COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Maldives consists of 1,190 islands (approximately 200 are inhabited) in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka. It is a presidential-parliamentary democracy and has a population of fewer than 325,000, with approximately 100,000 people residing in the capital city of Malé, and an estimated 100,000 foreign workers. Beautiful atolls, inhabited by over 1,100 species of fish and other sea life, attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Tourism facilities are well developed on the resort islands. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Maldives for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Maldives, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. Although there is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Maldives, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, provides consular support for Maldives. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy Colombo, Sri Lanka
210 Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka
Telephone: (94) (11) 249-8500
Emergency after-hours telephone: (94)-77-725-6307
Facsimile: (94) (11) 249-8590
Website: Maldives Virtual Presence Post
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: A valid passport, along with an onward/return ticket and sufficient funds, is required for entry. A no-cost visitor visa valid for 30 days is issued upon arrival.
The Department of Immigration and Emigration routinely approves requests for extension of stays up to 90 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 more than 60 days without proper authorization faces heavy fines and deportation.
Travelers need a yellow fever immunization if they are arriving from an infected area. Visit the Republic of the Maldives, Department of Immigration & Emigration for the most current visa information.
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 Malé must have prior clearance through agents in Malé. 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.
With the exception of the capital Malé, tourists are generally prohibited from visiting non-resort islands without the express permission of the Government of Maldives. Permission to visit non-resort islands is most commonly granted to tourists participating in trips organized by resorts or licensed tour operators.
Specific inquiries should be addressed to Maldives High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at No. 25, Melbourne Avenue, Colombo 4, telephone (94) (11) 2587827 / 5516302 / 5516303, or the Maldives Mission to the United Nations in New York, telephone (212) 599-6195.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Maldives.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page. For a list of prohibited items from entry into the Republic of Maldives, visit the Maldives Customs Service website for the most current information.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Maldives held its first-ever multi-party democratic election in late 2008. The capital city of Malé has had recurrent protests, sometimes violent, since the February 2012 transition of power. Political demonstrations and social unrest have resulted in the police forcibly dispersing crowds. You should exercise caution and avoid demonstrations and spontaneous gatherings. Protests are generally confined to the capital, Malé, and primarily occur during the evenings, but have been known to take place on other islands. There have not been any demonstrations on the resort islands. You should not engage in political activity in Maldives and if you encounter demonstrations or large crowds, you should remain calm and depart the area quickly and avoid confrontation. While traveling in Maldives, you should refer to news sources, check the U.S. Embassy Colombo website for possible security updates and remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
U.S. Embassy employees are not resident in Maldives. This will constrain the Embassy’s ability to provide services to U.S. citizens in an emergency. Stay up to date by:
CRIME: Maldives has a low crime rate, but theft of valuables left unattended on beaches or in hotels does occur. Drug use is on the rise among young Maldivians and the penalty for drug use is severe.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Maldives is 119. Note: This number is only for the police, not emergency medical services.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Maldives, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In some places, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States; for example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Maldives, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not legal wherever you go.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
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.
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.
Accessibility: While in Maldives, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The Maldivian constitution provides for the rights and freedom from discrimination of persons with disabilities, and parliament passed a Special Needs bill last year. The new law requires public places such as supermarkets and parks to have facilities that will enable access for people with disabilities. Despite the law, most public places do not yet have access for the disabled, and implementation of the law may take some time.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: There is no 911 equivalent for medical emergencies in Maldives; 119 is for the police only, and the Coast Guard responds to 191 calls for maritime emergencies. A patient would have to call an individual hospital for ambulance services. The quality of medical care in such instances may be uncertain, as most ambulances are ill equipped.
Maldives has limited medical facilities. There are two hospitals in Malé: the government-owned Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and the privately owned Abduarahman Don Kaleyfan Hospital (ADK). ADK accepts some insurance plans, but IGMH does not. The hospitals perform limited general and orthopedic surgery, but Maldives has no trauma units and a small number of ICU beds. Persons needing treatments not offered in Maldives require evacuation to the nearest adequate medical facility, such as in Singapore.
Five recompression chambers are available in Maldives. The largest and longest operating recompression chamber is on Bandos Island (15 minutes by speedboat from Malé). The others are located on Cinnamon Alidhoo Resort, Villingili Resort in Addu, Kuramathi Resort, and Kandholhudhoo Islands.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You cannot assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It is very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy does not go with you when you travel, it is a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Maldives, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Maldives is provided for general reference only, and may vary by location or circumstance.
Only a few of the islands are large enough to support automobiles. Most transportation in Maldives is by boat or seaplane (air taxi). Maldives has good safety standards for land, sea, and air travel. Roads in Malé and on the airport island are brick and generally well maintained. Dirt roads on resort islands are well-kept by the resorts. Transportation in Malé is either by foot, by bus, or by readily available taxis that charge a fixed fee for any single journey. Transportation between the airport and Malé, as well as to nearby resort islands, is by motorized water taxi and speedboat. Several local companies provide seaplane 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 Malé or at the airport hotel and should confirm transfer arrangements in advance.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Official Travel Guide of the Maldives and national authority responsible for road safety.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Maldives, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Maldives’ Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Maldives dated August 23, 2012. There were no substantive changes.