With 1200 scattered islands, islets and sandbars, Maldives has desert islands to spare, with about 130 of these specks of sea-circled sand occupied by some of the most gorgeous beach resorts on earth.

The best news? Travelers of all nationalities can get a tourist visa upon arrival in the country – meaning few obstacles between you and that island in the sun.  

While visitors to this tropical archipelago won't have to give much thought to visas and red tape, they should think about just what kind of Maldive experience floats their boat. Do you crave a villa over the water in a resort so opulent it would make a sultan blush? Or are you looking for a more local-style stay, in a laid-back village guesthouse on one of the inhabited islands? 

Some islands offer pristine beaches, some diving and surfing, some fine dining and spas, and some just pure relaxation. Whichever you pick, here’s what you need to know about getting a visa for Maldives. 

Beaches, surfing, relaxation: Take your pick © Kandima Maldives

How to get a tourist visa for Maldives

The Maldives immigration authorities don’t put many hurdles in the way of tourists arriving in the country. Single-entry tourist visas valid for 30 days are granted to visitors from every country in the world upon arrival. There is no visa fee for Maldives immigration; you'll only need to meet a few not-too-onerous conditions

You’ll need a machine-readable passport valid for at least one month beyond the date of arrival, and proof of booked accommodation, plus tickets for onward air travel and evidence of sufficient funds for the duration of your trip (US$100 plus US$50 per day of your stay should suffice). In practice, proof of funds is rarely checked for those with a resort booking. But be prepared for immigration officers to ask to see cash or a bank statement. 

You’ll also need to fill in a Traveler Health Declaration form no more than 24 hours before departing for Maldives. The form can be submitted, along with proof of a negative PCR Covid test, via the government’s Imuga portal

Note that citizens of India and a few other nations that have bilateral agreements with the Maldives have been permitted stays of up to 90 days in the past. While this policy is currently suspended, it may resume as tourism picks up. Your local Maldivian embassy or high commission can provide more information. 

Tourist visas are strictly for tourism. If you’re found to be working in Maldives, or overstay the 30-day limit without prior permission, you can be fined and deported. 

Visitors will receive a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival – which can be extended for anyone who wants a deeper dive into Maldivian living © Dudarev Mikhail / Shutterstock

Visa extensions 

Most visitors to Maldives are on pre-booked resort trips, and few people end up needing to extend their stay. It is possible, however, to extend a 30-day on-arrival visa for a further 60 days by applying directly to the Department of Immigration and Emigration

The authorities will want to know your reasons for staying, and you’ll need to provide proof of funds to cover the extended trip. You’ll also need support from a local sponsor, who might be the owner of your guesthouse or management at your resort. Contact the immigration department before the expiration of your old visa at their headquarters on the first floor of the Velaanaage building on Ameer Ahmed Magu in Malé

Other entry requirements

There are a few other entry regulations to be aware of. As well as a ban on narcotics and firearms, visitors to Maldives are strictly prohibited from importing alcohol, pork products, dogs and spear guns. 

Other banned imports include pornography (this is interpreted loosely, and can include books and magazines with any kind of nudity on the cover) as well as "idols of worship" and non-Muslim religious literature, including Bibles. The Maldives Customs Service has full details

The catch of the day in Mahé harbor © byvalet / Shutterstock

Work & business visas

It isn’t possible to travel to Maldives and find work after you arrive, but since many resorts employ international staff job opportunities do exist. To secure a work visa, you’ll need a passport valid for at least one year and a work permit issued by the Ministry of Economic Development, plus a recognized medical certificate and proof of health insurance. 

To obtain a work permit, you’ll need sponsorship from an employer, so the first step is always to secure a job offer from a company in Maldives. Resort chains advertise for staff through international agencies, and some also post job adverts at Job Maldives.

Business visas are available for business travelers, but the process is complex. Visas are good for multiple entries, but you’ll need health insurance, a passport valid for at least six months, and a local sponsor. Additionally, a 750 Maldivian rufiyaa (US$48.50) fee applies for every three months that the visa is valid. Applications must be filed through the government’s Business Portal.

Covid considerations

The immigration authorities in Maldives have taken a number of steps to balance the needs of travelers with the health concerns of local people. To enter the country, tourists currently need to provide a negative PCR Covid test, taken no more than 72 hours before departure. 

Travelers staying in guesthouses in inhabited islands must also show proof of a full course of vaccination, completed at least 14 days before arrival. Travelers who have had one dose may be permitted to stay on inhabited islands providing the local population is sufficiently vaccinated. See the Visit Maldives website for the latest information.  

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