Mauritius Offshore Company Formation

by : Ramapati Singhania

The island of Mauritius has a total land area of around 784 square miles. The road and public infrastructure is well developed with 1,926 km of highway of which around 1868 km is paved. These highways are also equipped with around 44 km of expressways to ensure the fluidity of traffic circulation. Only around 58 km of roads in Mauritius have been left unpaved.

The island of Mauritius was known to Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century. Mauritius was first explored by the Portuguese in 1505. Mauritius formally broke ties with the British Crown in March 1992, becoming a republic within the Commonwealth.

Since then Mauritius has progressed in leaps and bounds. Mauritius has attracted considerable foreign investment and now has one of Africa's highest per capita incomes.

For attracting prospective investors Mauritius offers a range of very attractive investment incentives. The focus is on improving the financial sector and the various services provided by it, to make Mauritius offshore company formation a suitable option for investors all over the world.

The process of Mauritius offshore company formation is different from a lot of other countries. The company incorporation in Mauritius is known as GBL 1 which is an abbreviation for a Global Business License Company Category 1.

The companies incorporated in Mauritius are entities increasingly opted for by non resident Indians (or NRIs) for tax friendly investment into India because of the double tax treaty between the two countries.

Mauritius is a safe country for offshore investment because of its vibrant democracy and political and economic stability.

Mauritius offshore company formation is usually more difficult in terms of legal requirements because the Government of Mauritius give special attention to the process of company incorporation in Mauritius.

The process of Mauritius company formation usually takes more time than the formation of companies in other offshore jurisdictions, but going through a Mauritius offshore company formation and setting up a corporation is well worth the time and effort required due to the various advantages offered by the Mauritius legislation.

The legislation governing companies in Mauritius can be easily recognized as having been descended from English law. Many Mauritian lawyers and attorneys have been trained in the UK. Mauritius offshore company formation and handling of other company affairs is regulated under the Companies Act 2001.

Formation of a company here is expensive and time consuming because of the extensive documentation required.

However the actual registration process for a Mauritius offshore company formation is quick, provided the Know Your Client documents are in order.

The 4 basic types are:

1. A simple tax saving offshore company.

This is a General Business License 2 [GBL 2] company. The basic characteristics are:

* It is the cheapest option for a Mauritius offshore company formation.

* There is are no taxes.

* Information is not made public, and neither are audited accounts required.

* Corporate and nominee directors are allowed.

* Stricter Know Your Client laws make this a lesser used option for pure offshore companies which do not need the double tax treaty advantages.

2. General Business License 1 [GBL 1] company is a resident, 3% tax company, for investing in 28 countries where it has Double Tax Avoidance Treaties - prominent among them are India, China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa.

The main features are:

* No withholding or dividend taxes.

* Easy investment into India, China and 26 other countries.

* Strict and detailed Know Your Client requirements as above.

3. Protected Cell Company for multiple investments with different investors via one company but different 'investment cells'. Insurance companies with different risk profiles and customer types, and funds opt for this structure since it is expensive to administer.

The main features are:

* Its a single legal entity, but it can have separate 'cells' each with their own assets, liabilities and investors.

* Each 'cell' issues its own dividends and financial statements, and has its own directors.

* Each cell can be liquidated when it outlives its financial usefulness - e.g. funds raised for a separate finite life project.

* Funds use this structure for different class of investors or for different class of investments.

Since all the administrative costs for each cell are the same as those for a company, only large financial systems use this structure.


4. Trusts of many types which protect inheritances and identities - whichever you are looking for.

Trusts are legal entities where you give your assets and or income to a them - for free. The trustees then are responsible for the administering of these assets under your guidelines as may have been set forth by you at the formation of the trust.

The basic characteristics are:

* Highly confidential

* Combined with a GBL company it can conduct business.

* You can set rules of how to distribute income or wealth during your lifetime or after you pass away

* You can be, or appoint a person who supervises the Trustees.

* You can chose which laws govern the Trust.

The costs are about the same as for a Resident Mauritius {GBL 1] company but the Trust is very versatile.

So which type of Mauritius offshore company formation is good for you?