Travel Warnings

Travel Warning – Sri Lanka

Last Updated:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520

April 05, 2007

This Travel Warning provides updated security information and alerts American citizens traveling to or living in the northern and eastern areas of Sri Lanka of the heightened potential for terrorist actions, including attacks against civilians.  While most of the rest of the country remains largely unaffected, the Department continues to warn Americans against traveling to areas in the North and East of the country given the dangers caused by the ongoing fighting between LTTE, other armed groups, and Sri Lankan military forces.  This situation is likely to continue for some time.  This supersedes the Travel Warning for Sri Lanka dated October 23, 2006.

The Department of State alerts American citizens to the dangers posed by recent acts of terrorism throughout Sri Lanka, and warns against travel to the most seriously affected regions.  Although there is no specific indication that American citizens or institutions are targets, there is a general risk of American citizens being victims of violence simply by being at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Politically motivated assassinations have taken place throughout Sri Lanka, including several in the Colombo area.  In many cases, these assassinations involve the use of fragmentation bombs.  American citizens in Sri Lanka should be aware of their personal surroundings and follow good security practices. Americans should avoid large crowds or public gatherings and should particularly stay away from political rallies and military bases in Sri Lanka.

Since mid-2006, bombings, political assassinations and other acts of terrorism have occurred in Sri Lanka, including the capital, Colombo.  The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) and Sri Lankan military forces continue fighting in the North and East of Sri Lanka.

The areas in the North and East are of special concern.  These areas are defined as the regions north of a line following the highway from Puttalam through Anuradhapura to Polonaruwa, Bibile and Pottuvil.   The Department of State warns U.S. citizens that travel to these areas and into any LTTE-controlled territory may pose severe hazards.  Official travel by U.S. Government personnel to these areas is restricted, and unofficial travel is prohibited. In March 2007 the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka sustained a minor injury just after a Sri Lankan military helicopter he was traveling in landed at a military base in Batticaloa. The Ambassador was not the specific target of the LTTE attack. We have no indication at this time of a threat to tourist areas in the Cultural Triangle, including territory around Anaradhapura and Polonnoruwa.

In areas outside of the North and East, Sri Lankan nationals have been the targets of assassinations and bombings. On October 18, the LTTE targeted a Sri Lankan naval facility in Galle, on the southwest coast.  On March 26, 2007, the Katunayake Air Force Base in Colombo came under attack from LTTE aircraft, causing the adjacent Bandaranaike International Airport briefly to curtail operations. Foreign tourists were not the objects of the attacks and none were injured.

Americans should comply with all instructions from security forces and police when traveling in Sri Lanka.  American citizens, including those of Sri Lankan origin, living in Sri Lanka or traveling there for even a few days are strongly urged to register with the Embassy.  Registration will allow the embassy to provide direct information on the security situation as necessary.  Registration is done on-line and can be done in advance of travel. Information on registering can also be found at the Embassy website: or at the Department of State’s Consular Affairs website:

As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its consular information documents, available on the Internet at  In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, outside the U.S. and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

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