Buying real estate in Sri Lanka from foreigners (2023)

This guide is designed to highlight the most important aspects of buying real estate in Sri Lanka. This is not a legal manual.

Foreigners can freely buy real estate by paying the land tax applicable to foreigners in the amount of 100% of the value of the real estate. An alternative is to lease the land for 99 years, which reduces the tax to 7%.

If you are thinking of buying (any) real estate in Sri Lanka, it is advisable to consult a specialist lawyer. When buying real estate, it is important to hire a lawyer who will draw up the contract. No sale is considered final without the transfer of legal title from the seller to the buyer.

Buying real estate in Sri Lanka as a BOI (Board of Investment) project

Although BOI status offers many benefits (tax-free for foreigners, 100% ownership, residence visa and work permit, duty-free import of goods, tax exemption), it should be noted that BOI status is only granted for commercial projects.

Title deeds and land documents in Sri Lanka

The only valid title deed is the one registered in the regional land register. It sets out the boundaries, any restrictions (such as public beach/road access) and most importantly the name(s) of the owner(s). If more than one owner is listed in the title deed, ALL of them must agree and sign the sales contract. Your property is legal and enforceable only if it is registered in the regional land registers. The legal owner of the property is the only one who is allowed to sell his property; in cases where more than one person is considered the legal owner of the land, each owner must agree to the sale. In most cases, the real estate agency would secure ownership of the property even before the public offering. The title deed must be checked by a lawyer in the land registry.

Both parties sign the transfer agreement in the presence of a lawyer. The buyer also pays the full amount. The transfer is considered valid from the moment of signature of both parties. The lawyer then registers the property in the buyer's name.

This also applies to long-term rentals. They MUST be registered in the land register.

Without registration, all contracts/agreements may have little validity.

Buying real estate in Sri Lanka through a local partner

As mentioned above, the only relevant factor when it comes to property ownership in Sri Lanka is the name in the land register. If you are considering buying a property through a local partner, you should (obviously) know the person well. The big question is actually whether you should do something with your partner. Any private contracts you have are null and void; inheritance (including land in his name) goes to relatives. You might want to think about this.

What is "Grgeč"?

The traditional land measurement in Sri Lanka is the "perch". Here's some help with the conversion:

The perch is 25 m² in size

4000 m² is 160 gazebos or one hectare

2.5 hectares is a hectare


Can you buy property in Sri Lanka as a foreigner? ›

What are the rules and regulations for expats and foreigners buying and renting property in Sri Lanka ? Foreigners can buy apartments / condominiums from ground level up, however lands cannot be purchased on freehold and can only be leased up to 99 years.

Is it good to buy property in Sri Lanka? ›

According to the recently released House Price Index of LankaPropertyWeb that is based on asking prices for Q1 of 2022, the overall selling prices of apartments have soared by 36.08% from Q1 of 2021 while the overall residential land prices of Sri Lanka have reduced by 29.77%.

What is the property purchase tax in Sri Lanka? ›

As of 2022, the Capital Gains Tax rate in Sri Lanka is 10%.

Can dual citizens buy property in Sri Lanka? ›

Sri Lanka law currently restricts foreigners' freehold purchases of land and non-apartment property through Sri Lanka incorporated companies, which have at least 51% of shareholders who are Sri Lankan citizens (or dual citizens).

Can Americans own land in Sri Lanka? ›

Foreigners cannot obtain a loan or a mortgage to purchase a property or invest in Sri Lanka. All the money has to come from outside Sri Lanka, and, in some instances, the Central Bank might require you to provide a source of the funding before clearing your funds from the bank.

Do foreigners pay tax in Sri Lanka? ›

Resident individuals are subject to income tax on their worldwide income. Non-resident individuals are taxed only on their Sri Lanka-sourced income.

What are the cons of living in Sri Lanka? ›

Along with the lack of country-wide wi-fi, there is a general lack of infrastructure. This isn't a big deal if you're just visiting, but could be extremely annoying if you plan on living in Sri Lanka long term. Power outages are common. Other than the Colombo-Galle Highway, roads are in poor condition.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Sri Lanka? ›

A family of four estimated monthly costs are 1,595.5$ (491,481.3Rs) without rent. A single person estimated monthly costs are 448.2$ (138,054.5Rs) without rent. Cost of living in Sri Lanka is, on average, 54.5% lower than in United States. Rent in Sri Lanka is, on average, 86.0% lower than in United States.

Is Sri Lanka safe for investment? ›

“The standard of living in Sri Lanka is very good. Citizens have an admirable civic sense, it is a very safe country,” says Umesh Gautam, CEO, Lanka Ashok Leyland, one of the oldest Indian investments in Sri Lanka. “Our main objective is to grow with Sri Lanka, we will continue to be here no matter what.

How much does it cost to build a house in Sri Lanka? ›

The average cost per square foot to build a Basic house is between Rs. 12,000/= to Rs. 14,000/= as of August 2022, while it'll cost around Rs. 20,000 per square foot upwards for a house with luxury fittings and mod-cons.

How much is capital gains tax on property in Sri Lanka? ›

When an individual sells investment assets in Sri Lanka, a capital gains tax of 10% is applicable on the difference between the selling price and the cost.

How to buy a land in Sri Lanka? ›

Pay the stamp duty charges and register the deed in the relevant land registry in Sri Lanka. After your deed has been registered, make sure to get a copy of the original certificate. If you have purchased the said land using a bank loan, you will have to hand over the deed to the bank as a security for your loan.

Can a foreigner live in Sri Lanka? ›

The cost of living in Sri Lanka is relatively low, so many expats enjoy a comfortable and luxurious lifestyle here. However, it is not so easy to immigrate to the country for permanent residence. Foreigners are attracted by the fact that there are very affordable prices for buying real estate.

How many acres of land can a person own in Sri Lanka? ›

Land Reform Laws (1972 and 1975) – places a land ceiling on private ownership (50 acres or 25 acres for paddy), and nationalised land estates. This has allowed government access to 1 million hectares of land, although due to mismanagement less than 10% has been redistributed to landless persons [12].

How much does it cost to get dual citizenship in Sri Lanka? ›

USD 2,000

Can a US citizen retire in Sri Lanka? ›

Immigration Services Centre. 'My Dream Home' programme is promoted by the Government of Sri Lanka to allow people from all over the world, who fulfill a certain criteria to retire in Sri Lanka. It allows the retiree to live in the country under a long term resident visa, issued in two year blocks.

How long a US citizen can stay in Sri Lanka? ›

Conditions of the Sri Lanka ETA for US citizens

US nationals with the Tourist ETA can enter Sri Lanka twice, whereas Americans traveling on business are allowed multiple entries. Both permits allow for a maximum stay of a month (30 days) for each visit.

Does the US have a tax treaty with Sri Lanka? ›

The agreement with Sri Lanka represents the first tax treaty between the two countries. The tax treaty with the US was first signed in 1985 in Colombo.

What is the main income of Sri Lanka? ›

The main economic sectors of the country are tourism, tea export, apparel, textile, rice production and other agricultural products.

How much income is tax free in Sri Lanka? ›

As per the provisions of the Inland Revenue (Amendment) Act, No. 45 of 2022, the personal tax relief for a resident individual and citizen of Sri Lanka is set at Rs. 1,200,000, effective from 1st April 2023.

What is the main tax in Sri Lanka? ›

Indirect taxes in the forms of excise duties, VAT and tariffs are the key contributors to the government tax revenue with 74% while direct taxes including income tax, Pay-as-you-earn tax and Economic Service Charge contribute only around 9%.

Are Sri Lankans friendly? ›

Whatever their situation in society, the people of Sri Lanka possess a warm and friendly nature reflected in persistent smiling faces and eagerness to help those unfamiliar with aspects of local life.

Why do foreigners love Sri Lanka? ›

Sri Lanka is well known for its rich Buddhist culture as well as other religions. Being a religious country, Sri Lanka has many places with religious and historic significance, which attract tourists from all over the world.

How much money do you need to retire in Sri Lanka? ›

Typical monthly expenses ranging from rent, utilities to food and transportation. $432 a month or 5000 $184 a year. Assuming an average annual inflation rate of 3%. or return on balance of 8%. and an average life expectancy 25 years after, in order to retire in Sri Lanka, you need at least $77,700 and to not run out.

What is upper middle class income in Sri Lanka? ›

Sri Lanka achieved 'Upper Middle Income Country' (UMIC) status in July 2019, as the country's Gross National Income (GNI) increased from USD 3,840 per capita in 2018 to USD 4,060 per capita in 2019. World Bank's (WB) new threshold for UMICs is USD 3,996 – USD 12,375 GNI per capita.

Where is the cheapest place to live in Sri Lanka? ›

Colombo (Sri Lanka) has been ranked amongst the 10 cheapest cities in the world in this year's Worldwide Cost of Living survey (WCOL), run by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

What are the risks in Sri Lanka? ›

  • Agricultural production vulnerable to climate disasters; dependence on tourism.
  • Low levels of public capital expenditure due to debt servicing burden.
  • Reliance on short-term external financing.
  • Lack of infrastructure.
  • Ethnic tensions between Sinhalese and Tamils.

Who is the biggest investor in Sri Lanka? ›

China is the largest investor in Sri Lanka today, with funding and investment of nearly $15 billion.

What is best investment in Sri Lanka? ›

Among investors in Sri Lanka, fixed deposits (FD) and real estate investments have been the best and most popular investment options...

Can a foreigner open a bank account in Sri Lanka? ›

NRRAs may be opened and maintained in the form of Savings or Current (without overdrawing facility) or Term Deposit account, in Sri Lanka rupees. b. NRRAs shall be held as a sole account and NRRAs maintained by emigrants may be held as joint accounts with another emigrant.

What is a typical house in Sri Lanka? ›

Homes in Sri Lanka

A traditional house in Sri Lanka has one or two rooms and its own garden and is separated from other houses. Traditional houses have mud and plaster walls and a thatched roof made of woven palm fronds. Nice homes have glass windows, stucco and/or brick walls and ceramic tile roof.

Which country is cheapest to build a house? ›

By these rankings, Turkey is the most affordable country for home shoppers, with an average cost of $69 per square foot. No. 2 for affordability is Mexico, where the average dwelling comes in at $90.10 a square foot (by the rough math, that could get you a 1,000-square-foot dwelling for around $90,000).

Does Sri Lanka have property taxes? ›

Sri Lanka to start property tax, transfer, gift, inheritance tax from Jan 2025. ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will start a nation-wide property tax and a gift and inheritance tax with minimal exemptions, according to a deal reached with the International Monetary Fund and the government.

What is the condominium tax in Sri Lanka? ›

15% Value Added Tax (VAT) on Residential Condominium Developments.

What are the capital gains tax rules for 2023? ›

For 2023, you may qualify for the 0% long-term capital gains rate with taxable income of $44,625 or less for single filers and $89,250 or less for married couples filing jointly.

How much does it cost to buy land in Sri Lanka? ›

Average Land prices by Region for March 2023
Average Price (Rs.)
Western Province (apart from Colombo city) Residential Land price1.70 million Per perch
Southern province Residential Land price749,000 Per perch
Central province Residential Land price1.05 million Per perch
11 more rows

Can I buy land in Sri Lanka now? ›

Foreigners can freely buy properties subject to the payment of the Land Tax applicable for foreigners at 100% of the property value. An alternative is to lease the land for 99 years, bringing the tax down to 7%. If you consider buying (any) property in Sri Lanka it is advisable to consult with a specialized lawyer.

Can I get a visa when I land in Sri Lanka? ›

An intended traveller visiting Sri Lanka for a short stay for following purposes, must obtain ETA prior approval for their arrival. At the arrival applicant may be granted 30 days ETA with double entry facility and double entries can be made from the date of initial arrival (Within given 30 days).

Can Americans move to Sri Lanka? ›

Any non-nationals of Sri Lanka will need a visa to enter the country. The type of visa required is subject to your proposed length of stay and the purpose of your visit.

How can I get permanent residency in Sri Lanka? ›

What are the documents I need to submit with my Residence visa application?
  1. Request letter from Religious Organization.
  2. Recommendation of Line Ministry.
  3. A copy of the Bio Data Page of applicant's passport.
  4. Health Protection plan (Can get through the
  5. Passport/s.

Where do expats live in Sri Lanka? ›

There are many expats living in Sri Lanka, and most of them are based in Colombo. But what attracts expats to Colombo? In this Ask an Expat series I interview people living all over the world but outside of their home country.

Who owns the most private land? ›

The 2022 Land Report 100, compiled each year by The Land Report magazine, released its annual list of landowners who own the most acres in the United States. The nation's largest private landowners are the Emmerson family in California who own over 2.4 million acres.

Can foreigners inherit property in Sri Lanka? ›

No law prohibits foreigners from inheriting property in Sri Lanka. However the Finance Act No. 11 of 1963 states that where of ownership of any land is transferred to a person who is not a citizen of Sri Lanka, a tax of an amount equivalent to the value of the land is charged.

Who owns the largest private land? ›

1. EMMERSON FAMILY. The nation's largest private landowners, California's Emmerson family, are a prime example of this trend. Through their Sierra Pacific Industries, the Emmersons increased their landholdings by more than 100 square miles to over 2.4 million acres.

What is the easiest dual citizenship? ›

Different countries have different rules, but the easiest countries to get dual citizenship are states like Turkey, Vanuatu, Grenada, and Dominica.

What are the pros and cons of dual citizenship? ›

The Bottom Line

Dual citizens can travel freely in both countries, as well as work, do business, own land, and do other activities that may be restricted to foreigners; however, there are also disadvantages, as dual citizens may face extra taxes or even military service.

Can dual citizens have two passports? ›

How many citizenships can you have? If a country allows its citizens to hold passports of other countries, then they can obtain as many as they want. You can have dual citizenship, triple citizenship or more. There are no international limitations for that.

How long can a foreigner stay in Sri Lanka? ›

Foreign nationals visiting Sri Lanka for a period of more than 30 days on tourist purposes will be granted the visa for maximum 90 days with a double entry.

Is Sri Lanka a cheap country to live in? ›

Pakistan tops the list of the cheapest countries in the world, with a cost of living index of $294. Sri Lanka and Nepal come in second and third on the list, with cost of living indexes of $316 and $385 respectively.

Can foreigners retire in Sri Lanka? ›


Depending on your retirement plan you can either apply for a 3 month tourist visa at the Sri Lankan Embassy in your home country or go straight for the 12 month retirement visa. A Tourist Visa is suitable for people who want to send only few months in the sun over the winter.

Can an American retire to Sri Lanka? ›

The Dream Home Visa Program is a retirement program that permits foreigners to retiree and reside in Sri Lanka.

Does a US citizen need a visa for Sri Lanka? ›

Do US citizens need a visa for Sri Lanka? Yes, you do. Cost of the visa: The ETA for the Tourist Visa costs 35 USD, the Business Visa is 40 USD, and the Transit Visa is free of charge but only valid for 2 days. Sri Lanka visa processing time: 3-5 business days.

How much cash can a foreigner bring to Sri Lanka? ›

Currency Regulations

Visitors to Sri Lanka bringing in excess of US$ 10,000 should declare the amount to the Customs. All unspent monies, which were converted from foreign currencies declared on arrival, can be re-converted to original currency. You are required to produce encashment receipts or payment bills.

What is the fine for overstaying in Sri Lanka? ›

Sri Lanka currently charges a 500 dollar fine on foreigners who overstay visas for more than 2 days. The Minister of Public Security has recommended that the no penalty be charged at an airport or port if a foreigner leaves within 7 days of a visa expiring.

How much do you need to retire in Sri Lanka? ›

$432 a month or 5000 $184 a year. Assuming an average annual inflation rate of 3%. or return on balance of 8%. and an average life expectancy 25 years after, in order to retire in Sri Lanka, you need at least $77,700 and to not run out.

Where do most expats live in Sri Lanka? ›

There are many expats living in Sri Lanka, and most of them are based in Colombo.

Do Sri Lankans marry foreigners? ›

Government of Sri Lanka allows foreign national to arrange marriage ceremony and registration in Sri Lanka. In this regard please ensure that applicant should have the documents listed below. The legal requirements for Registration of Marriages of Foreign Nationals in Sri Lanka are very straightforward.


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