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Maldives

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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in the Maldives (except on Malé Island). Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local conditions.
  • Exercise a high degree of caution on Malé Island due to the possibility of civil unrest. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times.
  • Avoid protests and large public gatherings as they have the potential to turn violent. Monitor local media and follow instructions issued by local authorities. See Safety and security
  • Terrorist attacks are possible, including against Maldivian institutions and tourist locations frequented by Westerners. See Safety and security
  • Drug-related crime occurs in Malé. Gang-related violence, including knife crime, has increased in populated areas, including Malé. See Safety and security
  • Australia doesn't have an Embassy or Consulate in the Maldives. The Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka provides consular assistance to Australians in the Maldives.

Entry and exit

Visas

You can apply for a 30-day visa-on-arrival for the Maldives if:

  • your passport is valid for at least six months from date of entry
  • you have a valid ticket to depart the Maldives, and
  • you have enough funds to cover expenses for the duration of your stay in the Maldives (US$150 per day) or confirmation of your reservation in a tourist resort or hotel. 

In other circumstances, you'll need to get a visa before you travel.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the Department of Immigration and Emigration of the Republic of Maldives for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

If you arrive from a country with yellow fever risk, you'll need to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate on arrival.

More information: Yellow fever risk and certification requirements by country (World Health Organization)

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception.  If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The local currency is the Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR). You can exchange money at resorts. You can also exchange money and use ATMs at banks in Malé and many larger islands. In other locations these facilities are very limited, so plan ahead and bring sufficient cash.

Most hotels and major tourist facilities accept a range of credit cards.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

Protests and demonstrations have been frequent in Malé since February 2015. In the past, large demonstrations have led to violence and arrests.

  • Avoid all demonstrations, protests, and large public gatherings as they could turn violent.
  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Malé due to the possibility of civil unrest.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks are possible in the Maldives. Maldivian institutions, tourist locations frequented by Westerners or other sites could be targeted.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Crime

Drug-related crime occurs in Malé. Gang-related violence, including knife crime, has increased in populated areas, including Malé.

You could also encounter petty crime such as theft of goods left on the beach or in hotel rooms.

  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
  • Avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Avoid carrying bags that are easy to snatch.
  • Monitor local media for new security risks and crime-prone areas. Avoid trouble spots.

Local travel

Maldivian authorities generally restrict travel by foreigners to resort islands and other areas outside Malé. Travel between islands is by boat or seaplane.

Tours and adventure activities

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including for adventure activities such as scuba diving, are not always met. Recommended safety precautions and maintenance standards may not be followed. Safety equipment such as lifejackets and seatbelts may not be provided.

If you plan to participate in adventure activities, first talk to your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy. Check operators' credentials and safety equipment before booking. Don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements. Always use available safety equipment, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.

Road travel

There are few roads and vehicles in the Maldives.

More information: Road safety and driving

Driver's licence 

You'll need a valid international driving permit (IDP) along with your current Australian driver's licence to drive a vehicle. Driving without an IDP could void your travel and vehicle insurance.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorcycle. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet. Most locally purchased helmets do not meet Australian standards.

Taxis

Only use licensed taxis and limousines, preferably arranged through your hotel. Many resorts operate water taxis between the airport and other islands. Always wear a life jacket on the water even if others don't.

Public transport

Land-based public transport options are limited. Inter-island ferries operate between major islands. Contact your hotel for details.

Sea travel

International cruise lines stop over in the Maldives.

More information: Going on a cruise

 Air travel

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the Maldives.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences, including possession, are severe and include mandatory prison sentences. Possession of small quantities of illegal drugs (including 'soft' drugs) can be considered trafficking and can be punishable by life imprisonment.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Penalties for serious crimes, such as murder, include the death penalty.

The following activities are illegal in the Maldives:

  • homosexual acts - see LGBTI travellers
  • importation of alcohol into the Maldives 
  • consumption of alcoholic beverages (unless at a resort island) 
  • importation of pornographic material, pork or pork products – see Maldives Customs 
  • public observance of any religion other than Islam
  • importation of non-Islamic religious material.

Permission is generally required to visit non-resort islands. Contact the Ministry of Atoll Development to arrange a permit. Your permit request will need the support of a local resident of the island you want to visit.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

The Maldives doesn't recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Maldivian dual nationals who are arrested or detained. Travel on your Australian passport at all times.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in some parts of the Maldives. Dress conservatively while in the capital Malé and when visiting non-resort islands. Take care not to offend.

Public displays of affection are likely to cause offence in parts of the Maldives other than tourist resorts.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to occur between early May and early June 2019. During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. Resort islands are often excluded from some Ramadan restrictions, check details with local tour companies.

More information: Ramadan

Health

Travel insurance

Get comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Keep your medicines in their original packaging. Always carry a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Mosquito-borne diseases

Dengue fever, Zika virus and chikungunya occur in the Maldives. The Australian Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with their doctor and defer non-essential travel to Zika virus-affected areas.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • if you're pregnant, discuss your travel plans and possible health risks with your doctor before you travel.

More information:

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. 

  • Maintain good personal hygiene, including regular and thorough handwashing.
  • Boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Hospital and medical facilities, including rescue and emergency services, are limited. The two hospitals in the capital, Malé, offer general medical and limited specialist facilities. Many isolated resort islands are several hours travelling time from hospital facilities.

There are five decompression chambers in the Maldives. Dive well within safety limits. It may take several hours to reach facilities in an emergency.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

Natural disasters

The monsoon season is from mid-May to November when strong winds, rough seas and torrential rain can occur.  

More information: Severe weather

The Maldives sometimes experiences tsunamis, which can originate from nearby or distant earthquakes.

If a natural disaster occurs:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag).
  • closely monitor local media and other sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour provider, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: 118
  • Medical emergencies: 102 or go direct to the hospital
  • Criminal issues: +960 3322111, tourist police: 1478 info@police.gov.mv, Maldives Police website, or go to your local police station.

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

To complain about tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas. Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in the Maldives. The Australian High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka, provides consular services to Australians in the Maldives.

Australian High Commission, Colombo

21, Srimath RG Senanayake Mawatha
Colombo 7, Sri Lanka
Telephone: +94 11 246 3200
Facsimile: +94 11 268 6453
E-mail: austcom@sltnet.lk or consular.colombo@dfat.gov.au
Website: srilanka.embassy.gov.au

Facebook: Australia in Sri Lanka and Maldives

Twitter: @AusHCSrilanka

Check the Australian High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you're unable to contact the High Commission in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberrra on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources