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XYZ Consular Info: Maldives

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XYZ Consular Info: Maldives

Maldives - Consular Information Sheet
May 2, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Maldives consists of 1,190 islands (fewer than 200 are inhabited) located 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. The only international airport is on the nearby island of Hulhule. Beautiful atolls inhabited by over 1,100 species of fish and other sea life attract thousands of visitors each year. Tourism facilities are well developed on the resort islands.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport, along with an onward or return ticket and sufficient funds, is required for entry. A no-cost visit visa valid for 30 days is issued upon arrival. If a traveler stays in a resort or hotel, the Department of Immigration and Emigration routinely approves requests for extensions of stays up to 90 days with evidence of sufficient funds. Anyone staying over 60 days without proper authorization faces heavy fines and deportation. All travelers (except diplomats and certain exempted travelers) departing the Republic of the Maldives must pay an airport departure tax.
Arrival by Private Boat: Travelers arriving by private yacht or boat are granted no-cost visas, usually valid until the expected date of departure. Vessels anchoring in atolls other than Male must have prior clearance from the Ministry of Defense and National Security. The clearances can be obtained through local shipping agents in Male. Maldivian customs, police and/or representatives of Maldivian Immigration will meet all vessels, regardless of where they anchor. Vessels arriving with a dog on board will be permitted anchorage, but the dog will not be allowed off the vessel. Any firearms or ammunition on board will be held for bond until the vessel's departure.
Specific inquiries should be addressed to the Maldives High Commission in Sri Lanka at No. 23, Kaviratne Place, Colombo 6, telephone (94) (1) 586-762/500-943, or the Maldives Mission to the U.N. in New York, telephone (212) 599-6195.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
DUAL NATIONALITY: The Republic of the Maldives recognizes dual nationality. Dual nationals are not required to use their Maldivian passports when entering the country, but they must use them when departing.
CRIME INFORMATION: 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: There are two main hospitals in Male: the government-owned Indira Ghandi Memorial Hospital (IGM) and the privately owned Abdurahman Don Kaleyfan Hospital (ADK). Both hospitals provide a relatively high standard of medical care, including general and orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery. ADK accepts most major credit cards and some foreign medical insurance packages. IGM accepts neither credit cards nor medical insurance. Both hospitals accept U.S. dollars.
There are two recompression chambers in the Maldives; one is located near Male on Bandos Island and the other is in Kuramathi, North Ari Atoll. There are no trauma units in the country, and spinal surgery is not available. There is an air medical service to Singapore; however, medical evacuations are very costly.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition or 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: Good to Excellent
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural road conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Only a few of the islands are large 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. Sand roads on resort islands are well kept by the resorts. Transportation on the small island on which the capital, Male, is situated is either by foot or by readily available taxi. Transportation between the airport and Male, as well as to nearby resort islands, is by motorized water taxis (known as dhoni) and by speedboat. Several local companies provide seaplane (air taxi) and helicopter service to outlying islands. Air taxis stop flying one hour before sunset, and some resorts do not transport passengers by boat between the airport and the resort island later than 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 Hulhule Airport hotel. All travelers should confirm their transfer arrangements in advance.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please 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, please 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, nor economic authority to operate such service between the United States 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 United States at telephone 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 DOD at telephone 1-618-229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Maldivian customs authorities prohibit the importation of non-Islamic religious materials, including religious statues. Personal Bibles are permitted. 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 arrival.) Please see the "Arrival by Private Boat" section above regarding dogs on anchored vessels. Items such as alcohol and religious items will be kept and held for bond until the traveler departs. Pornographic materials are banned, and they will be destroyed upon arrival in the country. A complete summary of custom regulations is available at http://www.customs.gov.mv/.
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, but not on the island city of Male.
Religious Laws: Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. All Maldivian citizens living in the Republic of Maldives are Moslem, and places of worship for adherents of other religions do not exist. Religious gatherings such as Bible study groups are prohibited; however, a family unit of foreigners may practice its religion, including Bible readings, privately within its residence. It is against the law to invite or encourage Maldivian citizens to attend these gatherings. Offenders may face jail sentences, expulsion and/or fines.
In 1998, several foreign families, 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. Please refer to the "Customs Regulations" section above for information about other restrictions.
Currency: Credit cards are not widely accepted outside large hotels and resorts; however, more shops are slowly moving toward accepting them. 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) 448-601. The Consular Section fax number is (94)(1) 436-943. The Internet address is http://usembassy.state.gov/srilanka. The e-mail address for the Consular Section is consularcolombo@state.gov.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet for the Maldives dated February 22, 2001, to expand information on Entry/Exit Requirements, Medical Facilities, Customs Regulations, and Special Circumstances, and to add information on Dual Nationality.