Dream Bridge and Ring Road

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The Dream Bridge looking from the sea toward Port Louis

In a few days time, the Government of Mauritius will start acquiring land from families who live in Les Salines for the building of a 400 meter bridge over the harbour.  For those of you familiar with Port Louis, Les Salines is the area to the right of the Caudan Waterfront in the artist impression above. The proposed Dream Bridge, first conceived in 1996, seems to be finally on its way.  It is part of the government plan to relieve traffic congestion in and around Port Louis. The Ring Road is already under construction, as anyone who has travelled recently on the freeway between Pailles and Moka will tell you.  There is the wickedest 40 km/h speed camera in the section under construction where the ring road meets the motorway.

In the map below, the blue dotted line is the planned Dream Bridge while the green dotted line is the tunnel that I believe is already under construction.

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The third part of the decongestion plan for Port Louis has been underway for the last 5 years.  It is called Ebene.  The construction of this cluster of office towers has caused a migration of business and government out of Port Louis to Ebene, which puts the place of work closer to the homes of the majority of those employees.  Traffic congestion is evident in this area already, if you have tried coming up from the Flic en Flac on the new ‘short cut’ to Vacaos and Phoenix.  So once we solve one problem, another arises.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I think the roads are getting better really fast.  The new double highway from Pamplemousses to Grand Bay makes my commute from Piton to Port Louis a pleasure.  The new connection from the West Coast mentioned above, and the flyover to the Caudan Waterfront are welcome additions. 

I am not sure who designs some of these flyovers or off-ramps.  They seem to be very rudimentary and incapable of expansion.  But this is not my field of expertise so feel free to shoot me down.

Oh, I nearly forgot…these will be the first toll roads in Mauritius, so prepare for a frenzy:

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The Board of Investment talks to South African Residents in Mauritius.

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First, some background:

On March 19, 2012, the First Secretary (Political) of the South African High Commission in Mauritius, Ivan Vosloo, wrote a note to our Minister of Finance (and deputy PM), Xavier Duval. In this note, Mr Vosloo showed tables that revealed a dramatic drop in the number of Residence Permits held by South Africans.

Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of this note, but the numbers revealed a drop from about 1 300 permits to about 380.

Xavier Duval took immediate action and the result was a forum hosted by the Board of Investment (BOI), inviting South African permit holders and other interested parties to meet with Ivan Vosloo, Ken Poonoosamy (MD, BOI) and Carole Rehaut (Manager International Business Services).

The forum was held on two days with invitees given the choice of which one to attend. The first was on Friday 13 April and the second on Monday 16 April. Superstition forced me to attend the Monday meeting. I was very impressed at the can-do attitude of Mr Poonoosamy and his team, and I am filled with excitement that Mauritius is keen to attract intellectual and financial capital from South Africa. More keen than they have seemed in the past.

The Meetings:

I have tried to summarise the key points gleaned from my attendance and also from conversations with others who attended the Friday meeting. If I have left out anything or got something wrong, please post a comment to this effect.

Permanent Residence Permits
Permanent Residence Permits (PRP) are not permanent and should be renamed.
A view was expressed that expatriates holding three year occupation permits and running their own businesses have a high level of insecurity as renewals are not guaranteed, and criteria keep changing.
Mr Poonoosamy gave the message that once you have a PRP you are safe for ten years. The BOI will have no further interest until it comes time for renewal. Except for retirees. They need to bring the $40 000 into the country for their subsistence each year. Lump sum transfers will be considered, but don’t get clever and send the funds straight out again.

Occupation Permits
I asked if applicants for Occupation Permits (OP) were subject to minimum salary / turnover / investment amounts as well as a subjective evaluation based on the type of activity proposed. We got a bit of a mixed answer here. Firstly, the BOI discretionary committee seems to have been done away with. Mr Poonoosamy said that the BOI realised it was not up to them to evaluate whether a proposal had a good chance of failure or not. It was the investor who took the business risk. Good so far. Then someone asked why their application to start a Scuba Diving Operation had been stifled. Mr Poonoosamy’s reply was that it was up to the Tourism Authority to vet that type of application and report back to the BOI. Mr Vosloo said it was normal for any country to regulate professionals via internal professional structures. So the bottom line is that if you can achieve the minimum financial targets, you may also have to jump over a few more hurdles, depending on what you are planning to do.

Citizenship
Citizenship by naturalisation can be considered after you have been resident in Mauritius for five years in a row. The word Continuous in the law came under discussion and Ken Poonoosamy told us that if a non citizen were resident in Mauritius for an aggregate amount of 182 days in any year and was in possession of a tax residency certificate to this effect, that an application could be submitted for citizenship. In addition to the time test, the Prime Minister’s Office would also like to have evidence and third party references to attest to the fact that the individual has made a significant contribution to the country. Mr Poonoosamy pointed out that the processing of Citizen applications was the responsibility of the Prime Ministers’ Office but that the BOI could help with the submissions relating to economic contribution. It should be noted that granting citizenship by naturalisation is discretionary.

Work Permits
The following Residence Permit Holders (including PRP Holders) need to apply for work permits (if they want to work) subject to the same standards as those applying for Occupation Permits under the categories of Employee, Professional or Investor:

  • Spouses of all permit holders including holders of Retirement and Permanent Residence Permits
  • Children over the age of 18
  • IRS and RES occupiers

Attendees suggested that Mauritius could benefit from a relaxation of these criteria. IRS and RES owners who clearly have already invested a fair amount in the country should be able to work, invest and grow the economy as they see fit. There is also a large untapped pool of entrepreneurial and intellectual capacity being wasted by making it difficult for spouses to get work permits.

Children over the age of 18 starting out in their lives find it difficult to achieve the required minimums. If the child can’t stay, sometimes the whole family leaves, along with its investment, capital and jobs created.

School Fees
It was a concern that expatriates must pay more for their children in private schools than locals. Some believe it is in contravention of Mauritian law. When we arrived in Mauritius and were struggling to establish ourselves, discriminatory school-fees really upset me.

Registration Fees for IRS and RES
It costs $75 000 to register an IRS and $25 000 to register an RES, regardless of the total value. Mr Poonoosamy said that they were aware of the inconsistency and a possible change might be seen after the next budget.

Property Ownership
This was probably the most emotive issue expressed by the Expats present. Many said that the possibility of purchasing an apartment held no value to them as they were used to living in large houses, and in any event there were few of these on the coast where they preferred to live. They expressed the need to be able to purchase or build houses to their own taste and budget, rather than have to take what was on offer via RES or IRS.

State Land
It was asked if apartments on State Land (beachfront) would be available to PRP holders. Mr Poonoosamy said that this would not be the case.

Existing Apartments with a Foreign Interest
It was asked whether apartment schemes on State Land that could have a foreign interest were legal. Mr Poonoosamy said that such schemes were illegal. He was then asked if existing schemes were illegal and he said that these schemes were set up using loopholes in the law. The loopholes were now closed but that the schemes that had come into existence before the law changed would have to be accepted

Not Enough South Africans in Mauritius

In July 2009 I posted an article titled “Too Many South Africans in Mauritius?” It was controversial probably because many did not notice the question mark at the end of the title, or did not read what I considered to be a fairly balanced view. Then again, maybe my idea of balance is not someone else’s.

At the time, Mauritius had lowered the minimum salary an expatriate needed to earn to get a residence permit. It was down to $1000 (Rs30 000) per month. This allowed a lot of expats, not just from South Africa, but also Europe and the Sub Continent to form local companies with a single employee – the expatriate. The company would pay the Rs30 000 salary and they would qualify for a permit.

At the same time, a large contingent of South Africans, victims of a weakening economy, high taxation, declining public services, legislated discrimination – called Black Empowerment – and who had become fearful of the future, expressed an interest in settling in Mauritius.

So, while there was still a ‘Right of Admission Reserved’ sign on the front door of Mauritius Inc, it was not that hard to get in. And get in they did. Residence permits from South Africa climbed to a high of about 1300 I am told. That is one per family equating to about 5000 SA Expats.

Then there was a whiplash negative reaction against the SA Expatriate communities that had sprung up in Black River and Grand Bay, and to South Africans in general who personified the Expatriate So Many of us Fear: Someone who threatens the Mauritian lifestyle, labour market, property market and general well-being. No matter how irrational this fear is, it is still there.

The result was that the Authorities raised the bar to entry, and fudged the criteria. They made the minimum salary Rs75 000 ($2500). Then they lowered it to Rs45 000 ($1500) per month. In addition to the salary hurdle, the Expat applicant also submits to a review of whether the skills are needed in Mauritius. There are no guidelines to this and it seems to be a moving target. Expats who qualify by salary can still fail by job category. We regularly contact the BOI for guidance before submitting an application.

And predictably, the expats who scraped in on Rs30 000 per month could not afford the increase and packed up and went home, or to greener pastures. Apparently the number of South African Expatriate Permits is down to 350 (from the 1300). The Minister of Finance has noticed this, and called a colleague of mine to ask if there was a problem.

The Ministry of Finance (through the Board of Investment) together with the SA High Commission is holding two sessions with Mauritius based South African Expatriates to try and find out what is wrong. Since our business also involves setting up Expatriates in Mauritius, I am going to see what they have to say.

My next post will report on that meeting.

Acquiring a Guest-House in Mauritius

When thinking about moving to Mauritius, the first problem to solve is how to sustain oneself in the country. A fair number have dreamed of establishing a guest-house or boutique hotel. Up to now, there has been no guidance as to how a foreigner may set up a business like this.

The Board of Investment (BOI) recently published guidelines to assist foreign investors wishing to establish a guest-house. Please note that these are guidelines, not rules, and should be addressed in the spirit they are intended.

Here they are:

There are two types of investment that would qualify: Building a new guest-house or renovating an existing building to be a guest house. I will treat them separately:

New Guest-House

Must have at least 12 rooms. Rooms are not defined, but using the descriptions used in hotels, I would suggest that they mean 12 bedrooms.

The investment must be at least R2m per room.

The standards should be aimed towards the luxury end of the spectrum. No Back-Packer’s please.

The buildings should be eco-friendly.

The BOI will take the project proposal to the Tourist Authority for approval before reverting to the applicant. It is therefore important to make sure that the project adheres to the Tourist Authority requirements such as 24 hour security, cameras, safes, fire extinguishers etc.

Line of least resistance: Getting hold of leasehold property (beach front property) is difficult for a foreigner. It would be worth considering teaming up with a Mauritian partner, where the partner contributes the land and the foreigner contributes the buildings, for example. This is my view, not part of the guidelines.

Renovated Guest-House

The BOI will consider applications to invest in existing guest-houses only if they are to be renovated at a minimum cost of Rs500 000 per room ($17 000).

All other guidelines apply as above.

Competence in Managing A Guest-House

The investor must demonstrate that they have the competence to manage the guest house, or employ a competent person or company.

A non-citizen will only be permitted to manage the guest house if they are tied up in the investment at either the Rs 2m level per room for new developments, or Rs 500 000 per room for renovated guest-houses.

They must demonstrate their foreign track record in this industry.

A reasonable number of local employees should be employed.

*******

So here we see that the BOI has set some clear minimum standards, but that the detail is pretty vague. This is a good thing as every project should be evaluated on its merits.

I have to assume that any foreigner wishing to purchase or lease land with or without improvements is part of the deal. If this is the case, this establishes an exciting route for the right person to add something new to the Mauritius Tourism Industry.

The Invest-Hotel Scheme (IHS)

Almost without exception, the first thing a person thinks about when discussing residential property in Mauritius is a house on the beach.   But nearly all of the land touching the high water mark is owned by the government and leased to Mauritians on a 60 year basis.

IRS and RES schemes involve freehold ownership of land and improvements.  This therefore excludes them from building on leasehold land.  There are RES developments that have waterfront exposure (Anahita and La Balise for example) but these are because part of the free hold land touches water.   There is one RES that I know that found some beachfront land that is freehold.  It is in Tamarin, and is probably the most desirable property available on this basis.

For the majority of non citizens looking for property in Mauritius, RES and IRS may enjoy sea views or proximity, but the dream of having a boat at the bottom of the garden is just that.  A dream.

However…

The Invest-Hotel scheme is one way that foreigners can acquire title to the improvements that are built on leasehold land.

The way it works is as follows:

  • A developer (Mauritian or Foreign) acquires or plans to acquire leasehold or freehold property at least 1 Ha (10 000 square meters) in size and decides to put up a hotel on this site.  By the way, a hotel is roughly defined as something that provides accommodation with a food and beverage service.
  • Gets a letter of intent from the Tourism Authority
  • The developer submits application to the Board of Investment (BOI)
  • Presents the project to the BOI Technical Committee and organises a site visit
  • The developer receives a letter of approval from the BOI
  • Obtains permits and licenses from the relevant authorities (lots of work here)
  • Transfers land rights to the IHS Company
  • Forms a Syndicat des Copropriétaires (co-ownership syndicate or body corporate), provides a bank guarantee and submits other documents as per the BOI letter of approval.  This step is really important as it protects the buyer of the unit from losing his property if the hotel goes belly up.
  • Finally receives the IHS certificate from the BOI
  • Transfers the land rights to the Syndicat des Copropriétaires
  • Starts selling the units to citizens or non- citizens.  Off-plan is allowed.
Right, that’s the developers side of things.  Now let’s have a look at how to purchase a unit:
  • If purchased off-plan, payments will be phased according to a set formula.  As each stage is paid, those works become the property of the buyer as follows:
    • a. signing of the deed: 25%
    • b. completion of the foundation works:10%
    • c. completion of roofed-in phase: 35%
    • d. completion: 25%
    • e. availability of premises: 5%

This phased payment with transfer of ownership prevents unscrupulous developers from selling or pledging the property to third parties during that period, and it also means that if the developer folds, the improvements and rights to the land remain with the buyer.

Some other conditions:

  • Stand alone villas cannot be sold as one unit for less than $500 000
  • There is no minimum price on the sale of rooms.
  • No residence rights come with this deal
  • The owner can only stay in their unit for a maximum of 45 days in any 12 months.
So what the IHS scheme achieves where the IRS and RES do not, is that it gives an investor title to something possibly on the beach.  It also creates the opportunity for the investor to generate an income from this investment, and to participate in the tourism industry of Mauritius.

Residence in Mauritius – Clearing the Confusion

There is a huge amount of confusion about what form of residence you can get.  I will try to clarify this as best I can.

For those in a hurry, here is the short summary:

  • Residence Permit – You can live but not work in Mauritius
  • Occupation Permit – You can live and work in Mauritius but your spouse gets a Residence Permit.
  • Permanent Residence Permit – You and your spouse may live and work in Mauritius unless you got this using the Retirement Scheme method, in which the retiree cannot work and the spouse needs a work permit.
  • IRS and RES owners get a Residence Permit not a Permanent Residence Permit (sorry).
If we go back in time, anyone wanting to work in Mauritius required two permits, a residence permit and a work permit.  You needed the former before the latter was issued.  Both required renewal when they expired.

Then the government combined these two into an Occupation Permit.  The holder can live and work in Mauritius for three years and only apply for one permit renewal on expiry. 

The creation of the Occupation Permit did not replace the residence permit or the work permit.  These two things still exist.

IRS and RES Residency
Now let’s have a look at owners of IRS and RES properties that cost more than $500 000.  They, and their immediate family are provided with RESIDENCE for the duration of their ownership.  Do not think for one minute that this is the same thing as a Permanent Residence Permit.   If anyone (the husband or wife or children under the age of 18) want to work, they have to individually apply for a work permit.  No Permanent Residence Permit is available under this scheme.  I say this twice because nearly anyone trying to sell you a property will fudge this.

Retirement Scheme
There is a provision in law that if the minister is satisfied that a non citizen can sustain himself from funds obtained from outside of Mauritius, a residence permit may be granted.  The Retirement Scheme is simply an efficient version of this law.  Any retiree who is at least 50 and who brings $40 000 into the country each year may get a residence permit for three years, and thereafter a Permanent Residence Permit.   

For those who want to live like this but are under the age of 50, I suggest you make an application for residence because you can sustain yourself.  I don’t know of any approvals of this nature, but I see no reason for them to say no.

Please note that while the spouse does not need to bring $40 000 in each year, she may not work either.  For that she would need to apply for a work permit.  The Principal Retiree cannot apply for a work permit.  He would need to qualify from scratch for an occupation permit if he wanted to work.

Occupation Permit
As long as the bread winner meets one of the criteria for an Occupation Permit, then a permit for three years will be granted.  The spouse and family under 18 each will be provided with a Residence Permit and will hence not be allowed to work.  After three years, and on condition that the higher thresholds are sustained for each of those three years, then a Permanent Residence Permit may be applied for.

Permanent Residence Permit
This is an Occupation Permit on steroids.  The breadwinner AND his wife may work except if this permit was granted under the Retirement Scheme Conditions in which case NEITHER can work. REVISION:  My previous sentence, although in my opinion correct in terms of the law is not applied as I assumed.  THE REALITY is that the spouse still needs to apply for a 3 year work permit. END REVISION.
The Permanent Residence Permit lasts ten years, and if you want to, you may purchase an apartment to live in.  The annual standards for income apply each year for the next ten. 

Any time spent in Mauritius under a residence permit (or occupation permit) will contribute towards the time required for an application for citizenship.

Is that any clearer now?   If not, I have a newer post that adds some meat to the bones.  It was posted on 18 April, 2012.

Permanent Residence Permits and Buying Property

My previous posts and other websites have helped make the ‘Apartment for Permanent Residents’ Scheme a bit confusing.  I will try and clear things up as best I can. 

First thing you need is a Permanent Residence Permit (PRP)

  1. A PRP can be given to you if you own a company in Mauritius that has earned more than Rs15 million each year for the previous three years without changing your occupation permit.  Gross earnings are the measure here, not net.
  2. A PRP can be given to you if have been self employed in the previous three years with the same occupation permit and have earned at least Rs3 million each year.
  3. A PRP can be given to you if you, as an employee with the same occupation permit have earned at least Rs150 000 per month for the previous 36 months.
  4. If you have had a Retirement Permit for the previous 3 years, and have transferred $40 000 or equivalent from a foreign bank account to your domestic bank account in each of these years, then you can get a PRP.  And don’t try and get clever and transfer it out as soon as it has come in.
  5. You will be expected to continue meeting the above standards  throughout the next ten years.  If you have been good, then you will be allowed to renew your permit.
  6. A retiree will not be allowed to work in Mauritius with this new PRP.  That means no salary and no director’s fees.  Dividends from investments are allowed, obviously.
Good.  So now you have your fresh new PRP and can go house hunting.  But what house?

Well, none actually!  

But you can have an apartment in a building with at least two stories above the ground floor.  No tricks here, please.  A Notary will have to certify that the building is an apartment block and that it has at least two floors above ground.

Earlier communications stipulated that the apartment block must have been built in the last year, but I have scoured the new regulations and this seems to have fallen away.

You are also allowed to buy one unit only, for personal residence purposes.   I assume that this does not allow you to rent it out.  They were very clear about the word Personal.

You are strictly forbidden to speculate in property.  What I guess they mean by this is that if you buy off plan and sell before it is complete, this would be frowned upon.   Or even if you buy and sell without living in the unit.  Not sure here but you get the drift.

If you want to sell the property, you will need to get the permission of the Government who may impose conditions on this sale.  I don’t know what they mean here.  Let’s wait and see.

The good thing about this new scheme is that it is another way to acquire property in Mauritius in addition to the RES, IRS and IHS schemes.  And it also means that accommodation could be more affordable to a lot of expats looking to live in Mauritius.  It is also possible that the conditions will evolve over time, to allow for more meaningful property investment.

Another good thing is that the spouse of the PRP holder may work in Mauritius without a work or occupation permit.   

It is not clear whether the spouse of a retired PRP may work or not but it looks like it is possible.  It is also not clear what happens to the spouse and children if the main holder of the PRP dies.


The best thing of all is that the PRP gives a certain group of expatriates the security that their permit expires in ten years, rather than three.  This will make them keener to become part of the fabric of Mauritius.

The Hidden Headaches of IRS and RES Schemes

 The Grown Child Headache

The owner of a unit in either an IRS or RES scheme that is purchased at a price of USD500 000 or more has the rights to residence in Mauritius for as long as he owns the unit.

His immediate family (wife and children) also have the right to live in Mauritius until they reach the age of 18 or are permanently enrolled as students in Mauritius.

Trusts and Companies that hold a unit as above, may confer these rights to an individual (and immediate family as above).

This creates a problem for many buyers who have grown-up children they wish to relocate to Mauritius with them.

One solution is to start a company with the grown child as investor or employee. But this had better be a real company with real income or the rights may be taken away as soon as the financials move from the Mauritius Revenue Authority to the Board of Investment who control these Occupation permits.

The company has to be a GBL1 company (effectively taxed at 3% or 15% depending on its operations) or a local company (taxed at 15%) and the income of the child will be taxed at 15% unless it is dividend income.

Capital Gains Tax Headache:

The Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) has been known to attempt to tax profits arising from the sale of units held by companies or trusts despite the absence of capital gains tax in Mauritius. The MRA attempts to class the companies or trusts that sell the one unit they hold as ‘trading in property’ companies, and believe that the profits are therefore business profits.

Deemed Income Headache:

The second tax headache is can occur when a company or trust confers the right of residency to someone, and that person lives in the house without paying rent.

The MRA contend that the company should pay tax on the notional income that it should have received. Or alternatively, that the individual should increase his income by the notional rental amount and then pay tax on this income.

The efficient solution to the above is that the person living in the house for free pays for the maintenance of the unit and various other expenses. If this payment is made from savings reserves, the resident won’t be taxed, and the company will only pay tax on the amount that exceeds the costs of the property.

 Inheritance Headache:

Inheritance is governed by the Code Civil – a derivative of the French Code Napoleon. Any person who holds property in Mauritius will be subject to forced heirship. Without getting technical, the effect is that the spouse gets half, and then half of whatever is left to the children. If the property is ultimately held by a trust, this is avoided, as the property does not become part of the deceased estate. There are possibly other ways to resolve this problem, and a Notary is the best person to assist in this area.

High Cost Headache:

It is a well known fact that the price of IRS and RES properties carry a premium. They are often sold at four times the cost of construction. In the case of IRS properties this is hard to avoid, for the buyer of the unit also has to pay for the development of the estate, including roads, gardens, security, electricity, water and sewerage. The maintenance costs are also high for the same reasons, but also because the property developer has the legal exclusive right to sell these services to the owners and make a profit from this.

Rental Headache:

IRS and RES unit owners are forced to rent their units through the property development company. While this has benefits as they are responsible for maintenance and can control access and payment, as well as contribute to marketing. Unfortunately, this does make some owners feel that they are not really owners, but rather tenants on their own property. Rental returns can be disappointing.

Here is an extract from the relevant legislation:

23. Rental of residential property
No owner of a residential property under IRS or RES shall offer the property for letting otherwise than through –

(a)  the IRS Company or RES Company; or

(b) a provider of property management services, designated by the IRS Company
or RES Company, as the case may be.

One estate (Villas Val Riche) has devised a plan where the owners eventually take over the rights to the development company’s income, and have a say within the company from the start. Others will surely pick up on this innovative solution.

Joint Ownership Headache:

Often two individuals wish to pool their funds to purchase a unit. If the unit is worth $500 000 only one of these buyers can be the appointed resident – regardless of who the beneficiaries of the trust are, or the directors or shareholders of the property owning company.

Two brothers each contributing $500 000 to purchase a single unit worth $1 000 000 do not both get residency. If they had purchased separate units worth $500 000 then each would be entitled to residence. I believe that if the case is strong enough, special representation to the BOI for both to get residence may be considered. But this would be an exception.

Misunderstanding the Point of this Post Headache:

Please take these comments as a guide to avoiding pitfalls usually not included in the sales pitch. If you know what to expect, you can plan accordingly. This is not an initiative to destroy IRS and RES schemes. I personally believe these schemes are good for both Mauritius and its new residents.

Permanent Residents can buy an Apartment – it’s official.


Following on from my previous post discussing Permanent Residence Permits and the acquisition of freehold property, it now gives me great pleasure to show you exactly what has changed in the Non-Citizens Property Restriction Act

An extract from The Non-Citizens Property Restriction Act showing the changes passed a few days ago:  Deletions struck through and additions in bold:

2. 3)  No certificate shall be required – 

(a) to enable a non-citizen to hold property in virtue of – 

(i) a lease agreement for industrial or commercial purposes, other than a lease agreement or a sublease agreement in respect of a residential property, for a term not exceeding 20 years; 

Amended by [Act No. 14 of 2009] 

2. (ii)  a deed of concession under the Fisheries and Marine 

Resources Act 2007; or 

3. (iii)  a tenancy agreement for a term not exceeding 4 years; 

Amended by [Act No. 18 of 2008] in the case of a non-citizen – 

(i) 

(ii) 

who purchases or otherwise acquires or holds any property in accordance with any other enactment or any convention to which Mauritius is a party; 

who purchases or otherwise acquires or holds property – 

1. (A)  while he is the spouse, married in accordance with 

the régime légal de communauté, of a citizen; 

2. (B)  by inheritance; or 

3. (C)  by the effect of marriage; 

(c) In the case of a non-citizen or a person not resident in Mauritius who – 

1. (i)  holds, purchases or otherwise acquires, sells or otherwise deals with shares or other securities of a company who is desirous of being admitted for quotation on the Official List of the Stock Exchange through a public issue, offer for sale of shares and private placement of shares, or quoted on the Official List of the Stock Exchange or admitted to any Secondary Market which may be established under the Stock Exchange Act; or 

2. (ii)  invests in a unit trust scheme or any other collective vehicle; 

3. (iii)  purchases or otherwise acquires any luxury villa, 

apartment, penthouse or other similar properties used, or available for use, as residence with or without attending services or amenities from a company holding a certificate under the Real Estate Development Scheme, prescribed under the Investment Promotion Act; 

Amended by [Act No. 21 of 2006]; [Act No. 17 of 2007]; [Act No. 18 of 2008] 

(iv) being an investor purchases or otherwise acquires an immovable property, a right to immovable property or part of a building, for business purposes, upon production of an authorisation from the Board of Investment established under the Investment Promotion Act; 

Added by [Act No. 21 of 2006]; [Act No. 17 of 2007] 

(v) being an investor, a self-employed person who is a non- citizen, a retired non-citizen or a non-citizen referred to in section 5A(5AA) of the Immigration Act, and having been granted a permanent residence permit under the Immigration Act, purchases an immovable property or right to immovable property, villa, apartment, penthouse, flat or tenement, used or available for use, as residence only one apartment, in a building of at least 2 floors above ground floor, for his personal residence, on production of an authorisation from the Board of Investment, granted after it has obtained the approval of the minister.


Original including struck through bits added by [Act No. 21 of 2006]; [Act No. 17 of 2007]; 

Bold bits added by [Act No. 38 of 2011]

——————————


To view the entire act as previously amended, I have pasted it below:

THE NON-CITIZENS (PROPERTY RESTRICTION) ACT 1975 Act 22/1975

FORMERLY KNOWN AS PROPERTY RESTRICTION [ACT NO. 22 OF 1975] Date in Force: 12th July 1975

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

  • 1  Short title 
  • 2  Interpretation 
  • 3  Non-citizens’ property rights 
  • 4  Repealed 
  • 5  Consequence of contravention 
  • 6  Qualified Corporation 
  • Short title
    This Act may be cited as the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act.
  • Interpretation
    In this Act – 
    “acquire, alienate, hold or purchase” does not include the burdening of a property with a mortgage or a charge; 
    “Authority” – Deleted by [Act No. 13 of 2001] “business certificate” means – 
    a Category 1 Global Business Licence as defined under the Financial Services Act 2007 or a banking licence issued under the Banking Act 2004, in so far as it relates to its banking transactions with non- residents and corporations holding a Category 1 Global Business Licence or a Category 2 Global Business Licence; 

Added by [Act No. 13 of 2001]; [Act No. 35 of 2004]; [Act No. 21 of 2005]; [Act No. 14 of 2007]

“certificate” means a certificate issued under section 3 (2);

“Commission” means the Financial Services Commission established under the Financial Services Act 2007;

Added by [Act No. 13 of 2001]; [Act No. 14 of 2007]
“Charge” means a fixed or floating charge under the Loans, Charges and

Privileges (Authorised Bodies) Act;

“Minister” means the Minister to whom responsibility for the subject of internal affairs is assigned;

“non-citizen” means -

  • (a)  a person who is not a citizen of Mauritius; 
  • (b)  an association or body of persons, whether corporate or incorporate, 

where -

(c)

(i) (ii)

(iii)

it is not domiciled in Mauritius;

it is quoted on the Official List of the Stock Exchange or admitted to any Second Market established under the Securities Act and its control or management is vested in one or more persons who are not citizens of Mauritius; or

it is not so quoted or admitted and one its shareholders is not a citizen of Mauritius;

a trust in so far as it is involved in any transaction referred to in section 22 of the Trusts Act;

Amended by [Act No. 14 of 2009]; [Act No. 20 of 2009]

“Offshore Bank” – Deleted by [Act No. 13 of 2001] “offshore certificate” – Deleted by [Act No. 13 of 2001] “offshore company” – Deleted [Act No. 13 of 2001] “offshore fund” – Deleted by [Act No. 9 of 1997]

“property” –

(a) (b)

means an immovable property, whether freehold or leasehold, in Mauritius; and

includes –

(i) in relation to a trust or otherwise, any rights or interests in immovable property, whether legal or beneficial; or

(i) any shares;

Amended by [Act No. 14 of 2009]

“qualified corporation” means -

a corporation holding a Category 1 Global Business Licence as defined under the Financial Services Act 2007 or a bank holding a banking licence issued under the Banking Act 2004, in so far as it relates to its banking transactions with non-residents and corporations holding a Category 1 Global Business Licence or a Category 2 Global Business Licence;

Amended by [Act No. 13 of 2001];[Act No. 20 of 2002];[Act No. 35 of 2004]; [Act No. 21 of 2005]; [Act No. 14 of 2007]

“resident in Mauritius” means -

  1. (a)  in relation to an individual, a person who has his domicile in Mauritius; 
  2. (b)  in relation to a body corporate, a body incorporated or registered under the laws of Mauritius; 

“share” -

  1. (a)  means an interest, by any name called, in a company, partnership or société or any other body corporate which holds or purchases or otherwise acquires an immovable property in Mauritius; and 
  2. (b)  includes – 

(i) a share in a partnership or société or anybody corporate which reckons amongst its assets -

(A) any freehold or leasehold immovable property in Mauritius; or

3.

(B) any share in a company or in a company holding shares in a subsidiary or any share in a partnership or société or any other body corporate, which itself reckons amongst its assets, freehold or leasehold immovable property in Mauritius;

(ii) a share in a company which reckons amongst its assets -

  1. (A)  any freehold or leasehold immovable property in Mauritius; or 
  2. (B)  any share in a company holding shares in a subsidiary or any share in a partnership or société or any other body corporate, which itself reckons amongst its assets, freehold or leasehold immovable property in Mauritius; or 
  3. (C)  any share in a company holding shares in any successive subsidiary company, or any share in any successive partnership or société or any other successive body corporate, which itself reckons amongst its assets, freehold or leasehold immovable property in Mauritius; 

“shareholder” includes an association or body of persons, whether corporate or incorporate, which is a non-citizen.

Added by [Act No. 14 of 2009]

Amended by [Act No. 18 of 1992]; [Act No. 25 of 1994]; [Act No. 9 of 1997]; [Act No. 10 of 1998]; [Act No. 13 of 2001]; [Act No. 20 of 2002]; [Act No. 14 of 2007]; [Act No. 14 of 2009]; [Act No. 20 of 2009]

Non-citizens’ property rights

(1) Subject to subsection (3), a non-citizen who wishes to hold or purchase or otherwise acquire a property shall make a written application to the Minister giving, wherever applicable -

  1. (a)  the precise location of the property; 
  2. (b)  a site plan showing its extent and precise location; 

(b)

(c) the nature of the interest intended to be purchased or otherwise acquired or held;

  1. (d)  the reasons for which the application is made; 
  2. (e)  such other information as the Minister may require. 
  1. (2)  On receipt of an application under subsection (1), the Minister may issue to the applicant a certificate authorising him to purchase, acquire or hold the property, subject to such terms and conditions as the Minister may impose. 
  2. (3)  No certificate shall be required – 

(a) to enable a non-citizen to hold property in virtue of -

(i) a lease agreement for industrial or commercial purposes, other than a lease agreement or a sublease agreement in respect of a residential property, for a term not exceeding 20 years;

Amended by [Act No. 14 of 2009]

  1. (ii)  a deed of concession under the Fisheries and Marine 
    Resources Act 2007; or 
  2. (iii)  a tenancy agreement for a term not exceeding 4 years; 

Amended by [Act No. 18 of 2008] in the case of a non-citizen -

(i)

(ii)

who purchases or otherwise acquires or holds any property in accordance with any other enactment or any convention to which Mauritius is a party;

who purchases or otherwise acquires or holds property -

  1. (A)  while he is the spouse, married in accordance with 
    the régime légal de communauté, of a citizen; 
  2. (B)  by inheritance; or 
  3. (C)  by the effect of marriage; 

(c) In the case of a non-citizen or a person not resident in Mauritius who -

  1. (i)  holds, purchase or otherwise acquires, sells or otherwise deals with shares or other securities of s company who is desirous of being admitted for quotation on the Official List of the Stock Exchange through a public issue, offer for sale of shares and private placement of shares, or quoted on the Official List of the Stock Exchange or admitted to any Second Market which may be established under the Stock Exchange Act; or 
  2. (ii)  invests in a unit trust scheme and any other collective vehicle; 
  3. (iii)  purchases or otherwise acquires any luxury villa, 

apartment, penthouse or other similar properties used, or available for use, as residence with or without attending services or amenities from a company holding a certificate under the Real Estate Development Scheme, prescribed under the Investment Promotion Act;

Amended by [Act No. 21 of 2006]; [Act No. 17 of 2007]; [Act No. 18 of 2008]

(iv) being an investor purchases or otherwise acquires an immovable property, a right to immovable property or part of a building, for business purposes, upon production of an authorisation from the Board of Investment established under the Investment Promotion Act;

Added by [Act No. 21 of 2006]; [Act No. 17 of 2007]

(v) being an investor, a self-employed person who is a non- citizen, a retired non-citizen or a non-citizen referred to in section 5A(5AA) of the Immigration Act, and having been granted a permanent residence permit under the Immigration Act, purchases an immovable property or right to immovable property, villa, apartment, penthouse, flat or tenement, used or available for use, as residence, upon production of an authorisation from the Board of Investment.

Added by [Act No. 21 of 2006]; [Act No. 17 of 2007];

[Act No. 18 of 2008]

(d) for the purposes of paragraph 3(c), ‘company’ includes a unit trust, an qualified corporation or any other collective investment vehicle.

Amended by [Act No. 18 of 1992]; [Act No. 25 of 1994]; [Act No. 17 of 1995]; [Act No. 9 of 1997]; [Act No. 10 of 1998]; [Act No. 18 of 1999]; [Act No. 25 of 2000]; [Act No. 13 of 2001]; [Act No. 20 of 2002]; [Act No. 21 of 2006]; Amended by [Act No. 14 of 2009]

  1. Repealed
  2. Consequence of contravention
    (1) An agreement which is in contravention of – 

    1. (a)  section 3; or 
    2. (b)  a condition imposed in a certificate, shall be void. 

    (2) Where property is purchased or otherwise acquired or held in contravention of – 

    1. (a)  section 3; or 
    2. (b)  a condition imposed in a certificate, the Curator shall forthwith – 
      1. (i)  take possession of the property; and 
      2. (ii)  cause it to be sold in accordance with the Sale of Immovable Property Act. 
    1. (3)  A person, other than a non-citizen, who acquires property pursuant to a sale under subsection (2), shall acquire a good title to the property. 
    2. (4)  The proceeds of a sale under subsection (2) shall, after deduction of all charges, be paid over, in such manner as the Registrar may direct, to the non-citizen or other person who appears to be entitled to them. 
  3. Qualified Corporation
    (1) Subject to subsection (2), a qualified corporation or an applicant for a business certificate who wishes to hold or purchase or otherwise acquire a property shall apply to the Commission, or in the case of a bank holding a banking licence under the Banking Act 2004 in so far as it relates to its 

banking transactions with non-residents and corporations holding a Category 1 Global Business Licence or a Category 2 Global Business Licence, to the Bank of Mauritius.

  1. (2)  The Minister may – 
    1. (a)  make regulations to provide for the manner in which applications submitted to the Commission or the Bank of Mauritius, as the case may be, shall be processed; 
    2. (b)  delegate to the Commission or the Bank of Mauritius, subject to such directions as he thinks fit, his powers to issue a certificate under this Act to a qualified corporation. 
  2. (3)  Any certificate issued by the Commission or the Bank of Mauritius, as the case may be, under powers delegated by the Minister, shall be deemed to be a certificate issued under section 3(2) of this Act. 

Amended by [Act No. 10 of 1998]; [Act No. 18 of 1999]; [Act No. 13 of 2001]; [Act No. 35 of 2004] 


Permanent Residency Back on Track – Updated 13 Oct 2011

Expatriates who have lived in Mauritius for three years can apply for ten year Permanent Residence permits, and buy a home like this:

This 4 bedroom penthouse apartment could be purchased by a foreigner for under Rs20 million. Click the image to get more information

Below in blue is an extract from an email just sent by Ken Poonoosamy, Managing Director of the Board of Investment.  The BOI is in charge of coordinating applications for all expat visas.  Read on…

We are finalizing the guidelines and these will be available as from next week on BOI’s web site.

Persons that will be eligible for permanent residency for 10 years with the  right to acquire an apartment within a building of a minimum of 3 stories are as follows:

  1.  An investor deriving a minimum annual turnover of Rs 15 million rupees for the past 3 consecutive years, or 
  2. A professional drawing a minimum monthly salary of Rs 150,000 or,
  3. A self employed with a minimum annual turnover of Rs 3 million for the past 3 consecutive years, or
  4. A retired non citizen having transferred a minimum of USD 40,000 annually to Mauritius for 3 consecutive years.

The first step for eligible non citizens meeting the above criteria is to apply for PR and once the PR is granted, they may apply for acquisition of the immovable property. The forms, procedures etc will be available very soon.

Do not hesitate to contact us for any supplementary information that you may require on the above.

Many tks

Ken

This is a good start.  It removes the insecurity of having to apply for a permit every three years.  It will also revive a number of stalled developments on the island.   Finally, it will bring some capital into the country, both financial and intellectual.   Well done, BOI.

UPDATE:

New measure to allow a non-citizen to buy residential apartment in Mauritius. 7th Oct 2011

On Friday 07th October 2011, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Mauritius has agreed to a non-citizen, who has been granted a Permanent Residence Permit under the Immigration Act, being allowed to purchase an apartment in a block of residential dwelling of not less than three storeys as his personal residence, instead of as in the past. With a view to giving a boost to the construction sector, the construction works for the three-storeyed building in which the apartment is located, need to have started after 1 January 2010. Applications should be made at the Board of Investment.