Moving to Mauritius?
Moving to Mauritius
The Land and Its People
Situated over 3.200 kilometers from the African coast, in the Indian Ocean, the island of Mauritius is an attractive choice for expats looking for a career move to this region. Mauritius has a population of 1.3 million people and covers an area of 2,040 square kilometers. It is a democratic republic, with the president as head of state and an elected government led by the prime minister.
Mauritius has tremendous cultural diversity, largely due to its complex history. In the 16th century, it become a port of call for the Portuguese, and was later colonized by the Dutch, the French, and finally the British. The country became independent on 12th March 1968.
During the 19th century, people came from countries such as India, Africa, Madagascar and China to work in Mauritius, so it is to be expected that a wide range of religious festivals should be celebrated in the country today, including the Chinese New Year, the Cavadee Festival, Diwali, and Christmas.
The official language in Mauritius is English and you can expect all contracts and formal documents to be in the English language. However, the languages that are more widely spoken by locals are French and Mauritian Creole, with the latter consisting of a blend of French and English together with words from African and Indian languages. The majority of local newspapers are published in French and TV programs are primarily French. If you don’t already speak French you could choose to register with one of the many language schools in Mauritius offering French courses for adults, or if you prefer to learn at home, seek a recommendation for a private tutor.
Mauritius also has several dependencies; the island of Rodrigues to the east, Agalega’s two islands lying north of Mauritius, and due east of the mainland the archipelago of St Brandon. The Islets of Mauritius around the coast of the mainland are a series of 49 tiny uninhabited islands, some of which are now employed as specialist nature reserves.
The Climate in Mauritius
Located close to the tropic of Capricorn, Mauritius enjoys a warm climate all year round. Winter daytime temperatures (between May and October) usually range from 20-26°C, while in the summer (November to April) the temperatures may rise to 32°C. Rainfall varies considerably by region, with the East experiencing significantly more rainfall than the West or North. Rainfall is highest between December and April, reaching on average 125mm per month during this period in the West, and over 253mm per month in the East. September tends to be the driest month, with an average rainfall of approximately 12mm in the West and 70mm in the East. Throughout the year, humidity is over 80%.
Mauritius is prone to storms caused by cyclones, which are more likely to occur between September and May. Expatriates moving to Mauritius should familiarize themselves with local guidelines, which will help them be prepared in the event of a cyclone. Residents are also advised to keep tree branches trimmed to avoid damage to property, and to keep properties well maintained so that they can best withstand any cyclones. There is a warning system in place to communicate any storm forecasts. Residents are also encouraged to keep an emergency kit in their home at all times in order to be prepared for any cyclone activity. While it is rare for the center of the cyclone to pass directly over Mauritius – on average only once every five years –distant cyclones can still affect the island, with between 3-5 cyclonic storms per year. Occasionally, schools may be closed and travel disrupted if storms cause flooding.
Visas for Mauritius
A visa is not necessary for most foreigners to gain entry to Mauritius, although for visitors from a small number of countries this is not the case and a visa must be obtained prior to travel. Foreign nationals wishing to work in Mauritius will require a residence permit and a work permit, though. You should apply to the Passport and Immigration Office for a residence permit, while applications for an occupation permit are processed by the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment. Your employer may apply for a work permit on your behalf. An occupation permit is distinct from a work permit and has subcategories for investors, sponsored professionals, and the self-employed.
After three years of residing in Mauritius, foreign nationals may be eligible to apply for a Permanent Residence Permit. However, don’t be misguided by the name, as the permit is valid for a fixed period of 10 years, and after that time the holder needs to apply for another permit.
If you plan to stay in Mauritius for a long period, you may wish to invest in property on the island. Until recent years, non-citizens were not allowed to purchase property in Mauritius, but the Board of Investment has introduced changes and has established schemes that can make the acquisition of Mauritian real estate seem particularly attractive to foreign nationals. The Integrated Resort Scheme creates luxury developments with prices in excess of 500,000 USD and the owner and close family are automatically awarded residency status when the purchase is made. Another key benefit is the rate of tax set at 15% for both income and corporation tax. Resorts aim to combine luxury real estate with leisure and retail facilities and in some cases a school within the development.