This guide provides basic information for UK nationals living in Sri Lanka, including advice on health, education, residency requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle inquiries other than the information and links listed below. See our information on what the Consulate can and cannot do for British nationals. This information supplements the travel advice for Sri Lanka.
Many of the standards that apply to life in the UK do not apply in Sri Lanka, especially when it comes to religion. We estimate that as many as 1,600 British nationals live in Sri Lanka, many of whom are dual nationals, and around 110,000 British nationals visit Sri Lanka each year.
You should make sure you have adequate medical insurance, as foreigners generally do not have access to free medical care, and admissions in private hospitals can be very expensive. Medical facilities are good in big cities but limited in rural areas. However, there are some endemic diseases in Sri Lanka, including malaria and dengue fever in low-lying areas. Any medical service may require immediate cash payment. Apart from local government hospitals, most well-known private hospitals accept credit card payments.
If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment, you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.View the list of hospitals
You should follow the advice of the Sri Lankan government and local authorities. You can also read Sri Lanka travel advice for our latest guide.
For information on getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in Sri Lanka as a UK national, see our Coronavirus travel advice.
Some government-run schools may be free or for a nominal fee. Please check the Ministry of Education of Sri Lanka for more information. However, most expats who choose to educate their children in Sri Lanka send them to international (private) schools. Most of these international schools follow the British (Cambridge/Edexcel) curriculum. Sri Lanka has a range of international schools and one British school. Most of these schools are located in Colombo.
Entry and Residence Requirements
British nationals intending to visit or live in Sri Lanka must hold the necessary visas. Information on visas for Sri Lanka can be found on the Department of Immigration website.
Driver’s License and Vehicle
Sri Lanka drives on the left. International driving license to drive in Sri Lanka. However, UK driving license holders must apply for a Sri Lankan driving license. To arrange a local license you will need to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Road conditions and driving standards in Sri Lanka can be challenging. At an accident scene, crowds can gather quickly and tempers can clash, possibly leading to a confrontation. In the event of an accident, call the police immediately and remain calm.
Vehicle insurance is mandatory under Sri Lankan law; a fact you should keep in mind if you are involved in an accident.
Property and Property Disputes
You should seek legal advice before entering into any agreement regarding the ownership or use of property or other assets.
Property ownership disputes are common in Sri Lanka. However, these are civil matters and the British High Commission cannot intervene in them. Consular staff have no legal training and therefore cannot provide legal advice. If you are unable to reach an amicable resolution of the situation, you may wish to consider seeking legal advice and retaining a lawyer to act on your behalf. Legal action through the courts may be necessary to resolve differences durably. Legal proceedings in Sri Lanka can be expensive and lengthy.See Sri Lanka – List of Lawyers
Social Moral Customs
You should always respect local customs and sensitivities, or if you plan to visit a religious area. In addition to traditional clothing such as saris and sarongs, most Sri Lankans wear Western attire; however, both men and women should cover their shoulders and legs when visiting temples or religious sites.
Body art or tattoos of the Buddha are strictly prohibited and you could be arrested or deported if caught with such a tattoo.
This information is provided as a general guide and is based on information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and is subject to change without notice. FCDO and the UK High Commission accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies in this information. UK nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.