WHAT CURRENCY IS USED IN THE MALDIVES?
The currency used in the Maldives is the Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR) or Dhivehi Rufiyaa in the local language, and the sub-unit is called the Laari.
Here's a fun fact, Cowrie shells were used as currency here in ancient times dating back to 1200 AD. These type of shells are still quite commonly found here on the islands, but sadly you can't buy anything with them these days :(
Currency as we now it today, starting with coins can be dated back here as a form of exchange in the 17th century during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar. The coins used back then were made of silver, copper, lead, and gold. The first Maldivian currency minted and produced from abroad arrived in the country from the UK in 1913, just over 100 years ago. Bank notes finally made an appearance in 1947 and today we are still using a version of that same currency.
The notes in circulation today are beautifully illustrated and each tell a story about the Country. If you think the notes are works of art, you're not wrong as these notes took second place in the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)’s Banknote of the Year 2016.
Our favourite has to be the 1000 note with the majestic Whale Shark printed on the front.
Can you use other currencies in the Maldives other than the Rufiyaa?
Yes, the US Dollar is accepted as legal tender throughout the Maldives, and in most places is the preferred currency over the local Rufiyaa.
Can I buy Maldivian Rufiyaa before I get to the Maldives?
Not likely as it is considered a non-convertible currency which means that is not freely traded on the global foreign exchange market. As for exchanging your home currency when you get here, only major foreign currency will be exchanged.
As the currency is non-convertible, you will be asked to hold on to your exchange receipt if you wish to change it back to your foreign currency upon departure at the exchange counter within the airport.
These days credit cards showing the Visa or MasterCard symbol are recognised and accepted in most tourist areas, however if travelling off the beaten track, it wouldn't hurt to go old school and have some cash on hand.
Check xe.com to see how the MVR fares against your home currency.