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Mauritius Company Formation: Your Guide to Setting Up a Business

Mark Damsgaard

Mark Damsgaard

Founder of Global Residence Index

Last updated: January 31, 2024

Mauritius Company Formation: Your Guide to Setting Up a Business

Mauritius has established itself as a prominent international financial center, offering a strategic platform for businesses aiming to venture into the African, Asian and other global markets. With a stable political climate, a well-developed legal framework, and a growing reputation for ease of doing business, Mauritius provides an attractive environment for company formation. The process of incorporating a company in Mauritius is straightforward and efficient, attracting entrepreneurs and investors from around the world who seek to capitalize on the island nation’s competitive corporate regime and investment-friendly atmosphere.

The country’s regulatory environment is designed to facilitate smooth business operations, with the added advantage of a favorable tax regime that includes free repatriation of profits and recognition from organizations such as the OECD for its tax compliance. As a prospective business owner, you can expect a comprehensive suite of services designed to support various business needs—including corporate governance, tax planning, and financial obligations, all tailored to support both domestic and international business endeavors. Understanding the incorporation process, along with the various types of special entities and structures available, is crucial to making an informed decision about establishing your business presence in Mauritius.

Key Takeaways

  • Mauritius offers a favorable environment for company formation with a stable political and economic framework.
  • Incorporating a company in Mauritius is efficient, supported by a regulatory regime conducive to business.
  • Entrepreneurs benefit from a range of business structures, tax benefits, and a well-regulated financial ecosystem.

Overview of Mauritius as a Business Destination

Mauritius stands as a beacon of investment opportunities, offering you a unique blend of favorable business conditions complemented by a strategic geographic placement. It is an ideal bridge between Africa and Asia, leveraging its political stability and robust growth to attract global business entities.

Strategic Location and Time Zone Advantages

Mauritius is strategically located near the African continent yet serves as a gateway to Asian markets. Your business can benefit from the Mauritian Time Zone (GMT+4), which conveniently overlaps with business hours in both continents, allowing efficient communication and transactions across time-sensitive markets.

Political Stability and Economic Growth

You will find that Mauritius has a well-earned reputation for Political Stability, which fosters a secure and predictable environment for doing business. The nation has consistently demonstrated robust Economic Growth, making it a compelling choice for investors looking to establish a foothold in Africa and beyond.

The Legal and Regulatory Framework

Mauritius boasts a Bilingual Legal Framework that integrates both English and French, thus providing clarity and accessibility in business operations and legal procedures. This framework aligns with international best practices, offering transparency and safeguarding investors’ interests.

Ease of Doing Business and World Bank Rankings

According to the World Bank, Mauritius is highly ranked for its Ease of Doing Business, which has been a significant factor in its rise as a top investment destination. This reflects the country’s commitment to simplifying business processes and enhancing the investment climate for both local and international stakeholders.

The Incorporation Process

In Mauritius, the company formation process is streamlined and governed by the Companies Act 2001. Your awareness of the necessary steps and documentation will facilitate a smooth incorporation journey.

Types of Companies

In Mauritius, you can opt for different types of company structures according to your business needs. The Global Business Company (GBC) is designed for international trade and benefits from tax incentives, whereas an Authorized Company (AC) may be foreign-owned but must conduct business outside Mauritius. If you plan to operate locally, a Domestic Company is your go-to entity, balancing simplicity with the versatility conducive for running an array of business activities within Mauritius.

Required Documents and Incorporation Documents

Before you begin the incorporation process, prepare the following key documents:

  • Proof of director’s residence, like a utility bill.
  • Consent of every director, using Form 7.
  • Where applicable, proof of address for the company secretary.

For incorporation, you’ll need:

  • Form 1: Application for incorporation.
  • Form 7: Director’s consent.
  • The Articles of Association.

These documents are integral to registering your company under the Companies Act 2001, ensuring that all legal bases are covered.

Role of the Registrar of Companies

The Registrar of Companies in Mauritius is the central authority managing the incorporation, registration, and dissolution of companies. Your interaction with the Registrar, through submission of required forms and adherence to regulations, anchors the legal standing of your company. The Registrar’s office enforces compliance with the Companies Act 2001, maintaining a reliable and transparent business environment.

Steps for Company Registration

To register your company in Mauritius, follow these mandatory steps:

  1. Choose an appropriate company name and ensure it is not already in use.
  2. Prepare and submit the necessary documents to the Registrar of Companies.
  3. Pay the prescribed registration fee.
  4. Obtain the Certificate of Incorporation post-verification of documents.
  5. Complete any sector-specific registrations, if applicable.

The timeframe for registering a company can range from 2-5 working days, and the incorporation process can often be expedited with the right documentation and guidance.

Corporate Governance

In Mauritius, the corporate governance framework prescribes clear responsibilities and rights to maintain the integrity and efficiency of business enterprises. This framework is crucial for your company’s performance and investor confidence.

Director Responsibilities

Your directors are entrusted with steering the company towards sustainable growth. They are obligated to act in good faith, in the best interests of the company, and with due diligence. Key obligations include:

  • Setting strategic goals: Aligning company objectives with shareholder value maximization.
  • Oversight of management: Ensuring effective organizational performance and compliance with laws.
  • Financial accountability: Accurate financial reporting and disclosure, and minimizing exposure to fraud and errors.

Shareholder Rights and Obligations

As a shareholder, you hold various rights and responsibilities that impact corporate governance:

  • Voting power: You have the right to vote on key company decisions, influencing the company’s direction.
  • Equity: Your share in ownership entitles you to a portion of the company’s profits and assets.
  • Obligations: You must comply with governance codes and regulations, including transparency in disclosing significant shareholdings.

Maintaining a Registered Office

Your company must have a registered office in Mauritius, which serves as the legal address for all formal communications. This is critical for:

  • Receiving legal documentation: The registered office is where official documents and notices will be sent.
  • Business records: Your company’s statutory records, including the register of shareholders and directors, are maintained at the registered office.
  • Public records: The address of your registered office is publicly available and must be included in communication and documents.

Tax and Financial Obligations

As you consider forming a company in Mauritius, it’s crucial to understand the specific tax and financial obligations that will apply to your business. The Mauritian tax regime offers several incentives, while remaining compliant with international standards.

Understanding the Tax Regime

Mauritius operates a streamlined tax system with attractive incentives for businesses, underpinned by a flat corporate tax rate of 15%. Notably, certain innovation-driven companies may benefit from tax exemptions on income derived from intellectual property developed locally.

VAT and Corporate Tax Rate

The standard Value-Added Tax (VAT) rate in Mauritius is 15%, relevant to most goods and services. Companies engaged in export activities enjoy a reduced tax rate of 3% on export-derived profits, providing a distinct advantage for export-oriented businesses.

Accounting and Financial Reporting

A company in Mauritius must maintain proper accounting records to reflect its financial status accurately. Your company will be required to file annual financial statements, and depending on the size and nature of the business, these may need to be audited.

Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements

Mauritius has established a comprehensive network of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) to minimize the incidence of double taxation. This supports your tax planning strategies by allowing for tax credits on international business transactions.

Special Entities and Structures

Mauritius offers a variety of corporate structures tailored to meet your specific business needs in international finance and investment. These structures come with their own regulatory frameworks designed to facilitate business operations while providing robust legal protections.

Global Business Company (GBC)

A Global Business Company (GBC) in Mauritius must obtain a Global Business License (GBL) and is regulated under the Financial Services Act. You can use a GBC for international trade, investment banking, and asset management services. As a GBC holder, you benefit from Mauritius’ extensive network of tax treaties and are required to demonstrate substance in the country, which involves employing local staff and having physical premises.

Protected Cell Company (PCC)

A Protected Cell Company (PCC) is ideal if you’re looking into structuring your business to segregate assets or liabilities. This is particularly beneficial for investment funds, insurance, or securitization activities. Each cell of a PCC is legally separate, ensuring that the assets and liabilities of one cell are not affected by those of other cells.

Limited Partnerships and Trusts

Limited Partnerships combine elements of both partnerships and corporations. Your liability is limited to the amount you contribute as a partner. They are flexible and tax-efficient, often used in private equity and real estate investments.

Trusts in Mauritius are used for estate planning, asset protection, and confidentiality. They separate legal ownership and beneficial interest, which means the trustees legally own the trust’s assets while the beneficiaries get the benefits. Trusts can be discretionary or have fixed interests, and they’re governed by the Trusts Act.

Foreign Investment and Ownership Laws

Mauritius has established itself as a favorable location for foreign investment, featuring laws that cater to full foreign ownership and the safeguarding of international investments. They offer you a conducive and welcoming environment for your global business endeavors.

100% Foreign Ownership and Free Repatriation

In Mauritius, you are entitled to 100% foreign ownership of a company without needing a local partner. This allows full control over your investment and operational activities. Moreover, the country allows free repatriation of profits, dividends, and capital, providing a high level of monetary flexibility. These financial benefits are offered while ensuring compliance with OECD guidelines on transparency and tax matters.

Investment Holding and Offshore Companies

The jurisdiction distinguishes itself with a well-defined structure for offshore companies. As a foreign investor, you can establish an investment holding company with the benefits of a low flat tax rate and no capital gains tax. With an offshore company in Mauritius, you can engage in international trade, investment, and asset management, while benefiting from an extensive network of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements.

Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements

Mauritius’s network of Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs) is designed to provide security and protection to your investments. These agreements aim to foster business confidence by mitigating risks associated with foreign investment. The IPPAs safeguard against nationalization and provide a mechanism for the resolution of any potential disputes between investors and the state.

Benefits and Incentives for Entrepreneurs

When you choose Mauritius for company formation, you unlock a plethora of benefits, particularly in the realms of taxation, privacy, and government-backed incentives that bolster your investment and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Tax Incentives and Exemptions

Mauritius is known for a favorable tax regime aimed at fostering investment and entrepreneurship. Incentives include:

  • Corporate Tax: A low flat corporate tax rate, which may be subject to further reductions for specific activities.
  • No Foreign Earnings Tax: Income derived from foreign sources is not taxed in Mauritius, provided this income is not remitted to Mauritius.
  • Exemptions on Dividends and Capital Gains: Dividends issued by a company and profit from the sale of shares or other securities are often tax-exempt.

To optimize your tax position, you should consider these incentives when structuring your business.

Confidentiality and Business Privacy

Your confidentiality is taken seriously in Mauritius with practices designed to protect you and your company’s privacy:

  • Business Secrecy Laws: Strict laws that safeguard business information from being disclosed without proper authority.
  • Non-Disclosure of Shareholders: The identity of company shareholders need not be made public, providing an additional layer of confidentiality.

These measures ensure that sensitive company details are shielded, maintaining your operational privacy.

Government Support and Incentives

To support economic growth, Mauritius provides various schemes and incentives:

  • Setup Ease: The government of Mauritius facilitates a simplified business setup process with minimal bureaucracy.
  • Support Schemes: Incentive schemes like the Youth Employment Program (YEP) assist in the smooth transition of young professionals into the workforce, providing your business with skilled labor.
  • No Minimum Capital: There is no requirement for a minimum capital investment, allowing you more flexibility in the early stages of your business.

These government initiatives can significantly reduce the barriers to entry and contribute positively to your business growth.

By understanding the full extent of benefits Mauritius offers, you can make informed decisions to take advantage of these opportunities.

Operating a Business in Mauritius

Operating a business in Mauritius involves adhering to regulatory requirements, obtaining the necessary permits for business activities, and considering physical or virtual office solutions for your company’s operations.

Annual Compliance and Returns

Mauritius mandates annual filing requirements to maintain corporate compliance. Your business will need to file annual returns accompanied by financial statements. It’s important to note that the corporate tax rate is set at 15% on chargeable income. Ensure that your returns are accurate and submitted on time to the Mauritius Revenue Authority to avoid penalties.

Business Activities and Permits

Depending on your business activities, specific permits and licenses may be required. Engaging in activities like financial services or food distribution necessitates clearances from respective regulatory bodies such as the Financial Services Commission or the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Before commencing operations, ensure you have all the necessary permits:

  • Financial Services: Obtain a license from the Financial Services Commission.
  • Food & Beverage: Secure permits from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Local Office and Virtual Office Solutions

You have the option to establish a local office or utilize virtual office services. A physical presence through a local office can enhance credibility and facilitate interactions. If a physical space is not a priority, virtual office solutions offer flexibility and cost savings. Both options require:

  • Local Office: Lease or purchase agreements, utility setup.
  • Virtual Office: Service provider contract, digital infrastructure setup.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find concise answers to common queries regarding company formation in Mauritius, from legal requirements to the tax regime for offshore companies.

What are the legal requirements for establishing a company in Mauritius?

To establish a company in Mauritius, you must choose a business structure like a Global Business Company (GBC) or an Authorised Company (AC), and ensure compliance with the Companies Act. At least one shareholder is required.

What documents are needed for Mauritius company registration?

You’ll need to provide identification documents, proof of address, a business plan, and details of beneficial owners and directors. Specific requirements may vary depending on the company structure chosen.

How much are the fees associated with setting up a new business in Mauritius?

The fees for setting up a company in Mauritius can vary but generally include company registration fees, annual fees to the Financial Services Commission (FSC), and possibly other charges relating to licenses or permits.

What is the process for a foreign national to start a business in Mauritius?

As a foreign national, you can start a business in Mauritius by choosing the appropriate business entity, preparing the necessary documentation, and registering with the Registrar of Companies. You may also apply for an Occupation Permit to run the business.

Where can I search for registered companies in Mauritius?

You can search for registered companies in Mauritius through the online portal of the Corporate and Business Registration Department, where company details are openly accessible for due diligence.

What is the tax regime for offshore companies in Mauritius?

Offshore companies in Mauritius benefit from a tax-friendly regime with a low corporate tax rate. Additionally, Mauritius has double taxation agreements with many countries to prevent taxation of the same income in two different jurisdictions.

Getting Started with the Formation of Your Offshore Company

Should you have already determined your preferred jurisdiction, we encourage you to promptly reach out to us for a direct referral to our esteemed legal partners within that specific jurisdiction. Our network of trusted local attorneys, well-versed in their respective jurisdictional laws and regulations, stands ready to assist you in navigating the complexities of company incorporation and management.

In the event that you are still deliberating on the most suitable jurisdiction for your needs, we invite you to engage with us for a consultation. Our expertise in offshore company structures spans multiple jurisdictions, each with unique legal frameworks and advantages. This consultation aims to equip you with the necessary insights to make an informed decision, tailored to your specific circumstances.

Our commitment is to provide you with clarity and guidance, ensuring that your journey towards establishing an offshore company is seamless, compliant, and strategically sound. Take the first step towards owning an offshore company by contacting us today.

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