Indians who live abroad often transfer money to India to meet family obligations. The money they remit may cover the daily expenses of their loved ones, as well as rent, tuition fees, medical costs, and so on. But when it comes to international money transfer for the purpose of investments, many non-resident Indians (NRIs) remain clueless.
To carry out investments in India, you will first need an NRI bank account. You could opt for a non-resident external account (NRE) account which permits you to hold your overseas earnings in Indian rupees. Alternatively, if you earn an income in India, you could get a non-resident ordinary (NRO) account to hold your earnings back home. You could also look into digital remittance solutions like Axis RemitMoney, which promise a quick, easy, and affordable international money transfer to India experience.
Once your remittance modes are in place, you are ready to start investing. Here are five investment options that NRIs could explore.
- Fixed deposit
This is a popular investment tool among resident Indians as well as NRIs. One key advantage is that fixed deposits offer a fixed interest rate throughout the term of the deposit. That makes it a good proposition for investors with a low risk tolerance. The interest rates vary according to the term selected. In general, you can expect to earn interest of around 6% to 7%. Senior citizens enjoy a slightly higher rate.
You can invest in a fixed deposit through your NRE or NRO account. Just keep in mind the tax implications. Interest earned on NRE fixed deposits are tax-free. But any interest earnings from NRO fixed deposits are subject to tax deducted at source (TDS).
- Equity and convertible debentures
Stock market investments offer relatively higher returns but they come with risks too. As an NRI, you cannot buy shares directly from a company. But you can invest in equities and convertible debentures through portfolio investment schemes of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). To start investing, you will need an NRE or NRO account, a trading account, and a demat account.
Here are a few things to remember before you start:
- As an NRI, you cannot engage in intraday trading and short selling.
- The profit made from holding shares for over a year falls under long-term capital gains and is tax-free. If you sell the shares before one year is up, a short-term capital gains tax of 15% will apply.
- Mutual fund
Are you investing for the long haul or the short term? Whatever your time horizon might be, there is sure to be a mutual fund to help you reach your goals. Choose from a wide range of schemes based on your risk appetite. Investing in mutual funds is easy when you have an NRE or an NRO account. However, NRIs based in the United States (US) and in Canada could face some restrictions. Owing to strict Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) rules, not all asset management companies permit NRI investment in mutual funds.
- National Pension Scheme (NPS)
NPS is an excellent investment tool that allows you to save for long-term goals like retirement. This tax-efficient scheme brings you market-linked returns. The portfolio is diversified across a range of financial securities, such as corporate bonds, government securities, and equity-related investments. The scheme allows investors to create a corpus for retirement as well as a regular source of income. Any Indian citizen aged between 18 and 60 is free to invest in NPS.
- Real estate
A large number of NRIs who live abroad hope to invest in property in their native land. Indian real estate is also a profitable investment option. NRIs can freely invest in residential and commercial properties and use them however they wish. But the purchase of agricultural and plantation land is not permitted in the case of NRIs.
No matter how big or small your investment is, make sure to carry out end-to-end research before making any investment decision. Consider all options available to you based on your financial goals, risk appetite, and returns. By doing your homework, you can make wise decisions about how to invest your hard-earned money.