Maldives travel guide
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.
298 sq km (115 sq miles).
515, 596 (World Bank estimate, 2018).
1,102.5 per sq km (2,855.5 per sq miles).
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih since 2018.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih since 2018.
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.
Direct flights from the Maldives to England are currently prohibited. From 8 June, direct flights can arrive in England from the Maldives, but they must arrive at dedicated terminals at Heathrow and Birmingham airports. Different requirements may apply for arrivals into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Maldives.
Returning to the UK
Direct flights from the Maldives to England are currently prohibited.
From 8 June, direct flights can arrive in England from the Maldives, but they must arrive at dedicated terminals at Heathrow and Birmingham airports. Different requirements may apply for arrivals into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
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
A Public Health Emergency is in place until 2 August 2021. Effective from 8 July, those who have received two vaccination does can travel internally to islands that are not under monitoring without having to quarantine, with a negative PCR test. If the positivity rate is between 5 to10% in the island you are travelling from, you must observe a 7 day quarantine at your destination island. If the positivity rate is higher than that, 14 day quarantine must be observed at destination. Use of masks is mandatory while travelling by air and sea.
Tourists can travel between islands and resorts that do not have COVID-19 cases and are not subject to monitoring for COVID-19, but need prior approval for inter-island travel from firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have stayed at a tourist guesthouse (as opposed to a resort island) at any point during your stay in Maldives, you need to conduct a PCR test 72 hours prior to your scheduled departure from Maldives.
Some resorts reopened to tourists from 15 July.
Guesthouses opened in July for local residents on COVID-19 free islands. Guesthouses reopened for tourists from 15 October.
Public places and services
Social distancing measures are in place. Public and mass gatherings of up to 30 people are now allowed throughout the Greater Male’ region, including parties and rallies. A distance of three feet must be maintained with others when going out. Use of masks is mandatory on all inhabited islands when going out in public.
Public spaces such as parks or sports grounds in the Greater Male’ area are open with three feet social distancing measures to be observed and mandatory use of masks except when exercising.
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. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is also administered under a limited criteria. The Government of the Maldives has stated that resident British nationals over 18 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.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
The Maldives Ministry of Health page provides COVID-19 local updates and overarching guidance in English.
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.
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.
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 .
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 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.
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.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Restrictions in response to coronavirus
Screening on arrival
All visitors must present a negative PCR test for COVID-19 on arrival to Maldives. The test and negative PCR certificate must be issued no more than 96 hours prior to departure. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
All travellers to the Maldives must fill in a Traveller Health Declaration form 24 hours before departure to and return from the Maldives.
All passengers and airline crew need to complete an Immigration Arrival Card when arriving in the Maldives.
Temperature checks and screening procedures will be in place on arrival. Quarantine facilities have been set up to isolate any suspected cases of COVID-19. Travellers presenting symptoms of COVID-19 upon arrival will be subjected to a PCR test at the traveller’s cost or at the cost of the tourist facility where the traveller is booked to stay in the Maldives. Additionally, local health authorities may conduct random testing, at no cost to travellers.
All non-tourist passengers travelling from the UK (includes 12-hour transit) to the Maldives (such as residents, work visa holders and returning students) that have completed two doses of vaccination will need to provide a negative PCR test of no more than 96 hours and quarantine for 7 days on arrival. Those who have not completed vaccinations will need to self-isolate for 14 days and register on the Haalubelun portal. After completing the quarantine, you must do an exit test.
These requirements do not apply to tourists and the government has said it has no plans to quarantine tourists on arrival.
Arriving from South Asian countries from 15 July 2021
Effective from 15 July 2021, on-arrival tourist visas for those arriving from South Asian countries will resume. Tourists from South Asia will only be allowed on tourist resorts until 30 July, when the Maldivian government will re-evaluate and allow for stay at guesthouses. All non-tourist arrivals from South Asia must quarantine for 14 days and do a PCR test 48 to 72 hours after they arrive, while in quarantine, and again after 14 days.
All visitors to Maldives are encouraged to install the contact tracing application ‘Trace Ekee’ upon or before arrival into the country.
Testing on departure
Testing services are available in the Maldives for tourists who need COVID-19 test results to return to their countries of origin or another destination.
Regular entry requirements
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.
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.
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.
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) .
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
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.
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.
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.