Mauritius is an excellent destination; either for short or long term. One of the top performing economies of Africa, the island is viewed as a very interesting business jurisdiction as it offers a set of modern and simple features for business creation and management. Beyond the cliché of a ‘low tax’ jurisdiction, the island has lots to offer. For instance, investors can get residency permit under specific scheme called Occupation Permit.
Besides business incentives, Mauritius is one of the best places to live on earth. Breathtaking natural beauty and stability at all levels, whether its climatic, political or social. The island is known for its welcoming population which is itself a blend of cultures from different areas of the world – living in perfect peace and harmony. The quality of life and the business environment makes Mauritius one of the favourite destinations for those who want to relocate to a peaceful and safe country, while still enjoying an avant-garde business environment.
In every relocation project, residency permit is an essential element. Mauritius makes no exception, but facilitates things through different schemes, addressed to almost every category of foreigner choosing paradise island as their new home. Practically anyone who wants to set base on the island is able to do so. However, we have been intelligent enough to bring an almost selective approach, opening the doors further to holes of capital and expertise. So do you go about obtaining a residency permit for you and your family?
Every residency permit has a base. This is the foundation on which your permit shall rest. It can be investment / business, employment, profession, retirement, studies and also marriage. The first element pushes your residency procedure in the appropriate category (or scheme) and from there you have to respect the specific conditions attached. As mentioned earlier, Mauritius opened its doors to foreigners, but in a rather selective and prudent fashion.
For this article, we will focus on the residency scheme available to investors relocating to Mauritius. Investors may elect for a residency permit under the Occupation Permit scheme. There are three categories of Occupation Permit: Investor, Self-employed, Professional and Retired Non-Citizens. The applications and processing are done through the Board of investment. However the deciding and issuing authority is the passport and Immigration office, acting under the Prime Minister’s office. The Board of Investment acts as a one-stop-shop to coordinate and facilitate (?) foreign investment in the country.
Foreigners who want to invest in Mauritius are able to apply and obtain Occupation permits based on certain that their business needs to satisfy.
To get this permit, the following conditions should be met:
- Show a minimum investment of USD100,000 (Notice the word ‘Show’)
- Present financial forecasts with a minimum turnover of MUR4 million a year for the next five years.
There are many underlying statements which you will not find on official documentation or websites. You might read and understand that it is easy to get an Occupation Permit. Websites and official documentations are clear: you are literally invited to Mauritius. However, the reality on the ground is different. Let’s not be on the abstract side. Below is a step-by-step account of procedures you need to follow, as an investor.
First you need to have your company already incorporated and it only after that you can start your permit application procedures. Every company shall have at least one resident director. At the time of incorporation you are not resident, which means you need to find a resident director to fit the law. Bear in mind that you are not required to have a shareholder for this purpose, unless the business industry and licensing requirements specifically ask for this (Eg: in some tourism businesses).
Second (this is clearly mentioned), you need to have your USD100,000 already transferred to your Mauritian company’s bank account.
Having a bank account means that there are several other formalities you ought to undertake; for example obtaining your Trade licence from the municipality (or District council for rural regions) where your business will be situated. To get the trade licence, you need to present your rent agreement, the building permit (BLP) of the building, ID card of the owners and a series of other documents. You see where I’m coming from? Sounds complicated, and it is for those who are not familiar to local procedures.
To recap, here are the steps prior to even apply for the permit:
- Have your company incorporated
- Choose your location, battle with the owner and have your rent agreement signed
- Bring all papers to the municipality and get your Trade Licence
- Bring Trade Licence and company documents to the bank and open your bank account
- Wire transfer your USD100,000 to the bank account
Now, all this implies that you are present in Mauritius, paying your accommodation and foods while making all these happen. We are not expecting any unexpected things here (the building may not fit the purpose for the authorities, for instance). Let’s hope for the best. Time wise, if everything is right, we are referring to these delays:
- 1 week for company formation, including several trips to Port Louis
- Xxx days to identify the right business location
- Xxx to finalise a rent agreement & get the actual papers
- 1,2 weeks to get your company’s bank account
In the meantime, you also need to tackle the business plan write up and financial forecasts. The Board of investment has provided a guideline to help those not familiar with this type of document. But again, are you really aware of the realities of Mauritius and can you reasonably pretend to write a coherent business plan for a business on a new land? Anyway, let us assume you replied ‘yes’.
Once the above are completed, you need to
- Undertake your medical tests (Full list available on request),
- Get the doctor sign the required forms,
- Ask your bank to issue an office cheque for government fees
- Take nice passport photos
- Have all your original birth certificates and other documents ready
- Have all your company documents ready.
Personal documents are : original birth certificate (whole family) and marriage certificate, original academic qualifications (diplomas, etc.), your CV, and any other documents that prove your identity, your relationship with those presented as your dependents and also your track record so far.
Scan all the above and file through the online system of the Board of Investment and ensure you have input the desired date and time of appointment . Once appointment is confirmed, take all originals and 1 copy to file the physical application.
Now the tricky part, you are allowed 120 days of business visa in a year. You can only apply for an Occupation Permit while on a business visa. In general it means that you have 120 days to complete all the above, if you want to do it yourself. And if everything goes as planned. Did I mention that this is also the time you are expected to search for a new house, a new vehicle and find a suitable school for that little angel? How about your pet; is your friend still blocked somewhere in the absence of a proper import permit?
We have been in this field for more than 20 years now and we can save you time and money. First, we can handle your company incorporation remotely, before you even land in Mauritius. We will provide you with a nominee director (with a specific contract de voiding him or all rights and powers in your business and a resignation letter that will be activated once you become resident). And then, we help you avoid the sensible issue of finding, hastily, a business premises. Your registered office address is provided by us and so is your trade Licence (or any other special license that your business requires). Only then you can take your flight to Mauritius, open your bank account (we can even handle this remotely), and transfer your investment.
In meantime, you will already have your business plan ready. And the online application for Occupation Permit already in the electronic circuit at the BOI. You already have a reference number attached to the application,
Next step, reach Mauritius, do your medical tests, get the office cheque for government fees and we are set to meet the BOI. In around 10 workings days, the Passport office issues your occupation permit. At the end of the day, you have all papers in hand and in better mental state to focus on the technical and strategic angles of your business. You don’t even need 120 days on the Island if using our services. Appointing a professional business consultant gives you several advantages during the startup; market intelligence, technical expertise, and other similar competences help you settled down faster and in better dispositions. On the relocation side, we also assist in ensuring the comfort of your family. This includes services like school enrollment for your children, home search, vehicle purchase or rental, connections to utilities like phone and Internet and other similar aspects.
Once the setting-up phase is complete, Gibson & Hills Group can deploy a complete range of services to assist you in different areas of your business. You may visit our website, www.gibsonandhills.com, for an insight.
We will tackle other residency permit in future articles.
If you want to create a business, relocate your existing one or otherwise invest in Mauritius, feel free to contact our team. We will take care of your business and your personal comfort as well.
(c) http://www.gibsonandhills.com, May 2016