Travelling to Mauritius is a relatively easy process, and South Africans can acquire a visa for up to 90 days. Immigration, however, is another game and can be complex and time-consuming, requiring you to meet a wide variety of criteria and obtain a long list of documentation.
To live in Mauritius, you need to acquire a Residence Permit. South Africans have a few ways in which to go about getting one.
If you already have an Occupation Permit, you will already be allowed to live in Mauritius while working. The Mauritius Permanent Residence Permit is also something that allows someone to live and work in Mauritius with their family for 20 years, assuming they meet the relevant criteria.
If you wish to receive residency on the island by investing, you can do that too. Investing a minimum amount of USD 375,000 in sectors or schemes approved by the Economic Development Board (EDB) allows you to live and work in Mauritius.
Citizenship on the other hand requires you to have invested a minimum amount of USD 500,000 and you had to have lived in Mauritius for at least two years before looking to apply for citizenship.
If you are 50 years or older and have no intention of working in Mauritius, you can apply for a Retirement Permit. It still allows you to work for companies outside of Mauritius, but you are required to transfer an average of USD 1,500 per month during your stay.
All South African residents in their relevant tax brackets are required to declare their annual income to SARS and pay tax on it. Unless you qualify for and can claim a tax exemption. This is common knowledge.
What is less than common knowledge, and something South Africans will need to consider when aiming to emigrate to Mauritius, is that if you don’t cut ties with SARS effectively, they will continue to treat you as a resident of South Africa and you will have to pay tax, regardless of where you are in the world.
There is a formal process you must undergo in order to be recognised as a non-resident, and it requires you to objectively prove your intention to leave South Africa behind permanently. This requires a heap of documentation supporting your non-resident position; make sure you consult consultants and legal professionals regarding this process.
Failure to effectively relinquish connection to South Africa and to SARS will require you to meet your yearly tax obligations, even from Mauritius, and risk paying double tax.
Now let’s give a quick overview of the immigration application process. While it can be quite time-consuming and complex, it’s important to pay attention every step of the way, so as not to waste precious time and energy on redoing any parts of the process.
Eligibility is an important first step in the immigration application process. There are a range of visas and permits available to South Africa expatriates and it’s important to choose the right one that suits your purpose for immigration.
Make sure you fit into one of the many categories, including employment, investment, retirement, study, and family reunification, and review the immigration criteria well in advance.
Collect all the necessary documents as per the requirements of your chosen immigration category. The general documents can include, valid passport and passport-sized photographs, birth certificates and marriage certificates, proof of financial means or income, proof of accommodation in Mauritius, and more.
There is also a specific list of documents more applicable to certain permit types, which you will have to review and collect before beginning the application process.
An important first step is to fill out the application form provided by the Mauritius Passport and Immigration Office or the relevant authority for your specific visa or permit category, all the while making sure your collected documents are up-to-date and complete.
Make sure to pay the relevant fees and submit your completed application form and all supporting documents to the appropriate authority. This may involve applying at the nearest Mauritius embassy or consulate, or directly to the Mauritius Passport and Immigration Office if you are already in Mauritius.
Your in-person interview is usually in Mauritius and will almost certainly be one of the first things you do upon your arrival.
Keep in mind that within 14 days of your arrival in Mauritius, you must register with the local police station. Your employer can assist you with this process, but it should be at the top of your to-do list.
If applying through a work permit, you will be issued one upon arrival on the island, which allows you to work legally in the country.
Mauritius is often considered a top-of-the-list holiday destination, but it also has a great deal to offer from a lifestyle perspective.
South Africans can now relocate three generations of their families to Mauritius with permanent residence options for less than the cost of a mid-sized family home in an affluent Cape Town suburb.
Immigration policies and procedures can change, so it’s crucial to check with official sources, such as the Mauritius Passport and Immigration Office or the nearest Mauritian embassy or consulate, for the most up-to-date information and guidance specific to your situation.
Written by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor