Seychelles is on semi-lockdown until 28th January 2921, due to the containment of the recent finding of community transmission, substantially reducing business capacity and available services for the month.
Effective from 3 January 2021, a 10 day semi-lockdown had been imposed by the Public Health Order, which has now been extended until 28 January 2021, given the recent finding of community transmission of Covid-19 for the time first in Seychelles. Therefore, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) being the Registrar for International Business Companies (IBCs) and Regulator for offshore business has reverted to carrying on business on a reduced capacity by way of staff rotation. Therefore the FSA is continuing to encourage the use of digital modes of communication for the conduct of certain transactions such as the submission of documents for filing and settling of payments.
The FSA the Registrar has reverted to a reduced capacity service. Filings in respect of IBCs or other offshore entities I, including filings of Charges for Registration over assets of IBCs can still be carried processed but subject time delays.
Registrar of Companies (RoC) – the Registrar is also working on a reduced capacity basis for the carrying out of filings. To note that certain amendments to the Companies Act 1972 came into effect as from 30th June 2020 and there is now a new Seventh Schedule (replacing the old one) in respect of filing costs under the Companies (Amendment of Seventh Schedule) Order 2020 (New Regulations).
2. Can Searches be conducted?
Searches can be conducted from the FSA and Certificates of Official Search issued, subject to slight time delays during the semi-lockdown period.
No physical file searches are available from RoC until further notice but Certificates of Official Search are now available for domestic companies upon application but for an increased cost under the New Regulations.
The Court Registrar is not carrying out litigation searches for the moment due to reduced staff capacity during the semi-lockdown.
3. Certificates of good standing (CGS)– if and how these are being conducted
CGS for IBCs is available from the FSA as usual – these can be commissioned by e-mail to FSA and physical collection of the CGS must be arranged by the applicant.
CGS for domestic companies is now also available by application for an increased cost under the New Regulations – application must be made in person at the RoC Office and thereafter when the CGS is ready physical collection of the CGS must be arranged by the applicant.
4. Other searches – how are these being conducted?
No other applicable company search is available in the Seychelles; other than land searches and the Land Registrar’s office is opened at reduced capacity during the semi-lockdown; although physical search of files are not being permitted for the time being, the Land Registrar can issue physical Certificates of Official Search on land upon request.
5. Court sessions and position (including filings and hearings)
The Registrar of the Supreme Court of Seychelles has cancelled the majority of hearings and Court attendances and imposed restrictions on movements for certain services until further notice.
Those who need to attend the Court Registrar’s office for the restricted services are subject to strict health guidelines (as approved by the Ministry for Health) which had already been put in place in May 2020. The guidelines outline the policy for the amended practices in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The priority of all service providers in the legal system is to ensure the reduction of the likelihood of contracting the Covid-19 virus through the implementation of best practice standards, including: (a) Promoting good levels of personal safety and hygiene for clients and employees; (b) Ensuring the maintaining of safe social distances; (c) The protection of vulnerable clients and employees; and (d) Encouraging and adopting technologies to reduce the need for gatherings.
6. Any travel restrictions
- Domestic flights and cargo flights are operating on a restricted and reduced capacity basis, respecting any guidance from the Department of Health.
- The airport is open for commercial flights in line with guidance issued by the Department of Health. However, Seychellois are still being discouraged from travelling abroad for the time being and to travel only if essential, e.g for urgent medical treatments.
- The Courier services, namely DHL and FeDex are operating on a reduced capacity basis and there may be delays in services for collections and deliveries in and out of Seychelles.
The Department of Health periodically publishes a list of countries identified as low-risk and anyone requesting entry from these countries would be allowed in provided they have spent 14 days or above in a low-risk country. Alternatively, to enter Seychelles, passengers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed within the 48 hours prior to boarding your flight and must be subject to quarantine upon arrival.
The Seychelles authorities continue to exercise strict medical surveillance which have been put in place to detect any new COVID-19 cases and take the necessary steps needed to contain the virus. With these 3 pillars: (1) strict border controls, (2) rigorous contact tracing and (3) testing, they will continue to minimise risks and keep the situation under control.
7. Other Temporary Regulatory Measures
General Measures in place at the moment:
- Currently there is a semi-lockdown, imposing restrictions on the movement of people within the Country.
- The majority of services and businesses, churches, bars, restaurants, gyms etc have closed down; unless they are on the essential services list, majority of workers are encouraged to work from home; and
- Schools are to remain closed until further notice.
Private Sector Relief Scheme
The Central bank of Seychelles (CBS) has established a Private Sector Relief Scheme (financed by the CBS for assistance to eligible micro, small and medium business (MSMEs) facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic financial crisis. The Private Sector Relief Scheme is to assist the MSMEs meet their critical expenditures such as rent, utilities, salaries, taxes and good and services contract to the extent not covered under other public measures put in place by the Government. The credit facilities shall be granted for a maximum period of 3 year term, including a 6 months moratorium of the loan repayment, with an interest rate of 1.5 per annum.
Employment law amendments
The Ministry of Labour is continuing to keep a close eye on the employment market and ensuring that employers comply with the new employment regulations under the Employment (Amendment) Act 2020. There is now a temporary scheme set up by the Government to assist workers who are being made redundant – the Seychelles Employee Transition Scheme (Sets). The role of Sets is to put in place different work programmes, including social and public institution support, community, environment, and special public works and training, in which the redundant workers are being placed whilst being on the Government financial supports scheme, FA4JR, as defined below.
Financial Assistance for Job Retention (FA4JR) Scheme
The Government has in place the Financial Assistance for Job Retention (FA4JR) scheme which is ongoing until December 2020. FA4JR is primarily intended to assist private businesses and non-governmental organisations that already submit a monthly payroll to the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC), regardless of how many employees they have. Applicants must be able to meet all of the following criteria: (a) Be able to explain how Covid-19 has caused significant disruption to its business activity; (b) Prove a reduction in turnover of more than 25%; (c) Be temporarily unable to pay normal salaries; (d) Agree that no staff are to be made redundant.
All the above measures are subject to review by the new Government in the next four months.