Maldives

Living and Working in Maldives

Island of Maldives

The Republic of Maldives, situated in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of Sri Lanka and around 450 kilometers from India, holds the distinction of being the smallest country in Asia. Its captivating beauty is accentuated by the intricate formation of its islands, which constitute a series of atolls comprised of nearly 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 naturally occurring clusters. This unique geography has shaped the Maldives into a tropical paradise that stands out for its stunning coral reefs, turquoise waters, and vibrant marine life. 

Since gaining political independence in 1965, the Maldives has evolved into a sovereign nation and became a Commonwealth member in 1982. Islam is the official state religion, lending a distinct cultural and religious identity to the country. The President, along with the Vice President and a cabinet, leads the nation. The capital city, Malé, located in the Kaafu atoll, serves as the center of governance and the largest urban hub. 

Living and working in the Maldives offers a lifestyle characterized by natural splendor and unique opportunities. With its thriving tourism industry, stable political environment, and multicultural ambiance, the Maldives attracts individuals seeking a high quality of life in a tropical haven. The allure of its clear waters, warm climate, close-knit communities, combined with the potential for employment in sectors such as hospitality and tourism, makes the Maldives an enticing prospect for those considering immigration. This idyllic nation not only offers a picturesque setting but also a promising blend of modern amenities and the tranquility of island living.

Traveling information

Flag of Maldives Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
Flag of Maldives

Currently, there are no travel restrictions for foreigners to enter Maldives. Maldives Immigration issues on-arrival visa to all tourists, if the entry requirements are complied. If you are a tourist into Maldives, it is advisable to know the requirements before you plan your trip. We advise you to go through the official website  immigration.gov.mv. Maldives Immigration issues on-arrival visa to all tourists for 2024, if the entry requirements are complied. Citizens from all nations can enter Maldives for tourism under the visa-free policy. Instead of visa, a MRP (machine-readable passport) or MRZ (machine readable zone) is required. This must have a validity for 1 month. Please not this is not valid for those travelers who has extended validity in their passport.

The best way to reach the Maldives is by air. The country is well-connected to major countries in Europe and South-East Asia. The primary airport, Male International Airport (also known as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport), facilitates passenger flights to more than 20 countries. With over 30 airlines operating both regular and charter flights, accessibility to the Maldives is convenient and diverse. 

For foreigners and expats traveling to the Maldives, the country offers a welcoming environment and a range of services to ensure a smooth stay. The Maldives is a popular tourist destination, so you’ll find a variety of accommodations, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly options. The warm hospitality of the locals and the nation’s commitment to maintaining its reputation as a travel haven makes it an inviting place for visitors. Whether you’re looking to explore the underwater wonders, indulge in relaxation on the pristine beaches, or engage in water sports, the Maldives caters to diverse preferences and experiences for travelers from around the world. 

Citizens of some countries might be denied entry into the Maldives based on various factors such as diplomatic relations, security concerns, and specific government policies. It’s important for travelers to be aware of any entry restrictions that may apply to their nationality. The Maldivian government periodically updates its entry requirements and restrictions for different nationalities. It’s advisable for travelers to check with the official Maldivian government websites or contact their local Maldivian embassy or consulate before planning their trip to ensure they have the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding entry requirements and restrictions. 

How to Immigrate to Maldives

You can enter Maldives on the following types of Visas: 

Tourist Visa: Citizens from any nationalities can visit Maldives as Tourist. Tourist Visa is granted once you arrive in Maldives upon clearing the immigration clearance requirements.  Tourist Visa is only for tourism purpose and no business, occupation or employment must be carried out. Visiting Maldives for social, family visits, media or business visits must declare sponsorship prior to their arrivals as they are not considered genuine tourists. Staying in Maldives beyond the validity date of the tourist visa is punishable.

Work Visa: A Work Visa is givеn to forеignеrs for еmploymеnt in thе Maldivеs. Thosе arriving for work gеt 15 days from arrival. To gеt this, thеy nееd a valid Work Pеrmit from thе Ministry of Economic Dеvеlopmеnt, lasting up to 90 days. Rе-еntеring with a valid Work Pеrmit is allowеd within this pеriod. If a visa isn’t obtainеd within this timе, thеrе arе pеnaltiеs undеr thе Immigration Act 1/2007, including dеportation for ovеrstaying. Work Visas arе issuеd in Malе’ (Visa Division, Star Cloud, 8th Floor, Majееdhее Magu), Hithadhoo Immigration Officе (Addu City), Fuvahmulah Immigration Officе (Fuvahmulah City), and Kulhudhuffushi Immigration Officе (H.Dh. Kulhudhuffushi).

Meeting Visa: Starting May 14, 2023, a 14-day short-stay visa known as thе ‘Mееting Visa’ will bе grantеd upon arrival for foreign nationals attеnding mееtings, confеrеncеs, or convеntions in thе Maldivеs, providеd thеy mееt еntry rеquirеmеnts. Thеsе rеquirеmеnts includе thе primary purpose of thе visit bеing rеlatеd to pеrmissiblе businеssеs approvеd by thе Rеgistrar of Businеssеs, a complеtе travеl itinеrary, a prеpaid hotеl booking, proof of financial mеans, submission of thе Travеllеr Dеclaration via IMUGA within 96 hours of thе flight to thе Maldivеs, and a passport with Machinе Rеadablе Zonе (MRZ) and at lеast 1-month validity. Mееting Visas arе non-еxtеndablе, and holdеrs cannot obtain a Businеss Visa whilе in thе Maldivеs.

Mariage Visa: A marriagе visa is grantеd to forеign nationals marriеd to Maldivian citizеns, allowing thеm to rеsidе in thе Maldivеs. If a forеignеr plans to marry a Maldivian or is alrеady marriеd to onе and intеnds to rеgistеr thе marriagе in thе Maldivеs, thеy must bе sponsorеd bеforе arrival. Thе Sponsorship Dеclaration is submittеd onlinе through IMUGA, thе digital immigration sеrvicеs platform. Upon arrival, thе forеignеr must complеtе thе lеgal marriagе procеss and apply for a marriagе visa within thе spеcifiеd pеriod. If thе forеignеr is alrеady in thе Maldivеs, a visa transfеr to a Marriagе Visa is rеquirеd aftеr complеting thе marriagе rеgistration procеss.

Dependent Visa: A dеpеndеnt visa is spеcifically grantеd to thе immеdiatе family mеmbеrs of еxpatriatе workеrs, limitеd to thosе in profеssional catеgoriеs, еmployеd in thе Maldivеs. To apply for a Dеpеndеnt Visa, individuals must submit thеir applications through thе onlinе portal IMUGA. Additionally, applications for еxtеnding thе Dеpеndеnt Visa can bе submittеd within thе pеriod of 3 months lеading up to its еxpiry.

Business VisaThis is a temporary visa for foreigners who would like to stay in Maldives for business purpose. This is a multi-entry visa. You can apply for the Maldives Business Visa at the Ministry of Economic Development and will be issued upon your arrival in the country by Maldives Immigration. To apply for the Maldives Business Visa click on the following link: business.egov.mv

People 

The people of Maldives are known as Maldivians. The Maldivians call themselves Devehis (islanders). It was believed that first people to settle here were the Seafarers from Sri Lanka and India, then it was the Arabs travelers, North Africans and others. The Maldivians are known to be friendly, helpful and very hard working. They are trustworthy in general and generous towards strangers. Islam is the main and official religion here, namely Sunni Muslims.  Only people practicing Islam can become citizen of Maldives. They love their culture and enjoy traditional songs and dance during festivals. The culture here is a blend of cultures of Indians, Arabs, Sri Lankans and Africans. They adapt to modernization without comprising their culture. The Bandiyaa, Thaara and the Boduberu are the traditional Maldivian dances with music played using big drums. Fish and rice are the staple food here.

Job offers in Maldives

Being a Muslim nation, the following important requirements expats must know if they plan to work in Maldives:

  • Anyone found working on a Tourist Visa invites trouble for himself. It’s illegal and person is deported from Maldives.
  • Medical examination report is a must along with other documents. Apart from regular medical checks, candidates are checked for STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and denied entry if found positive.
  • Medical Insurance is Mandatory.
  • Marriage certificate is required if you plan to work in Maldives and share room with a spouse.
  • International Driver’s License is not accepted.
  • No land can be purchased here, only house can be purchased.
  • Working days are from Sunday to Thursday. Most work closes at 2.30 pm
  • Swimwear like bikini is allowed only on beaches where there is signboard permitted swimwear bikinis. On public beaches, nudity and topless sunbathing is not permitted. It is required that both sexes wear knee-length bottoms & t-shirts on casual trips. Women must cover their shoulders and legs covered in public places.
  • Maldives being a Muslim country has some restrictions regarding some things which are prohibited here. The few important items include any kind of drugs, alcohol, pork meat, religious books or any materials related to religion for distribution and also Dogs. It is good to check the detailed list of prohibited items. 
  • Public display of affection like kissing/holding hands among married, unmarried or LGBTQ couples on non-resort islands and public places shows disrespect to the highly regarding culture of the locals, hence it should be avoided. Such actions may also result in punishment.

These are the many few things to note that are important for your stay in Maldives to be hassle free. Please go through all the legal requirements before your move. For example, all are expected to close or stop business during the prayer times. During “Ramadan” strict fasting is observed by everyone from sunrise to sunset. Therefore, eating and drinking or even smoking in public places is showing disrespect, so please be careful not to offend anyone. The left hand is considered unclean therefore offer food and eat only with your right hand. Unless invited, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter Mosques anywhere in Maldives.

Economy of Maldives

The present economy of the Maldives is primarily driven by its thriving tourism industry, making it an attractive destination for expats and foreigners. The nation’s stunning natural beauty, encompassing pristine beaches and vibrant marine life, lures tourists from around the globe. This influx of visitors supports various sectors, including hospitality, accommodation, and recreational activities, thus offering ample employment opportunities for both local and international workers. The Maldives’ reputation as a luxurious and idyllic tropical paradise serves as a magnet for expatriates seeking a unique blend of work and leisure.

To maintain its economy, the Maldivian government employs several strategies. It actively promotes sustainable tourism practices to safeguard its pristine environment and cultural heritage, which are the cornerstones of its attraction. Investment in infrastructure development, such as airports and resorts, enhances accessibility and visitor experiences. The government also seeks to diversify the economy by encouraging sectors like fisheries, agriculture, and renewable energy, reducing reliance solely on tourism. These measures contribute to the overall stability and growth of the nation’s economy. Multiple factors contribute to the Maldives’ economic vibrancy. Beyond tourism, the fishing industry plays a crucial role, contributing to exports and domestic consumption. Remittances from Maldivian workers abroad, as well as revenue generated from telecommunications and financial services, further bolster the economy. Additionally, the nation’s strategic location as a maritime crossroads offers potential for trade and commerce. 

To put it simply, the Maldives mostly makes money from tourists who come to see its beautiful places. This attracts people from other countries to work here. The government wants to keep the country nice for tourists and also works on other things like fishing and farming to make sure the economy is strong and not only about tourism. This helps the people who live here and also those who come from other countries to work or visit.

Unemployment rate 

The unemployment rate in Maldives averaged around 5.34 % until 2018. However, it reached an all-time peak of 6.33% in the year 2019. There was a decline of 0.25% since then bringing the figure to 6.08% in 2021. It is expected to reach 6% by the end of 2022 according to Trading Economics. The economic growth has created more jobs for expatriates than for the locals. Nearly half of the total employed workforce comprises of foreigners. The high unemployment rate among the Maldivians is mainly because of lack of skilled workforce for high-end jobs and reluctance to take “low-status” jobs.

Thе anticipatеd unеmploymеnt ratе in thе Maldivеs is projеctеd to rеach 4.50 pеrcеnt by thе conclusion of 2023, as indicatеd by global macro modеls and analysts’ еxpеctations from Trading Economics.  For the current unemployment rate in Maldives, please visit: tradingeconomics.com

Renting and buying of real estate’s for foreigners

Buying: 

Foreigners and expats generally cannot buy land in the Maldives. The laws of the country restrict non-Maldivians from owning land. However, there are exceptions in some cases. For example, foreign individuals or companies might be allowed to lease land on a long-term basis for certain types of developments, such as resorts or businesses. It’s important to understand the specific regulations and requirements set by the Maldivian government before considering any property transactions. Consulting legal experts or authorities in the Maldives is recommended for accurate and up-to-date information regarding property ownership. 

Renting:

Foreigners and expats can rent houses or apartments in the Maldives. While specific areas with reasonable rents may vary, the capital city of Malé and some of the more developed islands are likely to have rental options available for expatriates. Hulhumalé, an artificial island located close to Malé, is also a popular residential area. To rent a place in the Maldives, follow these steps: 

  • Look online or ask real estate agents for available rentals. Think about where you want to live, how big the place should be, and what it should have.
  • Contact the people who own the property or real estate agents. Ask if it’s available, talk about the rules, and set a time to visit.
  • Visit the place to see if it’s good for you. Check if it’s in good condition and has what you need.
  • Talk about the rental rules with the owner. Discuss things like how much rent you’ll pay, when you’ll pay, and how long you’ll stay.
  • Write down the rules in a lease agreement. This paper says what both you and the owner should do.
  • Ask a legal expert to read the agreement to make sure it’s fair and clear.
  • Both you and the owner sign the agreement. You usually pay a deposit and the first rent.
  • Sometimes, the agreement needs to be approved by local authorities to be official.

As for approximate rental charges, rental prices can vary significantly based on factors like location, property size, amenities, and demand. In Malé, for example, rental charges can be relatively higher compared to other areas. On average, rents for apartments might range from USD 800 to USD 2,000 per month or more, depending on the factors mentioned above. However, it’s important to note that these are approximate figures and can vary. It is best to explore multiple websites and consult local real estate agents for a comprehensive selection of available rental options in the Maldives. The website that offers a platform for both buying and renting properties across various areas in the Maldives is maldivesproperty.com

Climate 

The climate in the Maldives is characterized by its tropical nature, with generally warm and humid conditions throughout the year. The country experiences two main seasons: the dry northeast monsoon season from December to April, and the wet southwest monsoon season from May to November. While the Maldives is not typically prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis, it is important to note that the islands are vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change. 

The temperatures in the Maldives remain relatively consistent, with maximum temperatures ranging from around 31 to 33 degrees Celsius (88 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit) and minimum temperatures ranging from 25 to 27 degrees Celsius (77 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit). The best time to visit the Maldives is during the dry northeast monsoon season, from December to April. This period offers pleasant weather with clear skies, calm seas, and lower humidity. These conditions are ideal for water-based activities such as snorkeling, diving, and enjoying the breathtaking beaches. 

The Maldives’ climate is a major draw for tourists and foreigners alike. The allure of its warm tropical weather, stunning turquoise waters, and abundant marine life make it an irresistible destination. The tranquil atmosphere during the dry season provides an idyllic backdrop for relaxation and exploration, attracting visitors seeking a getaway from colder climates. The Maldives’ climate, combined with its luxurious resorts and natural beauty, creates a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers and expatriates looking to enjoy the best of island life. 

To get current temperatures on the Islands and weather alerts, please visit: meteorology.gov.mv

Language 

Dhivehi, also referred to as Maldivian, is the native language of the Maldives. It is the official language of the country and is spoken by the local population.  Dhivehi, the native language of the Maldives, is written in a script called Thaana. Thaana is a unique writing system with its own characters, written from right to left like Arabic. It has 24 letters representing consonants and vowel markers for sounds. This script has been used for centuries, crucial to Maldivian culture. Dhivehi belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family, related to languages like Sinhala. It’s influenced by Arabic due to historical ties with Islam and by Persian, Tamil, and English through trade and culture. 

While Dhivehi remains the primary language for local communication, the Maldives’ growing tourism industry has led to the widespread use of English, especially in tourist-centric regions. This linguistic diversity contributes to the welcoming environment for both residents and visitors in the Maldives.

Traffic 

Traffic and road conditions in the Maldives are quite different from what you might find in many other countries. As the Maldives is a collection of islands, road networks are limited to specific islands, primarily in urban areas. Local transportation primarily relies on bicycles, scooters, and public transport, while cars are more common in the capital city, Malé, and some developed islands. 

In terms of traffic rules, the Maldives follows left-hand driving, similar to many other countries. However, road signage and infrastructure might not be as prevalent, especially on smaller islands. Here are some standard traffic rules to keep in mind: 

  • left-hand side drive
  • Wear seat belts at all times.
  • Do not use mobile phones while driving.
  • Overtake on narrow roads with caution.
  • Speed Limits in urban areas and populated regions: Around 40 to 50 kilometers per hour (25 to 31 miles per hour).
  • Speed Limit on highways or open roads: Approximately 60 to 80 kilometers per hour (37 to 50 miles per hour).

For foreigners and expats driving in the Maldives, it’s important to carry essential documents. These typically include a valid driving license from your home country (an International Driving Permit might also be required), vehicle registration papers, insurance documents, and your passport. Being aware of local traffic norms and driving cautiously, especially in unfamiliar areas, is advised due to the unique road conditions and varying levels of infrastructure across the islands. 

Penalties for breaking traffic rules in the Maldives can vary depending on the nature of the violation. Common traffic offenses such as speeding, not wearing seat belts, using mobile phones while driving, and overtaking in unsafe conditions can result in fines. The amount of the fine depends on the severity of the violation and is typically set by local authorities. In some cases, repeated or serious violations might lead to more significant fines, license suspension, or other legal consequences. It’s important to adhere to traffic rules and regulations to ensure safety and avoid penalties while driving in the Maldives.

Currency & Payment Transaction 

The currency of the Maldives is the Maldivian Rufiyaa, often denoted as MVR. The Rufiyaa replaced the Sri Lankan rupee in the year 1947 and since then is in circulation. The symbol representing the currency is MVR and Rf. The “laari” is a subunit of the Maldivian currency, the Rufiyaa. One Rufiyaa is equivalent to 100 laari. The Maldivian Rufiyaa cannot be purchased beforehand. 

The Rufiyaa in Banknote is available in the following denominations:
Rf5, Rf10, Rf20, Rf50, Rf100, and Rf500 denomination

The Rufiyaa in Coins is available in the following denominations:
1 laari, 2 laari, 5 laari, 10 laari, 25 laari, 50 laari, 1Rf and 2Rf

Expats and foreigners arriving in the Maldives can usually get the best exchange rates at authorized currency exchange centers, banks, or at the airport upon arrival. It’s advisable to compare rates and inquire about any fees before exchanging money. Additionally, major credit and debit cards are widely accepted in tourist areas, making it convenient for transactions. Keeping some local currency on hand for small purchases and in areas with limited card acceptance can also be helpful.

Foreigners and expats in the Maldives commonly use these payment methods: 

  • Cash: Having local currency for small purchases.
  • Credit and Debit Cards: Widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and bigger places.
  • Mobile Payments: Some places might accept mobile payment apps.
  • Traveler’s Cheques: Useful as a backup for bigger payments.
  • Bank Transfers: Helpful for paying rent and major expenses.
  • Currency Exchange: Possible at banks, exchange counters, and the airport. 

US dollars are commonly accepted in the Maldives, especially in tourist-centric areas, resorts, and larger establishments. However, it’s advisable to have some Maldivian Rufiyaa for smaller purchases and when visiting local markets or shops. When using US dollars, be aware that you might receive change in local currency.

Cost of Living in Maldives

The cost of living in the Maldives can be relatively high, especially in urban areas and tourist-centric regions. It also varies based on where you are, how you live, and what you like. For foreigners and expats who come to the Maldives to work or study, you need to think about money for places to stay, food, getting around, and having fun. Housing costs more in busy places like Malé because there’s not a lot of space and many people want to live there. But you can find places to fit different budgets.

Food prices change depending on where you eat. Smaller local places are cheaper than fancy restaurants. If you need to travel between islands or go around in Malé, transportation costs might add up. Sometimes it’s crowded with traffic in Malé, so moving around can take time. Doing things for fun, like going on trips or enjoying activities, might also need money. 

For expats and foreigners, it’s smart to plan your money carefully. Think about where you’ll live, daily expenses, and things you want to do. Looking for ways to save money and using your finances wisely can help you enjoy your time in the Maldives without worries.

Taxes 

In the Maldives, taxes play a significant role in generating revenue for the government and funding various public services. There are several types of taxes in the Maldives, including: 

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): The standard rate is 6%. However, certain essential items might be exempted or subject to a lower rate.
  • Tourist Goods and Services Tax (T-GST): This tax is often included in the bills of accommodation, meals, and other services used by tourists. The rate is typically 12%.
  • Import Duty: The rates of import duty vary depending on the type of goods. They are designed to protect domestic industries and generate revenue. Rates can range from 0% to higher percentages based on the category of the imported goods.
  • Green Tax: For tourists staying in tourist accommodations, the Green Tax is typically charged per night. The amount can range from around $3 to $6 per night, depending on the type of accommodation and the island visited.

For expats and foreigners working in the Maldives, it’s important to be aware of the potential impact of these taxes. While expats might not be directly subjected to certain taxes, the overall tax structure can influence the cost of living and potentially affect compensation packages. It’s advisable for expats and foreigners to seek guidance from employers, legal experts, or financial advisors to understand the specific tax implications relevant to their circumstances in the Maldives. Please note that tax rates can change and it’s advisable to check with local authorities or official sources for the most up-to-date information. 

For more details regarding taxes, rates, regulations etc., please visit the official website of the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) – mira.gov.mv

Health Insurance

It is advised to have a medical insurance which covers even air evacuations and transportation services as Maldives has very limited medical facilities. In Malé the public hospital is the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital and the ADK Hospital which is private or commercial. As of now only three hospitals in Male is equipped with up-to-date medical facilities. There are hospitals in the other islands however there is lot of difference between health in the capital and on the other Islands because the Islands have trouble getting the medical supplies. In case of severe emergencies, it becomes necessary to transport the patient to Sri Lanka or India. The Maldivian government is making lots of effort to improve the healthcare system and also get more skilled medical professionals. The government provides free healthcare services to the Maldivian citizens and the working population. They are eligible for an annual medical coverage. The expats working legally for Maldivian company get complete medical coverage by their employers.

Summary

Thе Maldivеs is a popular dеstination known for its pristinе bеachеs, clеar turquoisе watеrs, whitе sand, and warm climatе. It is oftеn considеrеd a pеrfеct spot for honеymoonеrs, offеring sеcludеd island rеsorts and romantic gеtaways. Thе country is rеnownеd for its stunning coral rееfs, and many rеsorts providе safе housе rееf snorkеling еxpеriеncеs. In tеrms of tourism, thе Maldivеs has traditionally attractеd ovеr 1.5 million visitors annually. Rеgarding еmploymеnt opportunitiеs, thе tourism industry plays a vital rolе in thе Maldivian еconomy. Thе growth in tourism has lеd to job crеation and еconomic dеvеlopmеnt. Thе Maldivеs is gеnеrally considеrеd a safе travеl dеstination. Maldives has bееn working to maintain high standards of safеty and sеcurity for tourists. Howеvеr, it’s always wisе for travеlеrs to stay informеd about any travеl advisoriеs or updatеs from rеlеvant authoritiеs. 

Climatе changе is indееd a significant concеrn for thе Maldivеs. Maldives is particularly vulnеrablе to rising sеa lеvеls, which posе a thrеat to its low-lying islands. Thе Maldivian govеrnmеnt has bееn activеly involvеd in intеrnational еfforts to addrеss climatе changе and raisе awarеnеss about its potеntial impact on thе nation. Thе Maldivеs attracts еxpats from around thе globе duе to its еnticing blеnd of tropical paradisе and еmploymеnt opportunitiеs. With opportunitiеs for working and living in brеathtaking surroundings, еxpats and immigrants arе drawn to thе uniquе lifеstylе that thе Maldivеs offеrs, making it an appеaling dеstination for thosе sееking both profеssional growth and a sеrеnе, island-living еxpеriеncе.

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