A dearth of local resources makes importing goods necessary for visitor needs. The import of goods is subject to strict regulation by the Maldivian authorities, however. While cameras and currency are subject to no restriction, tobacco and gifts may be imported in “reasonable amounts” without paying duty, and agricultural products and foodstuffs are subject to consular approval.

There are a large number of prohibited imports, some of which may be difficult to define, so travelers are advised to consult consular authorities before attempting to import materials. Among the prohibited items for import are pornographic literature, idols of worship, pork products and certain other animal products, explosives, weapons or drugs. Liquor is also prohibited without an official license. Animals require veterinary certificate, and dogs in particular require an official import permit. Enforcement of drug prohibition is very strict, and the penalty for importing drugs for personal use or trafficking is life imprisonment.

There are also a number of prohibitions on export. Tourists should be especially careful not to leave the country with souvenirs that may include any prohibited items. Prohibited exports include turtle shells and products made of turtle shell, black coral in whole form, eel, pufferfish, parrotfish, skates and rays, big-eyed scad under 15cm (6 ins), dolphin, whale, lobster, all stony coral, triton shell, trochus shell and pearl oyster.