Beach huts in the Maldives
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Beach huts in the Maldives

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Maldives Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

298 sq km (115 sq miles).

Population

515, 596 (World Bank estimate, 2018).

Population density

1,102.5 per sq km (2,855.5 per sq miles).

Capital

Malé.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih since 2018.

Head of government

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih since 2018.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plug types vary; it's best to check with your hotel before you travel, but British-style plugs with three square pins are commonly used.

The Maldives is a by-word for luxury, romance and tropical bliss. A beautiful string of low-lying coral islands in the Indian Ocean, they're also a paradise for diving enthusiasts and sun-seekers alike.

The country's 26 natural atolls and over 1,000 islands boast uniformly perfect coasts dropped like pearls in the warm waters of turquoise blue lagoons. With bright white powdery sand fringing most of the islands, it’s not surprising that over a million visitors come here each year.

The tourism industry began to blossom in the 1970s and now is the Maldives’ most lucrative industry. The luxury market is its unique selling point, and it is home to some of the world’s best hotels. Pretty much every resort has its own private island, complete with personal butlers and in-room massages. Such opulence has made it a firm favourite with honeymooners, who revel in the possibility of escaping to a romantic haven. The islands also offer slightly less pricey options, and some resorts are aimed at families and divers.

The Maldives are extremely low lying (80% of the territory is less than 1m/3.3ft above sea level). As such, the islands have worked hard to become one of the most environmentally friendly countries on earth and continue to so. Luxury and tourism have often been essential in providing economic benefits to local inhabitants who struggle to utilise local resources.

Recently, it has become more feasible on the Maldives for independent travellers and backpackers to avoid the luxury hotels and stay among the local people. The growing number of private guesthouses may well give the Maldives a new lease of life away from big-money tourism. What luxury means, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Maldives on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Commercial flights are running to and from Maldives. Check with your travel company for the latest information.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Maldives.

Returning to the UK

Travelling from and returning to the UK

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Maldives

Those who have completed vaccination doses can travel internally to islands and check-in to guesthouses without a PCR test.

Tourists (including accompanying vaccine ineligible children) who have not completed the full dosage of vaccination, will be allowed to check-in to guest houses on local islands, if and when the following vaccination requirements are met in the guesthouse island:

  • (a) 60% of the island’s total population have completed 14 days since receiving the full dosage of vaccination
  • (b) 95% of the tourism related service providers in the island have completed 14 days since receiving the full dosage of vaccination
  • (c) 90% of the individuals above the age of 65 (sixty-five) living in the island have completed 14 days since receiving the full dosage of vaccination

Vaccination coverage of guest-house islands are published and updated by Health Protection Agency, with information provided by the Island authorities.

You will be regarded as having completed doses only after 14 days have passed since you received the recommended dose(s) of a WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine, or vaccines approved by the Maldives Food and Drug Authority.

Tourists can travel between islands and resorts that do not have COVID-19 cases and are not subject to monitoring for COVID-19 as normal

Accommodation

Resorts, guesthouses and city hotels are open for tourists.

Public places and services

Wearing face mask is no longer mandatory in islands and areas without COVID-19 outbreaks. It is recommended that you wear a mask:

  • if you have flu like symptoms
  • in services where crowding takes place
  • in transport vehicles where many people travel and when using public transportation
  • in crowded places/gatherings

Healthcare in Maldives

Test and tracing measures are in place in Maldives. The Maldivian healthcare system is meeting current demands but may come under significant strain if the number of cases increases. Access to routine and emergency healthcare may be limited. View Health for further details on healthcare in Maldives.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Maldives

We will update this page when the Government of the Maldives announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Maldives national vaccination programme started in February 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines. From 15 January 2022, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is being administered as a booster dose for those over 18 who have completed their second COVID-19 vaccine at least six months previously. The Government of the Maldives has stated that resident British nationals over 12 years old are eligible for vaccination, if they choose to join the programme. All residents are requested to register on the My Health Portal where you can also book an appointment for vaccinations. Daily updates on vaccine centres are updated by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) on their Twitter. The Maldivian authorities have published FAQ on vaccines.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in the Maldives, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

The Maldives Ministry of Health page provides COVID-19 local updates and overarching guidance in English.

Crime

Most visitors to the Maldives stay in “resort hotels” where crime levels are relatively low. Nevertheless petty crime, including the theft of goods left unattended on the beach or in hotel rooms, does occur. You should take care of your valuables and other personal possessions, especially when travelling in Male’. Use safe deposit boxes on island resorts.

Away from the exclusive resort islands, gang related violence including knife crime does occur, including in the capital Male’ and in Hulhumale’. There is no evidence that British nationals are being targeted by criminal groups. You should be vigilant when travelling to areas outside of resort islands.

Local travel

Most visitors to Maldives spend their time on resort islands and would only visit the capital island, Male’, if they choose to go on a specific excursion there. The international airport is on a separate island within the larger Male’ atoll.

Travel between islands is by boat or seaplane, and many of these services stop before sunset.

Sea travel

The threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page .

Swimming

The sea around the Maldives can have strong tidal currents and a number of tourists drown every year. You should always take local advice before entering the sea.

Political situation

Political protests in the capital Male’ take place occasionally. You should exercise caution and avoid any protests or rallies. Outlying islands, resorts or Male’ International Airport are not usually affected by protests or rallies.

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in the Maldives. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers including tourists.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

An improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated in central Male’ on the evening of 6 May 2021, injuring a high-profile politician and a number of bystanders. You should follow the instructions of local authorities while investigations are underway.

The Maldivian authorities designated a March 2020 arson attack on a police speedboat in Laamu Gan as a terrorist incident and charged two individuals with terrorism offences in relation to the attack. This followed knife attacks against three foreigners (two resident employees and one tourist) in Hulhumale’ in February 2020, which were claimed by Daesh (also known as ISIL, Islamic State, or ISIS) supporters. The Maldives police made a number of arrests in relation to the knife attacks.

The Maldivian authorities have disrupted a number of terrorist attack plans since 2017, and have made several arrests relating to attack planning, recruitment of terrorist fighters and spreading extremist ideology. There have been anti-Western protests by extremists on some islands, including expressions of support for Daesh (also known as ISIL, Islamic State, or ISIS).

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Maldives has very strong anti-drugs laws. Importing or possessing drugs can carry severe penalties, including life imprisonment. Locals and police are likely to treat seriously the possession and consumption of alcohol, and being intoxicated, outside resorts.

Local laws reflect the fact that Maldives is an Islamic country. Violations of local laws may lead to a prison sentence. Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times, including dressing conservatively and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas around Mosques. See Travelling during Ramadan

You should be sensitive to local dress standards when on local islands or if staying on an island where the resort is not the exclusive property on the island – cover your shoulders and avoid short or tight-fitting shorts (men and women); when bathing, cover arms and upper legs. Nudism and topless sunbathing are not allowed anywhere, including on resort islands.

Same-sex relations are illegal and convicted offenders could face lengthy prison sentences and fines. See this information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

It is an offence to import the following items into Maldives: explosives, weapons, firearms, ammunition, pornographic material, materials deemed contrary to Islam including ‘idols for worship’ and bibles, pork and pork products, and alcohol.

Alcoholic drinks are only available on resort islands. Do not take any alcohol away from a resort.

The export of tortoise shell and coral is forbidden.

Mariners in possession of firearms must surrender them to the local authorities. Any unregistered firearms will not be returned to the owner.

This page has information on travelling to the Maldives. Check what you must do to return to the UK.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in the Maldives set and enforce entry rules.

All travellers

You will need the following to enter or travel through Maldives as a visitor. All travellers to the Maldives must fill in a Traveller Declaration form 72 hours before departure to and return from the Maldives.

A PCR test is no longer required to enter Maldives.

If you’re fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Maldives are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

Proof of vaccination status

You can use the UK COVID Pass to demonstrate your vaccination record when entering the Maldives.

If you’re not fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Maldives are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year

Entry requirements for Maldives are the same for all travellers, regardless of whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.

Children and young people

There are no specific requirements for children and young people.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport validity

If entering Maldives as a tourist, you will be granted a 30-day visa upon arrival and your passport must be valid for a minimum of one month. However, if arriving by air, most airlines state that your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into the Maldives. Check with your transport provider or tour operator before travelling. You should ensure your passport has no damage or you may be stopped by Immigration, who examine passports carefully.

Visas

The visa on arrival service continues as normal for all tourist arrivals.

If you intend to work in Maldives, you will need to get a work permit before you arrive. You must also pay a security deposit to the Ministry of Finance. See the Maldives Immigration website for current rates.

For further information and advice on entry requirements you should contact the High Commission of the Republic of Maldives in the UK or the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Maldives.

Yellow fever vaccination certificate

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Maldives.

Returning to the UK

Check what you must do to return to the UK.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for the Maldives on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in the Maldives.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page . Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) .

Health risks

There have been recent outbreaks of dengue fever.

UK health authorities have classified Maldives as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website

Medical treatment

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 102 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Medical facilities are limited. There are only a handful of fully equipped hospitals on the capital island, Male’ and in Hulhumale. Although most resort islands are within reach of a doctor (and some high-end resorts have their own medical facilities), many are several hours’ travel away from the hospital facilities on Male’. Many resort islands are more than an hour away from the nearest decompression chamber.

Occasional flash flooding has occurred on low-lying islands during periods of particularly heavy rain. If there is flooding you should follow the advice of the local authorities.

Island resorts are generally expensive. Make sure you bring sufficient funds. On some islands cash machines can be scarce. Travellers’ cheques are not widely used. Major credit cards are accepted at resorts and hotels. US dollars can be exchanged at the airport, banks or hotels.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can not provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can not offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can not find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.