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Republic of Maldives consists of 1,190 islands (approximately 200 are inhabited) in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka. It is a presidential republic and has a population of approximately 340,000, with more than 100,000 people residing in the capital city of Malé, and an estimated 110,000 to 120,000 foreign workers. Beautiful atolls, inhabited by over 1,100 species of fish and other sea life, attract about a million 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.
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 and 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.
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 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.
There is a global threat from terrorism to U.S. citizens and interests, including from groups or individuals motivated by the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners and “soft targets” such as restaurants, hotels, recreational events, resorts, beaches, maritime facilities, and aircraft. Concerns have significantly increased about a small number of violent Maldivian extremists who advocate for attacks against secular Maldivians and are involved with transnational terrorist groups. For more information, travelers may consult the State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism.
U.S. citizens traveling to Maldives should be aware of violent attacks and threats made against local media, political parties, and civil society. In the past there have been several killings and violent attacks against secular bloggers and activists. For more information, travelers may consult the State Department’s 2016 Human Rights Report.
Maldives has a history of political protests. Gangs of young men frequently stage spontaneous protests throughout Malé, often at night. Some of these protests have involved use of anti-Western rhetoric. There are no reports of unrest or demonstrations on the resort islands or at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. Travelers should not engage in political activity in Maldives. Visitors should exercise caution, particularly at night, and should steer clear of demonstrations and spontaneous gatherings. Those who encounter demonstrations or large crowds should avoid confrontation, remain calm, and depart the area quickly. While traveling in Maldives, travelers should refer to news sources, check the U.S. Embassy Colombo website for possible security updates, and remain aware of their 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. Many tourist resorts are several hours’ distance from Malé by boat, necessitating lengthy response times by authorities in case of medical or criminal emergencies.
Crime: Maldives has a moderate crime rate, although crime on resort islands is rare. Valuables may be stolen when left unattended on beaches or in hotels. Drug use is on the rise among young Maldivians and the penalty for drug use is severe. The capital city of Malé saw a spate of gang violence in August 2014, with several attacks involving the use of edged weapons. Gang activity and gang violence in Malé appears to be on the rise
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.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Maldives is 119. Note: This number is only for the police, not for emergency medical services.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
When transiting Maldives, travelers should ensure their luggage does not contain prohibited or restricted items, which include weapons, ammunition, alcohol, pornography, and religious material offensive to Islam, among other items. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings.
Arrest notifications: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
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.
Women Travelers: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: 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 Disability Act in 2010. 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.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Medical Emergencies: 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, and most ambulances are ill equipped.
Medical Facilities: 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.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Traffic Safety, Road and Aviation 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. Trans Maldivian and Maldivian Air Taxi provide charter seaplane service to outlying islands during daylight hours. Maldivian and Fly Me run fixed-wing domestic service to some of the atolls with land runways during night hours as well. Many resorts stop boat transfers between the airport and the resort island after 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.
For more information, please visit our Road Safety page. 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.