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A bank of answers regarding Reserve Bank of India regulations governing acquisition of immovable property in India by NRIs

Q- Who can purchase immovable property in India?
A- Under the general permission available, the following categories can freely purchase immovable property in India:
i) Non-Resident Indian (NRI)- that is a citizen of India resident outside India
ii) Person of Indian Origin (PIO)- that is an individual (not being a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka or Afghanistan or China or Iran or Nepal or Bhutan), who
1. at any time, held Indian passport, or
2. who or either of whose father or grandfather was a citizen of India by virtue of the Constitution of India or the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1955).

The general permission, however, covers only purchase of residential and commercial property and not for purchase of agricultural land / plantation property / farm house in India.

Q- Whether NRI/PIO can acquire agricultural land/ plantation property / farm house in India?
A- No. Since general permission is not available to NRI/PIO to acquire agricultural land/ plantation property / farm house in India, such proposals will require specific approval of Reserve Bank and the proposals are considered in consultation with the Government of India.

Q- Do any documents need to be filed with Reserve Bank of India after purchase?
A- No. An NRI / PIO who has purchased residential / commercial property under general permission, is not required to file any documents with the Reserve Bank.

Q- How many residential / commercial properties can NRI / PIO purchase under the general permission?
A- There are no restrictions on the number of residential / commercial properties that can be purchased.

Q- Can a foreign national of non-Indian origin be a second holder to immovable property purchased by NRI / PIO?
A- No.

Q- Can a foreign national of non-Indian origin resident outside India purchase immovable property in India?
A- No. A foreign national of non-Indian origin, resident outside India cannot purchase any immovable property in India. But, he/she may take residential accommodation on lease provided the period of lease does not exceed five years. In such cases, there is no requirement of taking any permission of or reporting to Reserve Bank

Q- Can a foreign national who is a person resident in India purchase immovable property in India?
A- Yes, but the person concerned would have to obtain the approvals, and fulfil the requirements if any, prescribed by other authorities, such as the concerned State Government, etc 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 Reserve Bank. Such requests are considered by Reserve Bank in consultation with the Government of India.

Q- Can an office of a foreign company purchase immovable property in India?
A- A foreign company which has established a Branch Office or other place of business in India, in accordance with FERA / FEMA regulations, 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 proper banking channel. A declaration in form IPI should be filed with 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 other borrowings. On winding up of the business, the sale proceeds of such property can be repatriated only with the prior approval of Reserve Bank. Further, acquisition of immovable property by entities who had set up Branch Offices in India and incorporated in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Nepal and Bhutan would require prior approval of Reserve Bank to acquire such immovable property. However, if the foreign company has established a Liaison Office, it can not acquire immovable property . In such cases, Liaison Offices, can take property by way of lease not exceeding 5 years.

Q- Whether a non-resident can inherit immovable property in India?
A- 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. However, a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Nepal and Bhutan should seek specific approval of Reserve Bank.

Q- Can an NRI/PIO repatriate the proceeds in case the sale proceed was deposited in NRO account?
A- From the NRO account, NRI/PIO may repatriate up to USD one million per financial year (April-March), which would also include the sale proceeds of immovable property.

Q- Is there any restriction on number of residential properties in respect of which sale proceeds can be repatriated by NRI / PIO?
A- Yes, sale proceeds of not more than two residential properties can be repatriated.

Q- If the immovable property was acquired by way of gift by the NRI/PIO, can he repatriate abroad the funds from sale?
A- The sale proceeds of immovable property acquired by way of gift should be credited to NRO account only. From the balance in the NRO account, NRI/PIO may remit up to USD one million, per financial year, subject to the satisfaction of Authorised Dealer and payment of applicable taxes.

Q- Can a person who had bought immovable property when he was a resident, continue to hold such property even after becoming an NRI/PIO?
A- Yes, he can continue to hold the residential / commercial property / agricultural land/ plantation property / farm house in India without the approval of the Reserve Bank.

Q- In which account can the sale proceeds of such immovable property be credited ?
A- The sale proceeds may be credited to NRO account.

Q- Can the sale proceeds of the immovable property referred to in Q.No. 31 be remitted abroad ?
A- Yes, provided the amount to be remitted does not exceed USD one million per financial year, for all bonafide purposes to the satisfaction of Authorised Dealers and subject to tax compliance.

Q- Is a resident in India governed by the provisions of Foreign Exchange Management (Acquisition and transfer of immovable property in India) Regulations, 2000?
A- A person resident in India who is a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka or Afghanistan or China or Iran or Nepal or Bhutan is governed by the provisions of Foreign Exchange Management (Acquisition and Transfer of Immovable Property in India) Regulations, 2000 ie. he would require prior approval of Reserve Bank for acquisition and transfer of immovable property in India even though he is resident in India. Such requests are considered by Reserve Bank in consultation with the Government in India

Q- Who can determine whether a person is resident in India or not?
A- Reserve Bank does not determine the residential status. Under FEMA, residential status is determined by operation of law. The onus is on an individual to prove his / her residential status, if questioned by any authority.

Q- If a foreign national is a person resident in India as per the provisions of Section 2(v) (i)B of the FEMA, 1999, does he require approval of Reserve Bank to purchase any immovable property in India ?
A- A foreign national resident in India does not require approval from Reserve Bank from FEMA angle, but approvals if any required in terms of regulations prescribed by other authorities such as the concerned State Government etc. will have to be obtained by him / her. However, a foreign national resident in India who is a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Nepal and Bhutan requires specific prior approval of Reserve Bank.

Disclaimer : The purpose of this FAQ is to provide the visitors a general understanding on the various issues relating to House Property. The above FAQ been prepared on the basis of advice received and may vary from person to person, based on facts of such case. Reasonable efforts have been taken in collecting, preparing and providing quality information, but we do not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, completeness, adequacy or currency of the information. The contents of the FAQ are subject to changes / amendments made by the CBDT / Finance Ministry.

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