Relocating to Mauritius is a big decision. It might have arrived because you have finally decided that the time has come for you to enjoy your place in the sun. More likely the Rand has depreciated more than you can bear, or you don’t feel like paying the resident non domiciled levy, or 75% tax in France is just too much. If so, perhaps you should consider Mauritius as an alternative place to work, start a business or simply retire. Osiris are able to assist with every aspect of such a move, from helping with tax planning from the country you are leaving from, to handling all the residence application formalities in Mauritius We have endeavoured to set out below a guide to some of the issues that you would need to consider to make such a move.
- Right of residence:
Occupation permit (OP). Non-residents are entitled to work and live in Mauritius if they qualify for an occupation permit. An OP may be applied for under four categories. They each require a level of economic activity which will be taxed in Mauritius at the base rate of 15%. We deal with each of these in turn:
Investor permit. In order to qualify the non-resident needs to start a new business in Mauritius which business needs to have an initial capital of at least $100 000 and generate a turnover of at least MUR 4million annually (about $108kpa). Once done the investor can apply for the investor permit. This is not a particularly onerous requirement and should be relatively easily achievable even for most small businesses.
Professional. In order to qualify the applicant needs to earn a salary of at least MUR 60 000pm (about $1 600pm). Typically professional permits are issued for a 3 year period and have to be renewed at that point in time.
Self-employed. In order to qualify the applicant needs to show business activity of MUR 600 000 annually (about $17 000) for the first two years and then MUR of 1.2m from the third year.
Retired. In order to qualify the applicant needs to undertake to transfer to his/her bank account in Mauritius at least $40 000pa.
Dependant’s visa: the dependants of any holders of visas issued above are also entitled to a dependant’s visa.
- Permanent residence permit. This permit allows the applicant to live and work in Mauritius for a period of 10 years. The following categories are available:
An Investor whose company has generated a turnover in excess of MUR15m ( or about $405 000) pa for three consecutive years;
An Investor who invests a minimum of $500 000 in a qualifying business activity in one of the following sectors: Agro-based industry, Audio-visual, Cinema and Communication, Banking,
Construction, Education, Environment-friendly and green energy products, Financial Services, Fisheries and Marine Resources, Freeport, Information Technology, Infrastructure, Insurance, Leisure, Manufacturing, Marina development, Tourism and Warehousing, Initial Public Offerings
An applicant who holds a self-employed permit where the annual turnover exceeds MUR3m (about $80 000) for 3 consecutive years.
An applicant holding a professional permit whose basic monthly salary exceeded MUR 150 000 (about $4 050) for three consecutive years.
A retired applicant who has transferred annually at least $40 000 to his/her bank account for the last 3 consecutive years.
- Property Development Scheme (PDS). The PDS scheme has replaced the previous IRS and RES schemes and allows for the following:
The granting of a residence permit (not a work permit) where the investor has invested at least $500 000 in the scheme;
Also the transfer duty on the unit is now set at 5% and not at a fixed amount.
The unit may be acquired in the applicants name or a company, trust, foundation or partnership set up by him/her.
The applicant may also bring in his dependants under 24 or over 24 but in full time education or a wholly dependent next-of-kin.
The residence permit is granted for as long as you hold the property.
You may rent the property out.
- Citizenship. In theory you can apply for citizenship after you have been a resident of 5 years including not leaving Mauritius at all in the final year. In practice this is subject to approval by the Prime Minister’s office and therefore subject to his discretion. The exact terms that are applied are very unclear and should not be relied on. If you need a passport it may make more sense to consider one of the other schemes available for example the UK Portugal or Malta.
- Schooling. Private schooling is available in Mauritius at a cost comparable to South Africa and considerably cheaper than in the UK. The issue really is getting children into school which can be a bit of a challenge. The main schools in the north of Mauritius are:
- Northfields www.northfieldsonline.com
- Lighthouse Christian school www.lighthouseprimaryschool.org
- International Preparatory School www.ips-mu.com
- Taxation. Mauritius as one would expect has a very benign tax system. Corporate tax is 15% on domestic income, and personal tax is also 15%. There is no Capital Gains Tax, and also no death duties. Mauritius does tax on a world-wide basis, but with a bit of planning pre arrival it is possible to structure your affairs in an advantageous manner. Mauritius also has a wide double tax treaty network which is useful in planning personal as well as corporate tax issues.
- Cost of living. Mauritius is an island and so a lot of items are imported which makes them relatively expensive. Locally produced items are relatively cheap, as is the cost of services. Rental of accommodation ranges from MUR 40 000 for a bachelor pad, to MUR 180 000 for a brand new beach front condo. Accommodation can be purchased but as a non-citizen only in one of the property schemes making it pretty expensive.
- Connectivity. Mauritius is well served with direct flights in from numerous locations. The main ones being twice daily Emirates flights from Dubai, twice daily flights from Paris and Johannesburg, as well as numerous weekly flights from London, Shanghai, Perth, Hong Kong, Mumbai and other South African cities.
- Telecommunications. Mauritius is well served with two major cell phone companies, and a rapidly expanding fibre optic network.
- Conclusion. Arranging your affairs to live and work in Mauritius is not too difficult. It is also a welcoming country with great weather and people. Yes it has its issues as do most places, but certainly the financial commitment is not nearly as great as those on offer in Europe. However, it is generally just a right to live and not citizenship. For those who need that degree of permanency you may have to look elsewhere, although you would be hard pressed to find a more tax friendly location at an affordable price. We encourage you to contact us if you are interested in making the move and require assistance to do so.
Read more about our Relocation Services here.
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