NRI rules that apply to buying and selling equities and immovable property

February 13, 2024

The query has been answered by Anjali Malhotra, Partner- Regulatory, Nangia Andersen India.

Individuals residing outside India, such as Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIO), or Foreign Nationals, have to take into consideration the requirements & conditions laid down by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) when dealing with the acquisitions, transfers, and repatriation of assets in India. The definition of a person of Indian origin includes a person born in undivided India, himself or his parents or any of his grandparents.

In this article, we look at some of the key provisions for assets, including equity shares, units of mutual funds, subscription to the National Pension Scheme and immovable property, being acquired or sold by NRIs/ PIOs/ Foreign Nationals.

Regarding the financial assets listed above, the provisions differ based on whether the asset is being purchased on a repatriation or a non-repatriation basis. For starters, repatriation-basis is where you wish to transfer the proceeds from selling assets in India back to abroad.

Note: NRI/ OCI may subscribe to NPS provided such a person is eligible to invest as per the provisions of the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Act; Equity mutual funds: Such domestic mutual funds should have invested more than 50% of funds in equity. Equity investments will be subject to FEMA Rules such as permitted sectors, entry routes, sectoral caps, etc.

For starters, a Non-Residential External (NRE) is a bank account in which foreign earnings are deposited and saved in the Indian denomination. On the other hand, a Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) account lets you park your earnings from India in an Indian denomination.

A Foreign Currency Non-Resident Account (FCNR) account lets you save money earned overseas in India in foreign currency. FCNR (B) is where there is a specific maturity date and no exchange rate guarantee.

Immovable property

For NRIs and PIOs, FEMA regulations (specifically FEMA 21/2000 RB) define them and grant general permission for purchasing immovable properties in India, excluding agricultural land, plantation property, or farmhouses. Repatriation of sale proceeds is allowed for residential properties, limited to two such properties, while proceeds from agricultural land, plantation property, or farmhouses cannot be repatriated.

Repatriation of sale proceeds from immovable property by NRIs/PIOs is subject to an overall limit of USD 1 million per financial year, and the process must adhere to FEMA guidelines. However, there’s an ambiguity regarding the remittance of sale proceeds for NRIs who purchased the property while residing in India, where detailed analysis is required.


Nangia Andersen India

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