Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 14 June 2019, 14:05 NZST
  • Still current at: 22 November 2019

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Exercise increased caution

 Exercise increased caution in Sri Lanka due to the on-going threat of terrorism and violence. 

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Terrorism
There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Sri Lanka.

Attacks in public places, including in places targeting foreigners are possible.

On 21 April 2019, multiple bomb blasts occurred at churches and hotels in Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka causing more than 250 deaths and 500 injuries. In response, the country’s security presence has increased.

New Zealanders should be aware that curfews (typically restricting movement in the evening) can be imposed at short notice.  New Zealanders are advised to follow instructions and restrictions issued by the local authorities including the regulations currently banning any clothing that conceals the face to the extent that a person’s identification is hidden. 

New Zealanders throughout Sri Lanka are advised to exercise a high degree of personal security awareness at all times and remain alert during religious or national festivals. We also advise avoiding large public gatherings and exercising caution in areas with large crowds. Further attacks, including low-scale or opportunistic attacks, cannot be ruled out.

Political Situation/Civil Unrest
While significantly reduced since the end of the conflict in May 2009 between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), some additional security measures remain in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. Military and police checkpoints are sometimes established and roads can be closed without warning.

Protests, demonstrations and political rallies occasionally lead to isolated civil unrest in Sri Lanka.  We advise New Zealanders to avoid all demonstrations, rallies and large crowds as they have the potential to turn violent with little warning. Be aware of your surroundings, monitor local news and follow the advice of local authorities.

Landmines
While most demining operations since the civil war are completed, landmines may still be present in more remote areas of the northern and eastern provinces. If you are travelling to these areas it is advisable to remain on well-used roads and paths and look out for any signs warning of landmines.

Crime
Incidents of violent crime against foreigners, although infrequent, have been reported in Sri Lanka, including sexual offences, harrassment and theft. We advise New Zealanders to exercise security awareness and guard personal belongings carefully. Women travellers should take particular care and avoid travelling alone, especially at night.

There have been reports of drink spiking so care should be taken to ensure your drink is not left unattended. We recommend being cautious about accepting drinks from strangers or recent acquaintances.

Credit card fraud, including credit card skimming, can occur in Sri Lanka. New Zealanders are advised to use cash wherever possible and take extra care when paying with credit cards or withdrawing money from ATMs. We advise covering PIN numbers when entering them, keeping cards safe and carefully checking credit card statements to ensure no fraudulent charges are present.

General Travel Advice
New Zealanders are advised to carry photo identification, or a photocopy of their passport, with them at all times and produce this if asked by authorities.  Respect religious and social traditions.  Posing for a photograph next to a statue of Buddha is illegal in Sri Lanka, as can be displaying jewellery, tattoos or clothing associated with Buddhism. 

New Zealanders travelling or living in Sri Lanka should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.

New Zealanders in Sri Lanka are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips


The New Zealand High Commission New Delhi, India is accredited to Sri Lanka

Street Address Sir Edmund Hillary Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021, India Telephone +91 11 4688 3170 Fax +91 11 4688 3165 Email nzhcindia@mfat.net Web Site http://www.nzembassy.com/india Hours Mon - Fri 0830 - 1700 hrs

New Zealand Honorary Consulate Colombo, Sri Lanka

Street Address 329 Park Road, Colombo 5 Postal Address +94 11 2501139 Mobile +94 7777 55551 Email senakaws@sltnek.lk

See our regional advice for South East Asia

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Accredited New Zealand High Commission India

Street Address
Sir Edmund Hillary Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021, India

Telephone: +91 11 4688 3170

Fax: +91 11 4688 3165

Email: nzhcindia@mfat.net

Website: http://www.nzembassy.com/india

Hours: Mon - Fri 0830 - 1700 hrs

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