Always wanted queries regarding what you can do and cannot do in India as an NRI? Here is our two bits on trying to answer a few questions that come to mind! For further queries and consultancy, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q.1. Who can purchase immovable property in India?
Ans. Under the general permission available, the following categories can purchase immovable property in India:
i) Non-Resident Indian (NRI)
ii) Person of Indian Origin (PIO)
The general permission, however, covers only purchase of residential and commercial property and is not available for purchase of agricultural land / plantation property / farm house in India.
Q.2. Can NRI/PIO acquire agricultural land/ plantation property / farm house in India?
Q.3. Are any documents required to be filed with the Reserve Bank after the purchase?
Ans. No. An NRI / PIO who has purchased residential / commercial property under general permission, is not required to file any documents/reports with the Reserve Bank.
Q.4. How many residential / commercial properties can NRI / PIO purchase under the general permission?
Ans. There are no restrictions on the number of residential / commercial properties that can be purchased.
Q.5. Can a foreign national of non-Indian origin be a second holder to immovable property purchased by NRI / PIO?
Q.6. Can a foreign national of non-Indian origin resident outside India purchase immovable property in India?
Ans. No. A foreign national of non-Indian origin, resident outside India cannot purchase any immovable property in India unless such property is acquired by way of inheritance from a person who was resident in India. However, he / she can acquire or transfer immovable property in India, on lease, not exceeding five years. In such cases, there is no requirement of taking any permission of /or reporting to the Reserve Bank.
Q.7. Can a foreign national who is a person resident in India purchase immovable property in India?
Ans. Yes, a foreign national who is a ‘person resident in India’ within the meaning of Section 2(v) of FEMA, 1999 can purchase immovable property in India, but the person concerned would have to obtain the approvals and fulfil the requirements, if any, prescribed by other authorities, such as, the State Government concerned, etc. The onus to prove his/her residential status is on the individual as per the extant FEMA provisions, if required by any authority. However, a foreign national resident in India who is a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Nepal and Bhutan would require prior approval of the Reserve Bank.
Q.8. Can the branch / liaison office of a foreign company purchase immovable property in India?
Ans. A foreign company which has established a Branch Office or other place of business in India, in accordance with the Foreign Exchange Management (Establishment in India of Branch or Office or other Place of Business) Regulations, 2000, can acquire any immovable property in India, which is necessary for or incidental to carrying on such activity. The payment for acquiring such a property should be made by way of foreign inward remittance through the proper banking channels. A declaration in form IPI should be filed with the Reserve Bank within ninety days from the date of acquiring the property. Such a property can also be mortgaged with an Authorised Dealer as a security for the purpose of borrowings. On winding up of the business, the sale proceeds of such property can be repatriated only with the prior approval of the Reserve Bank. Further, acquisition of immovable property by entities incorporated in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Nepal and Bhutan and who have set up Branch Offices in India and would require prior approval of the Reserve Bank. However, if the foreign company has established a Liaison Office in India, it cannot acquire immovable property. In such cases, Liaison Offices can acquire property by way of lease not exceeding 5 years.
Q.9. Can a NRI/PIO acquire immovable property in India by way of gift? Can a foreign national acquire immovable property in India by way of gift?
Ans. (a) Yes, NRIs and PIOs can freely acquire immovable property by way of gift either from
i) a person resident in India; or
ii) an NRI; or
iii) a PIO.
However, the property can only be commercial or residential in nature. Agricultural land / plantation property / farm house in India cannot be acquired by way of gift.
(b) A foreign national of non-Indian origin resident outside India cannot acquire any immovable property in India by way of gift.
Q.10. Can a non-resident inherit immovable property in India?
Ans. Yes, a person resident outside India i.e. i) an NRI; ii) a PIO; and iii) a foreign national of non-Indian origin can inherit and hold immovable property in India from a person who was resident in India.
Q.11. From whom can a non-resident person inherit immovable property?
Ans. A person resident outside India (i.e. NRI or PIO or foreign national of non-Indian origin) can inherit immovable property from
(a) a person resident in India
(b) a person resident outside India
However, the person from whom the property is inherited should have acquired the same in accordance with the foreign exchange law in force or FEMA regulations, applicable at the time of acquisition of the property.