Potential expats who have visited the Maldives as tourists will discover that the mainland is a whole other world. Half of the things that slide by on resort islands land average citizens in jail. That’s the worst outcome though. Other common crimes are punishable with fines or a cold shoulder from the locals. Regardless of the punishment, it’ll certainly make getting by in the Maldives much harder.
These adjustments are worth it for anyone who finds themself entranced by the warm weather, calm water, and beautiful beaches of the Maldives. To have both a successful career and personal life as a foreigner, blending in is a necessity. So, let’s take a look at 15 strict rules expats have to follow to work in the Maldives.
15 Cohabitation requires a marriage certificate
Expats who commit to work in the Maldives will have to commit to marriage first if they want to share a home with a spouse. They otherwise risk being flogged for cohabitation, according to the Gender Index. Few are familiar with this rule since it’s waived in tourist areas.
14 Bikini beaches are for tourists
The Maldives adheres to traditional Islamic rules of conservative dress, notes TripAdvisor. Bikinis, even with cute sarongs attached, do not fall within the Islamic standard. Both men and women should wear knee-length bottoms and t-shirts at the minimum for weekend beach trips. Expect to see the locals wearing even more.
13 Even married couples must keep PDA to a minimum
Hand-holding is vulgar enough to disturb Maldivian citizens, according to Wildthenic. Disregarding cultural norms like this one will make it difficult to integrate with the locals. Since making connections is an important part of survival as an expat and as a businessperson, it's best to play by Maldivian rules.
12 Man's best friend isn't invited
Dogs will be turned away at the border, according to the Maldivian. For some people looking at a job in the Maldives, this means choosing between work and a furry family member. Owners of cats and other pets won’t have to face this dilemma as long as they acquire permission.
11 Talking business over drinks is illegal
Travelers used to endless drinks at resorts will be shocked to know this is an exception the country makes for tourists. World Nomads states it's completely prohibited elsewhere. Anyone caught with a glass in hand will end up paying a lot more than the cost of their drink.
10 3% of money sent back home goes to the government
Since foreigners don’t have to pay any income tax, that 3% is no big deal. Business profit tax is the only other concern for foreigners running companies, says Expat. This should come as a great relief for expats hailing from countries that don’t let up on the taxes even after citizens leave.
9 Going from working resident to citizen requires conversion
Expats can stay in the country on a work visa as long as they maintain their jobs. Anyone who does want to become a citizen must be Muslim, according to the Dual Citizenship Report. Conversion may be worth it for non-muslims who call the Maldives home but fear deportation.
8 Working on a tourist visa is illegal
Tourists who fall in love with the Maldives while on vacation will have to leave and come back after finding work. This is because a tourist visa can’t be exchanged for a work visa, according to Maldives Finest. Anyone who tries to work without the proper visa risks deportation.
7 Standard work weeks run from Sunday to Thursday
That still amounts to the typical 5 day work week. The shift is even handy for those communicating with countries that are one day behind the Maldives. However, Secret Paradise also claims that most businesses close at 2:30 pm. Between early closings and prayer, the workday runs short.
6 Long-term workers can buy houses but not the land
Foreigners were recently given the right to buy a piece of Maldivian land if they were willing to fish it out of the ocean. That’s in addition to paying millions of dollars. According to Reuters, that amendment was repealed before any purchases were made. Now even billionaires have no chance.
5 Prayer times mean stores close and open more than once
Small business owners looking to get something going in the Maldives will find themselves without any employees when the call to prayer sounds. That’ll be no problem though since they’ll find themselves without any customers either. The Maldives Expert states this prayer time occurs 5 times each day.
4 International driver's licenses don't apply
Drivers who were licensed at home can just take a practical exam to get a local license, according to Expat. Absolute newbies will need to take a theoretical exam too. Navigating tight streets packed with motorists in the Maldives will take some practice regardless of prior experience.
3 Medical exams are a work requirement
Maldives Immigration includes a medical health screening report on the list of documents that need to be sent in when applying for a work visa. In addition to the regular check-up, candidates undergo several tests for STIs. Anyone who tests positive for a contagious illness is denied entry.
2 Don't eat with the wrong hand at a business dinner
Messing this one up won’t get anyone imprisoned, but it’ll sure start things off on the wrong foot with new coworkers and clients. Lonely Planet states that “the left hand is considered unclean.” Show off your good manners by using the right hand to transfer food instead.
1 Expat insurance is mandatory
Maldives Immigration specifies that work visa applicants must acquire a plan from Allied Insurance Company in order to begin the application process. This company is local to the Maldives and covers 100% of government hospital costs. It’ll only account for 15% of costs at the private hospitals that are included.