Definition of an NRI
An Indian Citizen who stays abroad for employment/ carrying on business or vacation outside India or stays abroad under circumstances indicating an intention for an uncertain duration of stay abroad is a non-resident. (Persons posted in U.N. organizations and officials deputed abroad by Central/ State Government and Public Sector Undertakings on temporary assignments are also treated as non-resident) Non-resident foreign citizens of Indian Origin are treated on par with non-resident Indian citizens.
For Investment in immovable properties:
A foreign citizen (other than a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sri lanka or Nepal), is deemed to be of Indian origin if,
(i) he held an Indian passport at any time, OR
(ii) he or his father or paternal grand-father was a citizen of India by virtue of the Constitution of India or the Citizenship Act, 1955 ( 57 of 1955).
Do non-resident Indian citizens require permission of The Reserve Bank to acquire residential/commercial property in India?
No. All Indian citizens are entitled to buy property in India, irrespective of their residential status.
Do foreign citizens of Indian origin require permission of the Reserve Bank to purchase immovable property in India for their residential use?
Yes. However, the RBI has granted general permission to foreign citizens of Indian origin, whether resident in India or abroad, to purchase immovable property in India for their bona fide residential purpose. They are, therefore, not required to obtain separate permission of The Reserve Bank.
Who is a foreign citizen of Indian Origin?
A foreign citizen is deemed to be of Indian Origin if : i) he held an Indian Passport at any time or ii) he or his father or paternal grand father was a citizen of India by virtue of the Constitution of India or the Citizenship Act, 1955. However this does not apply to citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka or Nepal)
How should the purchase of residential immovable property be paid for by foreign citizens of India origin under the general permission?
The purchase consideration should be met either out of inward remittance in foreign exchange through normal banking channels, or out of funds from NRE/FCNR accounts maintained with banks in India.
What formalities have to be completed by foreign citizens of Indian origin to purchase residential immovable property in India under the general permission?
They are required to file a declaration in form IPI 7 with the Central Office of Reserve Bank at Mumbai within a period of 90 days from the date of purchase of immovable property or final payment of purchase consideration along with a certified copy of the documentary evidence for the transaction and bank certificate for the money paid.
Can such property be sold without the permission of Reserve Bank?
Yes. Reserve Bank has granted general permission for sale of such property. However, where the property is purchased by another foreign citizen of Indian origin, funds towards the purchase consideration should either be remitted to India or paid out of balances in NRE/FCNR accounts.
Can sale proceeds of such property (if and when sold) be remitted out of India?
For residential properties purchased on or after 26 May 1993, the Reserve Bank considers applications for repatriation of sale proceeds. Approval is usually granted for up to the consideration amount remitted in foreign exchange in acquiring the property for a maximum of two such properties. The balance amount of sale proceeds, if any, or sale proceeds for properties purchased prior to 26 May 1993, will have to be credited to the ordinary non-resident rupee account of the owner of the property.
Are any conditions required to be fulfilled if repatriation of sale proceeds is desired?
Applications for repatriation of sale proceeds are considered provided the sale takes place after three years from the date of final purchase deed or from the date of payment of final instalment of the consideration amount, whichever is later.
What is the procedure for seeking such repatriation?
Applications for necessary permission for remittance of sale proceeds should be made in form IPI 8 to the Central Office of The Reserve Bank at Mumbai within 90 days of the sale of the property.
Can foreign citizens of Indian origin acquire or dispose residential property by way of gift?
The Reserve Bank has granted general permission to foreign citizens of Indian origin to acquire or dispose of properties up to two houses by way of gift from or to a relative who may be an Indian citizen or a person of Indian origin, whether resident in India or not, provided gift tax has been paid.
Can immoveable property held in India be transferred by way of gift to in India?
General permission has been granted by Reserve Bank to non-resident persons (foreign citizen) of Indian Origin to transfer, by way of gift, immoveable property held by them in India to relatives and charitable trusts / organisations subject to the condition that the provisions of all other laws, as applicable are complied with.
Can foreign citizens of Indian origin acquire commercial properties in India?
Properties other than agricultural land/farm house/plantation property can be acquired by foreign citizens of Indian origin provided the purchase consideration is met either out of inward remittances in foreign exchange through normal banking channels or out of funds from the purchasers NRE/FCNR accounts maintained with banks in India. A declaration has to be submitted to the Central Office of Reserve Bank in form IPI 7 within a period of 90 days from the date of purchase of the property/final payment of purchase consideration.
Can sale proceeds of such property be remitted out of India?
Yes. Repatriation of original investment in respect of properties purchased by foreign citizens of Indian origin on or after 26 May 1993 can be remitted up to the consideration amount originally remitted from abroad provided the property is sold after a period of three years from the date of the final purchase deed or from the date of payment of final instalment of consideration amount, which ever is later. Applications for the purpose are required to be made to the Central Office of Reserve Bank within 90 days of the sale of property in form IPI 8.
Can the properties (residential/commercial) be given on rent if not required for immediate use?
The Reserve Bank has granted general permission for letting out any immovable property in India. The rental income or proceeds of any investment of such income are eligible for repatriation.
Can NRIs obtain loans for acquisition of a house/flat for residential purpose from financial institutions providing housing finance?
The Reserve Bank has granted general permission to certain financial institutions providing housing finance e.g. HDFC and authorised dealers to grant housing loans to non-resident Indian nationals for acquisition of a house/flat for self-occupation, subject to certain conditions. Criteria regarding the purpose of the loan, margin money and the quantum of loan will be at par with those applicable to resident Indians. Repayment of the loan should be made within a period not exceeding 15 years, out of inward remittance through banking channels or out of funds held in the investors NRE/FCNR/NRO accounts.
Can Indian companies grant loans to their NRI staff?
The Reserve Bank permits Indian firms to grant housing loans to their employees deputed abroad and holding Indian passport subject to certain conditions.
Can an authorised dealer grant a housing loan to non-residents of Indian nationality where the NRI is the principal borrower with his resident close relative as a co-obligant / guarantor or where the land is owned jointly by such NRI borrower with his resident close relative?
Yes. However in such cases the payment of margin money and repayment of loan instalments should be made by the NRI borrower.
Mode of payment for purchase of residential/commercial property in India by NRI/PIO Under the general permission available what is mode of payment for purchase of residential/commercial property in India by NRI/PIO?
Under the general permission available NRI/PIO may purchase residential/commercial property in India out of funds remitted to India through normal banking channel or funds held in his NRE/FCNR (B)/NRO account. No consideration shall be paid outside India.
Can refund of application/earnest money/purchase consideration made by the house building agencies/seller on account of non-allotment of flat/plot/cancellation of bookings/deals for purchase of residential/commercial property together with interest, if any (net of income tax payable thereon) be credited to NRE account?
Yes, provided original payment was made by way of inward remittance or by debit to NRE/FCNR (B) account. For this purpose no permission of Reserve Bank is required and they may approach the Authorised Dealer directly in the matter. (Please refer to A. P. (DIR Series Circular No. 46 dated November 12, 2002).
The rupee loan availed by NRI for purchase of residential accommodation was repaid either by inward remittance or by debit to NRE/FCNR (B) account. Can the sale proceeds of such property be repatriated?
• Yes. Repayment of loan in foreign exchange is treated as equivalent to the foreign exchange received for purchase of residential accommodation.
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