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NRO Account Benefits: Essential Guide for NRIs

A Comprehensive Guide to Using Your NRO Account Efficiently
min read
February 3, 2024

Understanding the NRO Account

An NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary) account is a specialized bank account for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) designed to manage their income sourced within India, such as rent from properties, dividends from investments, or pension from previous employment. In this extensive guide, we delve into the nuances of managing finances through an NRO account, the associated tax benefits, and how to use the account for investment and savings.

Eligibility and Opening Process

The eligibility for opening an NRO account is simple: if you are an Indian citizen who has attained NRI status or a Person of Indian Origin (PIO), you qualify. The process of opening an NRO account has been streamlined by most Indian banks, allowing you to start the application online. However, the process is not complete without the submission of necessary KYC documents, which include your passport copy, overseas address proof (like utility bills or bank statements), visa or OCI/PIO card, and recent passport-size photographs. Some banks may offer a document pickup service from your local address or require in-person verification at their foreign branches or partner institutions.

Features and Flexibility of NRO Accounts

NRO accounts come in three forms: savings, current, or fixed deposits. They offer the flexibility of depositing both foreign and Indian currencies, with foreign funds being automatically converted to the Indian Rupee (INR). The key attraction remains the competitive interest rates conferred upon these accounts, which are on par with domestic saving account rates and are subject to the prevailing tax laws.

Understanding Tax Implications and Repatriation

One of the complicated aspects of the NRO account that perturbs many NRIs is the tax treatment of the funds maintained in these accounts. Interest earned on NRO accounts is subject to Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) in India. The current TDS rate can be quite high, around 30%, but may be reduced under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) if India has such a treaty with your country of residence. Moreover, while the principal amount is non-repatriable, interest income can be remitted abroad. The RBI allows repatriation of up to USD 1 million per financial year for bonafide purposes after due taxes have been paid. This increased repatriability brings a measure of liquidity to NRIs seeking to move funds to their country of residence.

Account Operations and Services

Operating an NRO account is akin to a regular bank account in India. As an NRO account holder, you can issue cheques for payments, direct debits for EMIs, and invest in various financial products within India. Additionally, most banks offer international debit cards linked to NRO accounts, enabling straightforward cash withdrawals and transactions while in India.

Why Opt for an NRO Account?

An NRO account serves multiple purposes for an NRI. It acts as a central hub for managing income generated in India, especially useful if you own property or have family back home. The account shields you from currency fluctuations, ensuring that income from Indian sources is not affected by the volatility of international markets. Moreover, it simplifies the legal and financial documentation required for taxable income in India.

Distinguishing NRO from Other NRI Accounts

NRIs often find themselves comparing NRO with NRE (Non-Resident External) and FCNR (Foreign Currency Non-Resident) accounts. While NRE accounts are exclusively for foreign earnings to be held in INR in India, NRO accounts focus on funds earned in India. FCNR accounts, on the other hand, hold foreign currency and are thus insulated from INR exchange rate risks. The choice between these accounts should reflect your financial goals, sources of income, and convenience.

Final Takeaway

Strategic use of an NRO account can greatly benefit an NRI, making it an indispensable accessory for financial housekeeping and investments in India. It bridges the geographical divide by allowing you to manage and grow your wealth within India’s borders with efficiency and peace of mind.

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Aayush is a strategic growth marketer with over 6 years of experience working in the US and European markets for various financial services companies. He has a proven track record of success in helping businesses grow, increase revenue, and improve marketing strategies.

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