Have you recently got a job abroad? Have you got a work visa in a foreign country and are hoping to spend a few years there? It might mean that you will become a Non-Resident Indian(NRI). You need the NRI Checklist.
The status of an NRI is different from a resident Indian under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the Income Tax Act and you have to take certain steps to transition smoothly to the new status.
What are the important things to be taken care of before becoming an NRI?
Convert existing bank accounts (savings accounts and Fixed deposit accounts) to NRO accounts.
It might be better to consolidate many accounts to a few and then convert them to NRO accounts as it might be difficult to manage so many accounts from another country. NRO account can be used for transactions in India such as receipt of dividend/rent or payment of EMIs as well.
An NRE account can be opened to deposit money from a foreign account. Interest earned in NRE accounts is tax-free. It can be a savings account and/or a fixed deposit account. Check – NRI Mandate holder in Bank
Check which of the insurance policies will benefit you if you continue the plan. Check if the policy will be in force when you become an NRI.
Usually, term plans continue to be valid when you become an NRI. It is prudent to inform the insurance company and also check if there are additional riders or any different conditions regarding the coverage for an NRI.
Medical Insurance plans – Some illnesses or medical conditions require waiting period. Many of us prefer to have medical treatments done in India. Therefore it might be better off to keep the medical insurance plan in force.
It is prudent to inform the insurance company when your status change from resident to NRI or vice versa
Must Check – NRI Questions and Answers
- Mutual Funds – You will have to redo the KYC and FACTA processes so that the change in residency is reflected. Ensure that the NRO account is linked to the MF accounts so that SIPs and STPs can continue smoothly. Check the rules regarding MF holdings and ensure that you are allowed to invest in MFs. NRI Mutual Funds India
- Other Investments – You may have other investments like Bonds, PPF, Gold and Real Estate. If you expect transactions in real estate, you might be better off by nominating a Power of Attorney (PoA) unless the joint owners are in India. The PoA will be able to transact on your behalf.
- Existing PPF accounts can be continued till maturity. If you do not have a PPF account, it might be a good idea to open it before you leave so that investments can be continued in it till maturity. The current rate of return is 8% which is attractive.
- Direct Equity – You will have to open a PIS (Portfolio Investment Scheme) account so that you can continue to invest in equities. The existing equities will have to be transferred to this account if you want to see them.
- Home Loan – If there are EMIs, they can be continued from the NRO account. If a really low amount is left, you can close the loan so that you have no hassles or documentation to take care of when you are abroad.
If you want to store valuables and documents, you can continue to use it. If the entire family is moving and you do not think you are going to be back in India soon, you might want to give it up as you will be unnecessarily paying the annual fee.
Moreover, it has to be operated regularly. As an NRI, you may not be able to do that. If you want to continue with the locker, ensure there is a joint account holder who can operate it. NRI Joint Account with Resident Indian
Credit Card/Debit Card
Convert the cards to international cards. If you have too many credit cards, analyse and discontinue the ones that are less beneficial than the others. It is a risk to carry so many cards. You might end up paying fees unnecessarily as well.
Activate international roaming in your phone to be in contact with people back home. In a new place, having a phone always helps. You may not be able to get any communication facilities in the new country quickly. I don’t want to promote Reliance Jio but they really have good plans for international roaming. (only use for calls – not internet surfing)
As an NRI you have to file tax returns if you receive income in India that exceeds Rs. 2,50,000. Please note that the tax returns form is different for an NRI. This is separate from your tax liability in the country where you live. It has to deal with separately.
You can also check – How a change in resident status affect investments
Other important considerations
- Avail of Internet Banking facility if you have not done till now.
- Automate payments in India as much as possible.
- Ensure you discontinue subscription for things like additional phone, cable, newspapers, gym membership etc.
- Ensure that all important financial documents are in place. If possible e-document them and store them in a digital locker.
When you go abroad, there will be many things to take care of there. It is important that you tie in all the loose ends here in India so that you can have a smooth and peaceful transition from being a resident to being an NRI. (NRI Moving back to India can check this)
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