How to start a business in Mauritius?
Mauritius is a small island off the East Coast of Africa and how to start a business in Mauritius is not that difficult. While its worldwide fame is primarily derived from pristine beaches attracting thousands of tourists, shrewd businessmen know it as one of the friendliest countries to start a business.
A pro-business environment, ease of opening a business account, and numerous tax benefits make it a haven for individuals who want to start a business in Mauritius.
Here you will find pertinent information on how to start a business in Mauritius and the benefits of owning a Mauritius legal entity.
Benefits of a Mauritius Company
There is no doubt that Mauritius is a potential goldmine for foreign investors and businesses due to its economic and global business competitiveness. According to the 2019 World Bank Report, Mauritius ranks 13th (opens in a new tab) out of 190 countries in the world for ease of doing business. The World Bank clearly states that the country offers a transparent, competitive, and attractive environment for businesses to thrive. In fact, the Island of Mauritius is ranked number one in Africa for its pro-business policies.
A stable government and political setup have ensured that Mauritius remains a top choice for overseas investors looking for a place with high economic freedom and global competitiveness. I wrote a blog post on The reasons to invest in Mauritius, this could give you some ideas too.
Besides economic benefits, the country enjoys a diverse workforce that includes people of European, African Indian, and Chinese ethnicities. Also, most of these individuals can speak English and French fluently making it easier for businesses to access European, North American, and Asian markets easily.
Located in a perfect time zone (UTC + 04:00) (opens in a new tab) that coincides with working hours across the world, Mauritius offers a highly-skilled workforce. Also, workforce quality is enforced by the presence of international banks, law firms, and accountants.
The hybrid type of law incorporating both the English Common Law and French Civil Law also makes it easier to conduct business with neighboring countries where French and English are the most dominant languages.
Among the most distinguishing features of Mauritius are its unique IPAA, Investment Promotion, and Protection Agreement (open in a new window), which offers free repatriation of capital and returns for companies in case of a riot or a war.
Similarly, investors are guaranteed a high level of privacy and confidentiality.
- Attractive fiscal regime
- Tax-free dividend
- 100% foreign ownership
- Personal tax max 15%
That are just a few of many benefits of doing business in Mauritius.
In recent years, pro-business legislations have made the country a paradise for foreigners who are taking Mauritius as a serious contender for one of the best countries to open their businesses. My post What are the best businesses to do in Mauritius could give some ideas too.
Types of Company Business Structure
In Mauritius, there are mainly five types of business structures:
- Sole proprietorship
- General partnership
- Limited partnership
- Global business license Type 1 company
- Global business license Type 2 company
See all Choices of Business Structure (opens in a new tab) in Mauritius.
Following are brief details regarding each setup:
This is a popular form of company structure for single owners. Under this business category, the person is liable for all debt and obligations.
For more than one individual, this structure offers the ability to share profits according to the defined criteria in the business agreement. All members equally share the debt and obligations of the company.
This structure is very similar to the business structure of a general partnership. Unlike a general partnership, the burden of obligations and debt are divided among each member according to the amount of one’s capital investment.
Global business license Type 1 company
This is a suitable license or business structure for financial companies, hedge funds, and financial managers. The GBC1 license (Global Business Category 1) is given on the premise that the company is owned and operated by foreign individuals residing outside the country. According to the terms of business, the owners need to carry out their business formalities and business transactions from Mauritius in a currency other than Mauritian Rupee. Under certain circumstances, the company can employ residents of Mauritius and it can also do transactions with them. Don’t miss this post on How to get a residence permit in Mauritius.
GBC1 license holder should also maintain its offices in Mauritius and the company should also hold its principal bank account in Mauritius at all times. Mauritius Banks the How to List 2021 has talked about Banks in Mauritius.
Usually, the license requires at least one shareholder and two business directors to complete the formalities of incorporation.
How to Start a Business in Mauritius?
Registering a company in Mauritius is an easy task; however, it’s better to consult a business professional or a legal advisor who can offer in-depth assistance on how you can get the maximum benefit from company formation in Mauritius.
As a first step, you will need to select a business structure for the company. While we have already defined different types of business structures, it’s a good idea to talk to an expert on consulting the website of CBRD (Corporate and Business Registration Department) (opens in a new tab).
The next step is to register a business name. You can use the online tool (opens in a new tab) to search for a particular name free of cost. Besides the name, anyone can also reserve a trademark, service name, or collective trademark by paying a fee. These trademarks are valid for ten years from the date of registration.
After ten years, everyone must renew the titles accordingly. If you haven’t decided on a business name, don’t worry because the reservation of name is not necessary or mandatory to incorporate and register a business.
The CBRD, Corporate, and Business Registration Department offer a convenient online portal for business registration.
While you can use the online portal to start a business in Mauritius, it’s practical to talk to a professional because changing the business structure or other business data may not be possible afterward.
After the registration, the individual will receive an electronic business registration card and a certification of registration based on the type of company registered.
All new companies registered at the registrar of companies in Mauritius are automatically registered with the Revenue Authority (opens in a new tab), Ministry of Social Integration (opens in a new tab), and Social Security.
According to the website of the Economic Development Board (opens in a new tab), the company seal is not required to do transactions with foreign companies. Unless the country or a foreign individual requires a Mauritius business to provide an official company seal.
The next step is to open a bank account in the country.
There are a variety of commercial and corporate banks registered with the Bank of Mauritius (opens in a new tab).
Open a Business Bank Account
To register for a bank account, you’ll need the following documents:
- Certificate of Incorporation: You will get the certificate of incorporation after registering your business.
- Business Registration Card: Just like the certificate of incorporation, business registration card is a type of identification feature. As foreign citizens do not hold a national identity card, the business registration card is an alternate proof of legal business entity.
- Certified copy of Board Minutes: If your company structure requires a board meeting, you will need to present the certificate of board minutes authorizing the opening of a bank account. A professional business or legal consultant can assist you in meeting this requirement.
- Latest tax returns: These tax returns are only required for companies that have a head office operating for at least 18 months in Mauritius.
- Business Plan: You should present a proper business plan that also includes sources of funds and financial statements if any. Talk to your business consultant about this requirement.
Potential businessmen may be required to present additional documents based on a case by case basis
It’s also important to know that banks can also reject your application form; therefore, make sure that you’re prepared to offer pertinent documents. To first-time businessmen, it may seem like a lot of documents but any business professional adept in Mauritius business affairs can easily help fulfill all the requirements without any major cost.
While a lot of individuals chose to register their legal entities online, it’s more practical for foreign individuals to get professional help as business consultants can help new businesses solve major issues. Mauritius companies can also be operated by a third-party company based inside Mauritius.
These management companies act as an intermediary between the client and the government enabling the client to process their paperwork and legal documents using the company as an agent.
Irrespective of the path to company formation, remember that operating and setting up a business is easier than you think.
User-friendly legislation, political stability, and independent legislation ensure that foreign businesses and investors can operate their companies from Mauritius without the red tape and legal complexities found in other countries.
A Cybercity and numerous business parks at strategic locations throughout the country can help get a great office location at a reasonable price.
These offices have upscale and modern facilities on par with the best in the world.