JUST IN: India greenlights visa-free travel for Maldivians starting October 15

Maldives President Ibrahim Solih (R) with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) during a state visit in 2018 | Photo: MEA

Malé, Maldives – COVID-19 restrictions on travel to India have been lifted as an exception for Maldivians who wish to visit India effective from 15 October 2021.

Maldivian nationals travelling for medical, business and tourism purposes will be able to travel to India visa-free starting Friday.

Maldives will be the first beneficiary of visa-free travel since COVID restrictions were imposed in March 2020.

India-Maldives Visa Facilitation Agreement signed during the State Visit of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to India in December 2018 will now be implemented again. This means that no visas would be required for a duration of 90 days for Maldivian nationals visiting India for tourism, medical treatment & business purposes. Free student visas for Maldivian youth will also be facilitated.

From March 2019 to March 2020, thousands of Maldivians had availed of visa-free travel under this Agreement before the COVID pandemic. However, with the closure of India’s international borders on March 23, 2020, due to the pandemic, all categories of Indian visas were suspended. 

In June 2020, a special exemption was granted to Maldivian nationals to visit India for medical purposes after obtaining visas from the High Commission. Under this arrangement, over 14000 medical visas have been issued by the High Commission from July 2020 to date.

The latest decision fully restores the India-Maldives visa-free arrangement from 15 October 2021 onwards.

The Indian High Commission states that the exemption in the case of Maldivian nationals has been granted in view of the high demand for medical visas in the last 3-4 months and the special relations that exist between our two countries. Strong people-to-people relations will be further strengthened by this humanitarian gesture.