SHOOTING PERMITS SRI LANKA - EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT APPROVAL
Shooting permits are vital as they ensure public safety, resource allocation, and legal compliance during filming or photography activities. By obtaining a permit, individuals and groups adhere to regulations, minimizing disruptions to local communities, protecting sensitive environments and historical sites, and promoting professionalism. Permits also establish accountability and liability measures, fostering responsible and organized shoots while contributing to economic growth and positive relationships between creators and authorities.
Video production in Sri Lanka is no different but the steps to obtain those permits can sometimes be daunting especially if you're not sure who you need your permit from.
Your locations will likely fall into one of the following and should give you a hint of whom you need to approach for permits.
Requires no permit
These are usually public spaces that are free to access. Being a public space you need to be mindful of the type of content you are shooting and to blur out the faces of non-consenting participants but beyond that, you are pretty free to shoot in these spaces. E.g: Galle Face Green and Mount Lavinia Beach
Requires a permit with a low permit fee
These are usually public parks or any other public space that is run or managed by a department under the purview of a government ministry. The permits for these locations usually only require a visit to the office of the specific department or officer in charge and can cost anywhere between LKR 5000 - LKR 12,000 per day.
E.g: Diyasaru Park, Thalawathugoda - Permits can be obtained on location from their office as you arrive. Viharamahadevi Park - Permits are to be obtained from the Colombo Municipal Council Office at Town Hall. A letter requesting permission is required and permits can take up to 5 working days to be processed.
Requires a permit with a high permit fee
These are usually public parks or spaces that are managed by a private company. There's usually an office at the location where you can fill in an application to apply for a permit. Permit fees for locations such as these could cost you up to LKR 20,000 for 2-3 hours.
E.g: Arcade Independence Square - Permits can be applied from the office at the location with the process taking 2-3 days. Something to keep in mind, as this is a public space the management is very specific on the type of content that can be shot on location.
Requires a permit but has an extensive permission process
These are specific locations that fall directly under the purview of a ministry due to the nature of the location. They're usually Sri Lankan heritage sites or sites of cultural importance to Sri Lanka and therefore require an extensive permission process. While the permit fee is very small, in the range of LKR 5000 - 10,000 for 2-3 shooting days, the process can take anywhere from 2 - 6 weeks. E.g: Sinharajah Rainforest - Applications need to be processed through the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation.
So good luck on your next shoot and we hope this helps you navigate the permit process for video production in Sri Lanka so you can avoid Mr. Secuirty Gaurd asking you “Mahathaya ko permit eka” (loosely translated as “Do you have a permit to shoot here?”)