The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.
A parliamentary decree recognizes religious groups that were present prior to independence, including Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Seventh-day Adventists, Hindus, and Muslims. These groups receive an annual lump sum payment from the finance ministry based on the number of their adherents as determined by the census. The registrar of associations registers new religious groups, which must have a minimum of seven members. The finance ministry grants these new groups tax-exempt privileges.
The government allows foreign missionary groups to operate on a case-by-case basis. Although no regulations restrict their presence or limit proselytizing activities, religious groups must obtain both a residence permit and a work permit for each missionary. The prime minister’s office is the final authority on issuance of these required documents. While there are no explicit limits on the ability of missionaries to operate, there are unofficial limits on the number of missionaries permitted to obtain the requisite visas and work permits. The government grants residence permits to missionaries for a maximum of three years with no extensions.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Thaipoosam Cavadee, Maha Shivaratree, Ougadi, Ganesh Chathurthi, Eid al-Fitr, Divali, Assumption of Mary, All Saints’ Day, and Christmas.