How to extend your Sri Lankan visa
As a Brit, you get a free 30 day visa upon arrival to Sri Lanka.
However, if like us, you adore this country and want to stay longer, it's a remarkably easy process to extend your visa (on the day) with just one visit to the Department of Immigration in Colombo.
Things to bring
Completed application form
1 passport picture
A book or something to pass the time
If the link above doesn't work, visit the Government Immigration Site and download the 'Visit Visa Extension IM 32' form.
Things to know before you go
Even though the office officially opens at 8.30am, you can get your ticket ahead of this (a pre-queue, if you will). We got our tickets at 8.01am and were out before 10.30am. By the time we left, there were over 100 more people in just our ticket queue.
On Mondays there is a staff briefing which means that all processing is delayed by 15 minutes; however, still get there as early as you can still get a queue ticket.
Fill the form out before and bring a passport picture otherwise you have to join two more queues and you'll be stuck in a bureaucratic nightmare until your visa has actually expired and you get deported.
Use Uber or PickMe to get a cheaper tuk tuk to and from the office.
Enter the main reception and you'll be directed to the adjacent building, 4th floor (take the lifts on the right hand side). Head to Zone C.
Here, get your ticket and some snacks.
If you haven't glued your passport picture to the form, have no fear, the government has provided glue:
Stand for national anthem at 8.30am.
Quell your British enthusiasm for queues and wait in the comfortable metal chairs until the 'queue master' calls you to the desk via the electronic board.
You will then be sent to Room B along the corridor (Visa Application Extension Unit).
Sit down until you see your number on the board even though everyone will be thronging around the door.
Get your docs ready or you'll be shouted at by the assistant who control the visas (not a good idea to annoy that guy).
The harassed bureaucrat will confirm how long you want to extend for (same price 1 or 2 months) and take your passport and form.
Then return to Zone C and go to the Shroff Counters.
You won't be called to pay until your visa has been approved so wait for your number to appear on the electronic screen.
Pay the appropriate fee once called: $54 for British citizens (£41.66), cash or card.
Go across to the opposite room: Waiting Area for VISA Issuing.
Watch the silent RomCom movie and guess what the actors are saying to each other to pass the time. The desk clerk will call your number as there's no electronic board so try and sit close to the front.
Prepare for a very inauspicious handing over of your new visa. Don't they know how excited I am to stay longer!?
Check your details are correct and then enjoy the rest of your day.
The whole process from start to finish was just under 2.5 hours. Good luck.
The Boyfriend and I plan to hire scooters and head north to explore Ceylon now. However, we need to go to the Department of Motor Traffic to get a temporary driving permit as we didn't think to get an international licence before leaving the UK. Doh.
Fingers crossed it's as smooth as this process.