Can a foreigner open a bank account and transfer money?

Opening a bank account as a foreigner

Can a foreigner open a bank account and transfer money?

Valerie Lincoln, Private Banker, shares some insights

When planning to invest in property in Mauritius, one important question pertains to funds transfer.

Chris Lazare – Director of Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty met Valerie Lincoln, Private Banker at AfrAsia to discuss the banking services available to foreigners in Mauritius. 

Opening a bank account as a foreigner is actually pretty easy. The process is relatively simple and requires only a few essential documents, such as a valid identification, proof of address, and in some cases, a bank reference letter. There is also a form to fill out. 

Generally, opening an account takes between 3 to 4 business days.

What about banking services?

Other than opening a bank account as a foreigner, another important information you will need concerns the banking services. Our banks offer a range of services tailored to the needs of foreigners, whether they are visiting, travelling for business, or considering settling in the country.

Bank accounts can be opened in multiple currencies, including the Mauritian rupee, euro, US dollar, and British pound. This allows clients to manage their finances flexibly according to their specific needs.

For those looking to invest or start a new life in Mauritius, it is possible to create various structures such as companies, which can also have their own bank accounts. These structures can be advantageous for optimising investments and benefiting from the island’s economic opportunities.

Can a foreigner take a loan in Mauritius?

Foreigners can easily obtain real estate loans to finance property acquisitions on the island. These loans can be granted in multiple currencies, depending on the client’s income, and the process is also relatively straightforward. 

Generally, banks can finance up to 70% of the property amount, but this percentage can increase to almost 100% if additional guarantees are provided. Financing can cover both built properties and off-plan projects, with funds called over a period of up to 24 months.

If you need more information, contact us – info@sir.mu

Cost of Living in Mauritius: All You Need to Know

Cost of Living in Mauritius

Cost of Living in Mauritius: All You Need to Know

So, What Should Your Budget Be?

Timo Geldenhuy: “If you’re considering relocating to Mauritius, this week’s topic will undoubtedly catch your attention. Living in Mauritius offers numerous advantages, but upon arrival, it’s crucial to ensure you have the means to sustain yourself here. While the cost of living in Mauritius may be deemed expensive compared to many of our feeder markets, it’s essential to note that our light tax regime contextualises this perception”

Let’s get into the details.

Housing Cost in Mauritius

When assessing the cost of living in Mauritius, it’s essential to factor in rental prices. 

Expatriates often opt to live in the North, particularly the Grand Baie area, and the West, in Black River. In these sought-after regions, a family of 4 seeking a house with a garden and a swimming pool, among other amenities, can expect rental rates to begin at MUR 50,000 to MUR 60,000 per month. 

However, residing in a gated estate or wanting a more spacious property could push the rent up to MUR 120,000 to MUR 130,000. 

Additionally, there are more luxury properties available, such as beachfront or golf residences, which may cost upwards of MUR 200,000 monthly.

Public Services and Insurance Costs

Utility bills such as electricity and water are dependent on consumption. On average, for a medium-sized house with air conditioning in summer and a pool, the monthly electricity cost ranges from about MUR 6,000 to MUR 8,000.

Regarding health insurance, while medical services for residents in Mauritius are free, most expatriates opt for private medical coverage for doctor visits and specialists. In my family’s case, consisting of four members, we’ve opted for catastrophe cover, which extends insurance coverage beyond day-to-day expenses. This choice incurs a yearly cost of around MUR 25,000 to MUR 30,000.

Now transitioning to home insurance. Mauritius is notably safe, with rare occurrences of major theft cases. Therefore, for a four-bedroom house, home insurance typically ranges from MUR 15,000 to MUR 30,000 depending on the coverage. This expense adds to the considerations when evaluating the cost of living in Mauritius.

Day to Day Expenses

When considering the cost of living in Mauritius, it’s essential to account for dining out, for instance. Typically you will spend around MUR 100 to MUR 120 for a beer in a local pub, while enjoying a cappuccino in a café may cost approximately MUR 92 to MUR 110.

Owning a car can also add up, especially considering high import duties. For example, a new 4*4 Ford WildTrack can range between MUR 2.3 million and MUR 2.4 million. However, second-hand cars offer a more budget-friendly alternative.

Food costs vary depending on the cuisine. Staples like chicken, fish, rice, and lentils tend to be very affordable. However, imported meats such as Beef Filet and entrecôte can drive up expenses. On average, a family of 4 typically spends about MUR 40,000 to MUR 50,000 per month on food, contributing significantly to the overall cost of living in Mauritius.

Live in Mauritius

If you have more questions on the cost of living in Mauritius, feel free to reach out to us – info@sir.mu.

Buy an off-plan Property : How Safe is Your Money?

Buy an off-plan property

Buy an off-plan Property : How Safe is Your Money?

Me Hart de Keating, Notary, provides some insights

To capitalise on the tax advantages in Mauritius, foreigners oftenly opt for real estate investments, including to buy an off-plan property through the VEFA mechanism (Vente en État Futur d’Achèvement).

Chris Lazare, Partner – Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty, met with Me Hart de Keating, a renowned notary in Mauritius, who explains the property buying and selling process, including off-plan sales.

How Does a VEFA Work?

To buy an off-plan property in Mauritius, you will initially need to sign a preliminary reservation contract.

During this stage, the buyer’s funds are placed in escrow with the notary, ensuring the buyer’s funds are safe, and can be refunded if the project fails to break ground. 

What About Construction Completion Guarantees?

Once the contract is signed, the buyer benefits from various mandatory guarantees, similar to those in force in France. Among these, the “garantie financière d’achèvement” ( GFA) assures the buyer that the project will be completed even in the event of difficulties encountered by the developer.

Furthermore, guarantees such as the ten-year warranty provides protection against hidden defects and construction flaws. Also, the construction insurance ensures repairs will be made if needed.

Your funds are therefore secure when you decide to buy an off-plan property.

What About Laws and Regulations for Off-plan Sales?

It’s noteworthy that Mauritius, being a former French colony, has inherited a legal system largely influenced by French laws. This inheritance significantly helps French buyers in understanding the buying and selling process. 

Process of Acquiring a Built Property

The purchase of an existing property typically involves the signing of a preliminary contract. 

Once the purchase is concluded, the transfer of ownership is registered at the Conservation des Hypothèques, ensuring the advertising of the buyer’s title deed, an important step in the buying and selling process in Mauritius.

Fees and Taxes

Whether to buy an off-plan property or an already-built property, taxes apply, including a tax of approximately 5% of the property acquisition price.

Additionally, upon resale, the buyer will also need to pay a similar tax.

What about notary fees?

Notary fees vary depending on the type of property and are regulated by the Notary’s Act, typically ranging between 0.6% and 1.25% of the acquisition price.

Live in Mauritius

If you’re looking for a property to rent or buy in Mauritius, contact us – info@sir.mu

Internet Connectivity in Mauritius

Internet Connectivity in Mauritius

Internet Connectivity in Mauritius

A Paradise for Digital Nomads

Timo Geldenhuys: “Today we are in the beautiful Blue Bay area, right near the airport in Mauritius. Behind me is the stunning natural aquarium, one of the best snorkelling spots in Mauritius. An interesting fact: many snorkelers here are new digital nomads residing in Mauritius, highlighting the importance of internet connectivity in Mauritius for them.”

Digital Nomads and Internet Connectivity in Mauritius

The Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in a significant shift in work culture and operations, with people seeking alternative lifestyles. Mauritius has responded to this trend by introducing the Premium Visa, a one-year visa renewable thereafter, catering to various sectors, including digital nomads. Thus, internet connectivity in Mauritius plays a pivotal role for these professionals with global job engagements.

Mauritius benefits from two undersea cables currently in operation, with plans to connect to two more, effectively making it part of a digital superhighway. The island boasts 5G connectivity enabling individuals to successfully run their businesses remotely.

Expat Testimonies About Internet Connectivity in Mauritius

I have a client, a bookie, who operates an online betting platform based in the U.K. During his holiday stays of 3 to 4 months per year, he seamlessly runs his operations from Mauritius, illustrating the reliability of the internet connectivity in Mauritius. Given the real-time nature of betting, precision and speed are imperative, yet he feels comfortable conducting his business from Mauritius.

Premium Visa Success

Since 2022, over 2,500 short-term premium visas have been issued, indicating significant interest in Mauritius as a remote work destination. Many visa holders initially opt for long-term rentals, gradually transitioning to exploring property purchase options as they become more acclimated to the Mauritian lifestyle.

If you are a digital nomad considering Mauritius as a remote work destination, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty. We can assist you and provide guidance throughout your journey, especially if you are looking for long-term rentals.

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Live in Mauritius

If you have any property-related inquiries or needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty.

If you have any questions, contact us – info@sir.mu 

New Property Acquisition Opportunities for Expats

New Property Acquisition Opportunities for Expats

Property Acquisition by Foreigners

New Opportunities for Expats on the Local Market

A thrilling property update, foreigners, who already are residence permits holders, can now explore a broader range of properties in Mauritius beyond the existing approved schemes. Let’s get into the details. 

New Property Acquisition Options

Timo Geldenhuys: In my previous videos, I highlighted the numerous avenues for property acquisition, including schemes like IRS, RES, PDS, Ground+2, and Smart City Schemes. However, a pivotal amendment to the Non-citizens Property Restriction Act has emerged, offering new options for property acquisition by foreigners.

This amendment specifically targets existing permit holders, who now have the freedom to invest in properties outside the previously mentioned schemes.

Let’s see the terms and conditions.

Who Can Acquire Property Outside of Approved Schemes?

Various permit holders qualify. They include:

  • The primary holder of a permanent residence permit
  • The primary holder of a residence permit issued by virtue of a previous purchase under the aforementioned property schemes
  • The primary holder of an occupation permit as an investor, professional, or self-employed individual
  • The primary holder of a short-term occupation permit
  • The primary holder of a family occupation permit
  • The primary holder of a retiree permit

What Are the Main Criteria for Acquisition?

The criteria that the property must meet are as follows:

  • The property cannot exceed 5,276 square metres, which is equivalent to 1.25 Arpent
  • The property can be a vacant piece of land, a villa, a standalone house, an apartment or penthouse.
  • It cannot be agricultural land.
  • The land cannot exceed 5,276 square metres in size.
  • It cannot be leasehold land, thus excluding all beachfront properties currently under leasehold.

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What About the Price Point and Tax Applied ?

The amendment to the Non-citizens Property Restriction Act sets a threshold for property acquisition by foreigners, requiring a price exceeding USD 500,000 or its equivalent in foreign hard currency, such as Euros or Pounds. 

Standard taxes in Mauritius apply, including a 5% transfer fee and 5% registration duty, that are typically shared between buyer and seller. Moreover, an additional 10% tax is imposed solely on the buyer.

This elevated cost underscores the exclusivity of such acquisitions, tailored for long-term residents who have identified specific properties they wish to purchase outside of the established schemes.

While the premium price reflects the uniqueness of these opportunities, it also opens doors for acquiring family homes within existing residential areas, a privilege not commonly available to foreigners.

Live in Mauritius

If you have any property-related inquiries or needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty.

If you have any questions, contact us – info@sir.mu 

Mauritius is connected to over 150 worldwide destinations

Mauritius is connected to over 150 worldwide destinations

Season 2 | 2-Minute Tuesdays

Air Routes: Mauritius is Connected to Over 150 Worldwide Destinations

Welcome back to another exciting episode of 2-Minute Tuesdays! In this vlog, we’ll discuss air connectivity in Mauritius, exploring the numerous airlines that link the island to major international hubs across the globe.

Mauritius, A Globally Connected Destination

Timo Geldenhuys: Today, we are discussing the connectivity and air traffic to and from the island, emphasizing the ease of access. As you are aware, Mauritius is a small tropical island, and our reliance on incoming and outgoing flights is crucial.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we enjoyed robust global connectivity. However, like every other place worldwide, we faced challenges during the pandemic, but I am delighted to share that we have successfully restored full air connectivity. 

Presently, we operate flights to over 150 cities worldwide through our diverse alliance partners.

To Which Destinations Are We Primarily Connected?

Mauritius boasts direct connections to 9 out of the 15 largest hubs globally. We offer direct flights to all our major target markets, encompassing South Africa and Europe, with daily flights to France and the U.K. Notably, we maintain two daily A380 flights from Dubai, showcasing our strong connectivity and accessibility from a global perspective.

Why is Air Connectivity in Mauritius Important for a Foreign Buyer?

First and foremost, if you’re a foreigner and own a property on the island, you can come and leave easily. Moreover, from an investment standpoint, continuous influx of people onto the island is crucial. Presently, we welcome approximately 1.3 million tourists annually. The goal is to increase this number to 2 million by 2030 and ambitiously reach 8 million tourists per year by 2050. The enhancement of air connectivity in Mauritius is a key factor in achieving these targets, promising consistent expansion. 

 

So, the answer is clear – getting on and off the island is very easy.

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What Airlines Serve Mauritius?

Indeed, we have an array of international airlines facilitating easy access to Mauritius. Renowned carriers such as Air Mauritius, Emirates, and British Airways contribute to our extensive connectivity. Additionally, smaller European airlines like Edelweiss and Corsair play a significant role. Our connections also extend to the East, reaching Australia. Whether you are coming from Europe, the Middle East, or Down Under, accessing Mauritius swiftly is made convenient through our diverse airline partnerships.

Live in Mauritius

If you have any property-related inquiries or needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty.

If you have any questions, contact us – info@sir.mu 

Rental Properties in Mauritius – The Guide

Rental Properties in Mauritius - The Guide

Season 2 | 2-Minute Tuesdays

Rental Properties in Mauritius - The Guide

Welcome to a fresh episode of 2-Minute Tuesdays, where we’ll dive into rental properties in Mauritius. This is especially valuable if you’re considering a move to Mauritius and wish to explore the island before making a long-term commitment to property ownership.

Rent a Property in Mauritius

Timo Geldenhuys: What a privilege to be standing in these beautiful gardens at Chateau Bel Ombre. Part of the heritage domain, here stands a beautiful property development called Heritage Villas Valriche. 

One frequently asked question concerns rental properties in Mauritius. The motivations for coming to Mauritius vary, and not everyone arrives with the intention to purchase property immediately. Many individuals prefer to test drive the island before committing to a long-term stay, and others come for job opportunities, prompting the need for rental properties.

A Diverse Market

Navigating the rental market in Mauritius is both diverse and challenging. Presently, demand significantly surpasses supply, particularly in the two primary areas we operate – the West Coast, covering the Black River and Tamarin area extending up to Cascavelle, and the North, encompassing the greater Grand Baie area. 

Both those regions have a shortage of stock, and one of the reasons for that is that during the COVID period, construction came to a standstill, and subsequently Mauritius has relaxed its restrictions and made it easier for people to come, live and work in Mauritius. As a result, there’s been an influx of people and the demand is just outstripping the supply.

When Should You Start Your Property Search?

For prospective renters, my recommendation is to plan ahead when searching for rental properties in Mauritius. Regarding property types, we offer a diverse range of options in Mauritius, primarily including apartments, duplexes, and villas. Additionally, the pricing spectrum is extensive, providing flexibility to suit various budget considerations.

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Rental Property Prices In Mauritius

In our operational market, a one or two-bedroom apartment can be secured for around MUR 40,000, while a beachfront villa may range from MUR 250,000 and beyond. Our focal point lies in spacious 4-bedroom family homes, a sought-after option priced between MUR 80,000 and MUR 120,000. This range facilitates the inclusion of amenities such as a pool, space for pets, and a comfortable environment for children.

What Areas Should You Rent A Property In?

For those desiring a more lavish and secluded lifestyle, consider areas like Heritage Villas Valriche on the West Coast. As for the East Coast, developments like Anahita are available, and there is also Blue Bay down South. Of course, popular choices include predominant areas like Tamarin and Black River, while the North, with its schools, major healthcare services, and shops, naturally attracts a substantial expat community.

Live in Mauritius

If you have any property-related inquiries or needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty.

If you have any questions, contact us – info@sir.mu 

Real Estate Industry: Flagship of Investment in Mauritius

Real Estate Industry: Flagship of Investment in Mauritius

Season 2 | 2-Minute Tuesdays

Real Estate Industry: Flagship of Investment in Mauritius

Welcome back to the second season of 2-minute Tuesdays, your weekly briefing of the important facts and updates of the property market in Mauritius. It’s in beautiful Chamarel, where panoramic views await, that Timo Geldenguys, Director of Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty, will bring you up to speed with the latest developments in the Mauritian property sector.

Property Market Performance in Mauritius

Timo Geldenhuys: Notably, 2022 was a phenomenal year for property in Mauritius, mostly considering that for the years preceding the Covid-19 times and 2021, we had up to about just under 400 sales in regulated schemes.

But then, 2022 came along and over 600 units were sold. That’s apartments, villas, duplexes… across all regulated schemes, amounting to a total sales value of about MUR 15.4 billion.

Now, the good news is that 2023 is superseding that as we’re anticipating a growth of about 1.8%. Indeed, in the first quarter of 2023, we have already exceeded MUR 4 billion in sales, and it’s been nothing short of phenomenal.

Where Are The Buyers From?

The markets that are consistently fueling this demand include the French market and the broader Francophone markets which continue to be the primary drivers of property investments on the island. There is interest from South Africa obviously. The Middle East is coming through as a market and what’s interesting is that because of the geopolitical issues in the Northern European area, we’re seeing an increase in demand from countries like Germany.

Off-Plan versus Built Properties, What’s Working Best?

A particularly interesting observation in the post-Covid era, and one of the key takeaways from recent developments, is the shift in property market preferences. Before covid, there was a substantial demand for off-plan properties, with comparatively less interest in already built properties.

However, this trend has now reversed, with demand for already completed properties matching that of off-plan properties. The resale market is thriving, and this can be attributed to people’s desire for instant gratification. Buyers are looking for properties they can purchase and move into within a short span of 2 to 3 months.

This change in dynamics represents a notable transformation in the real estate market.

Real Estate - Driver of Foreign Direct Investments In Mauritius

Timo Geldenhuys: We are witnessing significant growth, and the real estate sector is making a substantial contribution to the national GDP. So far in 2023, over 50% of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flowing into the country is attributed to real estate sales. This gives you a quick snapshot of what has been unfolding since my last update.

These dynamics are truly fascinating, and in the upcoming weeks, we’ll delve into a range of other interesting topics. In the meantime, it’s great to be back. If you have any property-related inquiries or needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty.

If you have any questions, contact us – info@sir.mu 

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What Are the Fiscal Advantages of Living in Mauritius?

What Are the Fiscal Advantages of Living in Mauritius?

Invest in Property in Mauritius : All About Taxes

What Are the Fiscal Advantages of Living in Mauritius?

Timo Geldenhuys: Fiscal Advantage is one of the key drivers of why foreigners continue to invest in Mauritius.

The government has been proactive in setting these fiscal benefits to investors coming in and it is one of the main reasons why the Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) flowing into Mauritius are largely supported by the property industry.

So, what are these fiscal benefits ?

It starts with your personal income tax. The Income Tax rate, compared to most of our key markets, is very low. Mauritius has a top income tax rate of 15%. Through Covid-19 there have been a couple of temporary adjustments around that in order to assist in the recovery of the economy. As a result, the top earners will pay around 25% of income tax.

What if you’re a fiscal resident ?

If you base yourself in Mauritius as a fiscal resident and qualify for fiscal residency, (spend more than 183 days per annum in Mauritius), some of the benefits are as follow :

  • There are no dividends tax so if you get paid your dividends in Mauritius you pay 0% tax. That is a key driver for why many captains of industry and successful businessmen choose Mauritius as a residential and fiscal location.
  • There is no capital gains tax. We have seen a steady increase in terms of property appreciation over the years. I always say that Mauritius is a medium to long-term property investment destination, and at the end of the day when you sell that property, you pay zero capital gains tax.

 These are just a few of the advantages that are available, but the key ones I wanted to point out.

What about the inheritance tax ?

There is no Inheritance Tax in Mauritius. That’s important because your beneficiaries are not going to be taxed on the assets that you hold in Mauritius in the future and hence it gives you peace of mind.

Those are the main fiscal benefits of Mauritius. There is a myriad of other benefits that our advisors and service providers who specialize in the sphere can advise on and we would be happy to point you in the right direction.

Live in Mauritius

If you have any questions about this topic, please contact us at Mauritius Sotheby’s International Realty.

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