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Foreign travel advice

Sri Lanka

Local laws and customs

On 20 November 2015, the Sri Lankan government published a revised list of organisations and individuals proscribed under Sri Lankan law. The list no longer includes the British Tamil Forum (BTF) or the Global Tamil Forum (GTF).

There are severe penalties for all drug offences and crimes related to the abuse of children. In some circumstances you can be held without charge indefinitely. Convicted offenders may face a lengthy jail sentence.

You must carry a form of official photographic identification with you at all times otherwise you may be detained. If you are detained, you should ask the authorities to contact the British High Commission.

Same-sex relations are illegal but the FCO is not aware of any prosecutions.

Nude or topless sunbathing is generally not allowed.

Although Sri Lankan attitudes to informal styles of dress are generally relaxed, women travelling alone may feel uncomfortable if not dressed modestly. Cover your legs and shoulders, and take off shoes and hats if you are entering a Buddhist temple.

The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is a serious offence and tourists have been convicted for this. British nationals have been refused entry to Sri Lanka or faced deportation for having visible tattoos of Buddha. Don’t pose for photographs standing in front of a statue of Buddha.

Don’t take photographs of military bases, government buildings or vehicles used by VIPs (this includes numerous sites in central Colombo).

You can be fined if you ignore instructions not to smoke or drink in certain public areas.

Alcohol and meat are not usually available on religious holidays.

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