NRI real estate investment norms simplified

The purchase and sale of immovable properties in India by a Non Resident Indian (NRI) or by a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) is really a very simple and easy affair with not much hassles and problems.

For a detailed and authentic answer one should always refer to the Foreign Exchange Management (Acquisition and Transfer of Immovable Properties in India) Regulations, 2000 as amended from time to time.

The above regulations have been notified by the Reserve Bank of India vide Notification No. FEMA/21/200-RB dated 3rd May, 2000. Likewise, to get a latest update on the subject the investors may also very carefully go through the latest Master Circular on Acquisition and Transfer of Immoveable Property in India by Non Resident Indians/Persons of Indian Origin which has been issued by the Reserve Bank of India vide Master Circular No.4/2012-13 dated 2/7/2012.

Before going further to analyse the different provisions of the law relating to acquisition and transfer of immovable properties in India by Non Resident Indians as well as by Persons of Indian Origin it would be worthwhile to know and understand the legal definition of these two entities as per the Foreign Exchange Management Act.

As per Notification FEMA-5 /2000 dated 3.5.2000 as amended from time to time, a Non Resident Indian (NRI) is a person resident outside India who is citizen of India or is a person of Indian Origin. Likewise, the definition of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) means an individual (not being a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh or Sri Lanka or Afghanistan or China or Iran or Nepal or Bhutan) who (i) at any time, held Indian passport, or (ii) who or either of whose father or whose grandfather was a citizen of India by virtue of Constitution of India or the Citizen Act, 1995.

With regard to acquisition and transfer of property in India by an Indian Citizen resident outside India it is specifically provided that a person resident outside India who is a citizen of India may –

a) acquire any immovable property in India other than agricultural/plantation /farm house, and b) transfer any immovable property in India to a person resident in India. c) transfer any immovable property other than agricultural or plantation property or farm house to a person resident outside India who is a citizen of India or to a person of Indian origin resident outside India.

As regards the Acquisition as well as transfer of Property in India by a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) the Regulation 4 of the above mentioned regulation specifically states that a person of Indian origin resident outside India may –

(a) acquire any immovable property other than agricultural land/farm house/ plantation property in India by purchase, from out of (i) funds received in India by way of inward remittance from any place outside India or (ii) funds held in any non-resident account maintained in accordance with the provisions of the Act and the regulations made by the Reserve Bank under the Act;

(b) acquire any immovable property in India other than agricultural land / farm house / plantation property by way of gift from a person resident in India or from a person resident outside India who is a citizen of India or from a person of Indian origin resident outside India;

(c) acquire any immovable property in India by way of inheritance from a person resident outside India who had acquired such property in accordance with the provisions of the foreign exchange law in force at the time of acquisition by him or the provisions of these Regulations or from a person resident in India;

(d) transfer any immovable property in India other than agricultural land/farm house/plantation property , by way of sale to a person resident in India;

(e) transfer agricultural land/farm house/ plantation property in India, by way of gift or sale to a person resident in India who is a citizen of India;

(f) transfer residential or commercial property in India by way of gift to a person resident in India or to a person resident outside India who is a citizen of India or to a person of Indian Origin resident outside India.