Rules and Regulations



A registered mark is a mark registered under the law and with National Intellectual Property office in Sri Lanka. It is first accepted for the publication in the Gazette. A period of 3 months is given to the public for opposition after the publication29. If it is accepted, the registration will become effective upon the payment of the registration fee. The registration is valid for a period of 10 years from the date of application and is renewable on the payment of the fee for a further period of 10 years.30
A mark can be used even without registration. Unregistered marks can be protected under the unfair competition law or common law action for passing off. The marks, which are not inadmissible under sections 103 and 104 of the Intellectual Property Act No: 36 of 2003, can be registered31

Copyrights and patent rights

The Code of Intellectual Property Act No. 52 of 2003 embodies legislation relating to copyright, industrial design, patents, trademarks, trade names and unfair competition. Sri Lanka’s Intellectual Property Law, which is based on the WIPO model law for developing countries, has incorporated internationally accepted principles and concepts of intellectual property32



An investor, who signs an agreement under section 16 and 17 of the BOI law, is eligible to import project related items approved by the Investment Department without customs duty. However, the investor has to pay other taxes liable under the customs tariff.33
Permission to import the first consignment of capital goods and construction materials has to be granted by the Regional Development Department / Engineering Department of the relevant Zone / Regional Office, after approval of the site and building plans. Certificate of conformity of the building has to be obtained from the same department prior to import of raw material34. The relevant form 45/FO/IS/34 for obtaining approval for the first import consignment could be obtained at the time of registering with the Investor Services Department or downloaded from the BOI website. 

Application to effect the first Import of a BOI Enterprise

Documents Required for Clearance of Import Cargo 

Air Freight

Sea Freight

  • 02 Copies of CUSDEC (BOI copy & Delivery copy)
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Master Airway Bill
  • House Airway Bill
  • 02 Copies of CUSDEC (BOI copy & Delivery copy)
  • Commercial Invoice / Packing List
  • Bill of lading
  • Delivery order


*Source: BOI Sri Lanka-


All products that are exported to the international market are duty free. Enterprises should obtain the Certificate of Conformity (COC) from the Engineering Approvals Department/Regional Office or the respective Zone office before effecting the first export. The relevant application form 45/FO/IS/35 could be downloaded from the website.

Documentation for Exports 

Request for exports should be made under Cusdec declaration I and II, and submitted to the relevant BOI Service Centre for approval.

Air/Sea Freight

  • 02 copies of CUSDECs (Security copy & BOI copy)
  • 02 copies of Commercial Invoice

Source: BOI Sri Lanka-

Certificates of Origin and other Pre-registrations35

• Quota allocation for export to India under the Indo Lanka FTA could be obtained from theDepartment of Commerceprior to processing export documents.

• Certificate of Origin for export to India will be issued by the Department of Commerce.

• Certificate of Origin for export to European Union (EU) countries will be issued by the relevant BOI service centre.

• For all other countries Certificates of Origin should be obtained from the Chamber of Commerce.

• All exporters should register under the Export Development Board before starting operations. This is a mandatory requirement in order to obtain customs and other approvals.

• As and when Certificate of Origin for export of apparels is issued by the BOI, an additional copy of the CUSDEC is required.

Prohibited and Restricted Items

Forbidden for Export from Sri Lanka36
• Dangerous goods as defined by International Airline Ticketing Academy (IATA)
• Live animals
• Explosives
• Mahogany and ebony wood items
• Narcotics
• Pornography
• Anti- religion materials
• Indian and Pakistani currencies

Restricted for Export from Sri Lanka37
• Human body parts require approval from the Ministry of Health
• Liquor requires approval from the Department of Excise
• Artifacts require the approval from the National Museum
• Sand requires the approval from the Ministry of Sands and Minerals
• Weaponry and ammunition- with permission only
• Cultural artefacts
• Plants, animals any part thereof and food stuff
• Medicines, for personal use only, in original packaging and accompanied by the prescription and doctor’s note.
• Currency – if the sum in foreign currency notes exceeds the equivalent of US$ 5,000, the entirety of the sum must be declared.

Forbidden for Import to Sri Lanka38

• Cash and Cash Equivalents
• Dangerous goods as defined by IATA
• Furs
• Narcotics
• Pornography
• Anti- religion materials
• Indian and Pakistani currencies

Restrictions for Import to Sri Lanka 39

• Pre- alerts are required for jewelry, gold, precious metals and precious stones shipments of value over US$ 1000.
• Medical Products and prescription drugs require approval from the Cosmetic Drug Device Authority and Import License.
• Wireless and mobile telephones require approval from the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.
• Pets – import required obtainable from nearest Embassy or Mission
• Weaponry and ammunition - with permission only. Contact the nearest embassy for more details.
• Cultural artefacts
• Plants, animals any part thereof and foodstuff. For more details please contact nearest Embassy
• Medicines, for personal use only, in original packaging and accompanied by the prescription and doctor’s note.
• Currency – any local or foreign currency exceeding equivalent of US $15,000 needs to be declared. At the time of leaving the country for travel purposes, a citizen of Sri Lanka or a person resident in Sri Lanka may carry up to 20,000 Sri Lankan rupees in the form of currency notes to meet local expenses. Such notes shall be brought back to Sri Lanka upon return.

Sri Lanka has a list of business activities which restrict foreign investment. The degree of restriction varies across different areas of investment. They are as follows:

Areas Totally Reserved For Sri Lankans 

Foreign investment is not permitted in the following areas40:
1. Money lending
2. Pawn broking
3. Retail trade investment with a capital of less than One Million US Dollars
4. Providing personal services other than for the export or tourism sectors
5. Coastal fishing
6. Education of students who are citizens of Sri Lanka and not over 14 years of age
7. Award of local educational degrees

Areas Subject to Automatic or Conditional Approval 41

Foreign investments in the areas listed below will be approved provided that the ownership limited to 40%. Foreign ownership in excess of 40% will be approved on a case-by-case basis by the BOI.

1. Production of goods where Sri Lanka’s exports are subject to internationally determined quota restrictions
2. Growing and primary processing of tea, rubber, coconut, cocoa, rice, sugar and spices
3. Mining and primary processing of nonrenewable national resources
4. Timber based industries using local timber
5. Fishing (deep sea fishing)
6. Mass communications
7. Education
8. Travel agencies
9. Shipping agencies 

Regulated Areas 42
Foreign investments in the areas listed below will be approved by the respective Government agency or BOI.
1.Air transportation
2.Coastal shipping