Political Crisis in Sri Lanka leads Canada to issue Travel Warning


Last updated:  ET
Official Link: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/sri-lanka

Safety and security

On October 26, 2018, the president of Sri Lanka moved to dismiss the prime minister, which may lead to a period of political instability. Demonstrations could occur. Exercise vigilance and avoid all demonstrations and large political gatherings. Monitor local media for the latest information.


Demonstrations may occur. 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)

East and north

The Sri Lankan military continues to maintain a strong presence in the country’s north and east, including the Jaffna Peninsula. If travelling in the area, you may encounter military roadblocks. Remain on heavily travelled roads. Avoid walking in forested areas and abandoned properties because demining operations are ongoing.

Caches of weapons continue to be found.

The resettlement of internally displaced persons is also ongoing. Reports of increased criminal activities and land disputes are more frequent.

Some Canadians of Tamil origin report encountering difficulties, including arrest or detention, during screening and security operations. Ensure that you carry proper identification at all times.

  • Exercise a high degree of caution at all times
  • Monitor local developments via local news
  • Follow the advice of local authorities


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.

Spiked food and drink

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 tensions

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

Women’s safety

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

Safe-travel guide for women

Road safety

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.

Public transportation

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

Air travel

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

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



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