New Customs Regulations in Maldives: E-Cigarettes Lose Duty-Free Status

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    On July 5, Maldivian media The Edition reported that the government of Maldives will cancel the duty-free policy for e-cigarette products starting August 1, 2024. Deputy Commissioner of Customs Ahmed Niyaz announced this change as part of the country’s efforts to comply with international health treaties.

    Key Changes in Customs Regulations

    Deputy Commissioner Niyaz outlined two main changes to the general customs regulations in an interview with Public Service Media (PSM). The first and most notable change is the removal of the duty-free status for unhealthy products, including e-cigarettes. Effective August 1, all e-cigarette devices previously enjoying duty-free benefits will be subject to standard import duties.

    Niyaz emphasized the importance of aligning with international health treaties, stating, “The Maldives has signed multiple international health treaties, which explicitly state that tobacco and similar products should not be duty-free. Therefore, canceling the duty-free policy for e-cigarettes is an important step in complying with international treaty requirements.”

    International Health Treaties and Compliance

    The Maldives’ decision to cancel the duty-free policy for e-cigarettes is driven by its commitment to international health treaties. These treaties, such as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), aim to reduce the health impacts of tobacco and related products. By adhering to these agreements, the Maldives is taking a proactive stance in protecting public health and promoting a tobacco-free society.

    Other Affected Products

    In addition to e-cigarettes, the new policy impacts several other products that will no longer enjoy duty-free benefits. These include:

    • Cigarettes
    • Energy drinks
    • Plastic bags
    • Disposable plastic products
    • Land vehicles

    The removal of duty-free status for these items aims to curb their import, thereby promoting healthier lifestyles and environmental sustainability.

    Environmental and Public Health Impacts

    The cancellation of the duty-free policy for e-cigarettes and other products is expected to yield significant public health and environmental benefits. By reducing the availability of these items, the government aims to decrease their consumption and associated health risks. Additionally, limiting the import of plastic products aligns with global efforts to reduce plastic pollution and protect marine ecosystems.

    Recent Adjustments in Import Duty-Free Allowance

    Last year, the Maldives increased the import duty-free allowance from 6,000 Maldivian Rufiyaa (approximately $390) to 10,000 Maldivian Rufiyaa (approximately $650). This policy, effective July 1, 2023, is intended to facilitate customs clearance for travelers. However, amounts exceeding the duty-free allowance are classified as for commercial use and are subject to standard duties.

    Reactions from Stakeholders

    The policy change has elicited varied reactions from different stakeholders. Public health officials have welcomed the move, seeing it as a positive step towards reducing tobacco-related health issues. The business community, particularly those involved in the sale of e-cigarettes and related products, may face challenges adjusting to the new regulations. Consumers, too, will need to adapt to the changes, especially frequent travelers who previously benefited from the duty-free policy.

    Global Perspective and Comparisons

    The Maldives’ decision to cancel the duty-free status for e-cigarettes aligns with global trends in tobacco control. Many countries have implemented similar measures to discourage tobacco use and promote public health. For example, New Zealand has taken steps to ban the sale of tobacco to future generations, aiming for a smoke-free future. Such international practices provide valuable lessons and underscore the potential for harmonized global policies.

    Future Directions for Customs and Health Policies in Maldives

    Looking ahead, the Maldives may continue to refine its customs and health policies to further enhance public health and environmental protection. Future policy changes could involve stricter regulations on other harmful products and increased enforcement of existing laws. The government’s long-term vision is likely to prioritize the well-being of its citizens and the preservation of its natural environment.


    What products are no longer duty-free in the Maldives?

    Starting August 1, 2024, e-cigarettes, cigarettes, energy drinks, plastic bags, disposable plastic products, and land vehicles will no longer enjoy duty-free status.

    Why is the Maldives canceling the duty-free policy for e-cigarettes?

    The cancellation aligns with international health treaties that discourage duty-free status for tobacco and related products to promote public health.

    What is the new duty-free allowance for imports in the Maldives?

    The duty-free allowance has been increased from 6,000 Maldivian Rufiyaa (approximately $390) to 10,000 Maldivian Rufiyaa (approximately $650).

    How will the policy change impact consumers?

    Consumers will need to adapt to paying duties on previously duty-free items like e-cigarettes, potentially reducing their consumption of these products.

    What are the expected benefits of the policy change?

    The policy aims to improve public health by reducing the availability of harmful products and to promote environmental sustainability by limiting plastic imports.

    How is the Maldives complying with international health treaties?

    By canceling the duty-free status for e-cigarettes and similar products, the Maldives is adhering to international agreements like the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.