A one-stop step-by-step guide for the UK NRI investor looking to invest in India

According to the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief, the Indian diaspora has remitted an astounding $80 billion back home. This has cemented India as the top recipient of remittances in the world. More than 30 million Indians are residing outside India as per a report published by the Ministry of External Affairs in December 2017.

Immigrants from India turn into NRIs after securing better opportunities in other countries. Once they begin earning a decent income and can remit required funds to their loved ones back in India, they explore investment options in India. NRIs are spread across the world. There are about 3.25 lakh NRIs in the UK itself. However, like NRIs across the globe, UK based NRIs also seek clarity about investment options in India.

How can an NRI start investing in India?

Bear in mind that for tax purposes and according to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regulations, NRIs and PIO (Person of Indian Origin) are treated the same. Before investing, a UK NRI will need a PAN number and must go through a one-time KYC process. The NRI needs to declare residency and citizenship details while getting the KYC done. Apart from all this, the individual will need an NRI bank account, which will be used for every investment transaction. UK based NRIs can open an NRI bank account with HDFC Bank as it is authorised to deal in foreign exchange.

The different types of NRI bank accounts:

NRO – Non-Resident Ordinary Account

This account can be opened after or when an individual is on the verge of becoming an NRI. Banks usually designate the existing savings account as an NRO account. With this account, NRIs can manage all their Indian income, such as rent, dividend, gifts or pension. However, NRO accounts have repatriation limits, including foreign funds that have been deposited in the account. Any repatriation also requires a tax paid certificate from a certified CA. Interest earned on this account can be repatriated but would be taxed in India.

NRE – Non-Resident External Account

An NRI can hold foreign currency earnings in Indian rupees through an NRE account, which is fully repatriable. As soon as an individual begins to reside outside India, he or she can open an NRE account. Funds for this account will be credited from the NRIs foreign earnings. The deposits to this account would be converted to INR as per the prevailing conversion rates. The account holder can take out funds from India at any time without any restriction. Interest earned in the NRE account is tax-free in India.

FCNR – Foreign Currency Non-Resident Account

This account can be opened once an individual becomes an NRI. It is neither a current nor a savings account. It is a deposit account with a pre-defined period of maturity. An FCNR account is maintained in foreign currency. This makes it different from NRO and NRE accounts. One can even choose from major currencies which include USD, Sterling Pound, Deutsche Mark, Euro or Canadian Dollar etc. Interest earned is tax-free. Funds are completely repatriable.

What are the options available for a UK NRI looking to invest in India?

Fixed Deposits

Fixed deposits allow NRIs to deposit a particular amount of money for a pre-defined duration to earn a fixed rate of interest on the same. An NRI can open an NRE, NRO or FCNR fixed deposit. Interest earned from an NRE FD is tax-free, while an NRO FD is taxable. It is also essential to know that earnings from an NRO fixed deposit account are subject to TDS. However, an NRI can claim the refund by filing tax returns in case the payable tax is less than TDS.

On the other hand, FCNR accounts are maintained in foreign currency, and the interest earned would depend on the deposited currency.

Mutual Funds

NRIs across the world, except Canadian and US-based NRIs, have no limitations when investing in mutual funds. Therefore, for UK based NRIs, this is a convenient asset class to explore for creating wealth. UK based NRIs will need an NRE or an NRO account to invest in mutual funds.

Real Estate

This has been among the top choices when it comes to investing for NRIs. This is mainly because of the healthy appreciation in property rates, increasing rental income and the possibility of spending their post-retirement years in their homeland. NRIs can invest in both, residential and commercial properties, but not in agricultural lands, farmhouses or plantations.


Under the Reserve Bank of India's Portfolio Investment Scheme, NRIs can invest in stock markets. To do so, they must obtain a one-time approval to invest directly in equities. However, there are specific criteria they must follow.

  • They cannot invest more than 10% of a company's paid-up capital
  • They cannot indulge in trading shares on a non-deliverable basis.

UK NRIs will need to open a Demat account with a SEBI registered brokerage firm, through which they can transact in the stock market. Apart from a Demat account, NRIs also need a trading account with a stockbroking firm and an NRE and NRO account with the bank.


Additionally, UK NRIs can dabble in the Future and Options (F&O) market. For this, however, the individual would need a clearing member to clear trades for allotment. It is important to note that all NRI investors must receive a unique custodial participant (CP) code from a clearing corporation. This is done based on the application submitted by the clearing member.

National Pension Scheme

This is a retirement savings scheme offered by the Government of India. This scheme allots a Permanent Retirement Account Number to all investors. This scheme is both cost-effective and tax efficient. It also provides flexibility in the invested amount as well as regularity of investing. It offers decent ROI, regular income along with a retirement corpus. UK NRIs holding Indian citizenship between the age of 18 and 60 can invest in NPS through an NRE or NRO account.


NRIs can invest and purchase insurance in India through specialised insurance policies for NRIs. These policies cover death, disability, diseases, as well as offer lumpsum benefits.

Bonds and Government Securities

Bonds are issued by the government and companies to raise funds for projects. By investing in a bond or security, the investor becomes a lender. These investors are eligible for receiving a fixed return on their investments. Through NRO and NRE accounts, UK NRIs can invest in government securities and bonds. NRE accounts that have completed a minimum of three years are applicable for repatriation benefits. However, any benefits of maturity that are credited to an NRO account is not eligible for repatriation.

Does HDFC Bank offer these services to NRIs?

HDFC Bank offers an array of solutions for NRIs, including accounts and deposits, loans, life insurance, payment services, and mutual funds. It also provides portfolio investment schemes, offshore investments, equities, derivatives, private banking, research reports and depository services.

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