Tens of thousands of people consider relocating to Mauritius each year for the wonderful life that it offers, with not only great business opportunities and tax incentives, but also safety, the sun, sea and sand to enjoy alongside. The starting point for immigration to Mauritius, is the immigration law, and choosing the correct permit or visa. The Mauritian authorities have developed some very friendly migration policies for foreign nationals although there are of course limitations. There are occupation permits, residence permits, a permanent residency program and even a Premium visa that allows foreign nationals to come to Mauritius to live for a year with very few conditions. We also cover the different ways for foreign nationals to get Mauritian citizenship and decipher the many immigration regulations. We try to answer a few key questions and topics on the subject.
PLEASE NOTE. THE LATEST MAURITIUS BUDGET HAS PROPOSED A NUMBER OF AMENDMENTS TO THE LAW THAT WILL GIVE MAURITIUS MORE ADVANTAGES FOR EXPATS. A NUMBER NEVER MAKE IT INTO THE LAW EACH YEAR AND SO WE WILL NOT UPDATE THE ANSWERS BELOW UNTIL THE LAW IS PASSED BY PARLIAMENT.
The topics are broken down below into:
- Immigration to Mauritius
- The Immigration Act Mauritius
- What is a Residence Permit in Mauritius?
- What is an Occupation Permit in Mauritius?
- Who is a Dependent of a Permit Holder?
- What are the different types of Occupation Permit?
- Investor Occupation Permit
- Professional Occupation Permit
- Self-Employed Permit
- What are the different types of Residence Permit in Mauritius?
- Residence permit by purchasing real estate.
- Residence Permit as a retired non-citizen.
- What is a Permanent Residence Permit in Mauritius?
- What is a Premium Visa in Mauritius?
- How can a foreigner get Citizenship in Mauritius?
- What Visa should a foreigner get at the airport in Mauritius?
- How long does it take for a permit to be processed in Mauritius?
- How much does it cost for a permit in Mauritius?
- What is a work permit in Mauritius?
- Is there an online permit application in Mauritius?
- Are original documents needed for the permit application in Mauritius?
- What is a Business Permit in Mauritius?
1 – Immigration to Mauritius
Immigration to Mauritius is not as challenging as many jurisdictions. The law is clear and precise, there are several visas and permits to choose from, and the Economic Development Board (EDB) Guidelines provide a useful overview and breakdown of the documentary requirements. The main options are laid out below, but you will have to choose between a Residence Permit, enabling you to live in Mauritius, and an Occupation Permit allowing you to live and work in Mauritius. As you would imagine, immigration to Mauritius can be attained in several ways and the Mauritian authorities have created migration policies that attract expats. One can buy a property in certain prescribed developments with a minimum investment of USD 375,000. One can retire here, invest here, be employed as a professional or become self-employed. Each of them has their own criteria, with advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation of the foreign national looking to relocate to Mauritius. One can also get a Premium Visa which enables an expat to relocate to Mauritius for a year without the rigmarole of a full permit application.
2 – The Immigration Act Mauritius
The Immigration Act Mauritius contains most of the relevant law for those considering relocating to Mauritius. The Immigration Act Mauritius was amended again in 2020 lowering the threshold for a residence permit through purchasing property from USD 500,000 to USD 375,000. The Immigration Act was also amended to include the increase of the length of the Investor Permit and the Self-Employed Permit from 3 years to 10 years and a Permanent Residence Permit increasing from 10 to 20 years. It gives the legal framework for the various Occupation Permits and Residence Permits, although we would recommend to get the information from the EDB website where the Permit Guidelines are clear and more accessible than trying to find and decipher the statutes.
3 – What is a Residence Permit in Mauritius?
A Residence permit is a written permit authorizing a non-citizen other than a prohibited non-citizen to enter Mauritius and to remain in Mauritius. The residence permit is expressed to be in force for a specified period. As laid out below, the main residence permits are for retired people, for dependents of a permit holder, and for those who get a residence permit from a minimum investment in property of USD 375,000. The general rule is that a residence permit holder is not able to work in Mauritius without a separate occupation permit. The exception to the rule is someone who has got a residence permit by investing in real estate over USD 375,000, who is now able to work and invest in Mauritius without a separate occupation permit. The other permit holders can still invest in Mauritius but needs to be careful how the income is derived.
4 – What is an Occupation Permit in Mauritius?
An Occupation permit is the same as a residence permit, but it also allows the non-citizen to work. There are three main categories of occupation permit holders, an Investor, a Professional and someone self-employed. All three categories of occupation permit have their own set of rules which dictate the conditions of each Occupation Permit. There is also a short-term occupation permit for foreign nationals working here for up to 9 months with allowance for an extension of 3 months.
5 – Who is a Dependent of a Permit Holder in Mauritius?
A Dependent is a family member of a permit holder who is entitled to come to Mauritius and live here as long as the permit holder is authorised. The permit holder can bring a number of family members to Mauritius as Dependents. For an occupation permit, this includes the permit holder’s spouse (including Common Law Partner of the opposite sex), parents, and children, (including stepchildren and lawfully adopted children) under the age of 24. The list of dependents varies slightly depending on the type of permit according to the Guidelines. The dependents are not allowed to work in Mauritius without their own permit. We suggest that you confirm the exact criteria with the relevant authority if you are unsure of a certain family member when you are looking to move forward.
6 – What are the different types of Occupation Permits in Mauritius?
We have listed the main 3 options for Occupation Permits below. These permits allow the holder to live and work in Mauritius and their Dependents to also get a residence permit. Bear in mind that there is also a short-term occupation permit as well.
6(a)– Investor Permit (10 years)
With this permit you need to set up a Mauritian company, and transfer an initial investment amount of at least USD 50,000. This cash injection can be used for almost any business cost from the staff and rent to paying for the accounting and the stock. There are some special types of investor permit, such as the Innovator Permit requiring less investment and more focus on R & D in Mauritius. For renewal the company will need a minimum gross income of MUR 4 million per year from the 3rd year.
6(b) – Professional Permit (3 years)
This allows a non-citizen to work for a company, (that he or she does not own), for a minimum of MUR 60,000 per month or MUR 30,000 per month in the ICT sector. There are many strong local and global companies in Mauritius, from banks and accounting firms to pharmaceutical firms and PSPs. There are progressively more interesting roles in Mauritius with an influx of entrepreneurs and innovative firms. This is all of course currently subject to the effects of lockdowns, quarantine and COVID.
6(c)– Self-employed Permit (10 years)
This requires it to be a one-person business. The self-employed person needs to show a source of funds of USD 35,000 in a local bank account in their name. They will need to have at least two contracts and letters of intent from potential clients to get this permit. For renewal the self-employed person will need at least MUR 800,000 per year from the 3rd year of registration.
7 – What are the different types of Residence Permit in Mauritius?
As explained above, a dependent of a permit holder also gets a residence permit. There are two main ways of getting a residence permit in Mauritius, rather than an occupation permit for the main permit holder.
7(a) – Getting residency in Mauritius by investment in real estate
One of the simplest ways to get residence is to acquire real estate in Mauritius. The basic requirements are that there is a minimum investment in the property of USD 375,000, and that it is in one of the specific schemes that the Economic Development Board (EDB) permits, such as the Property Development Scheme (PDS) or a Smart City. Getting a residence permit through property now automatically allows you to work in Mauritius without needing a separate occupation permit. Expats should only consider buying a property once they know Mauritius well, know where on the island they want to live, and follow the guidance of local experts. We go into more detail into getting residence by investment.
7(b) – Residence Permits as a retired non-citizen
This is a very simple way of moving to Mauritius without having to commit to any investments here. The conditions are that the applicant is 50 years old or more, and is not intending to work or be employed in Mauritius (you can still work for companies abroad). One needs to transfer an average of USD 1,500 per month for the duration of your stay here. There is a lot of focus by developers and the Government to make Mauritius a dream retirement destination, from specialist medical facilities to Senior Living accommodation throughout the island. The ability to scuba-dive, play golf and walk the beaches in numerous locations around the island adds some further draw to expats of retirement age.
8 – What is Permanent Residence Permit in Mauritius?
After 3 years in Mauritius on an occupation permit one can apply for a 20-year Permanent Residence Permit. The permanent residency program doubled to 20 years in 2020 (renewable) as opposed to 10 years as it has been for a long time. One needs to satisfy certain turnover/income requirements to apply for this. This permanent residency program is really popular with foreign nationals looking for stability and longevity for their expat life in Mauritius.
An Investor’s company needs to have had a gross annual income of at least MUR 15m for the 3 preceding years, or an aggregate turnover of MUR 45m for the 3 years immediately preceding the application to become a permanent resident. The investor needs to have already had the occupation permit for the 3 years preceding the application date.
An Investor who puts a minimum investment of USD 375,000 in an activity related to the agricultural-industry, audio-visual, cinema and communication, banking, construction, education, green products and production of green energy, financial services, fisheries and marine resources, Freeport, information technology, infrastructure, insurance, leisure, manufacturing, marina development, tourism, or warehousing can benefit from the permanent residency program.
A Professional needs to have had an occupation permit and a basic monthly salary of at least MUR 150,000 for 3 consecutive years immediately preceding the application to benefit from the permanent residency program..
A Self-employed permit holder needs to have had an occupation permit and an annual business income of at least MUR 3 million for the 3 consecutive years immediately preceding the application to become a permanent resident.
A Retired permit holder needs to have had a residence permit and transferred at least USD 54,000 or its equivalent in freely convertible foreign currency during the period of 3 years preceding the application can become a permanent resident.
An existing PRP holder who satisfies the PRP criteria can apply for the 20-year Permanent Residency Permit instead of their existing 10 year PRP.
9 – What is a Premium Visa in Mauritius?
This is a recent addition to the options allowing people to relocate here on a year’s (renewable) visa. This is not like the other permits which take several weeks. This is approved in a matter of days and there are very few requirements. Ultimately it is meant to serve those who work remotely or who are retired who fancy a change of scene during the global lockdowns and beyond and encourage people to brave the quarantine to come here. Please read this TBI blog article for more information. In short the foreign national and their dependents can come to Mauritius, try it out, continue working for their existing companies around the world. They are allowed to invest in Mauritius but cannot derive income from Mauritius.
10 – How can a Foreigner get Citizenship in Mauritius?
There are a variety of methods to acquire citizenship in Mauritius, currently listed at https://dha.govmu.org/Pages/Services/Citizenship.aspx. We have included below some of the ways that foreign nationals can get citizenship by naturalization, citizenship by registration or registering for Mauritian citizenship by having Mauritian parents. This would then give the foreign national the rights of a Mauritian nationality such as having a Mauritian passport, a Mauritian National Identity Card and even dual citizenship where relevant. The summaries below are simplistic, and we would recommend using local representatives to investigate these options further if any are of interest.
Citizenship by marriage – the foreign spouse of a Mauritian citizen can get Mauritian Citizenship by registration if he/she has resided with his/her spouse under the same conjugal roof in Mauritius for an aggregate period of four years immediately preceding the date of his application
an investor can get Citizenship by naturalisation in Mauritius if he has invested a sum of not less than 500,000 US dollars in Mauritius and he has resided in Mauritius for a continuous period of not less than 2 years preceding the date of his application. Although this immigration regulation exists, the Mauritian authorities will not make this an automatic right for Mauritian citizenship, many hurdles must be overcome.
Citizenship by adoption – As it sounds, a foreign national can get citizenship by adoption if the adoption has been legally effected in Mauritius and the parents are Mauritian citizens.
A child will get Mauritian citizenship by registration if he is born in Mauritius before 1st October 1995, of either Mauritian or foreign parents, or born in Mauritius after 1st October 1995 and if either of his parents is a citizen of Mauritius. Lastly a person born outside Mauritius is a citizen of Mauritius if either of his parents is a citizen of Mauritius by birth.
In addition to these, if a non-citizen has held residence here for a continuous period of 2 years and has invested over USD 5 million dollars or its equivalent in Mauritius, they are eligible to apply for registration/ naturalisation as a citizen of Mauritius. It must be stated that getting Mauritian citizenship is highly unlikely for most people and your best chance will always arrive by being a significant investor in Mauritius or marrying a beautiful local!
11 – What Visa should a foreigner get at the airport?
All information regarding visas and rights of entry is to be found on the Passport and Immigration Office website but in short, the guidance would be as follows. A tourist visa is required for coming as a tourist (naturally), but it is also used for those on retired status and for dependents. The Tourist visa cannot be converted to a business visa, nor into an occupation permit. The business visa is used if you are coming on business, as well as when applying for an occupation permit or when investing in real estate and getting a permit through the purchase.
12 – How long does it take for a Permit to be processed in Mauritius?
Currently the situation is heavily influenced by COVID, quarantine and lockdowns. Before the chaos of the virus began, one would expect 4 -6 weeks for an Occupation permit to be approved in principle. For a non-citizen to buy a property there are a number of hurdles. Firstly, if the buyer is setting up a company to buy the property then this should be done first, most likely a domestic company and this will take around 4 weeks for the company set up and bank account. Once you have the bank account open you can make the application to the EDB for permission to buy the property which will take approximately another 4 weeks. The sales deed can then be signed, if the development has reached the appropriate stage, and then one can apply for permission to get a residence permit from the EDB which can take several weeks.
13 – How much does it cost for an occupation permit or a residence permit in Mauritius?
The EDB processing fees for the Occupation permits are MUR 20,000 per main application and MUR 5,000 for each dependent. The fees for a local expert or agent to apply on your behalf varies greatly. TBI’s fees for applying for the permits are USD 1,000 for the main applicant and USD 600 per dependent. These fees can be lowered when factoring the amount of dependents and if other services such as company formation, purchasing property, or other consultancy or concierge services are required.
14 – What is a work permit in Mauritius?
For expats, the work permit in Mauritius is ultimately the Occupation Permit. There are separate rules for work permits for different types of foreign workers and spouses of Mauritians but for the majority of expats, there are three main work permits (occupation permits) in Mauritius, Investor, Professional and Self-Employed, all detailed above. The Occupation Permit in effect combines the residence permit and work permit into one single permit for the purpose of the expat. The work permit application is the online EDB application for occupation permits and residence permits.
15 – Is it an online application for permits in Mauritius?
Yes, it is an online application. The application is completed on the EDB website. The online application for a permit in Mauritius can be submitted by the applicant directly or it can be done on the applicant’s behalf by a local representative.
16 – Do you need to give original documents for the permit application in Mauritius?
For the initial submission of the online application for a Mauritian permit, you do not need to bring originals, scanned documents suffice as they are all uploaded. Once approval in principle has been given by the EDB, and some further documents are uploaded, then the originals must be brought to the appointment with the EDB.
17 – What is a Business Permit in Mauritius?
There is no such thing as a Business Permit per se in Mauritius, and it is likely to be one of the following items that has been mis-labelled. It could be an occupation permit, i.e. a permit allowing someone to work in Mauritius and in effect, do business here. A Business permit may also mean the licences one needs to trade in Mauritius such as possible licences needed by the Financial Services Commission for example, or trading licences to do activities locally. It could also just mean getting your business Registration Number (BRN) when the company is setup. Whatever the Business permit may mean elsewhere, we suggest taking a good look above and seeking some local advice.
What TBI Business Advisors can do for you
- We will have a Zoom/ Teams call or email exchange to understand your requirements.
- We will advise on the appropriate permit or visa for coming to Mauritius.
- We will send a detailed proposal with clear costs, timeframes and explanations.
- We will assemble the documents and make the application on your behalf.
- We can assist with setting up companies if you are an investor or just creating a business here.
- We can assist with the finding and purchasing of property, and setting up of an entity to purchase through.
- We can assist with relocation tasks such as helping with schools, accommodation, insurance, choosing locations.
- The directors can act as Commissioner for Oaths.
- We can assist with other business advice and can bring in law firms as and when required.