Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.