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How can NRI Invest/Trade in Indian Stock Market ?

  • Rudri Rawell
  • Feb 24 2022
  • 6 minutes
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Many Indians prefer to settle outside India and with their immense capital, the NRI community is often on the lookout for opportunities in India to park their extra funds. Considering the growth spurt being witnessed in the Indian economy, NRIs constantly look for investment opportunities that can help in growing their capital.

With the Indian government regularly inviting NRI investment in India, there is a sudden influx of capital from the Indian community residing outside the country. A large portion of NRI Investment in India is seen focused in either fixed deposits or real estate or stock markets. So, how can an NRI go about investing in the Indian stock markets? 

Here, we will share information on how NRIs can make investments in India, specifically in the stock markets. Let’s begin by defining NRI.

Who is a NRI?

An NRI is a person who resides outside India and is either a citizen of India or a person of Indian origin/PIO.

In taxation terms, an NRI is defined as an individual who does not satisfy below-mentioned criteria:

  • He/she has been in India for 182 days or more during the financial year
  • He/she has been in India for at least 365 days during the last four years and a minimum of 60 days in the current year.

What are the common ways for NRIs to invest in Indian equities?

NRIs can invest in the Indian stock markets or equities of Indian Companies as per RBI norms. Since these Indians are not Resident Indians, they must approach an Authorized Dealer or a Bank that is authorized by the Reserve Bank of India to manage and route the investments through:

  1. Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS) or 
  2. NRE (Non Resident External) account or 
  3. NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary) account

A Non-resident Indian or NRI has three primary ways to manage these accounts for further investing in the Indian stock markets.

  1. Appointing a mandate holder

NRIs can appoint a mandate holder to look after their NRE or NRO accounts in India. For this, an NRI individual has to furnish an “Appointment of Mandate Holder” application to the bank, along with relevant documents and specimen signature of the mandate holder. 

  1. Power of attorney

An NRI individual can appoint a power of attorney (POA) in India to execute and redeem any investments made in the country. As a mandate for investing, a POA agreement has to be made and signed on a stamp paper apart from being notarized before submitting the same.

  1. Broker services

With the influx of internet trading, brokers in India can now offer online trading facilities to NRI clients as long as they comply with all the required KYC guidelines. 

List of documents needed to open an NRI stock trading account

Some of the commonly sought documents for opening an NRI stock trading account in India are:

  • PAN Card copy
  • Documents to prove entity status – copy of passport, Visa, place of birth should be India
  • Permission letter for Portfolio Investment Scheme sought from designated bank
  • Proof of overseas residential address – Any one of Driving License, Passport of a foreign nation, Bank Statement, or Utility bills
  • Investor’s photograph 
  • Proof of bank account & depository account
  • Power of Attorney signed by NRI – in favor of the Bank. This can be granted to carry out specific formalities like:
    • Application for RBI approvals
    • Renunciation of right entitlement
    • Buy and sell shares or debentures
    • New share or debenture issue subscription
    • Dividend and interest collection 
    • Safe custody of shares and debentures 
    • Repatriation of an investment 

While trading in stocks, an NRI individual must take delivery of the shares that have been purchased and provide delivery of the shares that have been sold. Thus, they cannot indulge in speculative trading or margin trading or short selling in stock markets.

What is the maximum stock investment that NRIs can make in India?

NRIs can invest in the Indian stock markets either on:

  1. repatriation and 
  2. non-repatriation basis 

The investment in an Indian company can be made through:

  1. NRE account – this is an external account and therefore repatriable
  2. NRO account – this is a resident account and therefore non-Repatriable beyond a maximum limit of $1 million per year. 

After setting up the relevant bank account, an NRI has to get the PINS approval from RBI.

Another alternative is to use the PIS Route for investing in listed Indian companies for up to  5% of the Paid up capital or paid up value of each share or debenture.

An NRI can buy only up to 10% of the net paid up value of shares or convertible debentures. The 10% cap can be raised to 24%, if a special resolution is passed by the Indian Company for the same.

Conclusion

Once an NRI individual credits funds to a broker through the NRE or NRO account, the trading account credit can be used for buying and selling shares. The final buying and selling of stocks by NRIs can be done in the same way as resident Indians. However, NRIs cannot invest in certain stocks. Therefore, they must check with their broker before initiating any trade. Any violation can attract penalties. 

FAQs

What bank account type does an NRI need to invest in Indian stock markets?

An NRI can open either a Non-resident external rupee (NRE) account, or Non-resident ordinary rupee (NRO) account, or foreign currency non-resident account (FCNR) to invest in the Indian stock markets through a designated broker or via mutual funds.

Do NRIs have to pay income tax for returns from investments made in India?

Yes, short-term capital gains from equity investments are taxable at 15% if redeemed within 1 year of investment. Long-term capital gains do not attract any tax. Debt investment returns are taxed as per income tax slab of an individual.

What are the reasons for NRIs to invest in India?

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As global economies experience a plateau in growth of capital through investments, NRIs are turning towards the Indian stock markets to enhance their portfolios for faster capital growth.

Can an NRI invest in the Indian stock market without PIS?

PIS or Portfolio Investment Scheme is required for NRIs to invest in Indian stock markets. However, they can invest even without PIS in IPO shares, shares received as gifts, and shares bought as resident Indian.

Why is a PIS account important for NRIs?

A PIS or portfolio investment scheme account is crucial for NRIs since it holds the investment amount and is linked with the Demat and Trading account of NRIs. Any shares purchased through a trading account will result in the cost of purchase being deducted from the PIS Account before the shares are credited to the Demat Account.

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