The Republic of Maldives consists of 1,190 islands (fewer than 200 are inhabited) in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka. The Maldives has a population of 270,000, of which about 70,000 reside in Male, the capital city. Beautiful atolls, inhabited by over 1,100 species of fish and other sea life, attract thousands of visitors each year. Tourism facilities are well developed on the resort islands. The Tsunami of December 26, 2004 caused some damage to several hotels and facilities on some of the islands. Most of the tourism infrastructure remains intact.
Travelers planning to visit the Maldives should consult with travel agencies or the Maldivian Tourist Board to ensure their itineraries take this event into consideration. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Maldives for additional information.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport, along with an onward/return ticket and sufficient funds, is required for entry. A no-cost visitor visa valid for thirty days is issued upon arrival. The Department of Immigration and Emigration routinely approves requests for extension of stays up to ninety days for travelers who present evidence of sufficient funds and who stay in a resort or hotel or present a letter from a local sponsor.
Anyone staying over sixty days without proper authorization faces heavy fines and deportation. All visitors departing the Republic of the Maldives (except diplomats and certain exempted travelers) must pay an airport departure tax. Travelers need a yellow fever immunization if they are arriving from an infected area.
Arrival by private boat: Travelers arriving by private yacht or boat are granted no-cost visas, usually valid until the expected date of departure.
Vessels anchoring in atolls other than Male must have prior clearance through agents in Male. Maldivian customs, police and/or representatives of Maldivian immigration will meet all vessels, regardless of where they anchor. Vessels arriving with a dog on board will be permitted anchorage, but the dog will not be allowed off the vessel. Any firearms or ammunition on board will be held for bond until the vessel’s departure.
Specific inquiries should be addressed to the Maldives High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka at No. 24, Melbourne Avenue, Colombo 4, telephone (94) (11) 2580076/2586762/2500943, or the Maldives Mission to the U.N. in New York, telephone (212) 599-6194.
See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on the Maldives and other countries. Visit the website of the Maldives Permanent Mission to the United Nations at http://www.un.int/maldives/ for the most current visa information.
Find more information about Entry and Exit Requirements pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction. Please refer to our Customs Information to learn more about customs regulations.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
CRIME: The Maldives has a low crime rate, but thefts of valuables left unattended on beaches or in hotels does occur.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
See our information on Victims of Crime.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: The Maldives has limited medical facilities. There are two hospitals in Male: the government-owned Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGM) and the privately-owned Abduarahman Don Kaleyfan Hospital (ADK). ADK accepts some insurance plans, but IGM does not. The hospitals perform general, orthopedic and neurosurgery, but the Maldives has no trauma units, and spinal surgery is not available. Persons needing treatments not offered in the Maldives require evacuation to the nearest adequate medical facility, such as in Singapore.
Two recompression chambers are available in the Maldives. One is on Bandos Island (fifteen minutes by speedboat from Male) and the other is in Kuramathi (one hour by speed boat and about twenty minutes by air taxi from Male.)
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Maldives is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Only a few of the islands are big enough to support automobiles. Most transportation in the Maldives is by boat or seaplane (air taxi). The Maldives has good safety standards for land, sea, and air travel. Roads in Male and on the airport island are brick and generally well maintained. Dirt roads on resort islands are well kept by the resorts. Transportation on the small island on which the capital, Male, is situated is either by foot or by readily-available taxis.
Transportation between the airport and Male, as well as to nearby resort islands, is by motorized water taxi and speedboat. Several local companies provide seaplane and helicopter service to outlying islands. Air taxis stop flying one hour before sunset, and several resorts do not transport passengers by boat between the airport and the resort island later than one hour before sunset. Visitors to distant resorts arriving in the country at night can expect to stay overnight at a hotel in Male or at the airport hotel and should confirm transfer arrangements in advance.
Religious Laws: Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. Religious gatherings such as Bible study groups are prohibited; however, a family unit may practice its religion, including Bible readings, within its residence. It is against the law to invite or encourage Maldivian citizens to attend these gatherings. Offenders may face jail sentences, expulsion and/or fines.
In the past, several non-Maldivian families resident in the Maldives, including some Americans, were expelled for allegedly engaging in religious proselytizing. Although Maldivian law prohibits importing “idols for religious worship,” tourists traveling to the resort islands are generally allowed to bring in items and texts used for personal religious observances.
Currency: Credit cards are increasingly accepted outside large hotels and resorts; cash payment in dollars is accepted at most retail shops and restaurants and by taxi drivers.