Sri Lanka does not have a yardstick to define urban. As is done in many countries in the world, Sri Lankan urban policy planners use a pure administrative definition with some flexibility to define and declare certain rural areas with potential for increasing the amenity value of land through dense development. In the National Physical Plan 2007-2030, there are several Metro Regions, which are urban agglomerations but without defined boundaries. According to the classification currently in use, the following areas, which are considered as urban, are under the purview of respective state institutions.

a) Urban Development Authority- 23 Municipal Councils (MC), 41 Urban Councils (UC) and Urban Pradeshiya Sabhas (UPS), Nuwara Eliya District, Trincomalee District, and 1-km wide Coastal Belt

b) National Physical Planning Department- Sacred Cities and Metro Regions

c) Megapolis Development Authority (in future) – Western Province and other Metro Regions

All MCs, UCs and UPSs, which govern the areas declared under a) above, exercise authority delegated by the UDA for enforcement of urban development plans prepared for those areas by the UDA. The purpose of declaring a 1-km wide Coastal Belt was for promoting and guiding the developments in those areas for facilitating Tourism. (Silva 2016)

Besides these several high density housing schemes were developed by the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) in peripheral areas of Colombo (Mattegoda, Ranpokunagama and Seeduwa) and the densities of populations and buildings in those housing schemes are close to them being considered as urban.