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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Maldives

Maldives - Consular Information Sheet
February 22, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Maldives consists of 1,200 islands southwest of Sri Lanka, off the southern tip of India. The Maldives has a population of 270,000, of which about 70,000 reside in Male, the capital city and site of the only international airport. Facilities for tourism are well developed on the resort islands.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport is required. Tourist visas valid for 30 days are issued upon arrival at no charge. Visitors must have proof of onward/return transportation and sufficient funds. Requests for extensions of stay up to 90 days may be approved with evidence of sufficient funds. A fee of $10.00 must be paid upon departure. For further information, travelers can contact the Maldivian High Commission in Sri Lanka at No. 23, Kaviratne Place, Colombo 6, telephone (94) (1) 586-762/500-943, or the Maldivian Mission to the U.N. in New York, telephone (212) 599-6195.

CRIME: The Maldives has a low crime rate, but thefts of valuables left unattended on beaches or in hotels do occur. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: The Maldives has limited medical facilities. Some medicines are not available. The capital has two hospitals, one private and one government owned.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Credit cards are accepted only at certain clinics and at the private hospital in Male. Uninsured travelers who require medical care may face extreme difficulties.

Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation, and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States or elsewhere can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC's Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Republic of Maldives is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Excellent
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural road conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Only a few of the islands are big enough to support automobiles. Most transportation in the Maldives is by boat or seaplane. The Maldives has good safety standards for land, sea, and air travel. Roads in Male and on the airport island are brick and generally well maintained. Dirt roads on resort islands are well kept by the resorts. Transportation on the small island on which the capital, Male, is situated is either on foot or by readily available taxis. Transportation between the airport and Male, as well as to nearby resort islands, is by motorized water taxis and speedboat. Several local companies provide seaplane and helicopter service to outlying islands. Air taxis stop flying one hour before sunset. Visitors to distant resorts arriving in the country at night can expect to stay overnight at a hotel in Male or at the airport hotel and should confirm transfer arrangements in advance.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Maldivian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Maldivian National Tourist Organization Office in Male via the Internet at http://www.visitmaldives.com.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and the Republic of Maldives, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Maldives' civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873 or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. 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 the Pentagon at 1-618-229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Maldivian customs authorities prohibit the importation of non-Islamic religious materials, including religious statues. Personal Bibles are permitted. Pornographic materials are banned, as are arms and ammunition, alcohol and spirits, and live pigs. The importation of pork and pork by-products is restricted. Dogs are not permitted, but visitors may bring their cats. (Many hotels and resorts do not allow pets; travelers should confirm a particular hotel's policy prior to departure.) Offenders of customs regulations may face jail sentences, deportation and/or heavy fines. It is advisable to contact the Maldivian Mission to the UN in New York (See Entry/Exit Requirements section above.) for specific information regarding customs requirements.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than those in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Maldivian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced in the Maldives. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences, deportation, and/or heavy fines. It is illegal to bring alcohol into the Maldives. Alcoholic beverages are legally available for retail sale to tourists on resort islands.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Religious Laws: Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. Religious gatherings such as Bible study groups are prohibited; however, a family unit may practice its religion, including Bible readings, within its residence. Offenders may face jail sentences, expulsion and/or fines.

In 1998 several non-Maldivian families resident in the 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. Refer to the Customs Regulations section above for other restrictions.

Currency: Credit cards are not widely accepted outside large hotels and resorts; cash payment in dollars is accepted at most retail shops and restaurants and by taxi drivers.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: There is no U.S. Embassy in Republic of Maldives, but the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka is also accredited to the Maldives. The former U.S. Consular Agency in Male closed on August 9, 1995. Americans living in or visiting the Maldives are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Republic of Maldives. The U.S. Embassy is located at 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) 447-035. The Consular Section fax number is (94)(1) 436-943. The Internet address is http://usembassy.state.gov/srilanka/wwwhcon.html.



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