Moving to India: Ultimate Guide

Thinking about moving back to India? After living as an expat for years, moving home can be bittersweet. Having worked so hard to create a life abroad, is it worth it to start over again? While many foreigners opt to never return to their native countries, things can be a bit different for Indians.

These days, many Indians abroad are leaving former hotspots like Silicon Valley and Dubai to find better opportunities in India. Indian American entrepreneurs like Mani Karthik have found living abroad then starting a business in India actually offers the perfect path to success and happiness.

Returning to India creates a unique opportunity to go back to a familiar culture and be close to family. At the same time, you still have the opportunity to reap the benefits of foreign training and education. On top of this, in a time of looming international recessions and tightening visa restrictions, moving back to India is more appealing than ever.

While there is incredible potential for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), moving back to India can be one of the biggest and most difficult decisions in anyone’s life. Before you take that leap, however, it is crucial to understand the full picture.

From getting your kids transitioned to starting a business, let’s look at every aspect of moving back to India.

New Business

Moving Back to India to Start a Business

The UAE is in no short supply of Indian billionaires and many maintain strong links to their native land. Countless Indian-origin US entrepreneurs have found incredible success after moving back to India. From the Ministry of Supply and EarthEnable to Snapdeal and CashKaro, there is an impressive number of successful stores from Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) abroad.

Moving to India - Young Indian businessman

Funding a Startup in India

Moving back to India as a venture capitalist or entrepreneur can be an incredible opportunity. Returning with international training and experience opens your eyes up to the countless untapped opportunities in India. In addition to that, working abroad in a wealthy country for a few years can make saving up that startup cash far easier.

This is one of the many reasons why India is the third-largest startup ecosystem on the planet. The government program #StartUpIndia has indicated that the country is looking at a year-on-year growth of 12 to 15 per cent. The government startup program works with international companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Goldman Sachs to provide funding while offering additional state-provided grant options.

How to Open a Business in India​

One drawback to life in India is bureaucracy. The notorious red tape wrapped around entrepreneurship in India is enough to make any returning NRI pause. While opening a startup in India can be tricky, it is getting far easier.

On the World Bank’s list of ease of starting a business, India just jumped 14 ranks thanks to its paperwork simplification program. The country now stands very much in the middle of all nations and you can now open a business within five days.

Rather than the multiple forms previously required, the government is narrowing it down to two required forms, in total, to open a company.

Forms Required to Start a Business in Indian

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has replaced six complicated forms with two relatively easy to complete forms: Spice Plus and Agile Pro. These two forms will give you access to bank accounts, professional taxes, GSTIN, PAN, TAN, ESIC, EPFO, and DIN.

For all of the details on how to get a business set up in India, check out the MCA website and read the comprehensive list of frequently asked questions.

Best Places for Starting a Business in India

One of the very first things to figure out is where you want to open your business. While moving back to India is a great way to reconnect with friends and family, your hometown may or may not be the best place to start a business. Luckily domestic flights in India remain the very cheapest in the world. That means you can easily have the best of both worlds by opening your business in the most strategic spot while staying connected with your loved ones.

In recent years, the whole world has had its eyes on Bengaluru, the Silicon Valley of the east. This city is home to five out of the eight most successful Indian startups. Billion-dollar concepts like Flipkart, Ola, InMobi, Quikr, and MuSigma are all based in Bengaluru. Meanwhile, the three other unicorn startups are based in New Delhi. While you can certainly find opportunities throughout India, these are a couple of cities to seriously consider.

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Employment

Finding a Job In India

Opening a business is certainly not the only economic opportunity when you are moving back to India. In fact, the job prospects after getting further education abroad or working abroad are incredible.

For example, many Indians abroad get their Master’s degree then work for a couple of years before returning home. With just this four year of experience, the landscape is completely transformed. Having that international CV, on average, instantly boosts your salary by around 50 per cent.

This is why so many graduates, especially those from a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) background, turn down jobs abroad to return to India.

Adjusting to the Work Culture in India

Many NRIs who return to India are caught off guard by the culture shock. After becoming accustomed to working abroad, life in India suddenly feels foreign and unfamiliar. Not only do you forget some of those little everyday things (or perhaps you didn’t experience them at all when you were younger), but the country continues to change and grow while you are away. 

Come prepared for an adjustment. If you have been working in North America or Europe, it might take some time to get used to the most structured hierarchy and a more formal environment

Moving to India - Young Indian business woman working on laptop

Moving to India

What Moving Documents are Needed For Moving to India?

Used Household Goods and Personal Effects
  • Original passport (copy of Passport duly certified is accepted for diplomats)
  • Valued list of articles with date of purchase
  • Baggage customs declaration signed by owner of the goods
  • Packing list
  • List of electronic items
  • Authority letters (diplomats / non-diplomats, refer to agents for more information)
  • Duty-free exemption certificate issued by diplomatic organization in India 
  • Original bill of lading (OBL) / sea waybill / copy of air waybill (AWB)
  • Original residence permit (foreigners)
  • Valid visa / PIO card for foreign nationals / Overseas Citizen of India card
  • Employment letter / transfer letter / assignment letters
Motor Vehicle
  • Original passport
  • Original manufacturer’s invoice
  • Import license (unless coming to India on a Transfer of Residence)
  • Insurance policy
  • Certificate of title / registration
  • OBL
  • Duty exemption certificate (diplomats)
Pets
  • Vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate
  • Advance NOC from the Animal Quarantine department in India

For more information on restricted and prohibited items and a more in-depth look at documentation please check the International Association of Movers.

Status

Getting an Aadhaar card

As soon as you are ready to start preparing for living in India, you will want to plan to get your Aadhaar card. This is essential for pretty much every aspect of getting settled in. When you set up your electricity, gas, telephone, and internet account, you will be asked for your Aadhaar card.

Previously, NRIs needed to be in the country for 182 days or more during the course of the previous 12 months to be eligible for an Aadhaar card. Fortunately, this has recently changed t to make the country more friendly to repatriation. You can now get your Aadhaar card with an Indian passport and proof of address.

To get started, just visit the website of the UIDAI and find an enrolment centre to make your appointment. You can get the full list of required documents along with the application online.

Getting OCI Cards for Your Children

Were your kids born outside of India? If they were born abroad and don’t have Indian documentation, you will want to get them an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card. You can organise this from any Indian embassy to ensure they can enter, travel, and reside without any unnecessary issues or complications. 

If anyone in your family doesn’t have an Indian passport but plans to live with you in the country, you will want to look at your options for acquiring documentation.

Here’s who is eligible for citizenship in India: 

  • Anyone who was a citizen of India at any time after 26th January 1950
  • Anyone who was eligible to become a citizen of India after 26th January 1950
  • Any native of a territory that became part of India after 15th August 1947 
  • Any minor child of the above-listed persons 

 

Here’s who is eligible for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card:

  • Any minor child with at least one parent with Indian citizenship
  • Any spouse of an Indian citizen or OCI cardholder who has resided in India for at least two continuous years immediately prior to the application

The process to get an Overseas Citizenship of India is time-consuming so start the process as early as possible. You can find all of the details on the official Overseas Citizenship of India government website.

Moving to India - Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI)

Moving with Children

Getting Start with Schooling in India

In India, you will find that there are four levels within the education system. From ages six to ten, kids attend lower primary. They move into upper primary from ages 11 to 12. From age 13 to 15, they attend high school, then move onto higher secondary for ages 17 and 18. 

Within each school, you will find there are different so-called standards that the schools are divided up into. Schools for lower primary schools have five standards while upper primary schools have two. Each high school is divided into three and higher secondary has two standards.

International Schools in India

If your children have never lived in India, adjusting to a local school can be challenging, especially if they aren’t yet comfortable with the local language. For kids who have grown up outside of India, international schools can be a great option. At the moment, there are nearly 500 international schools around the country. 

International schools are a growing sector in India. So much so that they have seen a whopping 70 per cent increase in student enrolment in recent years. If you are considering moving to India with children, start looking early. Waiting listings are common at international schools and they can be competitive in their enrolment process. 

Even if your kids can communicate easily in the local language, international schools can still be a strong option. Since they work with international government, they offer globally-recognized qualification that offer students opportunity both inside and outside of India. Whether you plan on staying in Indian permanently or not, an international education will offer your children an advantage everywhere in the world, both domestically and internationally.

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Relocating to India - FAQ

Logistics of Moving Back to India

If you have moved abroad before, you already know the scale of an international relocation. It is essential not to underestimate the real time involved. There are countless small steps that need to be taken at every stage along the way.

Preparing to Move Out

While leaving your job is typically something you only need to give notice on a few weeks before departure, ending a lease is a different story entirely. It is all too common to find management groups that charge exorbitant rates for leaving a lease early. If you are renting, make plans well in advance. Read your lease from front to back and know exactly what you signed up for. 

The same goes for any other service that you currently receive in the country where you live. From internet to phone plans to gym memberships, talk to every single provider and carefully review the terms and conditions. In the majority of cases, a contract can be broken early for those moving abroad. Many companies make it difficult to close accounts so you have to be persistent. That said, in many cases, just being friendly and reaching out until you find the right person, can save you a surprising amount of money.

Maintaining a Bank Account Abroad

Having a foreign currency account can always be an asset, especially if you intend on regularly visiting the country or maintaining business ties. 

In many cases, all you need to do to keep your account open is to make a transaction every few months or pay a fee. Look at your specific bank contact and decide if it’s worth it.

Moving to India - Indian online bank account

Managing your Foreign Registration and Account

If there are accounts or registrations that you decide not to hold onto, it is essential to close them. If you have a line of credit or a bank account you won’t be using, close it. If you have a foreign ID and never intend to return to that country, follow the necessary steps of deregistering.

In some countries, these registrations are required. If you are moving from the UAE to India, for example, you absolutely must cancel your visa. Likewise, if you move from the US to India, you need to freeze your credit and social security number.

Even in cases where these registrations are not required, you open yourself up to fraud and all of its nasty consequences if you don’t completely shut down your accounts.

Ready to finally go back home? You need our complete checklist for moving back to India. (link to blog).