Frequently Asked Questions

The Basics

How do I become an exporter?

The two crucial keys to achieving success are careful selection of likely countries for your product and plenty of 'desk research' in order to identify those markets’ characteristics. The company needs to conduct trade data analysis to determine which market/s demand is coming from, growth trends and current suppliers to that market. It is mandatory to meet the regulations, product quality standards, labeling standards, consumer protection rules and other specifications laid down in the chosen market/s.

Beyond the Sri Lankan trade scenario, the exporter needs to understand the Sri Lanka’s bilateral relations and trade agreements (if any) with his market/s of interest. The exporters should be familiar with tariff & non tariff barriers governing the import of product / service into the selected market/s. The exporter should also possess sufficient production /supply capacity of the selected product & marketing capabilities.

Companies can use the EDBs Business Library to gather information required to conduct market research and  also use product/market Advisory services provided by the relevant Divisions.

What can I export ?

Refer the ‘Export Products’ section in this website for information on products/services currently being exported from Sri Lanka.

Do I need a license to export ?

Although most goods are freely exported, there are certain goods that can only be exported under an export license issued by the Controller of Import & Exports while others can be exported with annual registration & approval from the relevant government agencies. Some items are prohibited or restricted for exports.Please refer the “Export Procedure of Sri Lanka”in the EXPORTER section for more information

Where do I register as an exporter?

A person exporting any article of commercial value from Sri Lanka is required to register with following institutions.

    • Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB Reg. Number)
    • Inland Revenue Department (Tax Identification Number (TIN )/VAT Number)
    • Sri Lanka Customs

To register with the above institutions the exporter is required to produce the original Business Registration Certificate /Certificate of Incorporation and other related documents along with duly completed application forms which should be obtained from above Institutions.

How can I learn about International Trade and Export & Import procedures?

The EDB operates training program & certificate courses to educate exporters and potential exporters on international trade.

    • Course on Operational Aspects of International Trade
    For Whom

    For senior and middle level executives in public and private sector organizations dealing with international trade.

    • Certificate Course in Import/Export Procedures
    For Whom

    For personnel who need to enhance their knowledge on operations in cargo clearance, freight forwarding and shipping.

What type of assistance offered by the EDB for SMEs?

The EDB- Regional Development Division offers the following services and facilities to the Small & Medium Exporters/Potential Exporters through the EDB regional offices.

  • Provide advisory services.
  • Disseminate updated product/market information to the regional based enterprises/entrepreneurs.
  • Conduct Regional based training/awareness & skill development programmes in relation to product, technology & market development.
  • Implement regional based assistance schemes for product / supply /market development for farmers/growers etc.
  • Link Buyers/Exporters to regional based potential exporters /manufacturers/suppliers/growers.
  • Arrange Market/Technology exposure programmes for regional based potential exporters/manufacturers/growers.

Export Marketing

Where can I obtain information on overseas markets?

  • Information on overseas markets can be obtained from various sources. For a start, companies can check with the EDB Business Library which has wide range of resources such as business directories, country profiles, tariff schedules, market reports, periodicals and statistics.
  • They can refer to the Market profiles & Briefs published in the EXPORTER section of this website and also can have access to the CBI product/market surveys through the site.
  • Meet the officers in the EDB-Market Development Division for further information.

How do I find an overseas buyer, distributor or agent for my product ?

There are several ways companies can source for such contacts :-

  • Through participation in international trade fairs and exhibitions both locally and overseas. 
  • During business meetings organized by EDB during trade missions and specialized marketing missions overseas as well as at incoming buying missions.
  • By referring to the Importers Directories of various countries available in the EDB Business Library.
  • Through online buyer search facility available at the EDB -IT Division.
  •  By contacting Sri Lankan Embassies/High Commissions overseas.
  • Through country specific foreign trade promotion missions located  in Sri Lanka.

How do I participate in overseas trade fairs / trade missions organized by the EDB?

Companies can log on to the EDB’s website for the list of all trade fairs / trade missions organized within a calendar of year. Advertisements calling for applications from the eligible  companies to participate at the events are published in the daily news papers and could be also downloaded from the EDB website.

How do I price my products for the export market ?

When pricing products for the export market various factors have to be considered. Apart from the cost of production, the other cost that must be taken into consideration are

  • Costs of packaging, labeling, quality control & product certification
  • Any other charges for which the exporter is responsible under the contract of sale (e.g. - domestic  transportation, insurance and freight charges for goods sold on (CIF)
  • Custom charges
  • Port Charges
  • Cost of forwarding contract
  • Agents commission, if applicable
  • Export CESS, if applicable
  • Import duties , if applicable
  • Local and overseas bank commission charges, if applicable
  • Exporter’s profit margin

It is also important to determine which segment of the market the product is for and what are the prices of similar products being sold in the market.

How to get advice on export packaging?

The National Packaging Centre provides advice on Export Packaging

Venue - SLEDB, Nawam Mawatha, Colombo 02.
Contacts - Mr. Dolawatta- 0112302072/0714447393

What are the export payment methods?

The terms of payment agreed between the exporter and the importer depends on how well the exporter knows the importer, risk involved in the transaction, and the volume of business.Methods of payment for foreign trade are :

Advance Payment

The most favoured payment method for export is advance payment.  In this method of payment the buyer remits money to the seller (exporter) before the goods are shipped, generally with the order.

Letters of Credit(L/C)

A letter of credit is a written undertaking given by a bank (issuing bank) to the seller (beneficiary) at the request and in accordance with the instructions of buyer (applicant of the credit) to make payment up to a stated sum of money within a prescribed  time limit against stipulated documents, complying with all terms and condition  of the credit.

Documentary Collection

The seller used the service of a bank in his country (Remitting Bank). Then the remitting bank will get the service of a bank in the buyers country (collecting bank) to collect the payment from the buyer.  If everything goes smoothly the buyers bank (collecting bank) will collect the payment and remit same to the sellers bank.

The documentary collection cold be categorized under two headings:

Documents against payment (D/P terms) sight bill

After the shipment, documents are delivered to the buyer’s bank (collecting bank) with clear instructions through the sellers bank (remitting bank)’ According to the instructions given by the remitting bank. The buyer’s bank (collecting bank) releases all shipping documents to the buyer only after payment. Then the buyer’s bank remits money to the seller’s bank and seller’s bank gives same to the seller (exporter).

Documents against acceptance (D/A terms) term bill

All shipping document along with a bill of exchange  (term bill) are delivered to the buyer’s bank with clear instructions through  the  sellers bank.  According to the instructions given by the seller’s bank  the buyer’s bank releases documents to the buyer only after  acceptance of term bill and the payment is obtained on the due date.

Open Accounts

An arrangement between the seller and the buyer for the buyer to settle his debt at a pre-determined, future date i.e. at the end of the month or one month after each shipment.Under this method both the goods and documents are sent direct to the  buyer in advance.

Consignment Accounts

This method is somewhat similar  to the open Account System.  Goods and documents are sent to the buyer direct.  The buyer remits to money to the seller with the sales account agreed intervals or on completing of the sale.

How to get Certificate of Origin ?

Certificate of Origin is to certify that the product is produced in Sri Lanka. Certificate of Origin (GSP Certificate) is issued by the Department of Commerce and certain countries request for Country of Origin certificates issued by Chambers (Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, National Chamber of Commerce)

How to get export credit insurance ?

Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance Corporation (SLECIC) is a statutory body which operates under the Ministry of Finance & Planning.SLECIC is the sole organization which is providing Export credit insurance (ECI) in Sri Lanka

The Corporation is committed to provide attractive and innovative Export Credit Insurance and Guarantee support services for the development of exports of Sri Lanka

Contact Address :Level 4, NDB-EDB Tower, No 42 , Navam Mawatha ,Colombo 02?
Tel:011 2 307507

How to handle disputes related to foreign buyers?

The exporters should forward quality products within agreed time frames with all documents required for clearing the shipments to fulfill buyers’ needs and avoid disputes. When dealing with a buyer, they should take all precautionary measures to secure the payments for their export shipments.Those who export under Open Account terms are advised to check the credibility of the buyer and take Export Credit Insurance prior to effect the export shipment.

The trade officers stationed in Sri Lankan Embassies/High Commissions could assist you to resolve disputes related to foreign buyers. You may forward your complaint with supportive documents to the Department of Commerce.

Trade Information & Advisory Support

What kind of information related to exports could be obtained from  the EDB?

The EDB's trade information service is designed to meet the information requirements of those engaged in activities related to international trade.

  • Information on exportable Product/ Services
  • Product profiles/Industry capability reports
  • Information on Export markets / Country profiles / Market regulations / Standards / Tariff & non tariff barriers / Market Access Guidelines
  • National/International tariff guides
  • National/International Trade Statistics
  • Sri Lankan Directory of Exporters
  • International buyers
  • International market prices
  • Trade Directories & Year Books
  • Product packaging for the export market
  • International trade promotion events
  • Trade Leads
  • News Alerts

How do I access this information?

Information can be obtained through EDB Portal, visiting EDB Business Library , meeting product/market officers and also through EDB publications.

Where can I obtain information on overseas markets?

  • Information on overseas markets can be obtained from various sources. For a start, companies can check with the EDB Business Library which has wide range of resources such as business directories, country profiles, tariff schedules, market reports, periodicals and statistics.
  • They can refer to the Market profiles & Briefs published in the EXPORTER section of this website and  also can have access to the CBI product/market surveys through the site.
  • Meet the officers in the EDB-Market Development Division for further information.

How can I learn about International Trade and Export & Import procedures?

The EDB operates training program & certificate courses to educate exporters and potential exporters on international trade.

  • Course on Operational Aspects of International Trade
For whom

For senior and middle level executives in public and private sector organizations dealing with international trade.

  • Certificate Course in Import/Export Procedures
For Whom

For personnel who need to enhance their knowledge on operations in cargo clearance, freight forwarding and shipping.

  • What type of training programmes are organized by the EDB?

Workshops and seminars organized by EDB nurtures and update exporters on trade developments and business opportunities in the international market. Various topics are covered such as export opportunities in new and emerging markets, enhancing product image, technical requirements and changes in market trends. Companies can view the list of trainings / workshops for the year from EDB Calender of events.

Where do I source for Sri Lankan exporters ?

Local trading companies and foreign companies who are looking for Sri Lankan exporters can access online Sri Lankan Exporters database which comprises 180 product categories.

Does EDB Portal offer Online Services?

Yes. The Exporters can register with the e-Market Place to sell/promote their products. They also can get their web advertisements published in the EDB website,link their own website to www.srilankabusiness.com and register for the online trade statistics service.