Immigration. Travel. Living.

Maldives: immigration guide

Flag of Maldives

From the white powder sand to the luminous cyan-blue sea, there is so much beauty here that keeps calling out to millions of tourists every day. Geographically, Maldives is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka and India with a population of approximately 400 thousand persons.

If you are hoping for a long-term stay, you should know that the official religion widely practiced by the people is Islam. Whatever your purpose of traveling is, you must already know you require a visa to legally gain entry here. However, visa types vary by country, duration of stay, and purpose. Here are four prerequisites to know before making that final decision of moving:

  • Visa Types
  • Permanent Residence
  • How to apply
  • Requirements

Visa Types

Different visa options are available, and they are dependent on the purpose. Below is an explanation of each type of visa with the requirement.

Work Visa

This is issued to a foreigner who wants to live while working in the Maldives. Such a person shall be granted 15 days from the date of arrival. To obtain this visa, you must have gotten a work permit issued by the Ministry of Economic Development, which does not exceed 90 days from the date of issue.

You can re-enter on a work permit without a visa, provided it remains valid within 90 days from the date of issue. If you fail to obtain a work visa while living here, you will be deported for overstaying. Your employer or a representative of the employer shall apply for the visa.

Tourist Visa

A tourist visa is issued to all foreign citizens on entry for a maximum of 30 days. This means that, when you are traveling to the Maldives as a tourist, you do not need to apply for a visa. However, you need to meet the basic entry requirements to get immigration clearance upon arrival.

The basic entry requirements are; a passport with at least 1-month validity, a pre-paid hotel booking, sufficient funds for your stay, return tickets to your country of residence, COVID-19 negative PCR test result, etc. You cannot engage in any form of business, occupation, profession, or paid employment with this visa.

Business Visa

Business Visa is a temporary visa, which grants foreign businesspersons multiple entries to stay in the Maldives for business purposes such as meetings, seminars, expos, etc. if you are applying for this visa, you will have to submit proof of a business here or a letter from a host such as a business partner or boss.

Marriage Visa

This type of permit allows you to live here, provided you are married to a Maldivian citizen. As a foreigner traveling to marry a Maldivian, or a foreigner already married to a Maldivian, you have to register your marriage upon arrival. You will enter with a sponsorship applied via IMUGA, the digital platform for immigration services then upon your arrival, you must complete the legal marriage process, and apply for Marriage Visa within 30 days. If you are already residing here, you can simply transfer your visa to Marriage Visa.

Dependent Visa

A dependent visa allows the entry of the family of a legal citizen, provided such a person has both a work and resident permit. Such a foreign has to stay for a short time unless he or she can obtain a resident permit too.

aerial photography of white sand beach during daytime

Permanent Residence

To live as a permanent resident here, you have to obtain a resident visa/permit. The visa however is only issued to a foreigner who is legally married to a Maldivian and a Muslim. You can also try becoming a citizen by investing in a local business. A permanent permit might grant you citizenship, but it doesn’t give you access to all the rights of the Maldivians.

How to Apply

Other than permanent residency, a foreigner may acquire citizenship and live permanently if he or she is a citizen by birth, born to at least one parent who is a Maldivian citizen. A foreigner is also eligible if he or she has Maldives origins that are, born outside the country to a Maldivian citizen.

If you do not fall into any of the above categories, and still wish to be a citizen…you are in luck. There is the dual citizenship option where you are not a citizen by birth, but it is restricted. You will have to apply to the ministry of foreign affairs then cross your fingers as you wait for the president to find you worthy.


To reside here as a legal citizen with the right to work and breathe freely, you must meet certain requirements. This means you must be a permanent citizen. And to qualify, you must be a Muslim, 21 years of age and above, be mentally fit, have lived here for at least 12 years, have considerable knowledge of the constitution and culture, can communicate with the language, have no criminal record, etc.

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