There is a threat of terrorism.

On April 21, 2019, several explosions occurred at different locations, including hotels and churches, in the greater Colombo area and Batticaloa. These attacks resulted in more than 250 deaths and 500 injuries.

Further attacks can’t be ruled out. Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.


Intercommunal tensions have led to instances of civil unrest and acts of violence following the terrorist attacks of April 2019. Further incidents could occur.

Demonstrations occur regularly in Colombo, and occasionally elsewhere in the country. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)


The Sri Lankan military continues to maintain a strong presence in the country’s North and East, including the Jaffna Peninsula. Military and police checkpoints can be established and road closures can occur suddenly. Travel restrictions may be imposed in the North without notice, including in areas around military establishments and those where demining operations continue. 

Security forces have wide-ranging powers, including the authority to:

  • impose curfews
  • detain without charge for extended periods
  • search individuals, vehicles, residences and commercial premises

Individuals of Sri Lankan heritage, including those who don’t have Sri Lankan citizenship, have been detained on occasion by police or security forces. 

  • Avoid military areas and High Security Zones
  • Always carry formal photographic identification with you
  • Remain on heavily travelled roads and avoid walking in forested areas and abandoned properties due to the risk of unexploded mines
  • Monitor local developments via local news
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • If you’re detained, ask the authorities to contact the High Commission of Canada to Sri Lanka and Maldives


Violent crime occurs, including harassment and assault aimed at Western foreigners.

Petty crime such as purse snatching and pickpocketing is common, especially on public transportation. Theft has occurred in hotels and guesthouses.

Credit card fraud is common. Pay very close attention to your credit card when it is being handled. To minimize risks, you should opt to pay in cash whenever possible.

Ensure that your personal belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are secure at all times.


Foreigners have been targeted in incidents of drink spiking, often combined with sexual assault or theft. Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.


Inter-communal and religious tensions exist throughout the country and have led to violence. Further violent incidents could occur.


Women are often the target for unwanted attention. They should exercise caution when travelling alone.

Safe-travel guide for women


Road conditions are usually poor outside major cities.

Road accidents, often causing death and injuries, are common due to poorly maintained vehicles, erratic driving practices and pedestrians and roaming animals on the road.

Roads may be closed on short notice.


Travel by bus is generally unsafe due to aggressive drivers and the risk of theft.


We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines


Swimming conditions may be unsafe. Follow the advice and warnings of local authorities.


Tourist facilities are widely available but quality varies, especially inland. You should arrange travel to remote areas through a reputable travel agency.