Safety and security
In light of recent inter–communal tensions, a nationwide State of Emergency was declared in Sri Lanka on the 6th of March 2018. Local authorities may impose curfews and deploy military personal to some civilian areas. If you’re living in Sri Lanka or visiting the country, we advise you to exercise a high degree of caution. Follow local developments closely, monitor local media, be aware of your surroundings and avoid political gatherings or demonstrations. Always comply with government and security instructions.
There is a large and visible military presence in Sri Lanka, particularly in the North and East. You are advised to carry photographic I.D, such as a copy of your passport, at all times, and if detained, ask the authorities to contact the Irish Embassy in New Delhi.
Foreign nationals, with the exception of foreign media crews, no longer need to have permission from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence before travelling to the northern districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaittivu and Vavuniya.
However, there is still a heavy military presence in the north and north-east of Sri Lanka. Freedom of movement is possible, but if you’re travelling to the north, you may still come across access restrictions around military establishments and areas where demining operations continue. You can get up-to-date information on access to a particular village or area from the Sri Lankan Military Liaison Officer (tel: +94 11 2430 860).
Unexploded mines and ordnances can be a hazard in the north and north-east of Sri Lanka so obey orders from the security forces and signs warning about the danger from landmines. Don’t stray off main routes, particularly in rural areas, and always check with local security authorities before travelling to affected regions.
There is a high threat of terrorism in Sri Lanka. Although the LTTE suffered a military defeat in 2009, attacks cannot be ruled out and could be indiscriminate.
While most visits to Sri Lanka are trouble-free, watch out for petty crime such as pick-pocketing, especially in crowded places. Although not very frequent, there have been reports of violent crime against foreigners so always take sensible precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
- Credit card fraud has been reported in Sri Lanka so take care of your credit and ATM cards. Use cash wherever possible and only use ATMs attached to banks or major hotels. Don’t let your credit card leave your sight when you use it.
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Sri Lanka, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Honorary Consulate of Ireland in Colombo or the Irish Embassy in New Delhi in India if you need help.
If you’re planning to drive in Sri Lanka, you should be careful. Poor standards of driving and bad road maintenance lead to frequent traffic accidents. If you want to drive, an Irish or international licence alone will not suffice – you’ll need to bring your international driving permit and a Sri Lankan recognition permit to drive in Sri Lanka. You can get a recognition permit at the AA in Colombo. Make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
Hiring a vehicle
Hiring a car is cheap in tourist areas. However, if you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Buses and trains are particularly dangerous modes of transport in Sri Lanka. Consider taking taxis instead, as they’re cheap in tourist areas.
Many beaches and coastal areas in Sri Lanka have strong currents, dangerous rip tides and big surf. Always seek local advice before entering the water and be alert to the dangers.
Tue, 06 Mar 2018 15:46:52 GMT