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Reserve Bank of India – Key Player in Foreign Remittance

Updated on September 04, 2019 11:20 pm
RBI & Foreign Remittances


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is an apex institution that regulates and monitors the system of foreign remittances directly or through its subsidiary bodies in India. It is the sole regulator of foreign exchange in India and maintains the value of the rupee in the global economy. It does so by regulating the transactions of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) when they send money to India called Inward Remittance and act as the custodians of foreign exchange reserves in India. Any amount transacted from or to India is directly or indirectly regulated by the policies of the Reserve Bank of India.

 

What Role Does RBI Play in Foreign Remittance

The Reserve Bank of India defines and designates the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) which establishes the unique set of rules and regulations that controls foreign remittance and its exchange. If you are an NRI residing overseas and want to send money to your family members in India, you should be aware of the foreign remittance guidelines enforced by FEMA.

The FEMA and its guidelines

The Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) was enacted by the Parliament of India in 1999 with the RBI as the regulatory power. Through FEMA, the RBI facilitates external trade and payments to and from India. Its purpose is to make sure that the money sent online to India doesn't come from and for illegal activities. Furthermore, it helps the RBI keep local currency markets stable by ensuring that a definitive amount of money is sent from India, avoiding a decrease in the currency exchange rates.

Foreign Remittance Guidelines for an NRI

When an NRI sends money online to India or acquire immovable property, the following FEMA guidelines need to be followed:

  • Money can be sent to India from a foreign country up to a maximum of $2,500 per transaction. This can be done through online digital money transfer platforms.
  • The money received can be cashed in India by the recipient up to a maximum of Rs. 50,000 per transaction. If the exchange rates are higher and the amount exceeds Rs. 50,000, the remaining amount has to be received through pay order or a local check.
  • If the amount is sent to India to a foreign national by an NRI, the former is paid the whole amount in cash after producing their passport.
  • According to section 6(4) of the FEMA, a person resident in India can own, hold, invest and transfer any immovable property situated outside India if such property was acquired, held or owned by the same person when he/she was a resident or inherited from a person resident outside India.
  • The accepted mode of payment sanctioned by the RBI for an NRI to acquire immovable property in India is through the banking channels, where an NRI can send money online or make payment through funds held in NRE / FCNR(B) / NRO accounts of the NRIs/ OCIs.

When a Foreign Institutional Investor (FII), NRI or PIO (Person of Indian Origin) wants to invest in an Indian Company, the following RBI guidelines for foreign exchange transactions are applicable:

  • The ceiling for investment for an FII is 24% of the paid-up capital of the company and 10% for NRIs and PIOs.
  • For effective monitoring of the investment made by FIIs, NRIs, and PIOs, the RBI has set fixed cut-off points that are always two percent lower than the definitive ceiling. For example, the fixed cut-off points for FIIs is 22% and 8% for NRIs and PIOs.
  • FIIs, NRIs, and PIOs can use banking channels to send money online and invest in any Indian company authorized by the RBI under its policies.

In the last few years, India has received a tremendous amount of foreign remittance summing up to $62.7 billion in the year 2016 and $65.3 billion in 2017. With this, India has regained the top position in receiving the highest foreign remittance according to the 2018 report of the World Bank. Every single rupee of the billions received was regulated and controlled by the RBI through the FEMA guidelines. At CompareRemit, you can find the best digital money transfer platform to send money online to India from your current country of residence. 

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