Is Renting a Car in Sri Lanka Expensive and Worth It?

It’s no surprise that renting a car in Sri Lanka may seem expensive compared to other travel destinations. While there are other transportation options like public transportation, taxis, and ride-sharing services, renting a car is the most popular choice. In this post, we’ll explore the factors contributing to the relatively high costs of renting a car in Sri Lanka, helping you understand the dynamics and make informed decisions for your travel budget.

Import Taxes and Duties on Vehicles

Historically, Sri Lanka has imposed significant import taxes and duties on vehicles, which makes it expensive for rental companies to acquire and maintain their fleets. As a result, these costs are passed on to the customers renting the vehicles.

Economic Crisis and Vehicle Imports

Since March 2020, the Sri Lankan Government has imposed a complete ban on importing motor vehicles due to foreign currency outflows. This lack of new vehicles in the market has forced rental operators to acquire them at much higher costs to maintain their fleets.

Vehicle Maintenance Costs

The import bans and increased duties on vehicle spare parts and other supplies have led to higher service and maintenance costs. Reputed rental companies need to keep their fleets in top condition, which adds to the overall rental expenses.

High Operating Costs

Running a car rental business in Sri Lanka involves high operational expenses, including maintenance, insurance, and staff salaries. These costs contribute to the overall rental fees, making it challenging for companies to offer more affordable rates.

Insurance Costs

All rental companies are required to possess additional commercial insurance for each vehicle used as a taxi or rental car. While not all rental companies and ride-sharing services comply with this, the additional commercial insurance obtained by reputable rental companies contributes to the higher costs associated with renting a car.


Renting a car in Sri Lanka may seem expensive, but understanding the underlying factors can help you plan your budget more effectively. If car rental prices in Sri Lanka are beyond your budget, you could consider more budget-friendly options like tuk-tuk rentals.

While the prices may be higher due to import taxes and operational costs, the flexibility and convenience of having your own vehicle to explore the diverse landscapes of Sri Lanka can often outweigh the expenses. By being aware of these factors, you can make informed choices and maximize the value of your travel experience.

Wednesday March 6, 2024