This article is about NPS for NRI, NPS Features,how to open aNational Pension Scheme account for NRIs in India, and how it benefits an NRI. This article may contain some jargon and technical aspects which are important to understanding the subject. However, if you find it heavy, please do share your queries in the comments section at the end.
Let us start with the basics first.
The Government introduced the new National Pension Scheme in India or NPS in January 2004 to offer an old-age pension benefit to all citizens of India. People could start contributing to their NPS account from January 1, 2004, and if they attain retirement age (60 years) on or after May 1, 2009, they could buy a pension from their own accumulated corpus.
Nuts and Bolts: The Basics
Like all pension products, PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority) is the regulator for NPS. The NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Ltd. (now called the Protean e-Gov Technologies Ltd.) acts as the CRA or the Central Recordkeeping Agency for NPS. Today there are two more CRAs – K-Fintech and CAMS.
CRA is responsible for the following centralized functions related to NPS and its subscribers:
The CRA also issues a Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN) to every NPS subscriber and maintains a central database of all Permanent Retirement Accounts (PRAs) and transactions in them.
National Pension Scheme in India- Objectives
The National Pension Scheme in India is the world’s largest self-contributing, sustainable, and defined contribution pension scheme with close to 4.25 crores subscribers. The total Assets Under Management (AUM) of the NPS stood at ₹ 7.36 lakh crores, including the Atal pension Yojana (APY).
With an efficient, self-sustained, and voluntary mechanism, the NPS has reached the largest number of households in the world. Its broad objectives are as follows:
Continuous post-retirement income.
Reasonable market-linked returns over the long term.
Offering old-age financial security coverage to all citizens of India and overseas citizens of India.
Can NRI invest in NPS in India? or can NPS be opened by NRI? It is a common question that many NRIs ask.
Yes. As is stated clearly in the objectives of the NPS it offers the old-age pension to “ALL Indian Citizens” – that means even the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are also included. Since 2019, Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) are also allowed to invest in the NPS. (Read a detailed post on OCI status here)
The cost structure, asset allocation, annuity, and many other features make it an attractive option for not only the ones who are compulsorily covered by it (government employees) but also for the citizens – salaried, self-employed, or businesspersons.
You can not only open a new NPS account as an NRI or an OCI, but even if your status has recently changed from that of Resident Indian (RI) to NRI, you can continue to invest in it. The same applies if your status changes from NRI back to RI.
Before getting into the nitty-gritties of the NPS for NRI and its procedures, let’s first understand its key features and eligibility criteria.
Key Features of NPS for NRI and OCI
National Pension Scheme in India is a voluntary defined-contribution scheme – the contributions of the subscribers are defined but their returns, corpus, and finally pension are all market-linked.
The contributions are managed and invested by PFRDA appointed pension fund managers (PFMs) including:
Aditya Birla Sun Life Pension Management Limited.
HDFC Pension Management Company Limited.
ICICI Prudential Pension Funds Management Company Limited.
Kotak Mahindra Pension Fund Limited.
LIC Pension Fund.
SBI Pension Funds Private Limited.
UTI Retirement Solutions Limited.
Tier-I and II Accounts
Under the scheme, two sub-accounts are available:
It is a mandatory account for any subscriber who wishes to participate in the NPS. The Tier-I corpus is automatically locked in till the retirement age of the subscriber and pre-mature withdrawals of only up to 25% of your NPS contribution are allowed. These withdrawals and the conditions surrounding them are discussed later in detail.
These voluntary accounts can be used to park additional contributions over and above the NPS contribution to Tier-I accounts. Because of the easy liquidity, they act as a savings bank account with no limits on contributions and withdrawals from them. NRIs and OCIs can contribute as much as they wish and withdraw as much as they wish from their Tier-II accounts, whenever they want.
NPS for NRI- Investment Modes:
To make investments, like all other subscribers, NRI/OCI investors also have two choices – Auto and Active investment.
Under the auto choice mode, a pre-defined investment plan is chosen for every investor with a mix of equity and debt. The investment is automatically distributed into equity and debt instruments based on the age of the investor.
For example, for an investor in her 30s, the weight of equity would be more than the debt, while in the case of a person in her 50s, the reverse would be true.
In the active choice mode, the NRI investor decides the asset classes as well as their relative weight in the overall portfolio where their money would be invested. There are a few pre-defined asset allocation strategies that cater to all unique investment strategies as well as risk profiles. You can pick any one of them and invest.
However, the maximum exposure to equities is capped at 75%, up to 50 years of age. Afterwards, the equity allocation reduces by 2.50% every year.
If you wish to change the asset allocation at a later date, you can do so without any charges. All future investments post such switch would be invested according to the new asset-allocation plan.
Eligibility Criteria for Opening NPS Account in India
The age of the subscriber must be between 18 and 65 years at the time of opening the account.
You must comply with the KYC norms of the RBI and PFRDA.
Hold a valid PAN and have a bank account in India.
Only Indian Citizens, including NRIs living overseas, and OCIs (Overseas Citizens of India) are allowed to open an NPS account.
This scheme is for individuals only – it means HUFs, Partnership firms, Power of Attorney Holders, etc. cannot open an NPS account on behalf of someone else.
How can NRI open an NPS account?
NRIs/OCIs have the option to open their NPS account both offline when they are visiting India or online modes. Below we give a step-by-step process to do it.
Step 1: Obtain the PRAN Application Form
Visit any Point of Presence – Service Providers (POP-SP) and obtain your Permanent Retirement Account Number application form. You can check the link given to find the nearest POP-SP and register with them.
Step 2: Submit the Form with Documents
Next, you must ensure that the PRAN application form is completed and duly signed, and all necessary self-attested documents are enclosed with it. The documents required are:
Scheme preference details
International Driving License
Photo ID card issued by the Indian Consulate/Embassy in the country of residence.
Foreign Address Proof:
Local utility bills.
Address proof attested by the Indian Consulate/Embassy in the country of residence.
Indian Address Proof:
Indian Ration Card
Utility bills in subscriber’s name.
Bank’s Certificate with photo and address attested by the branch manager.
Bank Details: A cancelled cheque of your NRO/NRE bank account.
Step 3: Submit the PRAN application form at POP-SP
You can submit the PRAN application along with the documents at the nearest POP-SP. They will issue you an acknowledgment or receipt number. You must make a minimum NPS contribution of Rs. 500 using an NCIS (instruction slip) and depositing your contribution in cash.
To track your application, visit this link. Once issued, your PRAN card will be sent to your Indian address by the CRA.
How can NRI open an NPS account online? – eNPS Facility
NRIs sitting abroad or who are not in a position to visit their nearest POP-SP can also open their NPS account online via a service called eNPS. You have the option to use Aadhaar-based authentication or PAN-based authentication for the eNPS facility. Let us see both options one by one.
Select Registration→New Registration to initiate the registration process.
Select Non-Resident Indian (NRI), type of account Repatriable/Non-repatriable, and option for registering with Aadhaar.
Enter your Passport number and Aadhaar Number, click on Generate OTP, enter the OTP, and continue.
For Repatriable eNPS A/c: Select Bank from the list of empanelled banks for Bank verifications and submit NRE/NRO account details.
For Non-Repatriable eNPS A/c: Bank details of any bank a/c to be filled and NRE/NRO account details can be submitted on a self-declaration basis.
Personal details and photo from the Aadhaar database will be used.
Enter other details under specific tabs:
Personal Details: Enter name(s) of Father/Mother, registered mobile number, email ID, Aadhaar as proof of identity, and date of birth with proof. Then click on Generate Acknowledgement Number.
Contact Details: The address from the Aadhaar database will be used and cannot be edited.
Bank and Other details:
Select Occupation and other relevant details
Enter Bank Account selected initially
Repatriable eNPS NRI Account: The bank must be empanelled, and you must have an NRE account there.
Non-Repatriable eNPS NRI Account: Details of any NRO account of any bank may be filled on a self-declaration basis.
Scheme and Nomination Details: Select the ‘Pension Fund Manager’ and the investment choice (Active or Auto).
For Active Choice, specify the Asset Allocation percentage.
The details of up to three nominees with their percentage share.
Photo and Signature Upload: Upload scanned Signature and Photograph in JPG format with a file size between 4 and 12 kb.
Payment Details: Make an initial online contribution of a minimum of Rs. 500. After successful payment, Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN) will be allotted.
For Repatriable eNPS NRI a/c, subsequent NPS contributions must be from the linked NRE bank account.
For Non-repatriable eNPS NRI a/c, you can use any mode – net banking or debit/credit card – to make initial and subsequent contributions.
e-sign the application to complete the process. To e-Sign the application, the mobile number linked with your Aadhaar card is required. Otherwise, you need to take a print, affix a photo, sign the application form, and physically mail it to the CRA.
Note: Tier-II accounts will not be allowed under eNPS for NRI. To open a Tier-II account, you must visit your POP-SP.
Select Registration → New Registration to initiate the registration process.
Select Non-Resident Indian (NRI), type of account Repatriable/Non-repatriable, and option for registering with PAN.
For both Repatriable and Non-Repatriable eNPS accounts, select your bank from the list of empanelled banks. This is necessary for bank verification, then submit NRE/NRO account details.
Enter your Passport number and PAN Number.
Enter other details under specific tabs:
a. Personal Details: Name of father/mother, registered mobile number, email ID, PAN as proof of identity, and date of birth with proof. Then click on Generate Acknowledgement Number. b. Contact Details: Enter contact details as it appears in the bank database. c. Bank and Other Details: i. Select occupation and other relevant details. ii. Enter bank account details. d. Scheme and nomination Details: Select the ‘Pension Fund Manager’ and the investment choice (Active or Auto). i. For Active Choice, specify the asset allocation percentage. ii. The details of up to three nominees with their percentage share. e. Photo and Signature upload: Upload scanned Signature and Photograph in JPG format with the file size between 4 and 12 kb. f. Payment Details: Make an initial NPS contribution, of a minimum of Rs. 500, using the net banking of the selected bank. i. After successful payment, Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN) will be allotted. ii. For Repatriable eNPS NRI a/c: All subsequent contributions must be from the registered bank account. iii. For Non-repatriable eNPS NRI a/c: Initial and subsequent contributions can be through any mode – net banking or credit/debit card.
e-Sign the application to complete the process.
To e-Sign the application, the mobile number linked with your Aadhaar card is required. Otherwise, you need to take a print, affix a photo, sign the application form, and physically mail it to the CRA.
Note: Tier-II accounts will not be allowed under eNPS for NRI. To open a Tier-II account, you must visit your POP-SP.
Therefore, you can see that the National Pension Scheme returns are market-driven. There is no fixed NPS interet rate of interest on NPS. No one can guarantee anything about the returns on NPS investment in India.
Taxation at the time of Investment: If you have some taxable income in India, under a special provision 80CCD (1B) of the Income Tax Act, you can get an additional deduction of Rs. 50,000 over and above the Rs. 1.50 lakhs limit set under section 80C. This tax benefit is available only for Tier-I accounts and not for Tier-II accounts.
Taxation at the time of Withdrawal: Partial and final withdrawals from the NPS tier-I account are also tax-free. For further details, check the next section where all the scenarios for withdrawal and exit from the NPS are given in detail.
Rules Regarding Withdrawal from NPS for NRI
As mentioned earlier, the Tier-II account is a purely voluntary contribution account. You can withdraw the entire corpus from it at any time. In this section, we will, therefore, discuss only the withdrawal of the corpus in the Tier-I account of the NPS.
Partial Withdrawal from NPS for NRI
PFRDA allows up to 3 partial withdrawals from your NPS account, during the entire tenure of your subscription. It is capped at 25% of your contributions and not on the corpus size.
For example, if after 15 years, your contribution of Rs. 10-lakhs have grown into Rs. 26-lakhs, you can withdraw only Rs. 2.5-lakhs from the NPS. From FY 2017-18 onwards, partial withdrawals have been made tax-free in the hands of the subscriber.
There are certain rules and conditions under which such partial withdrawals are allowable:
Only for specific purposes, such as:
Higher education of children
Marriage of children
Purchase or construction of a residential house
Treatment of specified diseases
You must be an NPS subscriber for at least 10 years.
One can withdraw a maximum of up to 3 times during the entire tenure.
There must be a gap of a minimum of 5 years between two such withdrawals. Only in the case of a specified disease, this rule can be relaxed.
Second and third withdrawals can be made only from the incremental contributions made by you after the previous withdrawal(s).
Exit Rules for NPS for NRI
When you reach 60, you can exit the NPS, and the following would apply:
You can withdraw a maximum of 60% of the corpus as a tax-free lump sum.
The balance of 40% must be used to purchase an annuity plan from a PFRDA-approved insurance company.
The annuity income will be taxable according to your tax slab at that time, as it is treated at par with salary/pension income. If you are still living abroad, then you can take advantage of the DTAA rules between India and your country of residence.
You can defer purchasing an annuity for 3 years only.
If the total corpus is only up to Rs. 5 lakhs, then you can withdraw it entirely and need not invest in an annuity plan.
You can defer the withdrawal till the age of 75 and continue to make contributions, to make the corpus bigger.
Premature Exit Rules
If before reaching the age of 60, you wish to exit from the NPS, the following rules would apply:
Only up to 20% of the corpus can be withdrawn tax-free in a lump sum.
The balance sum must be invested in a PFRDA-approved annuity plan from an insurance company.
The annuity would be treated as income and will be taxable at a marginal rate.
If the total corpus is only up to Rs. 2.50 lakhs, then it can be withdrawn entirely without the need to invest in an annuity.
Exit rules – When you joined NPS after 60!
Yes. That’s the beauty of the NPS, you can join it even after attaining 60, but before crossing 65, and continue to invest in it till you reach 75.
For seniors, there is more flexibility in comparison to regular subscribers. After joining for 3 years, they can exit the scheme at any time, and it would be treated at par with a normal exit on retirement.
However, if you join the scheme after 60 years of age but exit it within 3 years, then it will be treated at par with a pre-mature exit.
If the total corpus is less than Rs. 5 lakhs then you can withdraw the entire corpus, without buying any annuity for pension.
Exit due to Death
If the subscriber passes away before the age of 60, the entire accumulated corpus would be transferred to the bank accounts of the legal heirs/nominees of the deceased. The beneficiaries would not be required to purchase an annuity or will not have to pay any taxes on such transfers.
No doubt, National Pension Scheme (NPS) in India is one of the best social security schemes in the world where much flexibility is offered to the subscriber with stability. Online mode of operation with the least hassles, minimum transaction charges, and decent returns make this one of the most efficient instruments for Retirement Planning In India.
On retirement, NPS not only provides tax-free lump-sum withdrawal but also provides a regular income in the form of an annuity, to take care of the regular expenses. In addition, the tax benefits on the investments can also help you with some additional tax savings too, if you have any taxable income in India.
So, all in all, as most NRIs dream of retiring in India, NPS is one of the most impressive schemes that you should invest in post discussion with your financial planners, about its suitability in your financial plan.
Some Common FAQs on NPS for NRI
Can an NRI have more than one NPS account?
No. All subscribers – RIs, NRIs, and OCIs – can have only one NPS account. There is also no need for having multiple accounts, as NPS is fully portable.
Is an NRI allowed to open a Joint NPS account?
No. NPS does not have the provision for opening joint accounts. Only an individual can open an NPS account. For that matter, NPS does not allow opening accounts by HUF and other such legal entities as well.
Can NRI open NPS Tier 2 account?
Yes. NRIs can open an NPS Tier 2 account but only through the physical mode by visiting the POP branch. This account cannot be opened by NRIs through the online mode using eNPS.
Can OCI invest in NPS?
Yes, just like resident Indians and NRIs, OCIs are also allowed to invest in NPS in India.
Does NPS allow the operation of account through Power of Attorney (POA) for NRIs?
No. At present, PFRDA and the NPS trust do not allow operations of any type through the POA holder. You must either visit the nearest Point of Presence – Service Provider (POP-SP) or use the eNPS portal to open, operate, and withdraw from your account.
What is the difference between Repatriable and Non-Repatriable NPS accounts?
For a Repatriable NPS account, an NRI/OCI can deposit the amount through their NRE/FCNR accounts. At the time of maturity, the designated NRE account will be used to make the transfer of the lump sum as well as the pension from the annuity bought. For Non-Repatriable NPS accounts, NRIs/OCIs can make deposits through their NRO accounts. But at the time of maturity or partial withdrawal, only the NRO account will be used for depositing the lump sum as well as the pension.
Can NRIs contribute to NPS in foreign currency? If yes, then which currencies are allowed for making such contributions?
No, NPS contributions are not allowed in any foreign currency. To make contributions, NRIs must have an INR denominated account. You can have an: 1. NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary) account to invest your income from Indian sources through NPS. If your NPS account is non-repatriable, then its withdrawals would be made only into an NRO account. There are certain limitations on the repatriation of the amount of money deposited in this account. 2. NRE (Non-Resident External)/ FCNR (Foreign Currency Non-Resident) account to invest your income from abroad through NPS. There are no limitations on the repatriation of the money deposited in this account. If your NPS account was Repatriable, then its withdrawals would be made into an NRE account, that you can freely take out of the country without any limitations. (You can go through our detailed post on NRI Bank Accounts here)
Can an NRI make investments to their Repatriable NPS account from their non-repatriable bank account and vice versa?
PFRDA allows making deposits to your NPS account from any of your NRI bank accounts – NRE, NRO, or FCNR. But the withdrawals of the NPS can be done into a designated and registered bank account only. The registered bank account should have the same repatriation status as your NPS account so that the withdrawals are hassle-free.
For NRI and OCI subscribers living abroad, how would the pension and the lump sum be paid? Are they repatriable?
NRIs and OCIs are allowed to withdraw both the lump sum as well as the pension in local currency (INR) in the designated bank accounts according to the status (Repatriable/Non-Repatriable) of the NPS account. What you do with the sum, once you have received it in your NRO/NRE accounts, is up to you. The restrictions of repatriation would apply as per the current rules of the Income-tax Act and the RBI’s LRS (Liberalized Remittance Scheme).
What happens to my NPS account after I become NRI?
NPS being a portable scheme, you need not worry about your investments in it, when your residential status change. First of all, visit your bank to change the status of your bank account to NRO (default) or change the linked account to your newly-opened NRE account. You can download the NSRF form, available on the CRA websites, fill in the details, attach required documents (like Passport, Foreign residential address proof, NRE/NRO bank account, Tax Residency Certificate, and Cancelled cheque), and submit it to your POP-SP. In case you are already residing out of India, you must visit the overseas branch of the POP. The POP will verify the details and then forward the application to the CRA for the necessary updations.
What happens to the NPS account when NRI becomes a Resident?
When NRI becomes a resident, he/she may continue with the same NPS account. However, as soon as the residential status of the person changes, he/she needs to update the status of his bank account. Once this is done then to update the residential status in NPS, you need to download the CSRF form, i.e., the NPS account opening form from the CRA website, fill it up with the relevant details and submit it to the nearest POP branch for the necessary updations.
As I live in a foreign country, I do not have an Indian mobile number to receive alerts related to my NPS account. Can I register a foreign mobile number with NPS?
Yes. This is one of the most common issues that is faced by NRI and OCI subscribers of the NPS. The CRAs allow registration of your foreign mobile numbers as the primary number to receive alerts for the NPS transactions – both financial and non-financial. It is strongly suggested that if there are any changes to your mobile number – whether you have a new number or you have changed countries – you must immediately update the same through the CRA website.
What details can I change online and for which details do I need to visit a POP?
NRI and OCI subscribers can update their scheme preference, pension fund manager, mobile number, and email Id online through the eNPS website. For other details such as the address, bank, and nomination details one must visit the nearest POP-SP.
Are there any different Exit & Withdrawal rules for NRIs and OCIs?
No. The rules governing exit from the NPS and withdrawal of the funds are exactly the same for all subscribers. These rules are notified as to the PFRDA (Exit and Withdrawals under the National Pension System) Regulations, 2015.
What are the documents I need to submit with the NPS withdrawal forms?
You must submit the following documents along with the withdrawal forms to settle the claim: 1. Original PRAN card 2. Attested copy of Proof of Identity 3. Attested copy of Proof of Address 4. Cancelled cheque or attested bank certificate for direct electronic transfer
Can you list some major benefits of NPS for NRI?
The major benefits of NPS are the same for all its subscribers. They are: 1. Voluntary – You can contribute any time during the entire financial year and if you meet the minimum contribution criteria, then you can invest any amount. 2. Simple – You must become a subscriber by opening an account either directly through the eNPS portal or a designated POP. 3. Flexible – You have the choice to choose your fund manager as well as an investment option to suit your risk appetite. 4. Portable – You can operate your account from anywhere, from any job, and even when you are not salaried. 5. Regulated – NPS is regulated by the Government of India through PFRDA and is managed by the NPS Trust.
Can I change my pension fund manager and switch from one investment scheme to another? How?
Yes, NPS offers the greatest autonomy, flexibility, and choices to its subscribers. Subscribers can change their scheme preference at any time and all future contributions would follow the new mandate. Subscribers in Auto mode can choose a mandate from Aggressive, Moderate, or Conservative, while those in Active mode can decide the percentage of allocation in different asset classes. The subscribers also have the option to change their PFM (Pension Fund Manager) and the investment mode (between active and auto) once each year. There are no charges for doing so.
Can NRIs continue to invest in NPS after 60?
Yes. As the average life span of people is extending, they would like to make sure that their later years are taken care of. Also, many people continue to work well past the formal age of retirement. PFRDA allows one to continue investing in an NPS account till they reach 75. After reaching 60 years, you must inform the POP-SP about this option. Now, you have the choice to exit the scheme at any time. You can withdraw up to 60% of the corpus and invest the balance in an annuity product
What is the NPS for NRI interest rate?
NPS is a market-linked product and has no specifically defined interest rate. The returns of NPS depend upon the market movement of the securities that the NPS fund manager invests in.
What are the different charges applicable in NPS?
The charges for different services update from time to time to reflect the changing dynamics. The latest charges under various heads can be found on the NPS Trust Website. The table on the page summarizes the charges that a subscriber has to pay and the mode in which they are deducted/charged. For example, where the mode of the deduction is “Through NAV cancellation,” the charges are deducted by selling/deducting fractional units from the subscribers’ account. In case of other charges, they are charged upfront with the transaction or the service delivery. In most cases, the charges for using an online facility are lesser compared to using the physical network of the POP-SP
Manikaran Singal is the founder and Chief financial planner at Good Moneying Financial Solutions. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER CM and SEBI registered Investment adviser (Regd no. INA 100001620). He’s having more than 12 years of experience in financial services space. More...