The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius is already a favourite choice for South Africans wanting to emigrate, and from this month it is going to be even easier – and cheaper – for them to do so.
In fact, thanks to new government measures introduced this month, the minimum investment required to acquire an occupation permit (OP) as an investor and live in Mauritius as a non-citizen has been reduced from US$100 000 to just US$50 000 – and the validity of an OP has been extended from three to 10 years.
“This type of permit enables non-citizens to reside or retire or open their own business in Mauritius,” says Leana Nel, international relocations specialist for the Chas Everitt International property group, “although you will also need a work permit if you intend to seek employment.
“The new measures also mean that those who have an OP can bring their parents to Mauritius as dependents and will also not have to obtain an additional work permit for a spouse who also wants to work.
“But in an even bigger concession, OP holders will now also be allowed to buy up to 2100sqm of land for residential use in a “smart city” that Mauritius is developing. Previously, non-citizens were only allowed to buy homes in one of the Integrated Resort Schemes (IRS), Real Estate Schemes (RES) and Property Development Schemes (PDS) specifically designated for foreign buyers, or pre-owned apartments in buildings of at least three storeys.”
Meanwhile, she says, it will now also be much less expensive for South Africans to acquire immediate Permanent Residence (PR) in Mauritius by investing in one of the IRS, RES or PDS schemes, because the minimum purchase price required has been drastically lowered from US$500 000 to US$375 000.
“In addition, the Mauritian government has now announced that the work and residence permits will be combined into one document; that those who have held a Residence Permit for three years will be allowed to apply for a PR, and that the validity of a PR permit will now be extended from 10 to 20 years.”
Nel says Mauritius is an increasingly sought-after emigration option among SA executives, entrepreneurs and retirees for a number of reasons, including a stable and democratic political environment; a high level of personal safety; a modern lifestyle; a very attractive fiscal regime (15% income tax, no dividend tax, no inheritance tax, no withholding tax on interests and dividends, no capital gains tax, no property tax, and free repatriation of profits); and thriving industrial, ICT and financial sectors.
“According to the 2019 Africa Wealth Report compiled by New World Wealth and AfrAsia Bank, Mauritius also has the highest wealth rate in Africa, with an average wealth of US$31 000 per person. And it has the fastest growing wealth market, having recorded a 124% growth in total wealth in the 10 years from 2008 to 2018.”
She also notes that Mauritian banks will make mortgage loans available to foreign investors, although the qualification criteria are stringent and borrowers will usually be expected to finance at least 60% of the purchase price themselves. To this end, SA individuals over the age of 18 have a foreign investment allowance of R10m a year provided they have a tax clearance certificate from SARS and the transfer of funds is approved by the Reserve Bank. The prime rate in Mauritius is currently 3,35%.