Departure to Colombo

Customs and import to Colombo

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Upon coming in to Sri Lanka, the local customs department does a check on what a traveller brings into their country. Some items are not permitted to be brought in, others are restricted and some outright prohibited. To get an idea of what can safely be carried in one's baggage, consult the Department of Import & Export Control and detailed information on Department of Animal Production and Health.

Importing Pets to Sri Lanka

If an expat wishes his/her pet to accompany them abroad, it is possible but will take advance planning and preparation. To do so, one must carry out the following procedures:

  • Micro-chipping: This is needed to verify a pet's identity. All microchips which conform to ISO standards are easily readable.
  • Vaccinations: Though vaccinations vary from country to country, all pets older than 3 months must be given an anti-rabies injection. The vaccination must be administered at least 21 days before arrival. However, the vaccination cannot be older than 12 months from the date of arrival. Dogs may also get full shots for Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvo, and DHLPP. Cats may also be vaccinated against Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calcivirus, and Panleukopenia.
  • Certification of good health: Such a certificate should be issued by a vet after a thorough examination. You would have to get an official form from the Consulate or Embassy of the country you are moving to. It is often available online from the customs website.

Transporting Pets to Sri Lanka

Some airlines allow pets to travel in an airplane's cabin, provided their cage is small enough to fit under your seat. Small birds may also travel in the same cabin, but tropical birds such as parrots are usually not allowed.

If your pet's cage does not fit under your seat, you will have to ship it as checked-in baggage. Since the outside air temperature also affects the temperature in the cargo bay, airlines may restrict the transportation of pets during certain times of the year. Airlines have special requirements for containers in the cabin and cargo bay. Make sure you get detailed information from your preferred airlines before purchasing a cage or kennel for transporting your pet.

Before leaving, acquaint your animal with the new kennel or container. Add some familiar toys or clothing items, so as your pet has a sense of familiarity while being transported. Sedation of your pet during the trip is generally not recommended and should only be used as a last resort.

One can avail of pet relocation services that figure out all the details of the move for you. These services tend to be quite expensive but take away the stress of doing it yourself.

Pet Quarantine in Sri Lanka

If a pet is being transported, the Sri Lankan officials should be informed at least four days beforehand, so as the officials are available when the pet reaches. Upon a pet's entry into Sri Lanka, a dog or cat must be quarantined for observation for 3 days at the airport and, thereafter, for 30 days at home.  

Custom's Resources

U.S. Citizens: The free pamphlet "Know Before You Go" at is very helpful. (Click on "Travel" and then click on "Know Before You Go! Online Brochure")
You can also contact:
U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP)
1300 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20229
Tel. 877/287-8667

Canadian Citizens: "I Declare", issued by the Canada Border Services Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500) is helpful.

Australian Citizens: A helpful brochure is available from Australian consulates or Customs offices called "Know Before You Go". Call the Australian Customs Service at tel. 1300/363-263, or log on to

Update 22/07/2018


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