Steps to be taken by NRI/PIO to start a business in India.

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  1. Get a PIO card, it entitles you with the same benefits which are extended to an Indian citizen as far as business and tax issues are concerned. It also provides you with a benefit of visa-free entry for 15 years and permits you to engage in businesses and own property in your own name.
    Note-If you are a NRI then you do not require a PIO card.

  2. Get a PAN card issued in your name from income-tax department. Any person whether a NRI or an Indian citizen or of Indian origin making an investment of over ` 50,000 is required to cite his/her PAN number. A pan card also serves to be an identification tool as it has your photo on it.

  3. If you want to initiate business in India but you do not wish to move here then you need partner/s in India for carrying out your venture. Select your partner/s on the basis of his/her past records, integrity and other personal aspects and avoid choosing them on the basis of your emotional relationships.

  4. Choose a Proper Business Entity. You can choose partnership, sole proprietorship, company or any other form of business entity. But make sure that whichever form you are incorporating, you follow all the instructions and regulations associated with it.

  5. After successful completion of all the above steps you are ready to launch into business. Ensure that your company is a member of all the business organizations related to the sector it is engaged in.

  6. If you are into export/import business you must get yourself registered with the Director General of Foreign Trade. The application form for the same requires a bank account number and a letter from the bank along with the details of Partners/directors. This process takes about 2-3 weeks.

Difference between NRI, PIO and OCI

Who : A NRI is one who stays abroad for some reason(employment, business) but has citizenship of India. A person who is not an Indian citizen but he or his ascendants was an Indian citizen by the virtue of constitution or Citizenship Act 1955. A person registered as an Overseas Citizen of Indian under section 7A of the Citizenship Act
Does he/she require a Visa to visit India? No Yes (Visa is not required if he is a PIO card holder) No
Is he/she required to register with the local police authorities /other authorities on visit to India? No Yes No
What all activities can be undertaken by them in India? All activities Activity as mentioned in Visa. All activities except mountaineering, missionary and research work and existing PAP/RAP which require specific permit.

Note:- OCI should not be mistaken with Dual Citizenship. India does not grant dual citizenship.

What is a PIO card?

PIO card was launched in 1999 to make the visits of PIOs to India easier, flexible and to provide several other benefits like:
  • He/she doesn't have to apply for a Visa to visit India, PIO card serves the same purpose.

  • He/she doesn't require a 'Student' Visa for education nor does he/she require 'Employment' Visa for employment in India.

  • He/she enjoys the same privileges which are extended to the NRIs in matters related to acquisition, holding, transfer and disposal of immovable property in India except issues related to acquisition of agricultural/plantation properties.
NOTE:- PIO card holders don’t enjoy any political rights in India.

A person who at any time held an Indian passport or his parents or grandparents were born or permanently resided in India, provided that they had not at any time acquired citizenship of Afghanistan, China, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan; or who is a spouse of an Indian citizen or a person of Indian origin.

What is a OCI card?

OCI card scheme was started on 2nd December, 2005 to provide certain privileges to the People of Indian Origin who have moved from India and have acquired citizenship of a foreign country (except Pakistan and Bangladesh).


A foreign national, who was eligible to become citizen of India on 26.01.1950, or was a citizen of India on or at anytime after 26.01.1950, or belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08.1947, and their children and grand children, is eligible for registration as Overseas Citizen of India, provided that the person has never been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.

  • It allows multiple entry and multi-purpose life time Visa for journeys to India
  • Exemption from registration with local police authorities/FRRO for stay in India for any length of time.
  • Makes them stand at par with NRIs in financial, economic and other fields except securing ownership of agricultural and plantation areas.
But getting an OCI is not same as being a regular Indian citizen because:
  • You do not get an Indian passport
  • You do not have any voting rights
  • you cannot be a candidate for Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha/Legislative Assembly or a member of the House of the People or of the Council of States
  • you cannot apply for a government job
PIO Card v/s OCI card
People of Indian origin who have acquired citizenship of foreign countries are eligible to apply for a PIO or OCI card.
The PIO card system was launched before the OCI card system.

Basis of differentiation PIO Card OCI card
Duration It lasts for 15 years. Lifetime.
Excluded countries(Must have not been a citizen of) Afghanistan, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka, Nepal. Pakistan & Bangladesh.
Registration with Indian Police Authorities or other authorities for stay in India PIO card holder, who wishes to stay in India for a period of more than 180 days, has to compulsorily register himself with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) under whose jurisdiction he lives for 30 days before the expiry of those 180 days. OCI is relieved from any registration with the police authorities in India for any length of stay here.
Indian* Citizenship Can apply for Indian citizenship after 7 years of stay in India as an ordinary resident. Can apply for Indian Citizenship after 5 years of stay in India as an ordinary citizen
New foreign passport If you get a new passport and you still hold a valid PIO card then while traveling you can either carry both the passports or can get the new passport number endorsed in your PIO card. Anyone younger than 21 years or older than 50 years has to apply for new OCI card and Visa.

*You would loose your foreign citizenship after you become an Indian citizen.