The Best of Both Worlds?

By Dr Ludovic C. Verbist, Ph.D., LLM, TEP, Managing Director, AAMIL Group, and Melanie Goodman (UK Solicitor), Business Development Manager, AAMIL (Swiss) S. A. (19/09/2017)

According to the Africa 2016 Wealth Report released by New World Wealth, Mauritius is home to the wealthiest individuals in Africa. This poses the question as to why the world’s elite is moving to this small African island.

The population of Mauritius is ethnically diverse and peaceful, and stands at 1.3 million. French, Creole and English are widely spoken. The infrastructure is well-developed, the island is well-connected by fast internet and daily flights to many places around the world. This, coupled with advanced and reliable health care services, entices businesspeople and retired persons to invest and move their families here. The Mauritian economy has strong ties with India, Asia and, increasingly, with Africa.

The climate in Mauritius is a tropical delight. A carpet of beautiful flora and fauna cloak the island providing the ideal backdrop to the host.

However, it is recent legislative changes that have most significantly propelled the expansion of the real estate market on the island.

Real Estate Purchase

For some 12 years, a non-citizen could only purchase residential property under the Property Development Scheme (previously the Integrated Resource and Real Estate Schemes). An investment of at least US$500,000 or its equivalent gives a person the right to residency with their dependants.

The Mauritian Government recently amended the island’s Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act 1975 to make it possible for overseas property investors to buy apartments anywhere on the Island, in any building or development that is more than two storeys high, and not built on leasehold property (Pas Géométriques). The minimum investment has been reduced to MUR6 million (US$170,000). Foreign buyers still need to register with the Mauritius Board of Investment (BOI) and must obtain a security clearance.

Other Residency Schemes

Foreign nationals wishing to work, live or retire in Mauritius may explore various avenues, either through the Occupation Permit (OP), which is a combined work and residence permit, the Residence Permit (RP), or the Permanent Residence Permit (PRP). Applications are usually processed within three months. 

A non-citizen can apply for an OP/RP under any of the following four categories:

•           Investor: 

1.         Initial transfer of US$100,000 and the business activity should generate an annual turnover of at least MUR2 million (US$58,623) for the first year and a cumulative turnover of at least MUR10 million (US$293,274) for the subsequent two years.

2.         Existing investors with a net asset value of at least US$100,000 and a cumulative turnover of MUR12 million (US$352,080) during the preceding three years with a turnover of at least MUR 2 million in any one year.

3.         Any individual who has inherited a business in the case of a death or due to the incapacity of the previous investor, provided that the net asset value of the business is at least US$100,000 and a cumulative turnover of MUR 12 million, with a turnover of at least MUR2 million in any one year.

•           Professional: Basic salary should exceed MUR60,000 (US$1,758) monthly.

•           Self-Employed: Income from business activity should exceed MUR600,000 (US$17,517) annually for the first two years of activity with an initial investment of US$35,000.

Residency in Mauritius can also be attained by incorporating a Category 1 Global Business Company or a domestic company, which is entitled to working permits for its expatriate staff and residency for the expatriate and his family. Where dependents wish to work, they also need to apply for a work permit.

•           Retired:

1.         Expatriates aged 50 years or over must transfer at least US$40,000 annually to a local Mauritian bank account, or its equivalent in any freely convertible foreign currency.

2.         Submission of proof of an initial transfer of at least US$40,000 or its equivalent in freely convertible foreign currency at time of application.

The OP is granted for a maximum period of three years, renewable thereafter subject to established criteria.

To apply for a PRP, one must have resided in Mauritius for three years immediately preceding the date of application, with specific conditions attached to each category.

In conclusion, it appears that, with a more flexible residency application system, the attraction of Mauritius for both economically active and retired people lies in its unique position where a tropical island meets with a booming commercial hub.