Electricity

Electrical current in Maldives is 230 volts, 50Hz. A variety of plugs are in use, including the two-pin flat blade plug and the round three-pin plug.

Language

Dhivehi is the national language in Maldives. English is widely spoken in addition to German, French, Italian, and Japanese, spoken by the resort staff.

Money

The Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR) is divided into 100 laari. The resorts in the Maldives are generally expensive and travellers should ensure they bring sufficient funds. ATMs are available, but it's best not to rely. Major credit cards are accepted at most resorts and hotels. US Dollars can be exchanged at the airport, banks, or hotels. Guests staying at resorts can settle their accounts in hard foreign currency (US Dollars are best), or with credit cards. Banks are usually closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

Tipping

Tipping is not officially encouraged in the Maldives. But it's customary to tip waiters and room staff in the resorts if the service is good, even if a service charge has already been added.

Health

Visitors to the Maldives should take precautions against mosquito bites as cases of dengue fever and Chikungunya virus have been reported. Visitors who will be spending a lot of time outdoors and are at risk of animal bites may be advised to get a rabies vaccination.

There are very few fully equipped hospitals on Male and in Hulhumale. Though most resort islands are within reach of a doctor, many are several hours' travel away from the comprehensive facilities on Male. Travel insurance is advised for travel to the Maldives.

If visitors require a certain medication on holiday, it is best to bring it in its original packaging, with a dated and signed letter from a doctor detailing what the medication is and why it is needed.

Safety

Crime levels are low in the Maldives but petty theft does occur. It is best not to leave goods unattended on the beaches or in hotel rooms. There is a measure of political instability and visitors are advised to avoid public gatherings and demonstrations, particularly on Male Island, as these can turn violent. However, resorts in the Maldives are considered very safe and there are rarely any disturbances.

Local customs

Maldivians are predominantly Muslim, and therefore Islamic customs should be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking, and smoking during daylight hours should be discreet as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture.

No pornography is allowed (or any material considered offensive under Islamic law) and homosexuality is illegal. Same-sex relationships are not tolerated and carry jail sentences and fines. Alcohol consumption is confined to the resorts.

Dress is informal but nudism and topless bathing is prohibited. On visits to inhabited islands it is important to respect local customs that adhere to conservative dress codes, and public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. The Maldives has strong anti-drug laws that carry severe penalties.

Doing business

The Maldives does a lot of trade as everything is imported. Business tends to be conducted in a more informal way, with more casual attire in lightweight materials. Meetings are usually scheduled for mornings and are typically conducted in English. Women, in particular, should dress conservatively. Business hours are usually 7.30am to 2.30pm Sunday to Thursday.

Duty free

Travellers to the Maldives who are older than 16 years of age do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco; other personal items up to the value of 6000 MVR. Prohibited items include alcohol, firearms, pork, narcotics and psychotropic substances, pornography, religious materials that may be offensive to Islam, and religious idols for worship.

Communications

The international access code for the Maldives is +960. Travellers can purchase local SIM cards for unlocked phones; all resorts, hotels and guesthouses offer free WiFi.

Passport & Visa

All foreign passengers to the Maldives must hold onward/return tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination. Furthermore, visitors entering the Maldives without a hotel reservation or a Maldivian sponsor must hold proof of sufficient funds to cover their expenses while in the country. A disembarkation card must be filled in by every passenger, and submitted to the Immigration Officer upon entry into the Maldives. Nationals of most countries can obtain a tourist visa on arrival, for a maximum stay of 30 days. Extensions of stay, to a maximum of 90 days from the date of the visitor's arrival in the Maldives, are possible, by paying a fee of MVR 750 to the Department of Immigration in Male, at least one day prior to the expiry date of the initial 30-day entry period. Note that a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter the Maldives, if arriving within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Visitors should have at least USD 100 per person per day for the duration of their stay. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Entry requirements

US citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 months from arrival in the Maldives. A visa is required.

British citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 months from the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa is required.

Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 months from the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa is required.

Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 months from the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa is required.

South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 months from the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa is required.

Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 months from the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa is required.

New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 months from the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa is required.

Useful contacts

Maldives Tourist Office: +960 323 228 or www.visitmaldives.com

Emergencies: 119 (Police); 102 (Ambulance).

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Maldives High Commission, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7224 2135.

Embassies / consulates in Maldives

American Embassy, Colombo, Sri Lanka (also responsible for Maldives): +94 11 249 8500.

British High Commission, Colombo, Sri Lanka (also responsible for Maldives): +94 11 539 0639.

Canadian High Commission, Colombo, Sri Lanka (also responsible for Maldives): +94 11 522 6232.

Australian High Commission, Colombo, Sri Lanka (also responsible for Maldives): +94 11 246 3200.

South African High Commission, Colombo, Sri Lanka (also responsible for Maldives): +94 11 268 9926.

Mission of Ireland to the UN, New York, United States (also responsible for Maldives): +1 212 421 6934.

New Zealand Consulate, Singapore (also responsible for Maldives): +65 6235 9966.