Look, see and decide
person deciding to move to Mauritius has a different experience in preparing
themselves for this event: some will come on a 'look, see and decide'
(or familiarization) trip organized by their employer; some will research
the island thoroughly, using the internet and books, or by contacting
other expats etc; and others will arrive having done neither, completely
unprepared for what is ahead of them. Whichever way you approach this
decision to move, it is definitely a good idea to come armed with some
fundamental information and advice about Mauritius. In the long term,
this will make your life here far more comfortable and successful.
The look, see and decide trip is by far the most hectic and stressful visit you can ever make to a new country, you will probably have up to about five days in which to deal with all the issues mentioned above. It is an overwhelming time. You will probably meet a number of expatriates and locals during this time and each of them will offer strong opinions about Mauritius. These conversations and the information provided become invaluable once you are back home again planning your move.
(These suggestions are from The Expert Expat: Your Guide to Successful
Relocating Abroad by Brayer-Hess and Linderman, which you may find
to be a useful resource in your move.)
Airport and airlineOn August 30, 2013, the Prime Minister, Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam inaugurated a new modern state-of-the-art passenger terminal at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. The new terminal, which covers a total surface area of 57 000 m2 will , in the future, handle 4 million passengers annually against 2.7 million presently. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is the only airport on Mauritius. Most of the hotels are approximately a twenty-five-minute drive from the airport if you plan to stay in the south-east of the island. This is not the ideal area in which to stay since most of the places you will need to visit are towards the centre, north and west of the island.
On the aeroplane, you will receive an international disembarkation card to complete. It is essential that you state your visiting address in Mauritius. The airport is friendly, clean and efficient.
The national airline is Air Mauritius. It has a network of routes to and from Europe, Africa, the Far East and Australia. Air Mauritius operates a well-maintained fleet with a good safety record. It is always wise to compare prices with other airlines when travelling to Mauritius.
BargainingBargaining is accepted and takes place mostly in the markets. Most shops have fixed prices but might give discount when asked. As in any country, it is always good to go away with both parties comfortable with the result, rather than to haggle too aggressively.
Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) or small guesthousesFor your 'look, see and decide' trip you might decide to choose guesthouses, B&Bs or smaller hotels as an option to stay in. Bookings can be done via the internet, by telephone or through estate agents, depending on the owners. We may be able to put you in touch with you in finding a temporary space to
Please send us an email (email@example.com) if you would like some assistance in finding a place to stay for your look, see and decide.
bus schedules are in fact followed quite well.
Taxis are the quickest way of travelling if you haven't rented a car. Taxis are available everywhere, from the airport exit to hotels, shopping centres, towns and villages. The taxis in Mauritius are mostly sedan cars with white registration plates with black numbers/letters. They also have a yellow taxi sign on the roof making them easy to spot. Prices are fairly standard but you could be charged more because you are a foreigner. If you make use of a taxi make sure that it is a registered taxi and don't just use the first taxi driver that walks up to you. Before arrival confirm with your new employer if you will be collected at the airport. If the company doesn't fetch you at the airport arrange beforehand with the new employer for a taxi to take you to your hotel or B&B. Taxis are safe to travel in.
A number of rental agencies are available on the island, both private and internationally recognized brand names. Cars can be rented from the agencies at the airport or pre-arranged by your travel agent or new employer. You can also pre-book your hire car via the internet. Road maps are not widely available, or up to date, so it may take you some time to get orientated but once you get the hang of it you can travel safely around the island. Approximately 99% of roads in Mauritius are tarred, although not all of them are in a good condition. Also see Driving.
If you would like us to assist you in renting a car, please mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later if you decide to purchase a vehicle, you may find this link useful to the National Transport Authority. They are responsible for registration and transfer of ownership of motor vehicles, collection of road tax and other licence fees etc.
The local currency is the Mauritian rupee (MUR), where Rs 1.00 = 100 cents. The Mauritian currency is available in both coins and notes. All the banks, major hotels and exchange bureaus provide facilities to exchange traveller's cheques and foreign currency. Banks and exchange bureaus are in the exit area of the airport building. You don't have to exchange your money at the airport, as there are banks in all the major towns.
All major credit cards are usually accepted by hotels, restaurants and larger shops. ATMs are widely available and you can withdraw money with your ATM card e.g. VISA or MasterCard.
Remember to pack shoes that can be worn in the sea to protect against sharp coral, sea urchins and stonefish. Stonefish stings are uncommon but can, in some cases, be fatal. If you are stung, go to the nearest hospital or clinic to get treatment. Suitable cheap plastic shoes are readily available in shops and supermarkets, particularly on the coast. See our article on 'Dangerous Animals in Mauritius'.
Drinking waterBottled water is available everywhere. It is advisable to drink bottled water rather than battle with an upset stomach on this short but vital exploration trip.
The maximum speed limit on the motorway is 110 km/h. In urban areas it can be as low as 40 km/h, unless signs indicate otherwise. Be aware that Mauritian roads are heavily surveillanced by CCV cameras. So watch the speed limits or be flashed!
Drunken driving is a heavy offence and random road blocks are set up to police this.
It is an offence to talk on mobile phones whilst driving.
Seat belts must be used at all times in front and rear seats. Children under the age of twelve are not allowed to sit in the front passenger seat.
The power supply is 220 V and plugs have three square pins (the same as the UK).
When you visit Mauritius it is very unlikely that you will need to speak
French/Creole. Almost everyone working in Mauritius is able and willing
to speak English, to a greater or lesser extent. Nevertheless a few words
in French show goodwill, which is appreciated and might just give you
a headstart. Click
here to learn some introductory words in French.
TippingTipping is not compulsory and is left to your discretion; 10% can be used as a guideline.
VaccinationsNo vaccination certificates are required for entry into Mauritius, unless travelling from a country infected by yellow fever or where yellow fever is classified as endemic. If your passport states that you have visited a country where there is malaria you might receive a visit from the health authorities to test for malaria. This is a standard blood test in order to keep Mauritius malaria free.
Who may enter Mauritius?Your travel advisor or new employer should be able to advise you on any specific details pertaining to entering Mauritius for you and your family.
In general, you are permitted to stay for a period not exceeding three months provided you have:
- a valid travel document
- valid return or onward tickets to your country of origin or residence
- a valid visa if needed
- sufficient funds to meet the cost of your stay (a minimum of 100 US dollars per night to stay in Mauritius)
- a confirmed booking for accommodation in Mauritius and that you are eligible to re-enter your country of origin or residence.
Visitors arriving without a visa (if it is a requirement) may be repatriated to their country of origin or residence at the transporting carrier's expense.
Please visit the Mauritius Passport and Immigration Office to ensure that you fulfil all the requirements to enter the country - the onus is on you as the visitor to get it right.
Employment is what brings you to Mauritius, whether it is self-employment or being employed on an expatriate package. If you are on an expatriate package, your documentation will be administered through the relevant department of your new company. In some cases, however, there can be miscommunication about the documents you must submit, especially the unabridged birth certificate. Verify which documents are to be submitted, do your own homework as well, apply for documents in time and ensure quick and effective application for necessary permits. It is possible!
If you are self-employed it is a good idea to use a recognised service provider who can assist you in the process of obtaining your occupational permit. These service providers can take the stress out of dealing with unfamiliar systems and ensure that your application is correct.
In general, what you need to know is that in order to work in Mauritius you need to be in possession of a work permit (and residence permit), issued by the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment or an occupation permit (Investor, Professional or Self Employed) which is issued by the Board of Investment. Family members (spouse/children) need to be in possession of a residence permit.
The application form for the occupation permit can be downloaded or obtained directly from:
Board of Investment
10th Floor, One Cathedral Square Building,
16, Jules Koenig Street,
Republic of Mauritius
Tel : +230 203 3800
Fax : +230 208 2924
Your occupational permit application will take a minimum of three to five days to be processed, if your application form has been completed correctly. With your application form you must submit original English or French documentation.
Attached to your application form you will need the following:
- letter of undertaking from your employer (professional only)
- original passport (valid for least six months), together with a valid visa (business visa) - applications will not be accepted if the visa has expired
- four recent passport-style colour photographs
- original unabridged birth certificate in English or French
- bank guarantee for the applicant made in favour of the Government of Mauritius (usually it is the employer's responsibility, if not contact the BOI for the amount)
- medical certificate issued by a doctor in Mauritius
- occupation permit fee which is a bank cheque drawn to the order of the Government of Mauritius (usually it is the employer's responsibility, if not contact the BOI for the amount).
For the spouse and dependents (children under 18 years), if any, an application for a normal residence permit should be made on the form Application to enter Mauritius, which should be submitted along with the following documents:
- original marriage certificate or documentary evidence of civil partnership/common law partner
- original passport (valid for at least six months) of each dependant
- original unabridged birth certificate of each dependant in English or French
- certificate of adoption in case of a legally adopted child
- four recent passport-style colour photographs of each dependent
- medical certificate issued by a doctor in Mauritius for each dependent
- bank guarantee in favour of the Government of Mauritius, as a security deposit for each dependent (applicant is responsible for the guarantee)
Regarding the medical certificate for the applicant and dependents:
Medical tests have to be done no longer than six months before the date of submitting your application. You and your dependents are required to do a set of compulsory medical tests. Children under twelve years of age are not required to do blood tests.
It is compulsorily to do some of the medical tests in Mauritius. These tests may be done at any private medical laboratory or clinic registered with the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life.
All the test results must be submitted to a local doctor who will issue a medical certificate following an examination. The medical certificate and reports for the tests must be submitted at the time of application. No application for an occupation permit will be accepted if the medical certificate is not attached. The medical certificate and the reports for the three tests done in Mauritius (HIV, Hepatitis B Surface Antigen and chest x-ray) must be submitted at the time of application.
Visit www.boimauritius.com for more information.
There is a shortage of English pre-primary, primary and secondary international schools in Mauritius, therefore space is limited and waiting lists long. Placing your child in the correct school for their needs forms a large part of the successful relocation of your child. School placement will therefore have high priority, and will require careful consideration and investigation from your side in the shortest possible time.
Meet with the principal of each school and arrive at the school with a well-prepared list of questions to ask. Aspects of importance could be curriculum, number of children in the class, travelling time to school, transport to and from school, extramural activities and special needs. Most of the private schools have seen many expatriate children come and go and they are well equipped to help with the academic, social and emotional transition of your child. Once you have decided on the school it is of the UTMOST IMPORTANCE to get your child's name on the waiting list and pay the deposit to ensure placement.
For your convenience, we have listed the English private schools to which most English-speaking expats send their children. There are, however, government schools and international French-speaking schools, if you decide to take a different route.
In Mauritius, most children travel to school by private bus from each of the different residential areas. The school is not responsible for the school bus but it will assist you in contacting the bus company. The fact that a town does not have an English-speaking school is not a problem, as long as there is a bus travelling to the school that you choose. It is advisable to put your child's name on the list for the bus as soon as you have decided where to live and where to send your child to school, in order to save you from driving to and from school. The children are perfectly safe on the school buses and for them this becomes one of the gems of the island lifestyle as they form close friendships with their fellow travellers.
Schooling options for children with learning difficulties are naturally more limited. APEIM (Association de Parents dEnfants Inadeptés de IIle Maurice) is an NGO that is working towards the full development, integration, and inclusion of the mentally disabled in Mauritius. Their services include:
- Inclusion in mainstream schools pre-primary, primary and secondary.
- Special education schools located in St Paul, Port-Louis, Beau-Bassin, Bonne-Mère and Mahebourg
- Workshops offering rehabilitation and training for adults in St Paul, Port-Louis, Rose-Hill, Bonne-Mère and Mahebourg
- Home visits available throughout the island
- Medical and paramedical services such as diagnosis, evaluation, healing, support, etc.
- Social support to families, including respite care
- Early intervention in children aged 0-6, by a mobile team covering St Paul, Port-Louis, Bonne-Mère, Mahebourg, Rivière des Anguilles and Pamplemousses.
For more information visit their website www.apeim.org.
Where to stay?
In choosing your accommodation and the area in which you will live, there are many factors to take into consideration, including the driving time to schools (most children in Mauritius travel by school bus), the proximity to work and the availability of shops, clinics and other amenities. These and other issues are detailed below (Housing location - factors to consider).
In addition, you might also consider choosing an area that is popular with other expats. Generally, the majority of expats tend to stay in a few core areas. This means that services such as shops and social/sports clubs tend to be more orientated to their cultural needs. It also means that there will be people around you who have been through the relocation experience, and can offer help and advice and who also speak your own language. Not everyone wants to live almost exclusively amongst expats but it is an additional factor to bear in mind when choosing an area in which to live.
English-speaking expats reside mostly in:
- the north: Grand Baie
- the south-east: Blue Bay
- the west: Black River, Flic en Flac, Le Morne and Albion
- the central plateau: Floreal
- the east: Flacq.
Housing location - factors to consider
Affordability is a key factor in determining your housing choice. As with any country, some areas are more desirable to live in and become very popular, commanding higher rentals, particularly for foreigners. Bear in mind that you might get a much larger house if you look slightly further afield. See Renting a property below for a summary of some of the costs involved in leasing. It is possible to bargain over a rental price, particularly if you are planning to stay long term. The lease agreement is negotiated between you and the estate agent and usually results in a one- or two-year lease agreement. Rental accommodation is either fully or partially furnished (by law), which is very important for you to know in order to plan what furniture you want to bring to Mauritius.
Climate may affect where you choose to live. Some people prefer to live on the plateau for the central location and to experience cooler weather all year round, although it is generally much wetter. Others prefer the dry heat of the coast, but bear in mind that temperatures on the coast are considerably hotter and that houses with a swimming pool and air conditioning are a necessity, especially in the summer, unless your house has been built with good ventilation. On the central plateau, these might not be of the utmost importance, but you would probably need a de-humidifier in order to keep husmidity and mould at bay.
Hospitals and medical care will be one of your major concerns. The island has various government hospitals, as well as private clinics in Floreal (Clinique Darné), Grand Baie (Clinique du Nord), Moka (Apollo Bramwell) and Clinique de l'Occident (Flic en Flac). These clinics are of a high standard with good medical facilities. Visit these clinics or local pharmacies to make sure that any long-term medication that you may need is available. If not, find out from the pharmacist which medication would be a suitable replacement and confirm this with your doctor/pharmacist when you return home. If there is confusion about the names (medications may be sold under different brand names) ask to see the pharmacist's IIMS/MIMS book; this book lists (in English) all drugs available with generic, brand and manufacturer's information.
Recreation facilities should be close by for the whole family to enjoy. These can vary from water sports to club activities or serious sports practice. Investigate if your preferred activities are available. The sports club is also one of the places where you are likely to meet fellow expats. Recreation facilities mainly cater for sporting activities. Arts and crafts activities are mainly run from private homes and are often advertised on supermarket noticeboards.
Religious facilities including mosques, temples and Catholic churches are found in all of the towns and cities. Assembly of God, Baptist, Pentacostal and Evangelical churches are not as widely spread.
Security is a major concern for most people moving into any new area. There are minor incidents of house burglary in Mauritius, especially on beachfront properties, but mostly it is still a safe haven. Neighbours will quickly tell you what is happening in and around the area. As with elsewhere, it is always advisable to stay alert and be aware. Security companies - offering twenty-four hour response - operate in most areas. The local police also patrol through the towns and villages.
Supermarkets are found in every suburb. The bigger malls are found in Grand Baie, Bagatelle, Cascavelle, Riche Terre, Phoenix and Trianon, although smaller supermarkets and shops are found in towns and villages. Products are from France, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, India and various other countries. Fresh products (meat, fish and vegetables) can be bought either in the supermarket or at the markets. The market vegetables are good and fresh, and are usually half the price of those in the supermarkets!
Travel time is a paradox in Mauritius. Although the island is small, travelling can take a serious amount of time out of your day. Test-drive the traffic in the morning and evening to familiarize yourself with traffic flow and approximate travel times for your main routes. In some areas, there are shortcuts through the sugarcane fields and the back streets of major towns - these can cut significant amounts of time off your route. Travelling into or through Port Louis in peak hours is a traffic nightmare, from whichever direction you approach it.
Renting a propertyOnce you have decided on your preferred area(s) to live you may need to consider whether to rent or to buy a house. Mauritius has strict laws and guidelines in place when it comes to buying property as a foreigner. Most expats lease property for the time period they are stationed in Mauritius. If you want to buy property, it is advisable to set up a meeting with the Board of Investment (BOI).
Some specific issues involved in property rental should always be borne in mind.
You can either make use of international real estate agencies, which are well marked and well placed in the main expat residential areas, and usually have the bulk of the housing stock. Or you can use independent brokers, which operate from either an office or from home. It might take some investigation to get hold of the independent brokers but don't underestimate them as they might negotiate a good deal for you. Some of them are linked to international brokers for the lease agreements and legality of the work. You can establish a good relationship with them and they will look after the interests of both you and the owner.
Relocating agents will go to great lengths to meet your needs and might accompany you to the various places you have to visit e.g. estate agents, schools, clinics etc. Their fees are set depending on the information package you decide upon.
Newspapers can be a good option for finding accommodation. You will need to establish if you are going to deal with an estate agent or privately with the owner. In dealing with the owner, make sure that your lease agreement is solid and valid, and read the small print.
Supermarket noticeboards might provide you with the bargain of a lifetime. Most of these advertisements are posted by private owners who prefer not to work with agents. Visit the property, negotiate the price and make sure that your lease agreement is satisfactory to both parties.
Employee accommodation may be provided by your employer as part of your remuneration package. Although you might not be able to choose where you want to reside, try to negotiate with your employer to get accommodation in a suitable area, although this will depend completely on company policy.
Websites and social networks are fast becoming the source of insider information for allot of island dwellers. Join the Facebook group ExpatMauritius.com.
What about my pets?
Cats and dogs
If you are considering bringing your pet(s) to Mauritius, this is a good time to visit the authorities to make yourself familiar with the regulations involved. Relocating your pet is costly and time-consuming, but it is worth it. Strict regulations are in place to ensure that Mauritius stays rabies free and your pet has to comply with all standards set by the Mauritian government before it can be imported here.
Authorities can be contacted at:
Ministry of Agro-Industry & Fisheries
Division of Veterinary Services
Tel +230 466 6662
When you visit the Division of Veterinary Services, you will receive all necessary documentation for the importation of your pet and you will be able to view the quarantine facilities.
To import your pet to Mauritius you have to:
- familiarize yourself with any export regulations of the country in which you currently reside
- familiarize yourself with the import regulations for pets in Mauritius by contacting or visiting the Ministry of Agro-Industry & Fisheries
- obtain an import permit from the Chief Veterinary Officer, Ministry of Agro-Industry & Fisheries (at your expense)
- receive a health clearance certificate from a registered veterinary in the country of residence prior to arrival
- have a clearing agent in Mauritius
- have a letter to the Ministry of Agro-Industry & Fisheries informing them of the arrival of your pet.
On arriving at the island, your pet will be met by yourself (to identify it), your clearing agent and an official from the Ministry.
Your pet will be transported directly to the quarantine facilities where it will stay for the next three months (except pets imported from the UK), at your expense. You will be able to visit your pet daily while it is in quarantine.
There is a restriction on the following breeds of dog entering Mauritius: Fila Braziliero, Japanese Tosa, Pitbull Terrier, American Pitbull and Dogo Argentino.
Get your pet passport
<< here >>
|For more information on dog clubs,
please see the FCC site:
Mauritius has a lively racehorse industry (Champ de Mars racetrack is the oldest in the southern hemisphere).
Although rather costly, it is a relatively easy process to bring horses and ponies into Mauritius. Due to the import of racehorses to Mauritius from South Africa, Mauritius has well-established regulations for such imports.
The Mauritius Turf Club (MTC) manages all the arrangements for the importation of horses into Mauritius. If you are considering importing your horse, contact the Secretariat of MTC as a first port of call to get an idea of their requirements and the costs.
The major concern about importing horses from South Africa is African Horse Sickness (AHS). Each of the horses to be imported needs a passport detailing that all the valid AHS injections were done by a registered veterinarian. The last injection cannot be less than thirty days old and more than twelve months. Remember that the AHS course of injections comprises two injections that have to be done at least twenty-one days apart.
Horses are isolated in Johannesburg twenty-one days prior to departure and are quarantined for fourteen days in Mauritius. All other requirements, such as Equine Influenza vaccinations, will be carried out and recorded in the animal's passport by a vet while the animal is in isolation.
The cost of transport to the isolation farm in Johannesburg, the veterinary
and stabling costs incurred at the isolation farm, transport to and
from the airport, air freight, customs, stabling and groom's fees at
the Mauritius quarantine station in Palma (near Quatre Bornes) will
all be invoiced to you by the Mauritius Turf Club. In addition, you
are required to provide feed for your horses at the quarantine station
Finding suitable stabling for your horses in Mauritius could prove a bigger challenge than actually getting them into Mauritius. Horses in Mauritius are generally stabled 24/7 and are placed in a walker for exercise for an hour each day
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