The Republic of Maldives is a group of 1,200 islands southwest of Sri Lanka, off the southern tip of India. Facilities for tourism are well developed on the resort islands.
A passport is required. Tourist visas are issued upon arrival at no charge. Visitors must have proof of onward/return transportation and sufficient funds. For further information, the traveler can contact the Embassy of Maldives in Sri Lanka, at 25 Melbourne Avenue, Colombo 4, Sri Lanka, or the Maldives Mission to the U.N. in New York, telephone (212) 599-6195.
Although there is a low rate of crime in Maldives, petty crime does exist. Valuables left on beaches are subject to thievery. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, has consular jurisdiction over Maldives. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to South Asia They are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402 or via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs.
Medical facilities are limited, and some medicine may be unavailable. Doctors and clinics often require immediate cash payment for health services. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Travelers have found that, in some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provision for medical evacuation, has proven to be useful.
Most transportation in Maldives is by boat or seaplane. Only a few of the islands are big enough to support automobiles. In the capital of Male, vehicle traffic moves on the left (British style). Radio taxis are available. Transportation between the airport and Male, as well as nearby resort islands, is by motorized water taxis called dhonis. Some resorts operate fast speedboats for their guests. Several local companies provide air taxi service by seaplane and helicopter to outlying islands. Air taxis stop flying one hour before sunset. Visitors to distant resorts arriving at night normally stay overnight at hotels in Male. Travelers should confirm all transfer arrangements in advance.
Travelers are subject to the laws and legal practices of the country in which they travel. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced in Maldives. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. It is illegal to bring alcohol into Maldives. However, alcoholic beverages are legally available for retail sale to tourists on resort islands.
Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. In 1998 several non-Maldivian families resident in Maldives, including some Americans, were expelled for allegedly engaging in religious proselytizing. Although Maldivian law prohibits importing “idols for religious worship,” tourists going to the resort islands are generally allowed to bring in items and texts used for personal religious observances.
There is no U.S. Embassy in Maldives, but the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka is also accredited to Maldives. The Consular Agency in Male closed on August 9, 1995. Any inquiries concerning Maldives should be directed to the American Embassy in Sri Lanka. U.S. citizens who register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka can obtain updated information on travel and security within Maldives. The mailing address for the U.S. Embassy is P.O. Box 106, 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka. The Embassy’s telephone number during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, is (94-1) 448-007. The Embassy’s after-hours and emergency telephone number is (94-1) 447-355.
As there is no direct commercial air service at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and the Maldives, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Maldives’ civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of the Maldives’ air carrier operations. For further information, travelers can contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873 or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at 618-229-4801.