Asia and Oceania

Maldives Flag of Maldives

Still current at: 11 June 2008
Updated: 15 May 2008

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Health section (prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Maldives). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country


Travel Summary

  • There is no British diplomatic mission in Maldives.  A Consular Correspondent in the capital, Malé can liaise with the British High Commission in Sri Lanka on emergency consular matters. They can be contacted through the British High Commission in Colombo.  See the Contact Details section of this travel advice for more details.

  • There is an underlying threat from terrorism.  Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates.  On 29 September, a small bomb exploded on the capital island of Malé, injuring a number of foreigners including two British nationals.

  • You should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, as some on Malé island, and other non-resort islands, have ended in violence.

  • The main type of incident for which British nationals required consular assistance in Maldives in 2007 was hospitalisations, as a result of swimming/diving related accidents.  Petty crime occurs: you should take care of your valuables and other personal possessions.

  • We recommend that all British nationals who are resident and/or working in Maldives register with the British High Commission in Colombo.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is an underlying threat from terrorism.  Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.  On 29 September a small bomb exploded on the capital island of Malé, injuring a number of foreigners including two British nationals.  For further information see Terrorism Abroad.

Crime

Crime levels in Maldives are relatively low, but 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.  Use safe deposit boxes on island resorts.
 
For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad.

Political Situation

Maldives Country Profile

Maldives is undergoing a period of political reform. You should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings; some in the capital island Malé and in non-resort islands have ended in violence.
 
Local Travel
 
The majority of visitors to Maldives spend all their time on resort islands and would only visit the capital island, Malé, if they choose to go on a specific excursion there.  The international airport is on a separate island within the larger Malé atoll.  There are also many resort islands within Malé atoll.  Advance approval is normally required to visit most non-resort islands, other than the capital island.  Travel between islands is by boat or seaplane, and many of these services stop before sunset.

Local laws and customs

Maldives has very strong anti-drug laws.  Importation or possession of drugs in Maldives can carry severe penalties, including life imprisonment.
 
Local laws reflect the fact that Maldives is a Muslim country and serious violations of local laws may lead to a prison sentence.  You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
 
 
Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited.
 
It is an offence to import into Maldives: explosives, weapons, firearms and ammunition; pornographic material; materials deemed contrary to Islam, including “idols for worship” and bibles; pork and pork products; and alcohol.  Alcoholic beverages are only available on resort islands and should not be taken off a resort.  The export of tortoise shell and coral is forbidden.
 
Dress is generally informal but you should be sensitive to local dress standards when visiting inhabited islands. Nudism and topless sunbathing are prohibited throughout Maldives including on resort islands.
 
Same sex relations are illegal and convicted offenders could face lengthy prison sentences and fines.
 
Mariners in possession of firearms must surrender them to the local authorities.  Any unregistered firearms will not be returned to the owner.
 
For more general information for different types of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You.

Entry requirements

Visas

If you are a British tourist, you are eligible to obtain a tourist visa for up to 30 days on arrival in Maldives, provided you hold a valid ticket to continue your journey out of Maldives and have enough funds to cover your stay.  Staying longer than 30 days without the proper authority is an offence.  For furrther information contact the High Commission of the Republic of Maldives.
 
Passport validity
 
Your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay.

Yellow Fever vaccination certificate

You should carry your international certificate of vaccination if you are coming from a yellow fever region.

Health

Medical facilities are limited.  There are only two hospitals and these are on the capital island, Malé.  Neither has a trauma unit.  Although most resort islands are within easy reach of a general physician, many are several hours travel away from the hospital facilities on Malé.  Many resort islands are more than an hour away from the nearest decompression chamber.

Some mosquito borne diseases are common to Maldives.  There was an outbreak of Chikungunya in December 2006, and an outbreak of Dengue fever in February 2006.  

While in Maldives, sensible precautions should be taken to avoid sunburn and dehydration.

You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to the Maldives and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
 
For more general health information see Travel Health.
 
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
 
There have been no reported cases of Avian Influenza (also known as Bird Flu) in Maldives during the current series of outbreaks.  But the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed cases elsewhere in the region.
 
You should read this advice in conjunction with Avian and Pandemic Influenza, which gives more detailed advice and information.
 
Natural Disasters
 
Maldives was hit by the December 2004 tsunami.  More than 90 people were killed.  There was serious damage to a number of islands, including 19 resort islands.  The large majority of resorts affected are now operating normally.  Check with your tour operators and/or hotel for the latest information. See Hurricanes.

General

Insurance
 
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.   If you plan to go diving or engage in other water sports, you should check that your insurance policy covers these.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See Travel Insurance for more details.
 
If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is how we can help.
 
The most common problems faced by visiting British nationals in Maldives are lost passports and swimming/diving related accidents.
 
Registering your presence
 
We recommend that all British nationals who are resident and/or working in Maldives register with the British High Commission in Colombo.
 
Consular Registration

Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.  More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.
 
Money

Island resorts in Maldives are generally expensive and you should bring sufficient funds.  There are no cash machines and travellers' cheques are used infrequently.  Major credit cards are accepted at most resorts and hotels.  US dollars can be exchanged at the airport, banks or hotels.
 
British representation

There is no British diplomatic mission in Maldives.  Enquiries before travel should be directed to the British High Commission in Sri Lanka.

If you need consular assistance while in Maldives please contact the British High Commission in Colombo on +94 11 2437336-43 (24 hours).

Travel advice for this country

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contacts

Sri Lanka, Colombo, British High Commission

Address:

190 Galle Road
Kollupitiya
(PO Box 1433)
Colombo 3

Telephone:

(94) (11) 2437336-43

Fax:

(94) (11) 2430308
(94) (11) 2335803 (Consular/Visa)

Email: bhctrade@slt.lk

Email: Colombo.General@fco.gov.uk

Email: Consular.EnquiriesColombo@fco.gov.uk

Office hours:

GMT:
Mon-Thurs: 0230-1100; Fri: 0230-0730
Local Time:
Mon-Thurs: 0800-1630; Fri: 0800-1300

Consular Section
GMT:
Mon-Fri: 0230-0730
Local Time:
Mon-Fri: 0800-1300

Website: http://www.britishhighcommission.gov.uk/srilanka