• Travel Advice

DFAT advice for Maldives

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When travelling to Maldives, you should always get travel insurance in case the worst happens. To help you ensure you travel safely, we have included the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Maldives.

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 30 July 2014.   This advice has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution on Male Island, and to exercise normal safety precautions elsewhere in the Maldives.

Maldives overall

Male Island

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution on Male Island due to the possibility of civil unrest.
  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions elsewhere in the Maldives, including tourist and resort islands.
  • Political tensions and protests that occurred after unrest in February 2012 have eased following the Maldivian Presidential election in November 2013. Occasional protests and demonstrations continue to take place.
  • You should avoid public gatherings and protests, particularly in Male, as they may turn violent.
  • Extra care should be taken when moving around Male after dark.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in the Maldives. The Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka provides consular assistance to Australians in the Maldives.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
    • organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
    • register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
    • subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued.
    • follow us on Facebook and Twitter .
Map of Maldives ( This map is presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature.  Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy. )

Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the Department of Immigration and Emigration of the Republic of Maldives for the most up to date information, well in advance of travel.

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into the country for those arriving from infected areas.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers .

Australians in the Republic of Maldives should pay close attention to their personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Civil unrest/political tension

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution on Male Island due to the possibility of civil unrest. Extra care should be taken when moving around Male after dark.

Political tensions and protests that occurred after unrest in February 2012 have eased following the Maldivian Presidential election in November 2013. Occasional protests and demonstrations continue to take place.

You should avoid public gatherings and protests, particularly in Male, as they may turn violent.

Crime

Drug-related crime is known to occur in Male.

Petty crime can occur, including theft of goods left on the beach or in hotel rooms.

Local travel

Maldivian authorities generally restrict travel by foreigners beyond the capital island Male and resort islands. Travel between islands is by boat or seaplane.

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as diving, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Don’t be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements with tour operators.

There are few roads and vehicles in the Maldives. For more information on road safety see also our road travel page.

Airline safety

See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation incidents in the Maldives.

Please also refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in the Maldives, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter .

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

Homosexual acts are illegal in the Maldives. See our LGBTI travellers page .

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

It is illegal to import alcohol into the Maldives and consumption of alcoholic beverages is strictly confined to resort islands.

Permission is generally required to visit non-resort islands. Permits for travel to non-resort islands can be obtained from the Ministry of Atoll Development. Requests for permits need to be supported by a local resident of the island to be visited.

Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited and importation of non-Islamic religious material is illegal. In the past, foreigners have been expelled for allegedly engaging in religious preaching.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in mid-June 2015. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin .

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in some parts of the Maldives. You should dress conservatively while in the capital Male or visiting non-resort islands and take care not to offend.

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

Information for dual nationals

The Maldives does not 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. We strongly recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Our Travel information for dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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 a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Hospital and medical facilities, including rescue and emergency services, are limited. The two hospitals in the capital, Male, offer general medical and limited specialist facilities. Many isolated resort islands are several hours travelling time from hospital facilities. In the event of an emergency, a medical evacuation to a location with suitable facilities may be required. Medical evacuation costs are considerable.

There are five decompression chambers in the Maldives. It may take several hours to reach facilities in an emergency.

The mosquito-borne illnesses dengue fever and chikungunya fever occur in the Maldives. We recommend that you take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis and rabies) are a risk with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour provider, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the police in the Maldives on +960 3322111 or email them on info@police.gov.mv . You can also visit their website .

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in the Republic of Maldives. The nearest Australian High Commission is in Sri Lanka. To contact the Australian Government for consular assistance in accordance with the Consular Services Charter , see contact details below:

Australian High Commission
21 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: www.srilanka.embassy.gov.au

See the High Commission website for information about opening hours.

If you are travelling to the Maldives, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The monsoon season is from mid-May to November when strong winds, rough seas and torrential rain can occur. You can find information on severe weather conditions at the Humanitarian Early Warning Service website.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure .

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Under 30's Travel Insurance Pty Ltd ABN 46 125 906 809 is an authorised representative of AGA Assistance Australia Pty Ltd ABN 52 097 227 177 AFSL 245631 trading as Allianz Global Assistance. Travel insurance is underwritten by Allianz and arranged and managed by Global Assistance. Under 30's Travel Insurance Pty Ltd acts as an agent of Global Assistance, not as your agent. Any advice here does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs, which you should consider before acting on our recommendations. You should read and consider the Product Disclosure Statement before deciding whether to acquire any product mentioned here. Available at www.under30stravelinsurance.com.au