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What South Africans should consider when immigrating to the Isle of Man

What South Africans should consider when immigrating to the Isle of Man

February 14, 2024


In 2019, the Isle of Man was voted the best place to live in the British Isles, and 12th best place to live in the world, according to the HSBC Expat Survey. The longest running independent survey of expats, the poll explores important criteria such as economic stability, wellbeing and family benefits such as finance, education, healthcare and quality of life to offer perspective on on global country comparisons. The survey found that 92% of expats living in the Isle of Man said they felt safer and more secure than where they previously lived, with work-life balance, ample outdoor activities and a strong sense of community being just a handful of reasons why expats linger in the Isle of Man longer than planned. With this in mind, let’s unpack what South Africans need to know about immigration to the Isle of Man.

Can South Africans live in the Isle of Man?

Yes! The Isle of Man is hungry for the skills and work ethic that people and businesses from South Africa can bring. The Isle of Man is a sought-after immigration destination for expats, actively drawing skills and talent from diverse industries such as financial services, technology, gaming, medicine, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Factors such as favourable tax incentives, a quick path to British citizenship, accessibility, and lifestyle contribute to an increasing number of South Africans being attracted to the Island. In fact, there are already roughly 8 000 South Africans living in the Isle of Man, which has a population of 80 000.

What are the pros and cons of living in the Isle of Man?

The Isle of Man, a stunning island nestled in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. It’s known for its stunning scenery, relaxed pace of life, and low tax rates. But like any other place, there are pros and cons to living there.

Pros of living in the Isle of Man:

  1. Beautiful scenery: The Isle of Man is a nature lover’s paradise, with rolling hills, rugged coastlines, and sandy beaches. There are also plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, and fishing. Sounds a lot like South Africa, right?
  2. Low taxes: The Isle of Man has a low tax regime, with no income tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, or stamp duty. This can be a major draw for people who are looking to save money by moving out of a high tax environment, like South Africa.
  3. Safe and friendly: The Isle of Man is known as a very safe place to live, with a low crime rate. The Manx people have a well-deserved reputation for being friendly and welcoming.
  4. Strong sense of community: The Isle of Man has a strong sense of community, with many events and activities taking place throughout the year. This can be a great way to meet new people and make friends, something which is challenging to do in South Africa.
  5. Good quality of life: The Isle of Man has a high quality of life, with excellent healthcare, education, and infrastructure. What more could you ask for?

The cons of living in the Isle of Man:

  1. High cost of living: The cost of living there is higher than in the UK, particularly for housing and food. This is due to the island’s remote location and limited economy.
  2. Limited job opportunities: The Isle of Man has a small economy, and there are not as many job opportunities as there are in the UK, which can be an obstacle for those looking for work.
  3. Isolation: The Isle of Man is obviously an island, and this can feel isolating for some people. There are limited cultural and entertainment options, and it can be difficult to travel to and from the island.
  4. Dependence on the ferry: The Isle of Man is reliant on the ferry for travel to and from the UK. This can be disruptive if the ferry is cancelled due to bad weather.
  5. Speaking of weather: The Isle of Man has a temperate climate, but it can be wet and windy. This can be a challenge for people who are not used to it. Capetonians should be fine!

At the end of the day, whether or not the Isle of Man is a good place to live depends on your individual priorities and circumstances. If you are looking for a beautiful, safe, and friendly place to live with a low tax rate, then the Isle of Man could be a good option for you. However, if you are looking for a place with plenty of job opportunities and cultural activities, then the Isle of Man may not be the right fit.

How can you immigrate to the Isle of Man from South Africa?

Immigrating to the Isle of Man from South Africa involves meeting specific requirements and choosing the right visa route. Here are some key options:

1. British Ancestry:

  • If you have one or more British-born grandparents (Isle of Man, UK, or Channel Islands) and intend to work, this is often the easiest route.
  • You’ll still need a domestic Work Permit to work in the Isle of Man.
  • This offers a five-year path to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and eventually British citizenship.

2. Worker Migrant Visa:

  • This visa applies if you’ve received a job offer from a qualifying Isle of Man employer with a minimum salary (varies by role).
  • Some roles are exempt from local worker advertisement requirements.
  • English language proficiency at CEFR level B1 is necessary.
  • Similar to British Ancestry, it leads to ILR and British citizenship eligibility after five and six years, respectively.

3. Other routes:

  • Spouse/Civil Partner Visa: For accompanying a spouse or civil partner who already has permission to live in the Isle of Man.
  • Family Member Visa: For joining close family members residing in the Isle of Man.
  • Long-Term Care Visa: For providing long-term care to a resident.

How does tax residency work in the Isle of Man?

Isle of Man’s tax residency rules determine your liability to pay income tax on your worldwide income. Here’s a breakdown of the key factors:

Primary rule for tax residency – presence and intent:

  • Physical presence: Spending 183 days or more in the Isle of Man in a tax year establishes residency. The tax year runs from 6 April to 5 April following.
  • Intention: Arriving with the “view or intent of establishing residence” makes you resident from arrival. This is regardless of physical presence.

Secondary rules for tax residency:

  • “90-day rule”: If you spend an average of more than 90 days per year on the island over four consecutive tax years, you become resident in the fifth year.
  • Domicile: Isle of Man follows the concept of “domicile of origin” with long-term residents (usually UK domiciled). You can lose your UK domicile after six years of non-residence there.
  • Married couples/civil partners: Individually taxed but can choose joint assessment.
  • Tax rate: Is 10% for basic rate and 20% for higher rate, with a personal allowance of £14,500 (2023/2024).
  • Double taxation relief: Is available on foreign income paid elsewhere.
  • “Tax capping”: Option is available for predictable tax liability for five years.

FinGlobal: cross-border financial specialists for expats

While we can’t help you choose your emigration destination, we can help you prepare your finances to make the move. We offer a full suite of cross-border financial services for South Africans around the world. From tax emigration to international money transfers and retirement annuity withdrawals, we can assist you to get your money where you need it to go, ensuring tax compliance all the way.

To find out more about our services, and how they can streamline your emigration from South Africa, leave your contact details below and we’ll be in touch.

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