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To understand how to start a business in India if you are an NRI/PIO/OCI, we should firstly get well conversant with the meaning of the terms NRI/PIO/OCI.

Difference between NRI/PIO/OCI





Full Form

Non-Resident Indian

Person of Indian Origin

Overseas Citizenship of India

Who is

A NRI is one who stays abroad for some reason(employment, business) but has citizenship of India.

A person who is not an Indian citizen but he or his ascendants was an Indian citizen by the virtue of constitution or Citizenship Act 1955.

A person registered as an Overseas Citizen of Indian under section 7A of the Citizenship Act

What all activities can be undertaken by them in India?

All activities

Activity as mentioned in Visa.

All activities except mountaineering, missionary and research work and existing PAP/RAP which require specific permit.

Note:- OCI should not be mistaken with Dual Citizenship. India does not grant dual citizenship.

What is a PIO card?

PIO card was launched in 1999 to make the visits of PIOs to India easier, flexible and to provide several other benefits like:

  • He/she doesn't have to apply for a Visa to visit India, PIO card serves the same purpose.
  • He/she doesn't require a 'Student' Visa for education nor does he/she require 'Employment' Visa for employment in India.
  • He/she enjoys the same privileges which are extended to the NRIs in matters related to acquisition, holding, transfer and disposal of immovable property in India except issues related to acquisition of agricultural/plantation properties.


A person who at any time held an Indian passport or his parents or grandparents were born or permanently resided in India, provided that they had not at any time acquired citizenship of Afghanistan, China, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan; or who is a spouse of an Indian citizen or a person of Indian origin.

What is a OCI card?

OCI card scheme was started on 2nd December, 2005 to provide certain privileges to the People of Indian Origin who have moved from India and have acquired citizenship of a foreign country (except Pakistan and Bangladesh).


A foreign national, who was eligible to become citizen of India on 26.01.1950, or was a citizen of India on or at anytime after 26.01.1950, or belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15.08.1947, and their children and grand children, is eligible for registration as Overseas Citizen of India, provided that the person has never been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.


  • It allows multiple entry and multi-purpose life time Visa for journeys to India
  • Exemption from registration with local police authorities for stay in India for any length of time.
  • Makes them stand at par with NRIs in financial, economic and other fields except securing ownership of agricultural and plantation areas.
  • But getting an OCI is not same as being a regular Indian citizen because:
  • Do not get an Indian passport
  • Do not have any voting rights
  • Cannot be a candidate for Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha/Legislative Assembly or a member of the House of the People or of the Council of States
  • Cannot apply for a government job

PIO Card v/s OCI card

A PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card allows for visa-free travel to and from India. However, a PIO card is only valid for 15 years. Also, if your stay in India is going to exceed 180 days on any single visit you will need to register within 30 days of the expiry of 180 days with the concerned Foreigners Regional Registration Officer/Foreigners Registration Officer or local Police Authorities.

Unlike a PIO, an OCI card has lifelong visa-free travel and does not require the holder to register with any office regardless of the length of their stay.

Steps to start business in India by NRI/PIO/OCI

1. Get a PAN card issued in your name from income-tax department. Any person whether a NRI or an Indian citizen or of Indian origin making an investment of over Rs.50,000 is required to cite his/her PAN number. A pan card also serves to be an identification tool as it has your photo on it.

2. If you want to initiate business in India but you do not wish to move here then you need partner/s in India for carrying out your venture. Select your partner/s on the basis of his/her past records, integrity and other personal aspects and avoid choosing them on the basis of your emotional relationships.

3. Choose a Proper Business Entity. You can choose partnership, sole proprietorship, company or any other form of business entity. But make sure that whichever form you are incorporating, you follow all the instructions and regulations associated with it.

4. After successful completion of all the above steps you are ready to launch into business. Ensure that your company is a member of all the business organizations related to the sector it is engaged in.

5. If you are into export/import business you must get yourself registered with the Director General of Foreign Trade. The application form for the same requires a bank account number and a letter from the bank along with the details of Partners/directors. This process takes about 2-3 weeks.

For more clarity on the topic you can refer the below mentioned linked which comprises of FAQ’s published by the Bureau of Immigration.

Disclaimer: The information contained in the above article are solely for informational purpose after exercising due care. However, it does not constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation. The author do not owns any responsibility for any loss or damage caused to any person, directly or indirectly, for any action taken on the basis of the above article.


Published by

Gurpreet Singh
Category Others   Report

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