Foreign investors : Conditions of residency and work – Invest in Tahiti
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Foreign investors : Conditions of residency and work
The entry of foreign nationals to settle and/or work in French Polynesia is subject to specific conditions.
The regulations are different from those enforced in Metropolitan France and the other French overseas departments and communities.
A residence permit is required for periods of stay in excess of three months, except for nationals of a Member State of the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA), the Swiss Confederation. Work, whether as an employee or a self-employed individual, requires a permit.
Regarding stays under three-month duration, foreign nationals (non-EU, EEA, Switzerland and certain nationalities) must obtain a visa, to be applied for before entering the territory, from the consular authorities nearest to their place of residence. The visa must include the mandatory words:”Valid for French Polynesia”. Aliens as follows are exempted from a visa to enter the territory of French Polynesia: holders of a valid residence permit or long-term visa, issued by France or any other State party to or associated with the convention enforcing the Schengen Agreement and implementing the Schengen provisions in full, with respect to stays not exceeding three months per six-month periods.
With regard to long-term stays (beyond three months), residence documents must be applied for within two months following entry in French Polynesia, with the High Commissioner of the Republic and prior to expiration of the visa. The Council of Ministers is consulted with respect to each individual application for a residence permit.
There are two types of residence document:
Temporary residence permit: granted for a maximum one-year period, subject to renewal. It is applied for with the High Commission of the Republic in French Polynesia within two months of entry in the territory.
Residence permit: granted to foreign nationals proving continuous residency of at least five years in French Polynesia, except special cases.
The principle applied is freedom of foreign investments. Foreign investors do not benefit, de facto, from a right of residency, which remains a prerogative of the State.
Foreign investments considered in the sectors of fishing, aquaculture, mother-of-pearl and pearl farming, audiovisual or telecommunications, as well as for the purchase of property or real estate rights, are subject to a licensing scheme prior to their completion. Foreign investments considered in other sectors are subject to a reporting scheme, to be made within three months of their completion. However, the acquisition of foreign holdings not exceeding 20% of the capital stock of listed companies and 33.3% of the capital of non-listed companies are exempted from such a scheme.
Formalities are submitted to the President of French Polynesia, while the examination thereof is the responsibility of the Investment Promotion Authority of French Polynesia – invest in Tahiti.
Employees: any non-French individual, including nationals of a member country of the European Union, wishing to work in an employed capacity in French Polynesia, is required to have a work permit. The initial application for a permit is sent in writing to the Ministry in charge of Employment and lodged by the employer with the Employment, Training and Occupational Integration Department (SEFI).
Employment, Training and Occupational Integration Department (SEFI)
Self-employed: oreign individuals (nationals from outside the European Union) wishing to work as self-employed in the areas of commerce, industry and arts and crafts are required to apply for a foreign trader’s permit with the SEFI.
The applicants must prove they have lawful residency in French Polynesia and have applied for or obtained a residence document whereby they may carry on an activity subject to authorization. The relevant government service will review the viability of the business project
When the application file submitted is considered complete, a three-month maximum examination period should be anticipated. The trader’s permit is issued by the SEFI for a period of five years, subject to renewal.
The said “foreign trader’s permit” is required for:
an activity as sole trader;
an activity within the framework of a company as foreign partner held indefinitely, jointly and severally liable for corporate debts, partner and foreign third-party with power to run, manage or bind the legal entity;
an activity carried on by a natural person having the power to bind a foreign legal entity under an establishment, branch or commercial agency in French Polynesia.
Financial transfers from French Polynesia to foreign countries are not subject to any tax or customs restriction. There are no reporting requirements with respect to transfers between Metropolitan France and the Overseas Communities such as French Polynesia.
On the other hand, in pursuance with Articles L.721-4, L.731-5, L.751-6, L.761-5 and L.741-6 of the Monetary and Financial Code, there is a reporting obligation between these communities and foreign countries, whether they are Member States and Third-States of the European Union. However, transfer amounts under XPF 1,193,317 (EUR 10,000) are exempted from reporting (Articles L.741-4, L.751-4 and L.761-3 of the same code).