Although living as an expatriate in a new foreign country like Morocco seems exciting for some, and difficult for others, there is always a catch. Already at the beginning, there will be some administrative difficulties, searching for housing, finding schools for his children, finding a job for his spouse and many others such as the tax issue.  But you will have to adapt and try to be part of the local culture. To do this, you will have to get information and ask for advice. The MCBI Conseil team shares with you some information and advice to help you succeed in this challenge and live the experience of expatriation in Morocco serenely.

PREPARE FOR YOUR ARRIVAL

Entry formalities

Whether you are coming for a holiday or a long stay, you must be in possession of a valid passport to enter Moroccan territory. Some countries are subject to a visa formality, while other foreign nationals, such as citizens of the European Union, Canada or the United States are exempt from visa requirements. But beware: the length of stay with a tourist visa is limited to 3 months. However, you can apply for an extension of your stay at the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) under the Ministry of the Interior in Morocco.

Visas

If you need a visa to enter Morocco, you should start the procedure well before your trip or settlement in Morocco. There are four types of entry visas to Morocco :

1- The short validity visa

The short validity visa is issued for short stays (between 1 and 90 days), possibly with multiple entries, and cannot be obtained by a foreigner who wishes to emigrate ;

2- The long validity visa

Long-term visas are multiple-entry visas, valid from 3 months to a maximum of one year. As with short-term visas, the duration of each stay must be between 1 and 90 days. For a stay longer than 3 months, you must apply for a registration card at the General Directorate of National Security.

3- The transit visa

The transit visa allows a foreign national travelling to another country to transit through the territory of Morocco. This visa is issued for one or two transits, and cannot be valid for more than 72 hours for each transit.

4- Visas issued at the border

Exceptionally, a short-stay or transit visa may be issued at a border post by the security services.

Such visas are also available:

  • Investor visas, if you come to Morocco with the aim of investing;
  • Business visas, if you are coming to Morocco for a public or private contract, to participate in a fair or exhibition, or if you are invited by an industrial, commercial or service operator.

For a tourist visa, you will need to bring the following documents to the nearest Moroccan embassy or consulate:

  • a completed application form
  • Your passport, which must be valid for at least six months after your arrival in Morocco.
  • a copy of the first three pages of your passport
  • two passport photos
  • a copy of your return flight reservation
  • a copy of your hotel reservation or a notarized invitation letter from your host in Morocco (or, if you are married to a Moroccan citizen, a copy of his or her passport or national identity card and a copy of the marriage certificate)
  • proof of health insurance valid for the duration of the stay
  • proof that you have sufficient financial resources for your stay, for example a bank statement, pay slips or an employment contract

For a business visa, you will need the documents listed above, as well as a copy of the invitation letter issued by the company you plan to visit in Morocco, or a copy of your employment contract if you plan to start a new job in this country.

The conditions for obtaining a visa may be slightly different depending on your nationality. You should therefore check visa information with the nearest embassy or consulate.

Moving

To prepare your move to start a new life under the skies of Morocco, it is best to start making arrangements several months in advance. You can do this with your family, or entrust this task to professionals. In both cases, you will need to use the services of an international removal company.

The cost of your move will depend on the mode of transport you choose (air, road or sea), the volume to be transported (and the weight, for air transport) and the distance. Here are some tips to help you control your budget and find your moving company…

  • Moving abroad costs are high, so it’s a good idea to choose the items you want to ship (appliances, bedding, etc. are usually items that take up space and can be purchased locally);
  • You must have specific departure and destination addresses for your goods. Therefore, do not proceed with the move until you have found your home in your country of expatriation.
  • Think about the time that is most convenient for you for their collection and delivery (does the carrier have a storage service, if necessary, to give you time to arrive).
  • Estimate the volume of goods you plan to ship (volume calculators are available online) and define your ancillary needs (dismantling of certain furniture, provision of packing materials, packing assistance, etc.).
  • Make a list of the items you are packing: you will need them to fill in the “declaration of value” with the removal company ;
  • Find out about the conditions for shipping your goods (in cartons or containers, by grouped removal or not) and the mode of transport (air transport is the most expensive, but faster for example) ;
  • Make sure that the moving company takes care of the customs clearance of your goods;
  • Also find out what type of insurance the mover and your usual insurer offer so that you can compare;
  • There are also other services: real-time tracking of shipments, administrative assistance on arrival in Morocco and on departure, relocation service, etc…;
  • Ask for several estimates before making your decision.

Customs formalities

You transfer your residence to Morocco, there are no taxes or duties to pay when you bring your goods into Morocco. However, you must justify your move by presenting several documents to the customs administration, such as an inventory of your shipment and a certificate of change of residence (issued by the administration of your country of origin). The valuation of your goods is not something to be taken lightly and their importation must be done in one go. For more information on the regime applicable to personal property, prohibited imports and the regime applicable to personal vehicles, visit the website of the Administration des Douanes et Impôts Indirects www.douane.gov.ma, as well as that of the Moroccan administration.

If you wish to bring your vehicle, be careful: for a stay of less than 6 months on the Moroccan territory, you must obtain a declaration of temporary admission (AT). If your stay in Morocco exceeds 6 months, you will have to pay customs duties, which vary according to the type of vehicle. Don’t panic: the site www.douane.gov.ma explains the customs clearance procedures and provides the forms to fill in, a list of customs clearance offices and even a tax and duty simulator, taking into account the nature, type and make of your vehicle. The customs clearance of cars and motorized two-wheelers of more than 80 cc imported from abroad by individuals residing in Morocco (Moroccans or foreigners) must be carried out at the customs office of entry (at the border).

YOUR ARRIVAL

To settle and work in Morocco, you must apply for a residence permit (or a registration card) within 15 days of your arrival, from the national security services or the Royal Gendarmerie near your place of residence.

While you are waiting for your registration card, the receipt for the deposit provided by the authorities when you apply will help you with your other procedures. The card issued after the first application is valid for one year and is renewable. After 3 years of regular residence, you can apply for a 5-year or even 10-year card.

  • The registration card is issued to foreigners wishing to reside in Morocco for +90 days. This card carries a residence permit for a period of 1 to 10 years, renewable for the same period.
  • The residence card is issued to foreigners with proof of residence in Morocco for at least 4 years continuously. It is issued for a period of 10 years, renewable for the reasons given.

Your spouse and/or children over the age of 16 must also obtain a registration card.

In appendix 3, you will find the list of documents required to obtain your residence card, as well as that of your spouse and/or your minor children.

Registration card

After you settle in Morocco, you will need to obtain a registration card if you plan to stay for more than 90 days. You can obtain this card from the Bureau des Étrangers at the central police station of your district. The procedure can be slow and stressful, requiring patience and perseverance. It is therefore advisable to apply as soon as possible after your arrival in Morocco.

When you settle in Morocco, you should ensure that you have an entry stamp affixed to your passport at the port of entry. In addition to your entry stamp, you will need the following to apply for your registration card :

  • two completed application forms
  • 9 passport photos
  • a certificate of employment
  • lease contract and proof of consumption (water/electricity)
  • a contract of employment of a foreigner approved by the Ministry of Employment
  • an extract from the criminal record of your country of origin
  • a statement from your Moroccan bank
  • a medical certificate completed by a local doctor, certifying that you do not have any contagious diseases

Each of these documents must be legalized in the nearest borough and presented in duplicate. Once your application has been accepted, you will receive a receipt and you will be advised when to return to pick up your temporary residence card. The latter is valid for the first three months of your settlement in Morocco. During this period, your official permit will be prepared.

Renewal of the registration card

You must renew your residence permit one year after you settle in Morocco. The card can be renewed for an indefinite period and is valid for one or two years. You may be required to show your rental contract. In addition, you must present a copy of your passport and current residence permit, a medical certificate and an extract from the criminal record from the Ministry of Justice in Rabat. You must also pay a tax.

If your family is moving to Morocco with you, your children do not need a student visa to attend school.

For more information on obtaining visas and residence permits for your move to Morocco, please consult the public service website.

Renting accommodation

Many expatriates choose to rent a house or apartment during their stay in Morocco. Rental prices are starting to be quite low, but they are usually for apartments located in remote areas. Most expats therefore choose to rent in middle-class neighborhoods equipped with western-style toilets and showers.

When you look at rental prices, you should check whether the price includes utilities such as water and electricity. Most houses in Morocco do not have heating, but radiators are relatively inexpensive. Some furnished apartments are also available, but they are considerably more expensive.

Use your expatriate network to find accommodation without having to pay a commission. Otherwise, you will probably have to hire a real estate agent (samsar), who will charge you and the landlord a commission for his or her services.

Buying a property

The Moroccan government has encouraged foreign investment and has therefore taken steps to simplify the process of purchasing real estate in Morocco. You will need the services of a real estate agent, a notary or an expatriation firm to help you through the various stages of buying a property.

Once you have found a suitable property, you can make a verbal offer. Make sure you obtain title to any property before you agree to buy it. Even if you have paid for the property, if you do not have the title to the property, you are not the official owner. Upon acceptance of this offer, a preliminary contract, which is legally binding, will be signed by each party. A notary should assist you in this step, and a lawyer is also advised to ensure that you understand all the intricacies of the contract. A deposit will also be due at this stage.

You will need to open a convertible dirham account for this payment. After receipt of the deposit, a final contract will be executed, title will be transferred to you and the property will be registered with the land registry as belonging to you.

Find a school

Expatriates looking for kindergartens and day-care centers in Morocco should consult their expatriate contacts to find a nanny or a suitable establishment. Children under the age of four are often cared for at home, and many expatriates choose to hire a cleaning lady who looks after the children in addition to cooking and cleaning. For children between the ages of four and six, you may be able to find an opening in a nursery school or kindergarten at one of the international schools. A maid or nanny would cost you about $200-300 per month.

Most expatriates in Morocco send their children to private international schools. There are several languages of instruction, mainly French and English, with Arabic classes that are often part of the curriculum.

Opening a bank account

It is convenient to open a bank account in Morocco in order to have access to efficient, modern and secure means of payment. The currency used is the Moroccan dirham (MAD).

Opening a bank account in Morocco only takes a few minutes, upon presentation of your passport, your registration card (or the receipt for the application) and proof of address. It is advisable to think about the choice of the banking network and the type of account.

The main national banks are Groupe Attijariwafa Bank, Banque Populaire (BP), BMCE Bank of Africa (Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur), CAM (Crédit Agricole du Maroc), CFG Bank (Groupe Casablanca Finance), CIH Bank (Crédit Immobilier et Hôtelier) and Al Barid Bank (the national postal bank). You can also contact a subsidiary of a foreign banking group: BMCI BNP-Paribas Group (Banque Marocaine pour le Commerce et l’Industrie, subsidiary of the BNPParibas Group), CaixaBank (subsidiary of the Spanish group CaixaBank), Crédit du Maroc (CDM – subsidiary of the Crédit Agricole Group) and Société Générale Maroc (subsidiary of the Société Générale Group), Arab Bank Maroc (Jordanian Arab banking group).

Most banks have an extensive network of branches throughout the Kingdom. Opening hours are the same: Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. Choose among the banks according to your needs.

The Moroccan dirham is not a freely convertible currency. The Moroccan banking system offers several possibilities to foreigners:

A convertible dirham account: credited exclusively with foreign currency deposits from abroad, it allows you to use your money in Morocco or abroad;
An account in foreign currency: credited exclusively with foreign currency, you can only make withdrawals in foreign currency;
A checking account that uses only dirhams and can only be used on Moroccan territory: this account allows you to have a checkbook and a payment card. If your employer pays your salary in Morocco in dirhams, and if you earn more than 10,000 dirhams, you will need to open this type of account.

Also take the time to find out about the advantages of your tax residence in Morocco and the conditions for repatriating your salary.

Foreign nationals residing in Morocco benefit, just like Moroccans residing abroad (MRE), from an annual tourist allowance of MAD 45,000 in addition to the possibility of benefiting from an additional tourist allowance of an amount equivalent to 10% of the income tax within the limit of MAD 55,000, i.e. a total ceiling of MAD 100,000 per person and per year and per minor child registered on the passport of the beneficiary of the allowance.

Work

To be able to work in Morocco, you must be in possession of a foreign employment contract (CTE) accompanied by a work visa issued by the Ministry of Labour and Professional Insertion. Prior to the steps taken to obtain your registration card, you must first obtain a work visa (if you are obviously an employee). The application for a CTE visa must be submitted by the employer via the official platform “TAECHIR”. This website allows you to follow the application and its approval; it also provides access to information on the procedures related to CTE visa applications, and also allows you to obtain the administration’s response to the visa applications made, within a maximum of 10 days.  It is strongly recommended that you are accompanied by experts for this process, which can be long and difficult depending on the case concerned.

RETURN TO THE COUNTRY

Before leaving Morocco, certain steps must be taken, such as removal from the register at your consulate, and removal from the consular electoral list. You will also need to check that your civil status documents are up to date. For example, check whether a birth or a marriage that occurred during your stay in Morocco has been transcribed in the civil status registers of the embassy or consulate territorially competent. In the event of divorce, your birth and marriage certificates should include this information.

Before your move, draw up a detailed inventory of your furniture and personal effects, as it will be requested by the mover or the forwarding agent. A certificate of change of residence issued by the police headquarters of your place of residence and a QUITU FISCAL will also be required to authorize the transit in customs.also think of reporting your new address to the tax authorities of Morocco and to the tax authorities of your country.

Once back home, it is often difficult to obtain certain documents from the Moroccan authorities online. You should therefore try to obtain them before you leave. Don’t forget to keep your employment contracts and certificates, pay slips and local tax notices.