Foreign Investment in Maldives

Local Expertise, Global Connections

Maldives is an island nation situated to the south west of India and Sri Lanka with more than 1900 islands distributed over 19 atolls. The country attracts over 1.2 million tourists annually and is a popular holiday destination among celebrities and high networth individuals.

Maldives has a conducive business environment for foreign investors, with liberal trade environment, strong private business sector, educated and healthy young population, modern tax system supported with proper legal protection for foreign investments. Over the last 15 years the country has experienced a stable economic growth of more than 7% annually.

Investment Policy

All foreign investment applications are subject to review by a special committee. Initial investments with a value exceeding USD 1 million are expected in most industries.

Promoted Industries

Except for a few industries, most of the capital and technology intensive industries are open for foreign investment in Maldives, particularly the following:

FI Promoted Industries

Restricted Industries

Some industries in the Maldives are restricted for foreign investment.The guesthouse industry, which was previously closed for foreign investors is now open for foreign investments with a maximum of 49% foreign shareholding. Dive Center & Dive School operations is now categorized as a joint-venture investment with a maximum of 75% foreign shareholding.

Ownership restrictions apply to the following areas.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

  • Forestry
  • Mining of sand

Mining and Quarrying

  • Other mining and quarrying

Manufacturing

  • Manufacture of tobacco products
  • Manufacture of wood and of products of wood and cork except furniture
  • Manufacture of rubber and plastic products
  • Manufacture of handicrafts and souvenirs

Wholesale and Retail Trade

  • Retail trade
  • Wholesale trade in other sectors except construction

Transportation and Storage

  • Land transport services and transport via pipelines
  • Postal and courier activities
  • Logistic activities

Accommodation and Food Service Activities

  • Picnic island
  • Food and beverage service activities (including cafe', restaurant, bakeries and other eateries)
  • Other accommodation*

Information and Communication

  • Programming and broadcasting activities

Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities

  • Legal activities
  • Photography and videography

Administrative and Support Service Activities

  • Rental and leasing activities (including lease of heavy duty machineries)
  • Employment activities, employment agencies, recruitment services
  • Travel agency, tour operator, reservation service and related activities
  • Service to building and landscape activities

Public Administration and Defense; Compulsory Social Security

Education

  • General tuition classes
  • Tuition services
  • Quran Classes

Human Health and Social Work Activities

  • Clinics except physiotherapy clinics

Other Service Activities

  • Activities of membership organisations
  • Repair of computers and personal household goods
Business Registration and Withdrawal Procedure

There are three ways to register a business entity in the Maldives, under the normal regime governed by the Foreign Investment Act (Law No: 25/79) of the Maldives.

  • Incorporating a new foreign investment company with 100% foreign ownership.
  • Re-register a foreign incorporated company in the Maldives
  • Acquiring shares from a locally incorporated company.

Foreign Investment Registration Process

Benefits of Registering a company in Maldives

  • Right to 100% foreign ownership.
  • Legally backed investment guarantee.
  • Provision for overseas arbitration of disputes.
  • Long term contractual agreements and long-term lease of land.
  • Freedom to use foreign managerial, technical and unskilled workers.
  • No foreign exchange restrictions.
  • No restrictions on the repatriations of earnings or profits.
Withdrawal Procedures

Legal procedures required for liquidation of a company

  • Board of directors could decide to liquidate the company and should get approval of the shareholders. The shareholders should appoint a liquidator to windup the company within seven (7) days. Liquidation process will take 30-60 days.
  • A final tax return up to the date of liquidation should be submitted together with the liquidator’s report.
Legal procedures required for liquidation of a branch
  • Board resolution to liquidate the company and termination of the investment agreement is sufficient to de-register the branch.
  • A final tax return up to the date of liquidation should be submitted together with the liquidator’s report.
Tax Policy

Maldives has a modern tax system with most services available online. Government of Maldives has imposed several direct and indirect taxes. 

Corporate Income Tax

All corporates are subject to 15% Income tax on income exceeding MVR 500,000 (approximately US$ 32,425) except for Banks, taxed at 25% on the total taxable income.

Payment Deadlines

Sole proprietors, Partnership and Corporate Entities are required to file Income Tax return on or before 30th June of the following year and must pay the calculated taxes to Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) within the period. Taxpayers should submit an interim return before 31st January and 31st July every year.

Personal Income Tax

Personal employment income and business income of sole proprietors are subject to following tax brackets based on the yearly income. Personal employment income is deducted at source and employer is responsible to pay the tax monthly. 

Income Tax is charged on the taxable income of an individual as per the table below.:

Income Tax BracketsEmployee Withholding Tax

Remuneration subject to withholding tax is the amount of remuneration per month, after the deduction of the amount contributed to the Maldives Retirement Pension Scheme by the recipient of the remuneration.

Employee Withholding Tax BracketsPayment Deadlines

Employee Withholding Tax is payable on or before 15th day of the month following the month in which salary was paid.

Non-resident Withholding  Tax

Where a person that carries on any business in the Maldives makes a payment of the following kinds to a person who is not a resident in the Maldives, the person shall deduct non-resident withholding tax from the gross amount of the payment at the rate of 10%.

Payment Deadlines

Non-resident Withholding Tax is payable on or before 15th day of the month following the month in which a payment subject to withholding tax was made.

Goods and Service Tax (GST)

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a tax charged on the value of goods and services supplied in the Maldives from 2 October 2011 onwards. GST is charged under the Goods and Services Tax Act (Law Number 10/2011). Registration is compulsory if the value of taxable supplies of a business exceed MVR 1 million per annum. However, importers of goods to the Maldives and suppliers of tourism goods and services are required to register even if the value of their supplies do not exceed the MVR 1 million threshold.

General Goods & Services 6%
Tourism Services 12%

Payment Deadlines

The deadline to file the GST return and make payment is the 28th day of the month following the taxable period.

Green Tax

Green Tax is payable by tourists who stay in tourist resorts, tourist hotels, tourist vessels and tourist guesthouses. Green tax is payable at the rate of USD 6 per day of stay from tourist resorts, tourist hotels, tourist vessels and tourist guesthouses. Maldivians and resident permit holders are not required to pay Green Tax. 

Payment Deadlines

Green Tax Return must be filed and the payment of Green Tax must be made monthly, on or before 28th of the following month.

Work Culture in the Maldives

Maldives is a fast growing small island economy with a young and educated population having a literacy rate of 99%. English language is widely spoken and used as the primary language in doing business. 

Employment

Usually Government of Maldives prefer 100% of local employment, however, for projects 100% foreign employment is allowed. Freedom to use foreign managerial, technical and unskilled workers are one of the general incentive for foreign Investments in the Maldives.

Foreign investments in the Maldives must employ Maldivian nationals except in those cases where employment of non-nationals become necessary.

Labour unions are not active in Maldives, however in some industries Employees Associations works to lobby the employee rights. Employee rights including leave, recruitment and terminations procedures are defined in the Employment Act of the Maldives. 

Pension

The Pension Act (Law No: 8/2009) mandates a contribution of 7% of the pensionable wage from both employee and employer to Maldives Retirement Pension Scheme. 

Working Hours

Government: The government office day runs from Sunday to Thursday from 8.00 am to 2.00 pm.

Private Offices:The standard working days are from Sunday to Thursday starting from 8 am, or 9 am to 5 pm or 6 pm.

Banks: All the banks in Maldives are open from 8.30 am to 2 pm on a normal day. But in Ramadan, the working hour starts from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm.

Aminath Majidha
Aminath  Majidha
Director
Business Services

For further information and assistance in registering a Foreign Investment in Maldives