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MAURITIUS: real estate investment for non-nationals

5th Oct 2018

Why Mauritius?

Mauritius has a rich history; its strategic importance in the India Ocean led to the island being discovered by seafarers from what are now the Arab states and later colonised by the Dutch, French and British. Granted independence in 1968, Mauritius now welcomes non-Mauritius nationals to live and work in the island and has specific schemes to enable non-nationals to acquire real estate.

Mauritius covers a surface area of 720 square miles and is located just above the tropic of Capricorn in the southern Indian Ocean. Being of volcanic origin, Mauritius has a central plateau which is roughly 400 metres above sea level and a diverse landscape of great natural beauty comprising mountains and tropical forests. For many however the island is known for its 90 miles of white sandy beaches, the world’s third largest coral reef and the peaceful lagoon which almost surrounds the island.

The climate is tropical, and although at risk of cyclones in the warm season, the island’s well-developed infrastructure is designed and built to withstand these occasional events. Most would describe the island’s climate as “very agreeable”.

It is no accident Mauritius provides an environment where expatriate staff and their families enjoy living and working. For more than a decade itsgovernment has adopted policies designed to attract foreign nationals, most recently the ‘Work, Live and Play’ initiative designed to make Mauritius one of the best places in the world to live. The success of such Government policy is clear – over 17,000 Occupation & Residence Permits have been issued to non-Mauritius nationals of which some 4,500 holders are currently living in the country.

In addition to the island’s natural beauty, agreeable climate, accommodating government policy and political stability, incoming professionals see Mauritius as a safe haven, having excellent international schools, quality healthcare services at affordable cost, and ample leisure opportunities. For entrepreneurs there is the attraction of the island’s favourable regulatory and business ecosystem, its progressive economy and the ease with which it is possible to do business on the island. For those choosing to retire to the island the cost of living is an attractive feature and all benefit from a favourable fiscal regime which includes:

  • Income tax and corporate tax at a harmonised rate of 15%
  • Tax free dividends
  • No capital gains tax
  • No exchange controls

This is all in addition to being part of a trusted and well-regulated international financial centre which offers the full range of international financial services expected by international citizens.

The ability to acquire real estate under controlled conditions just adds to the island’s attractions.

Opportunities for non-Mauritius nationals to invest in properties in Mauritius.

Mauritius has been one of a select group of tropical destinations offering luxury properties to discerning foreign investors for more than 20 years. Under the Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS) and Real Estate Scheme (RES), overseas investors have been able to acquire high-end residential units choosing to live in Mauritius permanently or for shorter, more frequent visits. Many owners choose to join a rental pool, deriving income from their investment which is subject to local income tax of 15%. However, on the disposal of the property, there is no capital gains tax and no inheritance tax.

Currently non-Mauritius citizens can acquire property in Mauritius under one of four schemes:

The Property Development Scheme (PDS)

PDS has replaced the former IRS and RES regimes. Under PDS, luxury-end residential units are developed on freehold land of at least 4041m², with adjoining high quality public spaces and recreational amenities and providing a day-to-day management services to residents. Since the PDS regime was launched in 2015, nearly 50 projects have been approved or are currently in the process of being approved by the Economic Development Board. There is no restriction on the minimum price at which a PDS property can be sold. Buyers having invested a minimum of USD500,000 are also eligible for a residence permit.

The Invest Hotel Scheme (IHS)

The IHS scheme allows property developers to sell hotel rooms, villas and suites as separate units to individual buyers. The buyer then enters into a lease agreement with the seller and the unit leased to the seller may be used by the unit owner for up to 45 days in the year. IHS provides investors with an opportunity to enjoy rental income without the hassle of having to manage and market the property themselves. Units under IHS may not be sold for less than USD500,000. Four projects had been approved under the IHS up to December 2017.

Purchase of Apartments at G+2 level

The Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act was amended in 2016 to allow foreign nationals to purchase apartments in condominium developments of at least two levels above ground (G+2). The acquisition price for such apartments must be in excess of MRU6 million (approximately USD175,000).

Purchase of residential units within Smart Cities

The Smart City concept was launched in Mauritius in 2015 to favour emerging eco-friendly integrated working, living and leisure property developments. Residential units will be developed in these smart cities and be available for acquisition by non-citizens.

Real estate is a high-growth sector and for some years the main contributor to Foreign Direct Investment (“FDI”) flows in to Mauritius. In 2016, real estate related FDI reached USD290 million of which as much as USD230 million was invested in IRS/RES/HIS projects.

Current projections suggest this trend will continue and industry figures project steady growth in these numbers.

How to proceed

If you would like to find out about specific property investment opportunities in Mauritius, please contact Ganessen directly.

 

Disclaimer:

This document aims to provide an overview of the salient features of non-Mauritius nationals investing in real estate in Mauritius. It should not be considered legal, regulatory or tax advice. It is essential you obtain independent legal, regulatory and tax advice relevant to your specific circumstances from your own legal counsel, tax consultants and business advisers. JTC (Mauritius) Limited is not liable for any loss suffered or incurred in connection with the subject matter and contents of this document.

JTC (Mauritius) Limited is regulated in Mauritius by the Mauritius Financial Services Commission.

Key Contact

Ganessen P. Soobramanien

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