The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) played a major role in ‘Visa Online’ by linking the Lanka Gate Internet Payment Gateway (IPG) for making online payments. Also known as Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), Visa Online introduced in its trial version on October 01st , 2011 became regular procedure with the dawn of the New Year.
The Immigration and Emigration Department had introduced the trial version of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) facility. The ETA facility became fully operational from 1 January 2012 with its launch by the Department on that date.
According to the Immigration and Emigration Department, foreign nationals, who intend to visit Sri Lanka for Short Stay up to six months, must obtain ETA, prior to their arrival from 1st of January 2012. The ETA is issued through the on-line system. No passport copies, documents or photographs are required. There is no requirement to endorse the ETA in the passport. Nationals of Maldives and Singapore who visit Sri Lanka for short visits up to 30 days are exempted from ETA as reciprocities.
Foreign nationals who intend to visit Sri Lanka for Official or Diplomatic purposes should forward their applications to the Immigration and Emigration Department through relevant Sri Lanka Government Ministries and Agencies or Sri Lanka Overseas Missions. Gratis (Free of Charge) basis is applicable only for Diplomatic and Official passport holders. The Gratis ETA is granted for normal passport holders, if arrangements have been made between the Government of Sri Lanka and the respective countries. For personal visits, Diplomatic and Official passport holders should follow the normal ETA application procedure, Immigration and Emigration Department sources said.
The on line visa system for tourists arriving into the country was introduced instead of the hitherto implemented on arrival visa. Accordingly all visitors to Sri Lanka including transit passengers will have to apply for travel authorization online prior to their visit to the country.
This new system has scrapped the previously implemented 'on arrival visa' at the ports of entry while a fee of USD 10 and 20 would be levied from travellers from the SAARC countries and other passport holders respectively..
The Electronic Travel Authorization has been introduced to grant prior approval for visa online for foreign nationals from 78 countries.
Controller of the Immigration and Emigration W.A.C. Perera says accordingly, foreign nationals visiting the country on purposes of tourism affairs, medical treatments, sports, cultural shows, business conferences and discussions, training programmes and seminars can apply for the Electronic Travel Authorization via www.eta.gov.lk established in the Department of Immigration and Emigration.
ICT Agency of Sri Lanka CEO Reshan Devapura traced the newly introduced Online Visa System to a major breakthrough ICTA had made in 2009 by introducing the eRevenue Licence Project to the Lanka Gate IPG:“ The precursor for this ETA of 2012 could be said to be a breakthrough ICTA had made in 2009. The eRevenue Licence Project was the first transactional eService in Sri Lanka. This Project also played a trail blazing role in the eGovernment programme by paving the way for credit card and electronic payments in the public sector. ICTA will continue to extend this facility of electronic payment through IPG in as many areas as possible. This will enable people both in Sri Lanka and anywhere in the world to enjoy the benefits of ICT more and more in their lives. Projects like this will go a long way in making Sri Lanka the Wonder of Asia as envisaged in the “Mahinda Chinthana ‘Vision for the Future’ “
As part of the preparatory work that was put in for bringing about this electronic payment facility a Projects Steering Committee was first created by former Deputy Secretary Treasury (DST) Lalith Silva and later by Youth Affairs and Skills Development Ministry Secretary S. Hewapathirana ). As a result of long deliberations by this Projects Steering Committee the Department of Public Finance issued the relevant Financial Regulation circular (FR 447). This circular enables Government organisations to accept all types of electronic projects for the Public Services Provider.
Currently the Lanka Gate Internet Payment Gateway facilitates payments through Visa, Master and American Express Credit and Debit cards. Controller–Visa Sarath Kumara, said that on the first day alone over 500 applicants had paid Visa Fee ($20) Online, using the Lanka Gate IPG.
ICTA eServices Programme Head Kanchana Thudugala coordinated the process of connecting Lanka Gate IPG to ETA under the guidance of ICTA Re-engineering Government Programme Director Wasantha Deshapriya. “Wthin the next two months more transactional eServices would be connected to the Lanka Gate IPG, hence Lanka Gate IPG will become a busy instrument in the coming months”, Thudugala said.