Tariffs and regulations

Tariffs and regulations

Tariffs and duty rates are constantly revised and are subject to change without notice.

Austrade strongly recommends you reconfirm these prior to selling to Sri Lanka.

For further information please visit Sri Lankan Customs.

Tariffs and non-tariff barriers


Tariffs are based on the Harmonised System (HS). Most duties are ad valorem, assessed on the CIF value (Incoterms 1990). Sri Lanka has a three-band import tariff schedule based on the harmonised system of classification; five, 10 and 25 per cent and an additional surcharge of 20 per cent on import duty. Exporters need to be aware that there are other add-ons and surcharges applicable for imported goods, such as Import Cess, Port and Aviation Levy (PAL), VAT and Nation Building Tax (NBT).

Passenger motor vehicles, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, carpets, perfume and other luxury items are subject to rates as high as 200 per cent.

Import tariffs are waived for export-oriented companies, IT related projects and special infrastructure projects approved by the Board of Investment. Other imports exempt from duty are:

  • textiles, yarn and other intermediate goods for the garment export industry
  • gold
  • gems
  • computers and software
  • telecommunications equipment
  • sports equipment
  • medical and dental equipment
  • agricultural seeds
  • machinery for use in the agricultural and fisheries industries.

India and Sri Lanka signed a tariff agreement recently under which Sri Lanka will have duty free access to 1000 items within three years and India will be able to export 800 items to Sri Lanka within eight years.

Non-tariff barriers

The Sri Lanka Government has liberalised import and export procedures. Import licenses are required for only a few specified items due to health and security reasons. These products include:

  • firearms and ammunition
  • drugs and pharmaceutical products
  • precious metals
  • alcohol
  • toxic and hazardous chemicals
  • pesticides
  • meats
  • fresh produce.

The import of illegal drugs is strictly prohibited. There are no export controls on most items other than coral and shells, wood and wood-based articles, ivory and antiques, which have been imposed for environmental protection and the preservation of antiques.

Sri Lanka bans genetically modified (GM) foods including products using GM ingredients. Licenses and valid certification from the exporting country’s health authorities clearing the product of any GM ingredients are required for import items such as:

  • soya-based products
  • maize/corn
  • tomato and tomato-based products
  • potato and potato products
  • bakers’ and brewers’ yeast
  • cheese and micro-biological starter cultures.

There are more than 1,200 standards governing manufactured products, agricultural commodities, industrial raw materials and production processes set and enforced by the Sri Lankan Standards Institute. Sri Lanka has also adopted International Standards Organisation ISO 9000 standards for quality management and assurance, ISO 10011 standards for management audits and ISO 14000 series for environment procedures.

Product certification, labelling and packaging

Labelling and marking

Packing should be strong and guard against extreme heat in summer, humidity in winter and possible storage in the open. Steel strapping is recommended.

Outer containers should bear the consignee's and port mark and should be numbered according to the packing list, unless their contents can be otherwise readily identified.

An indelible marking of origin (e.g. Made in Australia) must appear on all goods and their immediate containers.

Edible fats, oils, milk and other dairy products are subject to special marking regulations.

Infant milk foods must state in Sinhala, Tamil and English: 'Breast milk substitute' and 'Doctors recommend that breast feeding is better'.

Containers of liquids must be marked in the metric equivalent of imperial gallons.

Dimensions of piece goods must be conspicuously stamped/marked in the metric equivalent of standard yards and fractions of yards.

English language is accepted for labelling of consumer goods, but local languages are essential on any products aimed at the mass market.

Special certificates

Livestock require certificates of health issued by the approved authority in the country of origin. In Australia this is usually the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service or the Department of Agriculture.

Meat and meat products require sanitary certificates issued by the approved authority in the country of origin.

Plants require phytosanitary certificates.

Used clothing, raw cotton and cottonseed must have certificates of fumigation.

Second-hand equipment must be accompanied by a certificate of valuation.

Methods of quoting and payment

Quotations preferably in US dollars.

Documentary requirements

Fax signatures are not permitted.

Commercial invoice

No prescribed form and two copies are required. The invoice must indicate:

  • country of origin
  • brand marks, e.g. make, model
  • positive reference by order number or correspondence with supplier
  • whether the price is cost, insurance and freight (CIF) or free on board (FOB) (Incoterms 1990)
  • freight and insurance values
  • type and amount of discount given
  • packaging details indicating dimensions and weights, unless provided for in a separate packing list
  • full description of goods, including the HS number.

Specific details are required for certain goods, including:

  • fabrics - fibre composition and proportion by weight, construction (woven or knitted), finishes given (plain, coated, dyed or printed), the unit of quantity and the width of the piece
  • synthetic fibres: continuous or discontinuous
  • motor vehicles: new, used or reconditioned
  • chemicals: name, element and grade.
Bill of lading/airway bill

To Order bills acceptable. Clean bill of lading showing gross weight of each package.

Packing list

Two copies, if requested.

Public health requirements

Livestock require special import permits issued by the Chief Government Veterinary Surgeon of Sri Lanka. Special import permits must be obtained from the Director of Agriculture.

Edible fats, oils, milk and dairy products and the use of preservatives, colours and artificial sweeteners in foodstuffs are subject to specific regulations.

Drugs and pharmaceuticals are subject to strict controls.


Normal commercial practice. Exporters should ensure that if they retain an interest in the goods until they reach the customer's warehouse the goods are adequately covered for loss or damage after landing.

Weights and measures

The metric system.