Premium-Travel-Visa-in-Mauritius

The New Premium Travel Visa in Mauritius

With no more than a handful of organic COVID cases over the last 7 months, Mauritius has faced the difficult decision as to how to open up the borders, whilst keeping the country safe. It has maintained its cautious approach and promoted an interesting option for those remote-working individuals or retirees that just want a year (renewable) in a country where there is no lockdown, limited risk, where the sun shines and where the tax is low. The information below on the scheme is from the Economic Development Board, is correct as of the article being written, and we advise that you use the EDB website as your first reference point if considering this.

Background

Mauritius adopted a strict initial approach to the virus and therefore organic spread stopped so long ago that life in Mauritius feels very normal. People go to work, restaurants, schools and gyms and of course the beach.  It is the start of summer and the prospect of an extended stay in a hotel, complex or beachfront villa whilst working remotely is very appealing to many. In order to maintain the low risk, there remains in place, as of now, a 2 week quarantine which is really the only drawback of coming here on a short-term basis. This rule is not as difficult to swallow if one is coming for several months to enjoy the safety of the jurisdiction.

How it works.

Currently a tourist can stay in Mauritius for 3-6 months depending on where they are from, and there are many limitations in what they can do here. With the Premium Travel Visa, someone can stay for up to a year, whether they just work remotely, relax and take a sabbatical, or spend some of their retirement here. The idea in essence is to attract those that want to continue their remote-working life. Swapping the winter of Europe and the turbulence of Africa, for the balmy serenity of Mauritius. Those who are older or at-risk, may also want the safety of a protected island with limited exposure.

What are the conditions?

The applicant needs to show that they can make the stay viable, i.e. proof of funds, insurance, income, accommodation, general immigration criteria. One can’t work locally in Mauritius and therefore the income generated needs to be from outside. One must be from one of the 114 countries listed on the EDB website. The current documentary requirements are:

  1. a valid passport and a passport size photo
  2. copy of air ticket (including return ticket)
  3. Travel and health insurance for the period of stay
  4. Proof of funds (bank statement or bank attestation) to meet the cost of stay in Mauritius (minimum monthly transfer of USD 1500/EUR 1300 as per exchange rate applicable)

Health protocols

All passengers under a Premium Visa will have to go through the sanitary and health protocols established by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

All prospective passengers (including children and infants) travelling to Mauritius for the month of November and December 2020 must possess the following documents:

  1. a certificate of a negative COVID – 19 PCR test administered not more than 7 days prior to the date of boarding at the last point of embarkation.
  2. a valid air ticket to Mauritius; and
  • proof of purchase of a travel package including accommodation, on a full board basis, at a designated hotel for a mandatory 14-day in-room quarantine.
    Visit https://booking.mymauritius.travel/ to book quarantine accommodation.

Attention is also drawn to the fact that

  1. any arriving passenger will have to undergo PCR tests on day of arrival, day 7 and day 14 following arrival: and
  2. if a PCR test reveals that a person is COVID-19 positive, he/she shall be transferred to a public medical institution for treatment.

What are the benefits

The application will be very quick, so once you are set, you won’t need to wait for several weeks like the current Mauritian residence permits. Starting with the basics, Mauritius offers a high-quality work-life balance. You are almost always just a few minutes from the beach, it is hot all year round, the people are very friendly and it is an exceptionally safe place.

Fiscally speaking, the cost-of-living is relatively cheap, domestic help is very good value, and tax is very low. One can intersperse work with golf, scuba-diving, kite-surfing or just relaxing by the pool. There are a number of quality international schools. Mauritius has reliable, fast, fibre broadband. Foreigners can invest in Mauritius, including in the residential property market in certain schemes. Subject to your own jurisdiction’s rules of taxation, then you can utilise Mauritius for your tax residency. You are then only taxed on your income that you remit to Mauritius but independent tax advice is recommended for anyone considering this.

Conclusion

Our view is that the scheme offers a very easy and efficient way to relocate to Mauritius. In order to utilise this, you need to be working remotely or already retired, so that you don’t need to seek local employment. Consideration needs to be given in advance to flights, costs and procedures for quarantine, and the potential split tax year for residency (if this is being contemplated). You will need to arrange quarantine accommodation and post-quarantine accommodation before you apply. We are happy to arrange a call or zoom, or email us to ask any questions you have.

About

Philip Tsalikis is a practising UK barrister based in Mauritius and registered there as a foreign lawyer. He is the co-founder of TBI Mauritius, a Mauritian consultancy firm with a global reach and network. TBI assists individuals and businesses with their investment, setup and operations in Mauritius and throughout Africa, as well as relocation, permits and residence.

Disclaimer

Our aim with our articles is to make them digestible. We keep them short and relevant but do not update them. They are not designed to be legally relied upon. This article contains no legal, tax or financial advice, all of which should be sought from relevant professionals.

Good news for Expats in Mauritius

Good news for Expats in Mauritius

The Mauritius Budget 2020 has arrived and the good news for expats is that it is going to be much easier to move to Mauritius, to live and work here, and to stay here for longer. There is a potentially large pothole in the road if the Solidarity Levy is applicable to non-Mauritian residents but at face value it is not for now. The first thing that must be borne in mind is that some measures announced in Mauritian budgets do not see the light of day. The second thing is that there will still be some amendments before the bill becomes law, so don’t make any decisions based on the new provisions quite yet.

This list of proposed changes below is simply a sample of many changes brought in, that we view will be most relevant to those already on the island, or looking to come here. There are three main ways that the budget will impact expats in Mauritius.

  1. The requirements to get a permit in Mauritius
  2. The benefits of getting a permit in Mauritius
  • The requirements for investing in property in Mauritius

The Requirements to Get a Permit For Expats

Investor Permit

The Mauritian Investor Permit is currently one of a number of ways that a non-citizen can live and work in Mauritius. A new provision would allow the Investor to make only an initial USD 50,000 investment into the Mauritian company rather than the current requirement of USD 100,000.

Professional Permit

The new law would allow someone to get a permit to work in Mauritius in certain specified sectors for a basic salary of at least MUR 30,000 per month, extending the provision currently in place for the ICT sector, as opposed to the MUR 60,000 minimum requirement that exists now. More details will follow for this.

The Benefits of Getting a permit

Retirement Permit

Retirees will get a 10-year permit rather than 3 years.

Parents of permit holders

Parents of an occupation permit holder will now be able to come and live in Mauritius.

Permits through property investment

Currently, by investing in a property in a PDS scheme or equivalent, one can get residence for the investor and their family but this did not give them the right to work. The proposed law removes the requirement for the investor to need a further permit to work.

Permanent Residence

After 3 years in Mauritius on an occupation permit, it looks like it will be much easier to get a Mauritius Permanent Residence Permit. The Permanent Residence Permit itself is going to be increased from 10 years renewable to 20 years.

  • New Property criteria

Minimum threshold

The minimum investment threshold in approved property schemes that give an automatic right to live and work in Mauritius, has lowered from USD 500,000 to USD 375,000.

Smart Cities

Non-citizens who hold a permit can now buy serviced land for residential purposes within a Smart City up to a maximum size of 2,100 m2. There are various conditions attached but ultimately this is the first time that foreigners can actually own land like this in Mauritius in such a way.

Conclusion

There are a lot of positives that will give more confidence to non-citizens who currently are in Mauritius or looking to come over. Having the longevity of permanent residence more easily as well as the Applicant’s parents being able to stay, really opens up Mauritius to many who were on the fence. Wait before making any bold decisions on relocation, and be sure that the final laws enacted are the ones that you are relying on. If you would like updates on any of these points as the changes become law then please get in touch.

About the Author

Philip Tsalikis is a practicing UK barrister based in Mauritius and registered there as a foreign lawyer. He is the founder of TBI Mauritius, a consultancy firm based in Mauritius but with a global reach and network. TBI assists individuals and businesses with their investment, relocation, setup, and operations in Mauritius, and throughout Africa.

Disclaimer

Our aim with our articles is to make them digestible. We keep them short and relevant but we do not update them. They are not designed to be legally relied upon. This article contains no legal, tax, or financial advice, all of which should be sought from relevant professionals.

Residence and Permits-mauritius

Our simple Guide to Residency and Permits in Mauritius

Mauritius has a very diverse ecosystem and is proving a very popular place to relocate to and retire. It is still considered by some across the globe as a honeymoon destination. However, a substantial financial services industry with a focus on FinTech, and bustling real estate opportunities means that there are many business and investment opportunities here. From manufacturing to education and banking to agriculture, this unique business environment, coupled with the safety, stability and beauty of Mauritius, unsurprisingly has many foreigners looking to relocate to these shores.

We have tried to form a relatively simple guide, that can be useful for those at their preliminary stages of seeking to come over. There are several ways that someone can relocate here so we have tried to list most of the main ways, in a format that removes complexity and can be absorbed easily.

1 – Getting residency by investment

Without a doubt, the simplest way to get residence that is as permanent as a property, for you, your partner and your young children, is to acquire real estate in Mauritius that fulfils certain criteria. The basic requirements are that the property is residential, it costs more than USD 375,000, and it is in one of the specific schemes that the Economic Development Board permits such as the Property Development Scheme (PDS). This also allows you to work in Mauritius.

Only however go for this if:

  1. You know Mauritius and are sure you want to be permanently based here
  2. You have enough money to invest in such a scheme, bearing in mind that most of the properties are significantly more than USD 375,000.
  3. You use reputable advisors and firms to guide you as there is a significant variation of quality in this sector.

If you do not fit any one of the criteria above then we would suggest the following order of thought.

2 – The easiest way to get a regular residence permit

Apply for a residence permit as a retired non-citizen. This is a really simple way of moving here without having to commit to any investments here.

Only do this if:

  1. You are 50 years old or more
  2. You are not intending to work or be employed in Mauritius.
  3. You can afford to transfer an average of USD 1,500 per month (this mount has recently been reduced from USD 2,500) into your bank account here.

3 – What if 1 and 2 don’t work for you? An Occupation Permit!

The majority of people who move here do not fit into either category above. They are first in our list as if you satisfy the criteria and you are sure on the decision, then they are easier than the other options.

If you are not coming here to retire, then you will need an Occupation permit, which is a combined work and Residence Permit. Note that this does not permit your spouse or partner to work, and they must seek their own work permit. Your partner and children can however live here on your permit.

The options:

  1. Investor Permit (10 years)
  2. Professional Permit (3 years)
  3. Self-employed Permit (10 years)

1 – Investor Permit

This is a very popular form of Occupation Permit, that allows you to set up, or invest in a business if the main vehicle is a Mauritian company. This could be a management company, a restaurant, a diving school or a construction company. In short, it needs an investment of USD 50,000, which can be used for buying stock, paying rent, paying for staff etc. There are however some derivations of the investor permit, including the Innovator Permit requiring less investment and more focus on R & D in Mauritius

2 – Professional Permit

This allows a non-citizen to work for a company, (that is not his or hers), for a minimum of MUR 60,000 per month or MUR 30,000 per month in the ICT sector. There are many global companies in Mauritius, especially in the financial services sector. With the variety of global and entrepreneurial companies entering Mauritius, the job market is only getting more varied and interesting. There are several recruitment companies here that can help find a job suitable for a Professional Permit.

3 – Self-employed Permit

This requires it to be a one-person business. An initial up-front payment of USD 35,000 is needed as well as a business income of at least MUR 600,000 per year.

Although succinct, we hope that the information above helps those looking at Mauritius for relocation, residence and permits, to find a simple solution for their needs.

Premium Visa

This is a simple way that has recently (late 2020) been added. We cover this option in another article that can be found here.

About the Author:

Philip Tsalikis is a practising UK barrister based in Mauritius and registered there as a foreign lawyer. He is the founder of TBI Mauritius, a consultancy firm based in Mauritius but with a global reach and network. TBI assists individuals and businesses with their investment, setup and operations in Mauritius, and throughout Africa.

 

Disclaimer

Our aim with our articles is to make them digestible. We keep them short and relevant but do not update them. They are not designed to be legally relied upon. This article contains no legal, tax or financial advice, all of which should be sought from relevant professionals.

Please get in touch to find out more.

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Legal Assistance in Mauritius

Beware of the South African expat tax!

Introduction

SA expats will need to make some decisions on their financial future as a tax of up to 45% looms on the horizon through a change in the law. As the founders at TBI are from the UK and based in Mauritius, many of our friends and clients are from SA and have been looking for guidance. If you have any further questions on the article below or would like to be introduced to those who can provide the technical solutions to you, then please get in touch.

This article is intended, in a simplistic way, to illustrate the factors that South Africans must consider, and offer some potential solutions. This is neither legal nor tax advice. Although many South Africans believe that their ties with their homeland are cut, it might not be as simple as that for the South African Revenue Authority (SARS). By March 2020, for those ill-prepared, significant fiscal consequences may await! With the right preparation and guidance, much can be done.

The current law

There is a residence-based tax system in SA. A resident is charged on their worldwide income in SA. Those whose residency is outside SA and are declared a non-resident by satisfying certain criteria are currently exempt from tax in SA for income from foreign employment (earnings).  The basic criteria being someone outside SA for more than 183 days (of which 60 are consecutive) over a 12 month period, all subject to the SARS physical presence test. In short, expat SA residents generally fit into this category.

The change in the law

The amendment to the South African Income Tax Act will come into effect in March 2020. Those from SA that are currently exempt from paying tax in SA may now be taxed up to 45% of anything earned outside SA over ZAR1 million each year. This ZAR1 million likely includes allowances and fringe benefits such as flights and housing.

This amount of tax would be subject to any Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) in place. In Mauritius for example, which has a 15% tax rate and a DTA, the approximate tax payable in SA would be around 30% for anything above ZAR 1 million (on top of tax in Mauritius). We would recommend speaking to a tax lawyer in SA to find out if you are likely to be subject to the expat tax, based on your individual circumstances before you make any decision.

Options

The options below are not intended to be exhaustive, but simply some of the options available.

  1. Financial Emigration (FE)

This is different to emigration which likely would already have been achieved. FE is an administrative process whereby one cuts all ties with SA via the bodies SARB (South African Reserve Bank) and SARS, informing them that you are no longer ‘ordinarily resident’.

One must be sure about this decision, as if the person returns to SA, then there are various fiscal penalties for failed emigration. If one is sure to cut all ties, then there are various other advantages on inheritance and retirement annuities. Potential risks include Capital Gains Tax (Exit Tax) on residential property in SA.

  1. Setting up a tax-efficient structure

This is where you need the help of a corporate service provider and potentially a tax lawyer. There are a number of vehicles that can be used. A popular option is an offshore professional services company in a low-tax jurisdiction taking into account substance requirements. Another option is an investment portfolio as part of a retirement plan. There is no income tax on interest earned and no CGT. Some of our partners are able to guide you on these options and others.

  1. Move back to SA

There is always the option to move back. Despite the turbulent times, SA is still an incredibly beautiful country, that is cheap to live in.

Conclusion 

Seek professional advice, be prepared, and do what is best for your circumstances. If you would like us to introduce service providers who can provide the structures for you, or introduce you to tax experts who can guide you as to your liability, then please get in touch.

About the Arthur:

Philip Tsalikis is a practising UK barrister based in Mauritius and registered there as a foreign lawyer. He is the founder of TBI Mauritius, a consultancy firm based in Mauritius but with a global reach and network. TBI assists individuals and businesses with their investment, setup and operations in Mauritius, and throughout Africa.

 

Disclaimer

Our aim with our articles is to make them digestible. We keep them short and relevant but do not update them. They are not designed to be legally relied upon. This article contains no legal, tax or financial advice, all of which should be sought from relevant professionals.

Please get in touch to find out more.

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