Mauritius as a modern financial services center Mauritius as a modern financial services center | A News and Media article brought to you by Lyra-Consulting

The economy of Mauritius was originally a trading jurisdiction and the Island went out to develop as a Financial Services center and as a prominent gateway to Africa many years ago.

It has since developed a very strong financial services sector as a result with ties to Africa, India and China. The island has attracted many of the major international banks and asset managers. The Mauritius stock exchange is a full member of the World Federation of exchanges and sees a fair amount of activity in all sectors. The jurisdiction provides a variety of different company, trust, foundation, partnership and fund structures and a plethora of service providers.

Mauritius has a sophisticated legal system and many businesses have chosen to locate themselves on the island for a variety of reasons including banks, asset managers, stockbrokers, law firms, trading companies, infrastructure companies, intellectual property related entities and trading companies to name a few. Mauritius enjoys a large double taxation treaty network and has investor protection agreements with many countries which makes it an excellent jurisdiction for holding companies and companies investing into African countries.

Permanent Business Establishment

Over the last few years many clients have been establishing their own physical businesses on the Island. Naturally, the favourable tax rates are a draw card for many of these businesses and as you may know it's vital for international structuring that a business has a place of effective management (“POEM”) in the jurisdiction concerned to ensure that the business can enjoy the Mauritius tax rates and not be subject to any Controlled Foreign Company (“CFC”) legislation or similar.

Highly Skilled Professionals

Mauritius has attracted many professionals in all sorts of industries including financial services, telecoms, IT, farming, food production, hotel and leisure industries to name a few.

High Net Worth Retirees

Many retirees have also moved to the island to enjoy the benefits of the environment and, for many, it is an ideal Island get away which features in many luxury developments and is a playground for yachting and watersports.

Passports vs Residence

Passports have become of late a big business internationally, but many people are not necessarily looking to obtain a second or third passport, they may just require residence rights and Mauritius has several opportunities which allow one to obtain a permit for residence which can also include the investor’s immediate family.

There are several options available and professional advice should be sought for anyone interested. Below is a brief introduction to these options:

Investor permits

An investor in Mauritius is defined as a shareholder and a director of a Global business category one company (“GBC1”) which pays an effective tax rate of three (3) percent and who is in possession of an investor permit.

The process involves the investor making an initial transfer of USD 100,000 into the account of the GBC1 company under which the application will be made. There is a requirement that the business should generate an annual turnover of at least MUR 2 million for the first year and a cumulative turnover of at least MUR 10 million for the subsequent two years.

The following investors can also apply for a residence permit under the following conditions:

  • They are an existing investor operating but not registered with the Board of Investment having a net asset value of at least USD 100,000 and a cumulative turnover of MUR 12 million during the preceding three years with an annual turnover of at least MUR 2 million in any one year.
  • An individual who has inherited a business in the case of death or incapacity provided that the net asset value of the business is at least USD 100,000 with a cumulative turnover of MUR 12 million with a turnover of at least MUR 2 million in any one year.
  • An investor wishing to import high-tech machinery and equipment as part of the investment of USD 100,000, under a “qualifying activity”, must transfer a minimum of USD 25,000 and the remaining balance in terms of the high-tech machinery and equipment.
  • An investor conducting research and development in highly innovative sectors. Applicants will be required to make initial investment of you USD 40,000 and there are additional conditions.
Professionals requiring a residence permit.
  • A “professional” is an expatriate employed by company in Mauritius, this can include a Global Business Category 1 Company to deliver professional services. The basic salary should exceed MUR 60,000 monthly and for a professional in the ICT sector, it should exceed MUR 30,000 monthly.
Self-employed
  • The income from the business activity should exceed MUR 600,000 annually for the first two years of activity with an annual investment of USD 35,000. The annual income requirement is MUR 1,200,000 from the third year of activity.
Retirement

To be eligible for a residence permit as a retired noncitizen the applicant should be 50 years of age and must undertake to transfer at least MUR 40,000 annually to their local bank account. The total amount transferred over three years should be USD120,000.

As a retired non-citizen, one is not allowed to engage in any business activities in Mauritius. One can however invest in a business as a minority shareholder the investor can also act as a non-executive director of a Mauritius Company provided they are not paid director’s fees.

The Law does not provide for a minimum number of days per year to stay in Mauritius and an occupation permit or residence permit. However, to be considered as “resident” for tax purposes you should stay in Mauritius for a minimum of 183 three calendar days per calendar year.

Permanent residence permit

The permanent residence permit in Mauritius grants non-citizens the right to reside in the country for a period of 10 years which is renewable thereafter, subject to the individual’s meeting the predefined conditions.

Investing in Mauritian property is already a well-known and well marketed route for obtaining a permanent resident permit.

An investor having an occupation permit for three years and whose company’s turnover exceeds MUR 15 million annually or an investor having invested USD 500,000 in a qualifying activity may apply for permanent residence.

The list of qualifying activities includes:

Agriculture, audio visual, cinema and communication, banking, construction, education, environment friendly and green energy products, financial services, fisheries, marine resources, Freeport, information technology, infrastructure, insurance, leisure, manufacturing, marina development, tourism, warehousing.

Recently the permanent residence permit has been extended to foreigners who have invested a minimum of USD 500,000 into a qualifying activity eligible for the parent residence permit which may include an investment into an initial public offering in brackets (“IP0”) for a company listing on the stock exchange of Mauritius.

The following parties may apply for permanent residence:
  • A professional having held an occupation or work permit for three years immediately preceding who has a basic monthly salary of at least MUR 150,000 during the entire three-year period.
  • A self-employed person having held in occupation permit for three years and whose income exceeded MUR 3 million every year during each of these three years.
  • A retired non-citizen having a residence permit for three years and having transferred to Mauritius USD 40,000.

If you are eligible for a permit your spouse and children under 18 years are eligible for permanent residence. An unmarried spouse will not obtain permanent residence but will obtain a residence permit renewable every year.

After 10 years, the permanent residence is renewed for another 10 years provided the conditions are met.

[Buying property for residence in Mauritius investing into an IPO on the Mauritius stock exchange.]

Conclusion

In conclusion Mauritius has provided a wide range of opportunities to obtain residence and to attract the business people, investors, professionals and wealthy retirees to settle in Mauritius and to grow its economy and ensure its ongoing sustainability.

By Alexandra Burger
Managing Director, Lyra Consulting

Alexandra is an admitted attorney and notary with over 15 years’ experience in international advisory and structuring, banking and financial services.

Please note that the contents of this article are relevant at the date of writing and may be subject to change.