With some 1,200 islands set in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a paradise for couples and families alike.
The country has managed to keep coronavirus rates relatively low throughout the pandemic, having closed its borders early. It’s helped by the fact that many of its islands are extremely isolated, with visitors having to take seaplanes from its capital Male.
While the Maldives has been open to tourists since 15 July, it’s only just made it onto the Foreign Office’s (FCDO) “safe list”, meaning UK travellers can finally visit without having to worry about invalidating their travel insurance.
But what are the rules for entry? And do you need to take a Covid test before you go?
Here’s what you need to know.
Am I allowed to travel to the Maldives from the UK?
The Maldives has been open to international visitors since 15 July.
However, cruise ships are still banned from entering or docking in the country, and all passenger vessels, including safari boats and yachts, that have sailed in from another country, are restricted indefinitely.
Those travelling by air, the only alternative method, need to fill in a Traveller Health Declaration 24 hours before they begin their journey to the Maldives.
How can I get there?
British Airways is the only airline flying direct to the Maldives from the UK.
There are plenty of alternatives requiring a stopover, but none of the stopover destinations are currently on the UK government’s travel corridors list, which means if you do make a stopover on the return journey, you will have to quarantine for 14 days when you get back to the UK.
Will they let me in when I arrive?
Yes, provided you have all the required documents, including the Traveller Health Declaration, and have received a negative Covid-19 PCR test before you travel (see below on testing).
The Maldives has also started offering tourism visas on arrival again so there’s no additional paperwork before you go.
Will I have to take a Covid-19 PCR test?
Yes, all visitors will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test, taken within 96 hours of your first departure, rather than arrival.
The only exception is if there is a stopover in your journey that’s longer than 24 hours, in which case your test must be taken within 96 hours of your departure from the transit stop.
While in the Maldives, if you stay in a guesthouse at any point, you will need to take a Covid-19 PCR test 72 hours before your scheduled departure from the country.
Will I have to quarantine when I arrive?
If you’re a tourist, staying at a tourist resort or a liveaboard, you don’t have to quarantine.
But if you’re travelling to the Maldives as a resident, or a student, you will have to quarantine for 14 days. There may also be additional restrictions if you’re travelling to a local island rather than a tourist one.
Will I have to quarantine when I come home?
From 4am on Sunday 25 October, you won’t have to quarantine when you get back to the UK from the Maldives. But if you return before then, you’re still subject to 14 days of self-isolation.
In addition, if you’re travelling on a flight with a stopover, you will likely have to quarantine on your return (see above on how to get to the Maldives).
Can I travel between the islands or resorts?
In general, yes, as long as neither destination has community transmission of coronavirus and they are not being monitored for Covid-19 outbreaks.
You don’t need permission for day-visits to other tourist resorts and guesthouse islands, but you do need it for overnight stays. This applies to travel between resorts, between guest house islands and from resort to guesthouse island and vice versa.
You will need to apply for permission before arranging a “split-stay” and your resort should be able to help you with the relevant forms.
Are hotels open?
Some resorts have stayed open throughout the pandemic while others are only beginning to reopen, so check before you travel. It’s expected that by 1 December, 124 resorts will have reopened.
Guesthouses are also allowed to reopen to tourists again. Be aware that if you stay in a guesthouse at any point during your stay in the Maldives, you will need to take a Covid-19 PCR test 72 hours before your scheduled departure.
Finally, you will not be permitted to travel to any islands where there is community transmission of coronavirus or which are currently being monitored.
You can see the latest rules for tourists here.
What rules are in place?
You should maintain social distancing where possible; the Maldives mandates three feet for this. Gatherings of more than five people are also not permitted in public spaces.
On islands with cases of Covid-19, masks are mandatory in public.
You should check with your resort or guesthouse as to what additional local measures may be in place.