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September 11, 2021

Mauritius unveils more favourable visa options including lowering the cost for residency by investment and is seeing a flurry of new developments positioning the island in the spotlight as borders reopen.

Ranked as the wealthiest country in Africa on a per capita basis, the island nation of Mauritius located in the Indian Ocean, boasts a good economy, friendly business environment, favourable tax landscape and tropical climate and as such is proving increasingly popular with investors from Europe and South Africa, with many often spending up to six months of the year on the island.

With the island nation due to open full for vaccinated people from October 1, the government of Mauritius has recently made it easier for foreigners to obtain a residency visa by lowering the required property investment to US$375,000.

This entitles the purchaser, spouse and children up to the age of 24 years to permanent residency. A further recent change to the programme also allows parents of a Residence Permit holder to also apply for a Residency Permit.

Ranked 10th out of 24 programmes on the Global Residence Programs Index (Henley & Partners), Mauritius’ RBI programme, which takes six months to complete, gives foreigners the opportunity to buy property either to live in or rent out.

So, what are the benefits of acquiring permanent residency in Mauritius? As well as offering a well-regulated banking sector, and one of the most business-friendly environments in Africa (among the top 20 countries worldwide for ease of doing business), Mauritius provides double taxation avoidance agreements and investment promotion and protection agreements with more than 40 countries and offers a favourable tax regime for individuals and companies.

And as the wealthiest country in Africa, it is also economically and politically stable, boasts well-developed infrastructure, a reliable communications network and efficient air access to various international destinations. The island also boasts a well-educated workforce fluent both in England and French, a slew of international schools and universities, and plenty of lifestyle attractions from its crystal-blue waters to its year-round tropical climate.

Introduction of a long-stay visa

For those not quite ready to commit, Mauritius has recently introduced a long-stay visa, allowing visitors to stay for a year subject to proving income from outside sources. Titled the Premium Travel Visa, it’s a great option for those looking to get a feel for the island before committing to permanent residency.

Valid for 12 months, and renewable thereafter, the Premium Visa is a step-up from the 179-day maximum tourist visa. Aimed at digital remote workers who have jobs or their own companies, the visa is the latest in a long line of digital nomad visas being rolled out to attract foreigners to their shores.

Premium Visa allows foreigners to stay for a year, and longer by renewing, and pay little to no personal income tax once Mauritian tax residency is secured. The online application process is simple, takes 48 hours following which an e-visa is issued via email without charge.

Mont Choisy Golf & Beach Estate a popular investment choice

Among the investments on offer is one of Mauritius’ most sought-after estates, Mont Choisy Golf & Beach Estate, a resort located on the popular northern coast of the island in a primie location protected from the elements and within a short walk of Mont Choisy Beach.

The estate is currently in its third phase of construction, with phases 1 and 2 nearly sold out, with South Africans comprising around 30% of buyers, French comprising 50% and the remaining 20% from all over the world and according to Pam Golding Properties Mauritius, which co-runs the rental programme, some 60% of buyers acquire the homes for current or permanent usage in the near future, while 40% are investors/leisure buyers who are likely to use the Permanent Residency to spend a good part of the year on the island, or relocated there permanently.

The units already snapped up include all three spectacularly designed penthouses with views over Brand Baie and the ocean, as well as many of the apartments and Fairway Villas. Remaining properties available include two-bedroom (E430,000) and three-bedroom (E643,000) apartments, villas (from E1.1m to E2.8m) and 11 Sanctuary Villas (starting from E1.1m).

Upon completion, there will be 211 luxury apartments and villas along with tennis course, paddle courts, equestrian facilities, extensive nature walking trails, a sports and wellness centre, shopping mall, solar farm, clubhouse and restaurant, Peter Matkovich 18-hole championship golf course, and an already completed Boulevard and Parkway incorporating piazzas, restaurants, bars and walking tracks.

Located in Mont Choisy Smart City, the city will offer a renowned private health group and an educational hub with various international schools.

Rental returns can range from 3.5% to 6% according to Pam Golding Properties Mauritius which co-runs the estate’s rental programme

Zanzibar joins Mauritius in attractive residency programme

Mauritius isn’t the only east African country offering foreigners investable residency with Zanzibar recently getting in on the residency action. In July 2021, with the aim of luring investment to boost Zanzibar’s economy, the government of Zanzibar unveiled a new tax and residency programme allowing foreigners to live and invest in the Tanzanian island.

Foreigners can acquire a residency permit as an investor upon the purchase of property allowing them and their partner and up to four children under 20 years of age to live in Zanzibar as a non-citizen and claim residency benefits as well as exciting tax benefits (no income tax on worldwide income and income tax halved on local income).