Maldives Adds Visitor Coronavirus Test Requirement

Filed Under: Travel

The Maldives is one of the few countries that’s welcoming visitors from around the world. If the destination is in your travel plans, there’s a new restriction to be aware of.

Maldives now requires PCR test for visitors

For arrivals as of September 10, 2020, the Maldives will require all visitors to present a negative PCR certificate that was conducted no more than 72 hours before departure.

This applies regardless of what countries visitors are coming from, so there’s no differentiation here between high and low risk countries.

The Maldives reopened to tourists as of mid-July, and hasn’t had any major requirements for visitors, including no consistent testing or quarantine requirements.

Keep in mind that in the Maldives most resorts are on private islands, so what we’ve largely seen is individual hotels add their own requirements. For example, many hotels have conducted PCR tests on guests upon arrival, and have asked guests to quarantine until results come back negative.

That’s not necessarily a terrible system, when you consider that in the Maldives you generally don’t leave your own private island.

I would guess that individual resorts will stop requiring tests on arrival, so some guests may even prefer this new system, depending on the hotel they’re staying it. We’ll have to wait to be sure, though, because some hotels may require double testing to be on the safe side.

The Maldives will require all visitors to provide a negative test result

Many travelers already need to get tested

It’s worth noting that many travelers to the Maldives may already be getting coronavirus tests, so for those people in particular, this shouldn’t be a huge deal.

Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways offer among the most capacity to the Maldives — Emirates requires all passengers to get COVID-19 tests prior to travel, while Qatar Airways requires travelers from certain countries to get tested.

However, in some areas it’s still tough to get both tested and receive results within 72 hours, so this will be a bigger deal for some than others.

Emirates is already requiring passengers to get tested

Coronavirus in the Maldives

The Maldives has seen a total of ~7,700 coronavirus cases and 28 deaths since the pandemic started. Since opening borders to visitors, the country has seen an increase in cases. The absolute peak we saw was 215 cases on August 3, which ultimately isn’t that terrible compared to other places.

Bottom line

Visitors to the Maldives will be required to present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. Prior to this the Maldives didn’t have any real requirements for visitors, so this hardly seems that aggressive.

For many travelers this shouldn’t be a big deal, since some of the airlines flying to the Maldives already require passengers to get tested.

Are you surprised to see the Maldives add this testing requirement?

Comments
  1. I’m curious, where can someone get a test and results within that time before departure. All the tests around me take days. I’m DC area.

  2. I don’t think Qatar Airways requires a PCR test?

    In any case there is a real problem in the US with many tests not coming back for days — the travel industry ought to be pushing harder for a solution to this problem if we’re ever going to be traveling again.

  3. Actually only testing on arrival is the better system. Testing at point of departure (but not the airport itself) is subject to all types of corruption imaginable, and most likely lead to a thriving black market for fake negative test certs. And even if certs were real, the quality and reliability of test kits is unknown to the destination nation because most nations likely have big batches of lemons, sold to them by a random 5-letter nation somewhere northeast of Chennai and southwest of Vladivostok.

    Rapid testing on arrival is via the PCR kit your own health authority has approved, and thus it’s good enough for each nation’s own standards, however stringent or lax each nation prefers it. People will merely factor it into total trip costs, just like visas and car rentals.

    This approach isn’t perfect, but at least is a bit harder for corruption to be as widespread.

  4. Ben, two big inaccuracies with this post:

    1. Qatar Airways does not currently require a test of any kind to fly to the Maldives or anywhere else.

    2. The Maldives’ new testing requirement is a huge deal for most Americans, who simply cannot get a negative PCR test in anywhere close to the required timeframe, even if money is no object.

  5. Bad move. No one likes booking a luxury vacation and having no idea whether they’ll actually be able to go. So now you can feel perfectly fine, get a positive PCR (perhaps a false positive), and your plans are dashed. And that’s not even accounting for the headache of trying to get your miles/points/cash refunded.

    Better strategy was what they had: require guests to move only between the airport and a single island resort (no resort to resort travel allowed) and quarantine the tourism/travel industry workers from the general population. The Maldives is uniquely set up such that this could have worked.

  6. What’s even worse is that they probably won’t even account for the timechange…. Because you have to connect somewhere to get to the MAldives from the US, so how are you supposed to get a test within 72 hours of your arrival if you lose 12 hours due to time difference….

  7. More than happy that other countries follow the prime example of keeping US infested visitors out.

  8. American here. It’s becoming a lot less difficult to get a PCR test and result back in 72 hours.

    At-home testing. Urgent care centers with Abbot ID now systems.

    Plenty of options. Just takes some research.

    At least until the inevitable Fall spike and testing overload, because this country is incapable of staying out of bars and wearing masks ’cause “freedom”

  9. Actually only testing on arrival is the better system. Testing at point of departure (but not the airport itself) is subject to all types of corruption imaginable, and most likely lead to a thriving black market for fake negative test certs. And even if certs were real, the quality and reliability of test kits is unknown to the destination nation because most nations likely have big batches of lemons, sold to them by a random 5-letter nation somewhere northeast of Chennai and southwest of Vladivostok

  10. @Bob:
    Abbot ID now is not a PCR test, AFAIK.

    Not sure if the labcorp pixel at-home test is valid for say, UAE (they have a list of “approved” testing centers that they’ll take results from).

  11. At least near me in Cali, the CVS (partnered with Quest) is currently claiming turnaround of 2-3 days. The tough part is having to start travel prior to receiving results. They are saying you have to take the test 72 hours before departure to Maldives… well if that means before I board my first plane on the way, easy peasy. If that means before I board my last 5 hour flight from Doha, that’s a lot more complicated.

    Qatar Airways does require testing for travelers from certain countries. Last I looked, the U.S is not one of them.

    May still fly there at the end of the month. Wonder if they immediately deport you or if you can sleep on the floor at the airport if results haven’t come back.

  12. I spent a week in the Maldives in August ex UK precisely because it was one of the few countries globally not requiring a COVID test upon entry. This is so unbelievably shortsighted of the Maldivian government it is not true.

    When are we all going to be able to make any kind of reliable travel plans? If we’re not going to live in a world where travel isn’t possible then we need to start making some kind of decision about what we regard as “serious”. A few cases, even a few hundred deaths, perhaps even a few thousand deaths is not enough to continue to derail the global economy.

  13. Well there go our Maldive plans in October. There is just no way to reliably get this done in the US currently since result processing can be overnight or 2 weeks.

  14. I’m meant to fly there on QR from ZRH on September 12 so…. I can’t say I’m surprised but it just adds another $170 to the trip for the PCR test. Thank god we get the results in less than 24h here so I managed to book a slot 2 day before my Saturday flight. They changed the multi-resort policy at the same time, you’re now allowed to stay at more than one location again. There is no details about how to request for the authorisation to do so (48h prior to arrival in Maldives) though… I’d love to do that as I’ll be on a diving cruise for a week and I initially wanted to extend a few days in a resort nearby Malé to unwind a bit… Let’s see if the MoT releases more info in the coming days.

  15. Here’s hoping that they will somehow drop those plans like they dropped the previous strict ones in the beginning. I have six nights booked for beginning of October.

  16. Reports are coming out that this is 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin, and not necessarily the departure that ultimately arrives in Male.

    Might be helpful, since that means you have up to around 100-120 hours from time of testing to obtain a negative result until you arrive in the Maldives.

    Be careful though, I recently took a test where the result came by phone only, and they could not email you the results. So do your research in advance.

  17. It is probably the best solution the Maldives can do right now. Although many tourists do go to the islands, there is significant traffic between the main Island of Male and Singapore, Bangkok, India and Sri Lanka. Many many migrant workers, traders and Maldivians fly these routes and I suspect their main concern is to protect the city of Male rather than the Filipino workers on the tourist islands.

  18. Two things that would be super helpful if you could clarify, Ben, is this 72 hrs prior to checking into your first flight en route, or upon arrival at MLE (I assume the former since the latter seems near impossible)

    Also, any idea whether Americans are currently able to stay in Doha hotels for an overnight Qatar connection? I’ve found conflicting information out there and hoped you or someone here might have the answer.

  19. @JoePro Thank you for clarifying this policy. This definitely is doable. You basically have up to 3 days from departure to get your test results from time of departure.

  20. I understand the testing requirement but to keep changing procedures is damaging to traveler confidence. I have a trip to DXB-MLE-IST. I have to take a PCR 96hr prior to departure. Spending 3 days in Dubai then leaving to the Maldives. Now I got to find a PCR test in Dubai. I hope DXB can provide but may just cancel the Maldives due to this. If governments cant make up their mind, just close the country down to tourist and wait for a vaccine.

  21. I verified with the Ministry of Tourism that it’s from the origin country and not the transit through an email today. 72 hours max from departure from the origin country.

  22. I managed to get some more details regarding the “Split Stay” policy, which is again allowed.

    Greetings from the Maldives!

    Please be informed that as per the current guidelines split stay and as
    well as relocation of tourists are not allowed in GENERAL circumstances.

    However, under following conditions guests may split bookings. Tourists
    may be allowed to travel between two resorts, provided that the
    following conditions are fulfilled. The split stay guidelines have been
    shared with the resorts and they are to comply with these accordingly.

    1.The two resorts do not have reported cases of COVID-19 OR

    2.COVID-19 cases exist on the resort however, these are small number of
    imported isolated cases or cases which have occurred within a family or
    a group of people staying together.

    3.There should be no active cases of COVID-19 among the workers or staff
    of the resorts. If a case has been reported in a staff, travel will be
    permitted only if no further cases are detected among staff for 28 days
    after the last case.

    4.In a resort where a case of COVID-19 has been detected, HPA (Health
    Protection Agency) will determine the status of the resort with regard
    to safety of travel to and from the resort after doing the necessary
    epidemiological investigations and after assessing the public health
    measures taken on the resort (i.e. contact tracing has been completed,
    patients isolated and contacts quarantined)

    5.In the case of a resort which has been declared as having ongoing
    transmission OR community spread of COVID-19, travel of tourists from
    the resort to other resorts will be restricted until 28 days from the
    time the last case was detected.

    6.Tourists must undergo an exit screening prior to travel from the
    resort. This is to ensure that a symptomatic person or a person in
    quarantine does not exit the resort and travel. The exit screening
    questionnaire should document any history of fever or respiratory
    symptoms.

    7.Tourists are not allowed to travel from a resort to a tourist vessels.
    (and vice-versa)

    Please note that the above procedures for split stay shall be carried
    out BY THE RESORT, with the Ministry of Tourism. Provided all these
    guidelines are complied with and the resort follows the procedures,
    there shall be no issues in your transfer. It is required that the
    resort submits all necessary documents 24-48 hours prior to your
    transfer.

    Please do not hesitate to contact us for further inquiries!

    Thank you.

  23. Based on the rules above (helpfully provided by commenter Ene), it seems like a near certainty that resorts will nearly universally require separate negative tests prior to entering their island. The risk of having all inter-island resort travel halted for 28 days upon an employee getting covid is too high to do otherwise.

    From the perspective of the traveler, there’s a big risk that you test positive while attempting to transfer resorts, and you end up forced to foot the bill for an unexpected 2 week stay. So you might complete a points stay only to get hit with an involuntary extended cash stay. This issue would need to be thoroughly addressed before I would consider going to the Maldives now, particularly if a split resort stay was intended.

  24. Well that will exclude most Americans who follow the rules as it I s nearly impossible to get a test in the timeframe and with the time difference.

    But there will be some who take a test 2 weeks before departure. How difficult is it to change a pdf and insert a new date? I doubt that anyone in the Maldives will call and verify each result.

    Testing on arrival is the best option. VIE does it and results within 4 hours..
    Any test before departure doesn’t mean much, because people can get infected 10 minutes later..
    Or just close borders if you don’t trust that more than 99% of the population even in USA are healthy.

  25. @TB
    You can not overnight in Qatar. The country is closed to visitors (as per a QR rep today). Only option is the airport hotel

  26. The memo is clear in that it’s 72 hours prior to departure, so those taking a day and a half – as will I, coming from Vancouver – can still theoretically get this done. It’s mute on whether there are age limits or restrictions, however. Many other policies I’ve seen have exempted children under a certain age. I have an e-mail in asking for clarification. Luckily I’m booked on points for both air and hotel, both with generous cancellation policies, but this will still take an administrative miracle to pull off, regardless of cost.

  27. I am currently in the Maldives. The 72 hour rule is 72 hours from your original departure location.

    Example, if you are flying out of JFK, the test must be valid as of the time you check in with your airline. We flew through Dubai, which required a 96 hour test, so our test had to be valid by the time we arrived at Emirates check in.

    Home tests and antigen tests are NOT accepted by Emirates. The Maldives threw a wrench in by adding it must carry a SIGNATURE from the issuing entity. I haven’t seen a single lab report with this.

    We paid a private lab to do a rush travel PCR-RT test and had it back less than 48 hours. In fact, we actually printed it off in the airport.

    There has been a jump in covid cases but IMO, Maldives is greatly overreacting. There have been 10,000 tourists since they opened and 13 cases from foreigners. The bulk of the 125 new cases are in Male which we can’t even go into.

    The cancellation of reservations has our resort reeling.

  28. Just heard back that, unlike many Caribbean countries which require a negative test but which exclude this requirement for children, the Maldives requires it for EVERY arriving tourist regardless of age.

  29. Found flights and just about booked last night. No possibility of testing here in Canada so very happy not to have booked but very sad not to see Rangali again next January.

  30. I fly on 15th October from Ontario, I can get a PCR test done but the online results does not give full name just first name and last 4 digits of health card. Is a print out of this and my health card proof that the test is mine and sufficient?.

    FYI I have also just had an email from the resort saying I have to pay from an exit test at the cost of 150 USD 24 hrs before departure.

  31. Qatar airways just notified me on September 7,2020 via email that PCR Covid 19 test is mandatory. My flight to Maldives is on September 9,2020. I got tested September 8,2020. My results won’t be back till 24-48 hrs. Will Qatar airways let me board without my PCR Covid 19 test results?

  32. @Editha – you really need to check with QR and not with us here. There is no guarantee that advice on this forum is correct

  33. If anyone enters the Maldives after Sept 10 with the required documentation, would you be kind enough to come back and comment on what EXACT documentation you had to provide?

    When I’ve received a COVID test previously, I received an email with a link to my results. Does this qualify as a “certificate”? Do we need a printed copy? Electronic copy OK? Signed by a health provider?

    I don’t understand why the Ministry of Tourism cannot be provide more specific information on what is acceptable for documentation as we don’t want to travel 36 hours from US to be denied entry because we’re missing some unpublished/unannounced requirement.

  34. Planning a trip to Dubai in early November (hopefully) for my mom’s birthday, & we’ll be coming from NY (hoping we’ll be able to get a negative PCR test in time). After staying in Dubai for a few days we want to go to Maldives, but fly out of Abu Dhabi. I read that even though Abu Dhabi is currently closed to tourists, you can still transit through there to to fly out of the airport. But even coming from Dubai you’d need a negative PCR test to transit. Would that PCR test to get into Abu Dhabi from Dubai be sufficient proof to get into Maldives if we’re flying out the same day?

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