Your survival kit
Follow the A-Z quick answer guide below and make your introduction to the island an interesting and less stressful experience. Take a moment to relax and to laugh every now and then, and be aware that however hard you try you won't be able to achieve everything that you want immediately, it will take time. Remember that you are now living on a small island with a slower pace of life than you may be used to. You will have to adapt to this and go with the flow, or you will end up very frustrated.
If you did not have a look, see and decide trip then you might have missed some of our practical information on subjects like driving, electricity supply, tipping, time difference, transport etc. This is a good time to go and have a look.
A-Z quick answer guide
In case of a car accident where no one is hurt and blame is agreed between the two parties, you must fill out an accident report form (Agreed Statement of Facts on Motor Vehicle Accident). This form must be carried in all vehicles. The back of the form lists the circumstances in which the form cannot be used (more than two vehicles involved, no valid driving licence, disagreement on blame, etc). There is no need to call the police in case of this type of accident, the issue will be resolved by the insurance companies of the drivers.
For accidents outside the scope of the form (property is damaged, someone is injured etc) then you must call the local police IMMEDIATELY, and preferably someone in your new circle of friends, who can speak French if possible (if your spouse can't be reached). Remember, you are a foreigner and may face some angry or aggressive behaviour, particularly if someone is injured in the accident. There may be attempts to force you to acknowledge guilt, do not do this. If the situation is escalating and you feel you may be in danger, don't wait for the police to arrive, go to the nearest police station. A police statement of the accident must be made within 24 hours of the accident occurring. Don't leave it, do it and make sure you follow the letter of the law meticulously. Keep your own notes of events.
The following paperwork and accessories are required by law to be in
your vehicle: driver's licence, vehicle licence, insurance vignette,
a yellow crayon as marker, the agreed statement of facts form and a
pair of red warning triangles.
ADSL telephone and internet can be requested from Mauritius Telecom/Orange. It may take some time to install the line, which can be very frustrating. Different ADSL packages are available. Wireless ADSL is available from a number of providers (Nomad, MTML, My.T), or you can install a WiFi router in your house along with your ADSL line.
Arts and crafts
Some people run arts and crafts workshops from home while others get together in groups on a monthly basis. An arts and crafts market (Bozart) is held every so often at various places around the island (Black River, Curepipe, Grand Baie). It is a wonderful source of information for the specific craft you want to do.
Assurance (life): Mauritius has a number of assurance companies providing services for the local population. However, many expats find that they offer insufficient cover to ensure that their families are financially secure if anything were to happen to the main income provider. If you would like more information on providing you and your family with life assurance.
Baby clubs are run by individuals getting together; no formal baby club organisation exists that we know of so far in Mauritius. Nursery schools are the place to find out about a baby club in your residing area. Try to join one of the social networks groups like Black River Mums or Mums of the North and you will be sure to find an appropriate group.
Babysitting is not necessarily done by your domestic worker/maid. There are ladies that only do babysitting and the expat circle will be the best place to find the name and contact details of a reliable babysitter. Don't assume that your domestic worker will do babysitting during the day, find out if she does; if not, you might have to pay extra for that service or employ a second person. If you need babysitting services at night the rates are payable per hour.
Bus schedules - national transport
Buses are a cheap way of travelling, check the schedules here.
Bus schedules - schools
The school buses depart from each area at a specific time in the morning. Find out from the school the pickup time and location for your residing area. After school the children will be dropped off at, or near, your home, as the school bus makes its circuitous route through your town.
Buying a car is both an interesting and time-consuming exercise. New vehicles are available at car dealers, mainly in and around Port Louis. Second-hand vehicles are available everywhere but check the vehicle out very carefully before you buy it. Car imports are subject to heavy taxes, so prices are high. New vehicles have a registration number such as 123 OC 08, where OC indicates the month in which the vehicle was bought and 08 is the purchase year. Vehicles with a Z registration number are usually imported second-hand/used vehicles.
Aspects to take into consideration when purchasing a vehicle included the resale value of the car, if spare parts are readily available in Mauritius, and if the vehicle can be serviced here.
The following paperwork and accessories are required by law to be in your vehicle:
Drivers licence, vehicle licence, insurance vignette, a yellow crayon as marker and the agreed statement of facts form (both in case of an accident), a fire extinguisher and a pair of red warning triangles.
Transport Authority. are responsible for registration and transfer
of ownership of motor vehicles, collection of road tax and other licence
See mobile phones
You can either consider it as a culture shock or a cultural re-orientation and educational process - the choice is yours. A wonderful book to read in preparation for the cultural experience is Culture Shock! Mauritius by Roseline Ngcheong-Lum (2007).
Read our document on cyclones to learn about cyclone warnings, how to prepare for a cyclone and other vital information. Find out from your insurance company about insurance of property and vehicles during a cyclone.
Doctors are trained in South Africa, England, France, Ireland, India and various other countries. Their approach may therefore differ from what you are used to and it may take some time until you settle with a new general practictioner. GPs are all in private practice, either on their own, in a cabinet with other doctors, or at a clinic. You will have to pay after each consultation and claim the money back from your health insurance scheme, the same applies to any medicines that you may be prescribed.
Domestic help and wages
Domestic help is widely available. Language might be a problem if you cannot speak French or Creole and it might take some time for you to find someone that suits your specific needs.
Some rental agreements include a domestic worker; make sure that the person in your service is registered at Social Security by the house owner. If not, it is important that you register your employee. The telephone number of the specific office can be obtained by ringing the National Solidarity and Senior Citizen Welfare and Reform Institutions, in Port Louis, on 269 0715.
Discuss the job description of your employee in detail with him/her and make sure that both parties have a clear understanding of services that will be provided. Don't assume, for example that cleaning the swimming pool is included in a work contract; discuss it clearly to avoid misunderstandings.
You are, by law, liable to pay the transport costs of your employee to and from their house either on a daily, weekly or monthly basis as discussed and agreed between you and your employee.
In the past, the government set a wage increase in July. This has recently been changed and now wage increases will be effective in January of each year. Salaries must be adjusted accordingly. A thirteenth-month salary is compulsory and is usually payable by 15 December each year. (Pro-rata if your employee has not been with you for a full year.)
The Domestic Remuneration Act determines the basic wages for domestic employees. Legally this is the minimum you must pay workers in your service. Salaries are very low. As a general guideline speak to your fellow expatriates and find out what is the going rate in the area you are residing in.
Tap water is chemically treated in Mauritius and is fit to drink. However, you will find that many expats will either have a water filter or will hire a water dispenser for bottled water.
It is important to make sure that your driver's licence is officially recognized in Mauritius. On arriving here, you need to go to the police headquarters at Line Barracks in Port Louis (+230 212 1212), where your driver's licence will be validated by a police officer. They will inform you whether or not to return on a yearly basis to renew the validation. Be sure to check how long you are legally allowed to drive in Mauritius on a foreign licence if applicable, after which time you will be required to convert your foreign licence to a Mauritian one or risk facing a penalty.
The message is simple: Don't do drugs! Drug trafficking in Mauritius carries long jail sentences.
Education planning: Mauritius has excellent international schools providing first class education to children from many different cultures and educational backgrounds. All the international schools are fee paying and once schooling is finished, many opt for a foreign university.
These can take place at any time of the day. Usually the Central Electricity Board (CEB) puts out notices on local radio, but don't count on it and, of course, you must be able to understand French/Creole to be able to follow the announcements. If the power cut is going on for a long time then ring the CEB to find out when power will restored.
Print out our list of emergency numbers to stick on the fridge.
Flooding and torrential rain
Flash floods may happen after torrential rains and cyclones. The Government decides whether or not it is safe for children to go to school, and will issue bulletins keeping people informed. They might even cancel school and send children home. If torrential rain is forecast keep an ear out for radio bulletins, starting at 06:00 hrs and continuing throughout the day, as required. Get yourself involved in a mobile phone text network where people inform each other of announcements.
Financial planning/advice: If you are moving from one country to another you will require advice on how best to maximise income from the currency you are earning. The Mauritian rupee has a history of depreciation and the economy has high inflation, which can have long-term effects if you are paid in rupees or are converting from a hard currency. Mauritius has very advantageous tax rates and promotes new businesses and enterprises. .
Read this document on fixed penalties following an offence.
French language courses
If you are keen to learn French then you can either hire a private tutor, or sign up for lessons from an organisation such as Alliance Francaise. Private tutors often advertise on supermarket noticeboards, or you can get a recommendation from a friend.
A generator is a good idea in a country with breaks in the electricity supply, especially during a cyclone when electricity may be cut for a considerable time and you end up with candles and a defrosted freezer. Remember to get a generator BEFORE a cyclone is on its way!
To find a hairdresser who 'understands' your hair may take some time. Coiffeurs (hairdressers) are widely available but it may be better to ask a newly found friend to recommend a hairdresser with up to date training.
Health/medical insurance: Mauritius has some excellent private hospitals,
which provide a good service for your day-to-day medical needs. There
are many different types of health cover providing security for you
and your family so that your treatment costs are refunded. If you want,
or need, to be treated outside Mauritius, or wish to make sure you and
your family are covered for all eventualities, then we suggest you look
at an international healthcare plan.
Spending a weekend away at a hotel on the island is always a welcome treat. Look out for special offers, especially in the low season, and remember to ask for the resident's rate when booking. On payment, you will need to present a copy of your residence/occupation permit.
Insurance (general): Insurance companies in Mauritius will be able to provide you with all the basic insurance needs you and your business may require (car, house contents, etc.). Insurance and assurance are often confused here, if you would like more information on making sure that you are covered for all eventualities.
The main public libraries are in Rose-Hill, Quatre Bornes, Curepipe, Port Louis and Vacoas. The books are generally in French but they also have some English language material too. The British Council, in Rose Hill, has an English-language library, which has non-fiction and some fiction. All libraries require a joining fee.
Road maps are generally tourist orientated, and do not show all the smaller roads. Even if they do, you will most probably find the street names don't appear on either the map or the street itself.
The three major markets are at Port Louis market (every day), Quatre Bornes (Thursday and Sunday) and Mahebourg (Monday).
Cinemas show movies in French (usually dubbed) or Hindi, but very seldom, if ever, in English. However, English-language films are shown at Star Cinema, Bagatelle, every day at around 6pm. This even includes 3D films! Check out www.aucinemastar.com for listings.
Having teenagers means that you will probably need to find an orthodontist. Well-qualified orthodontists are present on the island.
Parking meters / vouchers
There are no parking meters in Mauritius. You can buy parking vouchers
from local petrol stations. They come in books of ten, in different
amounts (Rs 5, Rs 10), giving you different lengths of parking time,
depending on the zone where you park. Complete and display these vouchers
in the window of your vehicle if you park in the parallel parking zones
in towns. These are marked by zone signs (either zone 1 or 2). Read
the zone sign and complete your parking voucher according to the indicators
on the zone boards. You might have to complete a couple of these vouchers
to cover the time required. If you receive a parking ticket follow the
same procedure as for a traffic fine.
Pest control services become a necessity the moment you see a huge cockroach! A number of companies offer these services, providing different options specific to your household's needs.
Post is delivered to your house. Go to your nearest post office and introduce yourself; the post master will introduce you to the postman and your post will then get delivered to your door, however incomplete your address appears to be!
Mauritius has a number of radio stations, mainly in French, Creole, Hindi and with a smattering of English in between. Mauritius does not have its own English-only radio station but it does broadcast the BBC World Service on 1575 kHz medium wave.
The best advice when it comes to the sea is that everything in it is potentially poisonous and dangerous to touch or to step on. If you are not experienced at diving or snorkelling, take extra care when you go into the water. Always wear rubber shoes or flippers in the water and don't touch anything in the sea.Read more about recycling in Mauritius.
Rugby clubs can be found in Black River (Riverland), Quatre Bornes, Grand Baie, and Curepipe (Dodo Club). The Mauritius Rugby Union is located at Ruisseau Creole, Black River.
If school uniforms are not for sale at the school itself they can be purchased from The School Shop opposite Victoria/Candos Hospital, near La Louise, Quatre Bornes.
Most houses have a septic tank. These septic tanks are built in an area of your yard. All waste goes to the septic tank to be broken down by bacteria. This bacterial balance needs to be kept in order to ensure that waste is properly broken down. Local supermarkets have cleaning products marked 'for septic tank usage' which can be used in toilets, bathrooms, kitchens etc.
Mauritius Broadcasting Company shows three freely available channels and an increasing number of digital channels (requiring a digital TV or a set-top box), with programmes in French, Hindi and Creole, and some English-language programmes. If this is not enough for you then various satellite TV options exist in Mauritius - offering French (CanalSat) or English-language (DSTV) channels. Satellite TV offices are in Discovery House (St Jean Road, Quatre Bornes) and near Game at Trianon.
You will probably be regarded as a tourist and therefore will be asked to pay tourist prices when you visit tourist attractions. Mention that you are a resident, and show a copy of your occupation/residence permit, because there are usually two rates (one for tourists and a lower rate for resident's). Investigate different tourcompanies and you will find even better prices for catamaran trips, fishing etc.
Traffic fines and the PPS
A traffic fine (such as for speeding, parking illegally, overtaking on a white line etc) needs to be paid within ten days of receiving the fine. This payment takes place at a police station assigned to receiving traffic fine payments. If you fail to pay the fine, you will receive a letter to appear in court to plead guilty to the offence. This court appearance is in Port Louis or otherwise stated on your summons letter, and it results in having to pay the fine at court. To avoid this make sure your traffic fine is paid within the days stipulated on the fine. If you do not pay your fine and fail to turn up at court then police officers may arrive at your door to arrest you be warned!
The Penalty Points System (PPS), was introduced with the adoption of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill in 2012. Read here for more information.
Water and electricity bills are payable at any Central Electricity Bureau (CEB) office. The sign outside these offices is blue and yellow with CEB written in white in the centre. These offices may have limited opening hours, find out which days and what time the office in your residing area is open.
You can also pay your electricity bills at the local post office. Water bills to be paid at the CEB office only.
Your new GP will be able to continue with your child's vaccinations once you have supplied them with the inoculation records from your previous doctor. Depending on your home country and the protocol of that country, you might see some slight changes but it will most probably follow the same protocol line. Please see this article for more information on vaccines in Mauritius.
see Domestic help
The water supply to residential areas is controlled by the Central Water Authority (CWA). Each house has its own water tank which supplies water to the house from the mains water supply. Many houses only have mains water for a few hours a day, which is why large tanks are required. If your tank is empty it can take an overnight wait before it fills up again. Be wise in your water usage and find out from your local CWA office at what time you are on mains supply.
These can be performed at many hospitals and clinics
Mauritius does not have a zoo but it does have lovely adventure, bird and lion parks and also a crocodile park, which has animals found on Mauritius and other islands in the Indian Ocean!
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