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The Mauritius Premium Visa: A window for non-citizens to work globally from Mauritius


Faraz Rojid, Head of Financial Services at the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Mauritius, explains the lifestyle and taxation implications of this appealing long-stay visa which allows eligible non-citizens to reside in Mauritius for a year while enjoying the exceptional quality of life that the island has to offer

 

Introduction

On the 23rd of October 2020, the Government of Mauritius announced the introduction of a new Visa Scheme for eligible non-citizens to come for long stays in Mauritius. The Premium Visa, as it is called, is valid for a period of one year, is renewable, and has been launched in response to internal demands due to the current pandemic. Indeed, the COVID-19 crisis has brought the world at the cusp of the next wave of digital revolution, where professionals, entrepreneurs and investors are working and conducting the affairs of their businesses remotely.

The Premium Visa, as such, provides a window to non-citizens to experience the exotic luxury lifestyle of Mauritius for long-term holidays or for working from home, with an exceptional quality of life and standard of living.

 

The Mauritius Advantage

Mauritius is a vibrant tropical island nestled in the Indian Ocean, with sunshine all year round, sandy beaches, warm crystalline waters, picturesque mountain scenery, and over three-hundred unspoiled endemic flora.

It is a melting pot of cultures, where ethnic diversity and peaceful living blend harmoniously with a wide variety of cuisine, all of which will leave the wanderlust mind of the hodophile spellbound and satiate his taste buds.

  • A Safe and Sound Abode
    The success of Mauritius in fighting the first COVID- 19 wave bears testimony to the commitment of the Government and the people of Mauritius in making Mauritius a COVID-safe island.To recall, Mauritius registered its first COVID-19 case on the 18th of March 2020 and, through bold sanitary and health precautions, by the 27th of April, there were no more local infections. On the 13th of May, the Government announced a new phase of opening as there were zero active cases.A second wave hit Mauritius in March 2021, and the authorities have imposed a temporary lockdown with a phased opening. Since the 26th of January 2021, a mass vaccination campaign has been rolled out, wherein a threshold of 700,000 persons to be vaccinated has been set for the country to achieve herd immunity; with the vaccination being free of charge for all Mauritians and visitors who are holders of the Premium Visa.
  •  An Exquisite Unencumbered Lifestyle
    Mauritius boasts an expat-friendly property market, and non-citizens are able to acquire luxury residential properties, including villas and condominiums, senior living residences, and exclusive hotel units through dedicated schemes managed by the Economic Development Board.Non-citizens can also experience long stays in the fine and exquisitely-furnished luxury hotels all around Mauritius, and leverage on the attributes of the Mauritius International Financial Centre.
  • An Investor’s Hive
    With more than three decades’ track record in cross border investment and finance, the Mauritius IFC today offers a panoply of financial products and services to the international community of investors, including private wealth management, family offices, investment structuring, fund management and corporate services, amongst others. Mauritius has over the years consolidated its
    leadership position in Sub Saharan Africa as the Business and Financial Hub of Choice.Coupled with political, social and economic stability, Mauritius is also ranked, by the World Bank, as the top 13th country globally for its ease of doing business, and first in Africa. It is also ranked first in Africa in the Global Competitiveness Index by the World Economic Forum, in the International Property Rights Index, in the Index of Economic Freedom (Heritage Foundation) and in the Economic Freedom of the World (Fraser Institute). It is also ranked first by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation on its Index of African
    Governance

 

The Scheme

The Premium Visa is open to citizens from over 110 countries wishing to come to Mauritius as tourists, digital nomads, retirees, investors, business professionals, or parents of children studying in Mauritius for a period of one year, renewable.

 

Mauritius has an expat-friendly property market
where noncitizens can buy luxury residences

 

The applicants to the Premium Visa must show proof of sufficient funds, stay plans and travel and health insurance for first year of stay in order to qualify for the Visa. The applicant will have to conduct business and derive funds from outside of Mauritius, and will not be able to enter the Mauritian labour market.

As a general governmental policy, non-citizens will also be asked, like returning Mauritians, diaspora, and short-term visitors, to undergo a 14-day quarantine period together with a pre-departure PCR test, arrival PCR test and follow up PCR tests on the 7th and 14th quarantine days, respectively.

 

Tax Treatment

The Premium Visa is premised on the fact that the non-citizen would come to Mauritius to work, and would work from Mauritius, for either his existing employer or himself, for a period amounting to around 12 months.

Section 74 subsection 1 of the Mauritius Income Tax Act 1995 reads as follows: “emoluments derived from any office or employment, the duties of which are performed wholly or mainly in Mauritius, whether such emoluments are received in Mauritius or not” qualifies as income derived from Mauritius.

Therefore, if a person will be working from Mauritius under the Premium Visa, that is the person is physically based in Mauritius and the duties are performed wholly and mainly from Mauritius, it will be captured under the said provision as income derived from Mauritius.

 

The Premium Visa is valid for a period of one year

 

Accordingly, the source of his income will be deemed to be from Mauritius, whether the income is credited into a Mauritius bank account or a foreign bank account. This remittance rule is valid when an individual derives an income from outside of Mauritius by virtue of section 5 of the Income Tax Act, which stipulates:

(1)Income shall be deemed to be derived by a person where-

(a) the income was derived from Mauritius, whether the person was resident in
Mauritius or elsewhere; or(b) the income was derived at a time when the person was resident in Mauritius, whether the income was derived from Mauritius or elsewhere.

(2)Subject to the other provisions of this Act, income shall be deemed to be derived by a person when –

(a) it has been earned or has accrued; or
(b) it has been dealt with in his interest or on his behalf, whether or not it has become due or receivable.

(3)Income derived by an individual from outside Mauritius shall be deemed to be derived by the individual when-

(a) it is received in Mauritius by him or on his behalf; or
(b) it is dealt with in Mauritius in his interest or on his behalf.

By consequence, the person would be subject to income tax in Mauritius as soon as he starts to work from Mauritius on his Mauritian sourced income. Subject to section 73 subsection 1(a)(ii), a person becomes a tax resident in Mauritius if he stays for 183 days or more in an income year.

Once the person is considered a tax resident in Mauritius, he will be subject to tax on his worldwide income, that is income derived outside Mauritius on a remittance basis only – that is, if the funds are brought and deposited in a bank account in Mauritius.

The person will also be entitled to the income exemption threshold and other reliefs as per the Income Tax Act. Additionally, as per section 77 of the Income Tax Act, if a person’s income is subject to foreign tax and a declaration is made to the effect that the required tax has been paid, the amount of foreign tax paid shall be allowed as a credit against the tax payable in Mauritius.

Lastly, if a Premium Visa holder is using his funds through foreign credit cards
or debit cards, that income will not be deemed to be remitted to Mauritius and any such funds utilised through the cards will not be taxed in Mauritius.

 

Conclusion

Mauritius is a traveler’s dream, as well as a beacon of opportunities for investors.

The openness policy for the Premium Visa reveals the forward thinking and inclusive approach adopted by the Government of Mauritius. During the announcement of the Premium Visa, the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, under the direction of the Prime Minister, enunciated that:

 

“Mauritius is open. Visitors are welcome to our country who are looking for a long term safe and secure second home… with world-class business and leisure infrastructure to help facilitate remote working and retirement plans.”

 

As Mauritius moves towards countering the second wave of COVID-19 with the stringent sanitary and health precautions that have been put in place by the Government, the tropical island beckons to all those travelling for pleasure and remote working alike to enjoy the unparalleled quality of life that its exquisite shores have to offer.

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