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.

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