Mauritius: A Versatile Centre For Offshore Trusts

Last Updated: 5 July 1999


The Mauritius offshore trust provides a legitimate means to protect one's assets against personal liability, high taxes, exchange controls, or risks of confiscation. In addition to the asset protection benefits and confidentiality features typical of offshore trusts in other jurisdictions, Mauritius offers the settlor attractive tax planning benefits.


Mauritius Offshore Business Activities Authority (MOBAA) is governed by the Offshore Trusts Act 1992 (the Act). The Act allows for protective or discretionary trusts, charitable trusts, purpose trusts, commercial or trading trusts, and foreign trusts. These trusts may be created by an oral declaration or by an instrument in writing, a will, or a codicil. To be enforceable, the declaration of trust must be registered with MOBAA, accompanied by a registration fee of US$250.

In order to be registered, an offshore trust must also satisfy the following conditions:

  • the settlor must not at any time in the trust's duration be a resident of Mauritius;
  • the trustee, which may be an individual, a licensed management company, an offshore bank, or an offshore company, must be authorized by MOBAA to act as a trustee;
  • at all times, there must be a trustee resident in Mauritius;
  • unless administered by a body corporate, the number of trustees shall not be less than two;
  • additional trustees may be appointed by provisions in the trust instrument and, in default of any specific provisions, by the remaining trustees or their representatives, or by the Mauritius Supreme Court; and
  • the trust property must not include any assets situated in Mauritius.

On appointment, the resident trustee submits to MOBAA a declaration that the above requirements have been met and that the trust qualifies as an offshore trust under the Act.


The Mauritius offshore trust allows a choice of law by the settlor. Provisions of the Act also include anti-forced heirship rules. No perpetuity rules apply to charitable and purpose trusts. The duration of the trusts, other than charitable or purpose trusts, is limited to 100 years or a shorter period, as provided by the settlor. Income may be accumulated for any period within the duration of the trust. Variation of the trust is allowed where provided for by the trust instrument or by application to the Mauritius Supreme Court.


Provisions in the Act forbidding the disclosure of the trustees' deliberations or the names of settlors ensure strict confidentiality. Beneficiaries' names may only be disclosed if they are residents of Mauritius or a body corporate resident in Mauritius.Beneficiaries must be identifiable by name or ascertainable by reference to a class or relationship with another person. The other person may be living or not at the time of the creation of the trust or at any other time fixed by the trust instrument for determining the members of a class. A settlor or a trustee may also be a beneficiary but shall not at any time be the sole beneficiary of the trust.

The Act was amended in July 1996 to provide for the office of a protector to supervise the trustees and to ensure that the trust is administered in accordance with the settlor's "memorandum of wishes". While the protector may be a settlor, a trustee, or a beneficiary of the trust, he or she will not be regarded as a trustee.


The Act provides that in the absence of intent to defraud, an international trust shall not be void or voidable as a consequence of the subsequent bankruptcy of the settlor or in any action brought against the settlor by his creditors. Where the creditor has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the offshore trust was created with intent to defraud the settlor's creditors, the court may declare a trust to be void or voidable. No action may be brought against a trustee of an offshore trust more than two years after the date of transfer assets to the trust.


Mauritius attributes great importance to its growing role as a tax-planning centre. An offshore trust can elect at any time to be a resident or a non-resident by filing a declaration to that effect with the Commissioner of Income Tax. Under the provisions of the Finance Act 1996, a non-resident trust and non-resident beneficiaries will be exempt from all filing requirements and taxes in Mauritius. Residents offshore trusts will be taxed at 15% on the trust's income (minus distributions). Credit will be allowed for foreign tax paid on the trust's income. Beneficiaries will be taxed at 15% on distributions.

In becoming a resident trust, an offshore trust is able to benefit from the Mauritius tax treaty network. So far Mauritius has concluded 24 tax treaties and is party to a series of treaties under negotiation.

Offshore trusts in Mauritius offer confidentiality, asset protection, and a good deal of flexibility for the investor. The growing number of tax treaties and a commitment to avoid double taxation for resident trusts make Mauritius an attractive option for investors.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

This article also appears in the 'International Offshore and Financial Centres Handbook 1999/2000'. For further information about this highly informative guide to offshore centres, or to order your copy, please phone +44 (0) 207 820 7733 or send an email to

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