Maldives Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Maldives
Threat level: Medium
The current travel safety advice for the Maldives is to remain cautious, particularly if you are visiting the capital island Malé where there has been some political unrest. There is a low threat from terrorism and some reports of minor terrorist activity, however this is unlikely to target tourist destinations in the Maldives.
Recent Security Risk Events
An assassination attempt of the Maldivian president put the country on high alert in 2015, however the president was not harmed. This was further heightened when a homemade explosive device was found near the president’s house but no resulting damage occurred.
Tourist areas are not affected and your trip should be hassle free. You should, however, exercise safety precautions and remain alert of a wider terrorism threat throughout your visit.
There is a long history of political unrest in the Maldives and demonstrations in the country’s capital, Malé, frequently break out, often during the night. Resort islands and the international airport are unaffected by such demonstrations so there is little cause for concern for tourists visiting the Maldives.
It is strongly advised that tourists do not engage in such political activity and should exercise caution when visiting the capital of the country. Stay up to date with the local news and follow precautions as necessary.
The Maldives maintain diplomatic relations with many countries including Maldives, Pakistan, the United States, China and Japan alongside the European Union. It has particularly close relations with India and Sri Lanka, sharing much of the same culture. It joined the United Nations in 1965 and is a member of the Commonwealth Nations amongst others.
Many of the hundreds of the Maldivian islands are not large enough to support vehicles, meaning that most transport to the islands is via boat or seaplane. The roads that are there are in a generally good condition, and dirt tracks are well maintained by resort staff. In the capital city, transport via foot, bus or taxi is most common.
To reach the airport and close resort islands, a water taxi or speedboat is required. If you are staying in a resort further away from the capital, a chartered seaplane service will take you there but only during daylight hours. If you arrive late to the country, it will be necessary for you to spend a night in a hotel in Malé before departing to your destination.
If you wish to drive in the Maldives, an international driving permit is required for most nationalities. Car hire is available in Malé, however most islands are small enough to travel around by foot. Independent travel is generally discouraged in order to minimise disruption to the traditional island communities.
You are only able to visit islands outside of the tourist zone if you are issued with a special permit. This is usually only available if you are sponsored by a resident on the island you are wishing to visit.
Religion: Sunni Islam
Currency: Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR)
Time now in Malé:
Upon your arrival to the Maldives, you will be issued a tourist visa free of charge for up to 30 days stay in the country. Upon an extension request, you may be able to stay for up to 90 days using this visa but this is subject to approval.
It is advised that visitors to the Maldives are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus, which is usually administered when you are a young baby. You may also want to consider a Hepatitis A vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
There is a moderate risk of contracting the Zika Virus in the Maldives. Because there isn't any vaccines or treatment to cure the virus, travellers should take preventive measures including the use of a mosquito net and mosquito repellent products. Pregnant women should postpone their travel until after their pregnancy.
As the Maldives consists of hundreds of little islands, medical facilities away from the capital are limited. The only two hospitals are found on the capital island and even these do not have a trauma unit and only a small amount of intensive care unit beds. There is access to a doctor on most islands but travellers can find themselves hours away from Malé and hospital facilities. You should only seek medical assistance if it is absolutely necessary.
Should you require medical treatment that is unavailable in the country, you may need to be medically evacuated to more advanced countries such as Singapore. It is extremely vital therefore that your travel insurance includes cover for this or it could cost you thousands if you have to pay yourself.
Extreme weather and natural disasters The Maldivian islands were affected by the December 2004 tsunami whereby around 90 people were killed and the country faced severe damage. You should familiarise yourself with the protocol surrounding a repeat event, and listen out for any local authority warnings or recommendations.
United States Embassy Status
The US Embassy associated with the Maldives can be found in Sri Lanka.
U.S. Embassy Colombo
210 Galle Road,
Telephone: +94 11 2498 500
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+94 11 2498 888
British Embassy Status
There is no British Embassy in the Maldives. The associated contact is the British High Commission in Sri Lanka.
British High Commission Colombo
389, Bauddhaloka Mawatha,
Telephone: +94 11 5390 639
Other useful info
Police emergency: 119
Fire emergency: 102
Medical emergency: 118