Everything you need to know about marriage in the Maldives

18 Jul 2023·19 min to read
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Every year, over 2,000 marriages are performed in the Maldives, a country in South Asia popular for its stunning landmarks, pristine beaches, and vibrant culture. The country is formally known as the Republic of the Maldives. Marriages in the Maldives are special occasions, and both foreigners and Maldivian nationals are allowed to get married in the country. Generally, foreigners are unable to elope in the Maldives because both civil and religious marriages performed by foreigners in the country hold more legal grounds in other foreign countries. Only Maldivian nationals are allowed to be officially married in the country. 

There are strict residency requirements, and foreign spouses with a marriage visa may only be able to perform a legal marriage in the country if they have had residence for a long time. In the Maldives, most marriages are either civil or religious, but only civil marriages are legally binding. The country is known for having a lot of spots for marriages and other special occasions, and it is a popular place for destination weddings. Every year, people from different parts of the world come to get married in the Maldives, but most times, the formalities are usually taken care of. 

It is easier for a foreign spouse to perform all the legal formalities of marriage in their home country before coming to perform a ceremony in the Maldives. The legal marriage age in the Maldives is 18 years for both spouses. Both Maldivians and foreign spouses are required to abide by this age rule before they are allowed to marry. However, there are exceptions allowed. Spouses who have reached the age of puberty may be allowed to marry with the permission of the registrar of marriages.

Civil marriages

A civil marriage in the Maldives is performed by a registrar of marriage in the civil registry. Only this type of marriage is legally binding in the Maldives and other foreign countries. Couples who want to get married in the country are required to proceed to the civil registry in their municipality to obtain the application form as well as the list of documents that must be submitted by them. If a foreign national gets married to a Maldivian national, they will obtain a marriage visa. Foreigners who want to get married in the Maldives are required to register their marriage in the country and also obtain a sponsorship prior to their arrival. 

IMUGA, the digital platform for immigration services, receives all sponsorship declarations, which can be submitted online. Once a foreigner arrives in the country, they are required to complete the legal marriage process and apply for a marriage visa within a stipulated period of 30 days. A visa transfer must be made to the Maldives by foreigners who have a current residence in the country upon the completion of the marriage. There are various conditions that spouses are required to meet before they are allowed to marry in the Maldives. The minimum legal marriage age in the country is 18 years, which applies to both male and female spouses; however, exceptions are allowed as stated earlier in this article. Marriages in the Maldives are governed by civil and sharia laws. 

According to sharia law, a person who has reached the age of puberty may get married. In the Maldives, a male or female spouse may be allowed to get married upon reaching the age of puberty, provided that they have permission from the registrar of marriages. There is no rule about medical examinations, but the importance of this cannot be understated. Both spouses are required to know their health statuses and ensure they are compatible with each other and are facing no underlying medical issues before proceeding to get married. Some of the most popular medical examinations test for STIs and genotypes. 

To get married in the Maldives, both partners are required to give their free will and consent. Forever marriages are illegal in the country, and spouses must be able to provide evidence that they are entering the marriage freely. A person who is facing any legal issues or prohibitions will not be allowed to perform a marriage in the Maldives. Spouses who are imprisoned or facing charges that may lead to imprisonment may not be allowed to perform a marriage in the country. Moss sees that people who get married in the Maldives often perform a legal marriage in their home country. 

Over the years, getting married in the Maldives has proven to be a difficult feat for foreigners, and it’s easier to only perform a symbolic wedding in this South Asian country. All foreign documents must be translated by an authorized translator into Dhivehi, as this is the official language of the country. The documents must also be legalized appropriately with an apostille. The documents that must be submitted by both spouses getting married are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid identification document (Maldivian national ID card)
  • Both partners must provide copies of their birth certificates with their names as they are addressed.
  • Both spouses are required to provide valid witnesses during the marriage ceremony.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Previously married spouses who became separated or widowed are required to submit either of these documents, depending on which applies to them.
  • Proof of residence in the Maldives for the stipulated duration
  • Both spouses are required to provide valid witnesses during the registration and ceremony.

Religious marriages 

Religious marriages are also common in the Maldives. Only a small percentage of the country is not made up of Sunni Muslims. The Maldives is generally regarded as a Muslim country, and Sharia Islamic principles play a huge role in how marriages are performed. In the Maldives, Muslim marriages are usually performed in a moderate manner with just close family and friends in attendance. 

The wedding ceremonies often begin with the engagement, where both families get to meet and become familiar with each other. Upon the conclusion and agreement of both families, marriage preparations will then fully begin, leading to the Nikah ceremony. In this ceremony, the marriage contract is signed by both spouses and their witnesses. The contract states the rights and responsibilities of both spouses in the marriage and must be agreed upon before the marriage is allowed to happen.

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Marriage traditions in the Maldives

Bodu Beru 

This is a unique ceremonial rite performed in Maldivian wedding ceremonies. Here, a band or group of men play big drums that are made from coconut wood and goat skin to make beautiful and deep-resonating music. Music is one of the most interesting parts of Maldivian weddings, with the couple and other guests dancing and singing along.

Bride Price 

This is a ceremonial rite that is performed in both traditional and religious marriages in the country. The bride price is an amount of money or various goods and items that must be provided by the groom to the bride and her family before the marriage is allowed to take place. This often happens before a date is scheduled for the ceremony.

Master of Ceremony

In Maldivian wedding receptions, there are usually several ceremonial rites performed to make the occasion memorable for the newlyweds, their families, and other friends. The master of ceremonies usually has a microphone and is in charge of making announcements about the next event in line and ensuring that everyone at the ceremony has a good time with great music and food.

Same-sex marriages 

Same-sex marriages are illegal in the Maldives. The status of homosexuality is illegal in the country, and same-sex sexual activities or marriage can result in up to 8 years' imprisonment. This legal consequence may also be accompanied with fines, deportation of foreigners, whipping, and house arrest. In the country, no form of marriage or union between people of the same sex is recognized, and LGBT members face severe discrimination.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is legal in the Maldives. The island nation allows a man to have multiple wives, provided that he is financially capable of taking care of them. This law is a direct sharia principle that allows multiple spouses in a marriage. Even though polygamy is allowed in the Maldives, it is not commonly practiced. Polygamy is still practiced in some rural areas of the country.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties


Marriage in the Maldives must fulfill all the rules and principles of Sharia law, upon which the general laws and regulations of the country are founded.
According to the law, marriage must only be contracted between a man and a woman who have shown interest in one another and have given consent to marriage. However, it is not only the consent of the bride and groom that matters; the consent of the legal guardian of the bride, also known as the wali, is more important than the consent of the bride herself. Before marriage can take place, the husband and wife must be in a stable state of mind to be able to contract marriage; if either of the spouses is not mentally stable, the marriage would not be allowed to take place.

The legal age for marriage in the Maldives is set at 18 years for both males and females; however, according to Sharia law, once puberty is reached, boys and girls can be married off to prospective suitors. Under the law, civil marriages and religious marriages are the only legally recognized forms of marriage in the country; however, Christian religious marriages are prohibited in the country due to the Islamic nature of the laws of the country. Any form of religious marriage must be done according to Islamic laws. Before a civil marriage can be conducted, the intending couple has to submit an application for intended marriage, along with important valid documentation such as birth certificates, etc., which must be verified by the civil registrar, after which permission to marry would be granted to the husband and wife. After the marriage has been celebrated, the couple must register the marriage at the marriage registry. 

The law does not allow the marriage of same-sex couples, and not only does the law not allow such, but it also prohibits same-sex activities in the country. Foreign same-sex couples who are married abroad are not considered to be married in the Maldives. Although polygamy is legal, it is not commonly practiced; the law allows the husband to marry more than one wife and up to four at the same time. However, he has to meet certain requirements before he can do so, such as obtaining permission from his current wife or wives, declaring his wealth, etc. The law also states that a man is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim woman unless she converts to Islam, and a Muslim Maldivian woman is not allowed to marry anyone who is not of the Muslim faith.


The Sharia law also spells out the rights of couples in marriage, and according to these laws, the husband and wife are treated as equals under the law of marriage in the Maldives. The husband and wife have the right to file for and finalize divorce. Before a man can divorce his wife, he must file an application with the court, which summons both the husband and wife, and the divorce proceedings and judgement are based on the couple's testimonies and evidence. 

Divorce can also be finalized through khul, where the wife is granted divorce by her husband after she has paid a considerable amount of money in exchange for the divorce. The husband and wife both have the right to work and earn meaningful pay for work. At the workplace, they receive fair treatment and are not discriminated against due to their marital status. The law also mentions that the husband and wife have the right to raise children according to the various religious and moral beliefs of the family. 

The couples have the right to be referred to as the legal guardians of the children and also exercise parental authority, which must not be abused or misused. The wife has the right to receive her dowry as maintenance from her husband, and in return, he has the right to receive obedience and respect from her. They both have the right to decide on the mutual residence of the family as well as other important decisions that affect the welfare and wellbeing of the family. The husband and wife have the right to own property and receive inheritances.


The cost of marriage in the Maldives is relatively dependent on the goals of the couple and their financial capability. The average cost of a wedding in the Maldives is around $600-$5,000 or more, depending on the number of guests, the size of the wedding, and what the couple hopes to achieve. The Maldives is a very popular location for destination weddings for couples across the world, and these wedding ceremonies often cost around $1,000–8,000. 

Sometimes this cost also includes the flight and transportation costs, but in all it does not exceed $10,000. The cost of the venue is determined by the location chosen by the couple and the number of guests at the ceremony. The cost of the couple's attire, the food and drinks at the wedding, and the music and entertainment at the event all add up to the total cost of a Maldives wedding.


Sharia law specifies the husband and wife's responsibilities to each other, the family, and society as a whole. According to Sharia law, the husband is responsible for providing all the financial needs and support for the family, but the wife has a duty to build the home as she is considered to be a homemaker. 

The wife is responsible for taking care of the children, cooking, cleaning, and being hospitable to her in-laws and guests. She is obligated to provide support and good counsel to her husband at all times, even when she is not She should be involved in family decision-making and provide mental and physical support to her husband.  Both the husband and wife have a responsibility to protect and care for one another and their families. 

They are responsible for the growth and proper development of the children, as well as the moral and religious inclinations of the family. The wife is required to always make herself available to her husband in order to fulfill her conjugal duties at home. The husband is expected to be authoritative, dominant, and self-reliant. The couple is obligated to be faithful to one another, respect each other's opinions, and ensure that they are committed to the marriage.


The Maldives is a popular destination for destination weddings. The country has pink sands and pristine beaches where wedding ceremonies may be held. Generally, foreigners are not allowed to perform legal marriages in the country. Therefore, it is better for foreign nationals to perform the marriage formalities in their country before proceeding to the Maldives.

The Maldives is a Muslim country, and the constitution of the country recognizes Islam as the only religion. This implies that practicing another religion in the country is prohibited, and Christian or Hindu marriages are not allowed. All marriages performed in accordance with the religious beliefs of the spouses must be Islamic. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in the Maldives.