Print
  • Hold down Ctrl key and select the sections you want to print. If using a Mac, hold down the Cmd key.
  • Use Ctrl + A or on Mac, Cmd + A to select all sections (if you are using the Chrome browser).
  • Click "Apply" and the site will customise your print guide in the preview below.
  • Click the "Print" button and a print pop up should appear to print to your printer of choice.

Moving to India

An ancient country rich in culture and diversity, expats moving to India will find a wealth of places to explore if they’re willing to step out of their comfort zone.

Few places compare in scale to the world’s second-most populous country and the sheer size and sensory richness can be overwhelming. There is great pride in diversity here, and local culture is strong, although Westerners are likely to experience some culture shock as manners and customs in India are often vastly different from Western norms.

Living costs will be low for expats earning in a foreign currency, but record growth for more than two decades hasn’t stopped India from having one of the world’s widest wealth gaps. Extreme wealth and poverty exist side by side in teeming cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru.

The largest employing sectors in India are textiles and agriculture, but most opportunities for skilled expats come from areas such as IT, financial services, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications. Expats living and working in the country shouldn’t struggle to meet their basic needs. The quality of public services such as healthcare varies between regions, but expats who can afford it prefer using the private sector.

After applying for visas, the biggest challenge expats are likely to face is finding suitable housing. There is a high demand for good quality accommodation, and getting their employer’s help or at least hiring a reputable property and real estate agent will make the process much easier.

Still, one major benefit of moving to the subcontinent is that communicating with locals is generally easy. English is widely spoken and is frequently the language of business in India.

Overall, India provides a welcome mixture of high-quality living, adventure and cultural exploration, making it an expat destination with much to offer.


Fast facts

Population: Over 1.38 billion

Capital city: New Delhi

Largest city: Mumbai

Neighbouring countries: India shares borders with China, Bhutan and Nepal to the northeast, Pakistan to the west, Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. India is also bound by a vast coastline, stretching from the Arabian Sea in the southwest to the Indian Ocean in the south, and finally to the Bay of Bengal to the southeast.

Geography: India is a large and geographically diverse country. The northern areas of India are largely defined by the Himalayan mountain range while the Deccan Plateau occupies the western and southern part of the country. 

Political system: Federal parliamentary constitutional republic

Major religion: Hinduism

Main languages: Hindi and English. There are an estimated 447 native languages spoken among smaller minorities.

Money: The official currency is the Indian Rupee (INR). This was divided into 100 paise, though these denominations are no longer legal tender. It's relatively easy for expats to set up a local bank account and ATMs are easy to find.

Tipping: Standard 5 to 10 percent

Time: GMT +5.5

Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. Most plugs have two (Type C plugs) or three (Type D plugs) round pins.

International dialling code: +91

Emergency contacts: 112

Internet domain: .in

Transport and driving: The standard of public transport in India is highly varied, but networks are extensive. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road.

Weather in India

India's vast terrain makes for a variety of climatic conditions, ranging from snowfall in high mountainous regions to humid tropical coastal areas. 

Two climatic subtypes prevail across India: a tropical monsoon climate, particularly in the south which has high humidity, and a tropical climate bringing both wet and dry periods. The southern regions experience their mildest temperatures between January and September, while in the northeast the months from March to August are more bearable. The deserts of Rajasthan (west of Jodhpur) and the northwestern Indian Himalayan region are at their best during the monsoon season (July to September); and the mountainous regions of Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir should be visited over the summer months (May to September).

Generally, expats who relocate to India will experience pleasant and warm weather during the months of October to March when it is cool and dry. Depending on the location, however, the weather can be scorchingly hot during the summer months and it’s wise to make sure accommodation has adequate air conditioning.

 
 

Embassy Contacts for India


Indian embassies

  • Indian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 939 7000

  • Indian High Commission, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 8629 5950

  • Indian High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 744 3751

  • Indian High Commission, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6225 4900

  • Indian High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 342 5392

  • Indian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 206 0932

  • Indian High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 473 6390


Foreign embassies in India

  • United States Embassy, New Delhi: +91 11 2419 8000

  • British High Commission, New Delhi: +91 11 2419 2100

  • Canadian High Commission, New Delhi: +91 11 4178 2000

  • Australian High Commission, New Delhi: +91 11 4139 9900

  • South African High Commission, New Delhi: +91 11 2614 9411

  • Irish Embassy, New Delhi: +91 11 4940 3200

  • New Zealand High Commission, New Delhi: +91 11 4688 3170

Public Holidays in India

 

2021

2022

Republic Day

26 January

26 January

Independence Day

15 August

15 August

Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday

2 October

2 October

*India has only three compulsory national holidays, but each state has its own additional holidays reflecting predominant local cultures and religions. To find out more, consult government sources.

Safety in India

Given its immense size and diversity, the general level of safety in India varies. Expats are most likely to come across issues related to petty crime, road safety and sanitation.

There are ongoing issues related to sectarian violence and terrorism, but foreigners are not often directly affected – although there have been occasions when areas known to be frequented by Westerners have been targeted.


Crime in India

Petty crime is rampant in India, and foreigners will more likely be exposed to this than violent crime. Expats tend to stick out in a crowd and are often easy targets for pickpocketing, overcharging and small-scale scams.

There have also been reports of foreigners being robbed or assaulted while riding in taxis or rickshaws. It’s best to take prepaid taxis and avoid taxis that are already carrying passengers.

Unfortunately, women should be particularly cautious about travelling alone (especially at night) and dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention. Sexual assaults on foreign women have been reported across the country, including Goa, Delhi and Rajasthan. Crimes of a sexual nature could happen anywhere, and we recommend expats contact the authorities in the event of this, including the police and their home country's embassy in India.

Begging is common on the streets of Indian towns and cities. Expats wanting to make a difference should rather contribute to a reputable charity. If refusing to help is difficult, food is a better donation than money. But giving to one person can result in being mobbed by others hoping to get something too.


Terrorism in India

The threat of terrorism in India remains a concern, especially in major cities like Delhi and Mumbai – terrorists have especially targeted areas that are popular with foreigners before. Security has, however, been stepped up in major cities.

Certain parts of India are frequently plagued with sectarian violence that has little to do with foreigners. The northern regions of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are the most notable examples. Violence is unpredictable, but there is a risk of bombings, shootings and kidnappings.

There are other areas which major foreign offices advise against travelling to, including the border with Pakistan and the state of Manipur. We recommend that expats check with their embassies regarding which areas to avoid in India.

It's important to be especially vigilant around the time of public holidays and days of religious significance. By keeping up to date with the news and following government travel warnings, expats should be able to avoid any problems. 


Protests in India

Protests related to political and socio-economic issues are common in India and often affect service delivery and transport. Large gatherings are especially common in India's northeastern regions. Violence at such gatherings is not uncommon. Indian security forces are quite used to dealing with these situations and are swift to react, however, this does not guarantee one's safety during a protest.

We advise expats to steer clear of all protest action and abide by any state and national regulations imposed.


Transport safety in India

Road safety is a major concern in India. Reckless taxi and motorcycle drivers account for many accidents, while bus and train accidents are also fairly common. Pickpockets also target passengers on public transport, so expats should keep a close eye on their belongings.

Sea travel also poses safety concerns, given that tourist boats in India often fail to carry life-saving equipment such as lifejackets. It's best to check the safety regulations provided by tour operators and travel companies.


Food safety in India

Poor hygiene standards and disease are also concerns for expats in India. To avoid digestive issues, expats should be cautious about consuming food from roadside vendors and avoid drinking tap water, especially in smaller towns and rural areas.

Working in India

Working in India – particularly in large cities – has become increasingly popular as the country has become known as one of the world's leading economies. As the second-most populous country in the world, India's market is also one of the largest economies in terms of spending power. 

Foreigners are generally made to feel welcome in the Indian workplace, but making an effort to adapt to local business culture is important – many companies send their expat employees for cross-cultural training to smooth the transition.


Job market in India

Where expats choose to base themselves in India will largely shape the job market they will encounter. Delhi, as the country's capital city, boasts a diverse economy and cosmopolitan environment, while Bengaluru is nicknamed India's Silicon Valley, and Mumbai is a commercial, entertainment and fashion hub.

Competition for jobs in India is fierce, perhaps more so now than ever as the global economy has been hit by diverse impacts of the coronavirus health crisis. Although Indian universities produce large numbers of qualified graduates, the supply cannot keep pace with the rapid growth in certain sectors of the economy, and graduates' level of experience is often limited. Companies search for candidates with appropriate and extensive experience, and this is often found in the pool of skilled international applicants.

India is home to one of the world's fastest-growing IT industries and the country is now one of the major exporters of software services. Engineering is another rapidly growing sector, from computer science to infrastructure, manufacturing, petroleum and steel. 

Other major employers for expats moving to India are the banking, textiles and tourism industries. Expats with skills and experience in marketing and sales will also find job opportunities aplenty as companies look to tap into the potential of the Indian market. English-speaking educators can find teaching positions in international schools, but these posts are highly sought-after.

Large multinational companies often outsource professional jobs to India due to lower labour costs. This has been controversial in some Western countries, but it does mean that numerous international companies have an Indian presence, creating potential opportunities for experienced senior expats as well as younger professionals.

As Indian companies look to expand globally they look for foreigners who are willing to start their careers in India and help the business grow elsewhere. Bear in mind that, given the competition for employment in India, landing a job immediately isn’t a given.


Finding a job in India

One of the easiest ways of finding a job in India is through one's current employer or personal contacts. Expats working in India often relocate through an intra-company transfer, as large foreign multinationals have a strong presence in the country. This is why networking is so important when it comes to finding work in India.

For those without any connection in India, job opportunities can be explored using online job portals, such as Placement India, Monster India and Adzuna. Online resources provide a good overview of the job market and are usually available in English. Companies may also advertise positions on their websites so it is also worth checking individual company sites. 

Recruitment agencies may also be able to assist expats in their search for employment. However, we suggest ensuring that the recruitment agency is reputable; many recruiters in India charge huge sums of money without any results. It's best to go with recommendations from colleagues within the industry and avoid making any payments upfront, while relocation companies can also steer expats in the right direction.

Once expats have secured a contract, they must apply for the appropriate work permit and employment visa.


Work culture in India

A major adjustment to India's work culture is the typical business hours: employees in India start work later in the morning than in other countries and, as such, end later too. Working hours are usually from 9am or 10am to 6pm, Mondays through Fridays and, for some companies, Saturdays too – plus overtime. Of course, this varies across regions and companies, as well as individuals who may opt to start work earlier. These hours can impact a healthy work-life balance and we suggest expat employees find a routine that best suits their lifestyles.

Doing Business in India

Traders had been doing business in India long before the East India Company emerged on the subcontinent in the early 1600s. Today, multinational corporations flock to the country to augment their business processes and IT services and to search for growth in its burgeoning market. Growth has slowed in recent years, but businesses continue to invest and the Indian economy's future remains bright. But, like any emerging market, doing business in India comes with its share of risks and challenges.

India was ranked 63rd out of 190 countries in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020. It scored particularly well in the area of protecting minority investors (13th), as well as ease of getting credit (25th) and getting electricity (22nd). However, enforcing contracts, ranked 163rd, and starting a business (136th) prove difficult.

Expats working in India should be aware of how business is carried out in the country and how to behave in the workplace.


Fast facts

Business hours

The workweek is traditionally from Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm, but most Indians don't leave the office until their supervisor does. Working hours vary across industries and companies.

Business language

English is the main language of business in India.

Dress

Suits are expected at an executive level, while a smart-casual business dress is appropriate for mid-level managers. Business dress can be comfortable to suit the weather, such as long-sleeved button-down shirts for men, while women who wear skirts should cover their knees.

Gifts

Gifts are appropriate but need not be too expensive. Give and accept gifts with the right hand or both hands and don't open them in front of the giver. Invitations to a business associate’s home for dinner are common.

Appropriate greetings

Greet business associates by shaking hands, usually with a light grip. Never use the left hand – it's considered unclean. Men should wait for female associates to initiate a greeting, as Indian men generally don't shake hands with women out of respect. If a female colleague doesn't initiate a greeting, a nod of the head will suffice. A customary greeting between Indians is saying 'Namaste' with palms pressed together, fingers pointed upwards and a slight bow of the head.

Business cards

Business cards are commonly exchanged in greetings, given with the right hand. Business cards may be printed in English on the one side and Hindi on the other.

Gender equality

Although women have held parliamentary positions as president and prime minister in India, women's political representation and participation have been low. This is true in business settings too, where women remain underrepresented in the Indian workplace. However, international businesswomen are generally treated as equals. 


Business culture in India

Business culture in India is diverse, yet there are some key factors to consider, especially regarding communication, networking and building relationships.

Personal relationships  

In Indian business, trust is more often established through personal relationships than through legal contracts or a company’s reputation. As a result, establishing a strong business relationship without forming a personal one can be difficult. Sharing information about family, speaking about personal hobbies and interests, and spending time outside the office with Indian associates will build the trust needed to sustain the relationship when business negotiations heat up.

Communication style  

The desire to maintain harmony is a hallmark of communication in India. Locals generally prefer to communicate bad news indirectly, especially when communicating with clients and superiors.

Expats unfamiliar with indirect communication often fail to read between the lines which can cause misunderstandings. People in India rarely express a negative response by directly saying "no". Responses like, "yes, but it will be a bit difficult" or "that may be possible – what do you think?" are more common and could be considered the same as a "no".

Asking open-ended questions about the potential problems of a proposal and actively listening for subtle clues can go a long way in avoiding miscommunication.

Hierarchy  

Most Indian businesses maintain a top-down hierarchy and locals are often very good at negotiating power in business relationships. Status is highly valued in Indian society and people in positions of power are often given greater leeway than the average citizen.

Expats are encouraged to partner with the highest possible level of an organisation and to anticipate delays from both internal and external politics. Expats who can be patient in the face of bureaucracy and respect Indian values will discover that almost nothing is impossible in India.

Adapting versus planning  

As is the case in many emerging markets, business objectives in India are often accomplished by adaptation and improvisation rather than by implementing carefully constructed plans. While some expats may prefer to develop contingencies for every foreseeable scenario, locals often place greater emphasis on reacting well to emerging circumstances.

Expats who localise their products and services, as well as their way of doing business, are often more successful than those who try to rigidly implement pre-formed plans. Cross-cultural consultants can be useful in bridging the gap.


Dos and don’ts of business in India

  • Do show respect to authority figures and use appropriate titles (Mr or Miss and Sir or Madam if unsure) to address Indian counterparts 

  • Do be polite and composed at all times to prove sincere objectives

  • Do be punctual; being late is seen as disrespectful. Plan ahead for transport and traffic to arrive on time.

  • Don't be overly aggressive in business negotiations. While Indians are generally tough negotiators, outward displays of aggressiveness will lose their respect.  

  • Don't refuse food or drink offered during business meetings as this may offend. When dining with Indians, it is best to assume that they are vegetarian and that they don't drink or smoke unless they indicate otherwise.

Visas for India

Getting a visa for India isn’t too difficult and the time taken to process the visas is relatively short. We do recommend that expats who plan on visiting or moving to India begin by identifying the visa that’s right for their situation and organising the necessary documents, certificates and photographs for the application. It is best to start this as far ahead of time as possible.

Visa regulations for India are subject to change and we recommend consulting the Bureau of Immigration website and contacting the nearest embassy for the latest information.

How to apply for a visa

There are several ways to apply for a visa to enter India, including applying via e-visas, on arrival or at an embassy. Citizens from most countries can apply online for an e-visa, however, for a full list of eligible countries, visit the Indianvisaonline website. 

Citizens from Nepal and Bhutan do not need a visa to enter India unless they are arriving from China. Nationals from the Maldives are also entitled to certain exemptions. Some foreign nations may be eligible for a visa on arrival, including those from Japan and South Korea. Foreign nationals who do not meet eligibility criteria must apply through an Indian embassy.

General visa requirements

When applying online, e-visa applications must be submitted at least four days before the intended date of arrival in India. The visa application process is quick, provided applicants have all the necessary documents, and can be completed in 15 minutes. All documents must be in English or translated into English.

Visa fees vary depending on the country of citizenship, type of visa and duration of stay, and are non-refundable

Citizens of certain countries require yellow fever and polio vaccinations and a certified card proving this. Foreign nationals on short-term visas must have enough money to support them during their stay as well as have a return or onward journey ticket. Passport should have at least six months of validity.

Foreign nationals due to stay in India for over 180 days must register with the appropriate Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) as per visa instructions.

Though e-visas don't normally allow for visa extensions, renewals of other visa types and residential permits can be done before the visa expires. Overstaying and exceeding the visa's validity date can result in heavy fines and punishments.


Tourist visas for India

Indian tourist visas are for travellers who want to visit friends or family, or sightsee. 

Tourist visas are generally valid for 30 days or one year. Five-year tourist visas are also available, provided varying lengths of continuous stay in the country.

Most foreign nationals will apply for their visa in their home country before they leave – this can either be done at a local application centre or via the online e-visa system. Nationals of certain countries won't need to apply in advance and can instead obtain a visa on arrival in India. Expats should determine which category they belong to well ahead of time.


Student visas for India

Expats attending short-term study courses can apply for student visas. Student visas are valid for the duration of the expat's course or up to five years, though they may be extended. Applicants must provide proof of admission to an Indian institution.

We recommend contacting the nearest Indian embassy for application procedures and specific details on these visas.


Medical visas for India

India is a significant destination for medical tourism as the largely privatised healthcare system offers a high standard of services and relatively low costs.

Medical visas and medical attendant visas are valid for 60 days and allow three entries. 


Work visas for India

Expats can apply for an employment visa or business or conference visa to legally work in India – no separate work permit will be needed.

Employment visas

Expats working in India for an organisation or company registered in the country require an employment visa. Expats are eligible for employment visas if they are relocating with a guaranteed offer of employment or via an intra-company transfer. 

Employment visas for India are usually valid for one year or the term of the employment contract, though in certain cases they may be granted for two, three or five years. It is possible to renew an employment visa from within India.

Business visas

Business visas are available for expat entrepreneurs or investors who want to conduct business in India. They must be able to prove that they are in good financial standing and that they have expertise in their field of business.

Business visas are valid for one year with multiple entries. However, continuous stays during each visit must not exceed 180 days. In the event of this, foreign nationals must register with the Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) within two weeks after the 180 days.

Conference visas

Travel to India for a conference, seminar or workshop (whether hosted by a public or private entity) requires a conference visa, entitling stays up to 30 days. These visas are single entry.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Cost of Living in India

Given its large size, the cost of living in India varies considerably. Many new arrivals are surprised to find that living costs in major cities can be pricey, though perhaps less so than in large European and North American cities.

The 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Mumbai and New Delhi as 60th and 101st respectively out of the 209 cities studied. The cost of living in Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata is significantly lower as they were ranked 143rd, 171st and 185th respectively. The cost of living in these cities has respectively risen in recent years.

Expats who negotiate a lucrative relocation package in India can often afford luxuries that they wouldn’t be able to at home, such as domestic services, chauffeurs and having home-cooked lunches delivered to the office.


Cost of accommodation in India

Accommodation is likely to be an expat's biggest expense in India, with property in New Delhi and Mumbai being particularly expensive. Wherever possible, expats should try to negotiate a housing allowance or complimentary housing into their employment package.

Expats without assistance from their employers will likely need to factor in the costs for hiring a real estate agent or relocation company to assist with the home search and lease negotiations. These expenses may be high, though varied.


Cost of healthcare in India

Expats moving to India will have access to relatively cheap healthcare services with good standards. They will, however, have to factor in the cost of health insurance if it isn't covered by their employer. Medical insurance packages may vary in terms of cover, and it's often best to invest in an international company that includes most hospitals and facilities.


Cost of education in India

Expat children can attend public schools in India, but their standards aren't in line with what most expat parents would expect. Instead, expat children usually attend international schools. Fees vary between private schools but they are generally high. Securing a place at popular international schools in India is difficult, and calling upon contacts or even paying bribes to secure a place isn't unheard of. The latter is not advised, instead, however, expats should try to negotiate a schooling allowance into employment contracts.


Cost of groceries and eating out in India

Expats who buy local produce will find that everyday groceries are cheap in India. Shopping at vegetable markets allows expats to eat fresh seasonal produce while supporting local vendors. Those who buy imported Western foods will have a considerably higher bill.

The cost of entertainment and eating out in India will vary according to an expat’s personal preferences. It's possible to eat out inexpensively in India, especially if expats are willing to try local cuisine and streetfood.


Cost of living in India chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Mumbai in January 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

INR 122,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

INR 54,000

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

INR 41,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

INR 22,000

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

INR 71

Milk (1 litre)

INR 56

Rice (1kg)

INR 59

Loaf of white bread 

INR 36

Chicken breasts (1kg)

INR 276

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

INR 350

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

INR 300

Coca-Cola (330ml)

INR 38

Cappuccino

INR 156

Bottle of local beer

INR 169

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

INR 1,500

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

INR 0.90

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

INR 830

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

INR 3,900

Transport

City centre bus/train fare

INR 20

Taxi (rate per km)

INR 22

Petrol/gasoline per litre

INR 81

Culture Shock in India

With its unmatched diversity and a contrasting character that can both be enthralling and mystifying, expats may encounter some culture shock in India. Its hot and humid climate, muddled traffic blocks and a hodgepodge of overexcited hawkers and guides are a lot to handle initially.

One of the main reasons for experiencing culture shock is arriving in India with a set of misconceptions and stereotypes from the news and media that expats may be exposed to outside of the country. Of course, there are parallels to be drawn, but India offers much more than its stereotypes care to dive into.

If expats can be patient and give themselves some time to adapt, they’ll likely look at the country in an entirely different light as time passes. India presents immense opportunities to open up socially. Hospitality is encouraged from an early age and expats are often surprised to see the extent to which Indians are helpful and always ready to mingle.

In a nutshell, the country welcomes all with warmth. It just takes some effort and understanding to become comfortable with the attitude and approach of the locals. After all, its vast diversity is one of India’s most attractive qualities.


Bureaucracy in India

Getting things done in India can take a lot longer than it would in the West. Processes often seem inefficient and time-consuming. Expats may find they receive conflicting information depending on who they talk to. It is best to exercise patience and persistence as getting angry won't solve the problem.

Networking and building relationships with locals can help because in most cases having contacts within the right institutions can expedite processes. 


Women in India

Women in India may find that patriarchal attitudes can be all too common. That said, this is far less apparent in larger, more cosmopolitan cities like Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai.

Still, women living in India may find themselves the target of unwanted attention, particularly when visiting crowded places, local markets or smaller towns. In such situations, it's best to dress more conservatively and not show too much skin. Women are also burdened with additional safety considerations and we advise against travelling alone at night.


Religion in India

As the world's second most populated country with well over 1.38 billion people, it's fair to say that India's population is as diverse as it is large. This multiethnic country is host to many religions. The large majority practice Hinduism, though Islam and Christianity are also prominent. The Indian subcontinent is said to be the place of four major religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

This can be quite a culture shock for expats, being an eye-opening experience and an opportunity to learn about various cultures and religious traditions. Major religious festivals make for a colourful and warm experience, and different regions celebrate varying public holidays. While this could make adjusting to one's new home overwhelming, open-minded expats can benefit from the ease of making friends and settling in. We encourage expats to be respectful of people and the diversity of religions.


Language barriers in India

India's official and main languages are Hindi and English, and for many expats in their work environment or in large cities, language barriers are unlikely to be a problem. That said, the further one ventures from a large urban area, the more likely they will encounter diverse ethnic groups speaking different languages and dialects, with major differences noticed in the north compared to the south.

When moving to India, it is worth for an expat to learn at least a few key phrases of their host area's predominant language. This can help an expat when going about their day or asking about public transport as well as learning more about culture in India.


Poverty in India

The wealth gap in India is massive – slums are side-by-side with skyscrapers and mansions. Poverty is a reality in India and expats will be confronted with it almost anywhere they go. 

Expats will get used to being targeted by beggars. The best option is always to ignore them. If one feels compelled to give something, food is always a better option than money. Wherever possible it is better to give to a reputable charity than individuals on the street.

Accommodation in India

Expats can add the search for accommodation in India to the already extensive list of 'adventures' they're sure to have upon relocating.

From modern apartment complexes and quaint bungalows to large villas suitable for families, there is usually a home to suit every taste and budget.

Accommodation options vary greatly between areas, but those moving to cities including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru can expect more competition in the housing market than in other locations. Unless expats plan on relocating to India for the long term, most people opt to rent property rather than buy.

There are a few general points to bear in mind while doing pre-trip research about housing in India. We recommend expats explore the types of properties available, the best ways to find accommodation and guidance on rental agreements.


Types of accommodation in India

Those relocating to India realise that the types of property available to them depend very much on the location. Most expats will find themselves in one of India's bustling cities where properties are constantly being built to meet the population’s demand.

In general, rental prices in India have been rising and adding to the cost of living, but affordability depends on the budget and neighbourhood. Still, many expats find that rental prices are reasonable, especially when compared to other major destinations.

A large factor determining the rental price is how furnished the property is. Unfurnished, semi-furnished and fully-furnished properties can be found across the country, and the more limited the furnishings, the lower the cost of accommodation. Some expats consider shipping household goods and furniture to India for a sense of home, but this comes with additional costs.

When looking for accommodation in India, expats will likely come across the BHK acronym, meaning bedroom, hall and kitchen. Seeing two or three (and so on) BHK means a three-bedroom property with a hall and a kitchen. Among the main types of accommodation available in India are apartments, independent floors, houses and gated complexes.

Apartments

Apartments are one of the most popular types of property in India. Both low and high-rise apartment blocks can be found with options for a basic studio flat or a luxury penthouse.

Independent floors

Rather than renting out a unit in an apartment block, expats can rent an entire floor. Independent floors are popularly found in low-rise buildings and sometimes shared among large families who rent several floors and live together in the building but on separate storeys.

Freestanding houses

Expats can keep their eye out on the property market for freestanding houses to call home in India. The standards and prices of these vary. Bungalows and charming one-storey cottage homes are popular among families while those with a taste for luxury can look for large villas with a garden and swimming pool. Expats who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life can also find several options for farmhouses.

Housing complexes

A fair share of gated communities can be found in and around India’s cities and are popular among wealthier expats and Indian residents. Housing complexes typically offer condominium-style accommodation with shared access to amenities, such as clubhouses, swimming pools and garden areas. High-end gated communities also offer gyms and sports facilities.


Finding accommodation in India

The demand for good quality, reasonably priced accommodation often outweighs the supply, so renting property in India can be challenging. The good news is that employers often help their expat employees find a place to stay, sometimes lining up a few options for them to choose from.

But many new arrivals aren't so lucky and have to go through the accommodation search themselves. Online property listings and real-estate portals are a good starting point, such as 99acres.com, makaan.com and Magicbricks. Social media pages and groups are another way to network and find property. Note that all prospective tenants, especially those who search online, should visit the properties they are interested in before signing any contract.

Many expats hire a local real-estate agent or enlist the services of a relocation company. Expats in this position will need to be explicit about their specifications and what their price range is. Real-estate agents can also help draw up rental agreements and register long-term leases.

Although English is widely spoken, expats who speak Hindi or a local Indian language may find it easier to find accommodation and deal with landlords.


Renting accommodation in India

Lease agreements in India can be tricky. To side step tax, landlords often prefer to rent to people informally, with no official lease in place. We strongly urge against accepting such an agreement: expats would have no legal protection as a tenant nor be able to provide proof of residence, which is needed for various administrative processes.

Leases

Prospective tenants should go through their rental and lease contract with a fine-tooth comb. Leases should cover all stipulations and clauses impacting the tenant and landlord, such as duration of the lease, deposits, monthly rent, rental increments, notice periods and so on.

Eleven-month lease agreements are common in India and are useful for expats staying short term. Shorter-term rental agreements may also be possible. For this contract to be official, a stamp duty charge must normally be paid. 

Longer-term leases are also available; those valid for longer than 11 months must be formally registered with the relevant authorities, including registration costs and stamp duty charges.

Deposits

There is no standardised law on security deposits in India and the amount requested generally differs across cities and states. The unsuspecting tenant may be in for a surprise: landlords will often ask for six or even 10 months worth of rent as a deposit, though in some cases, lower deposits can be negotiated. Bengaluru is known to charge the highest fee for deposits, followed by major cities including Chennai, Mumbai, Pune and Delhi.

Tenancy disputes over deposits are not uncommon, so we recommend clarifying what a deposit should cover and when and how it will be repaid.

Utilities

Tenants normally cover the costs of utilities, including electricity, water and any maintenance charges. Be sure to negotiate this in the lease agreement.

Notice periods

Tenants and landlords must give and be given notice if either party wishes to terminate the lease early. Notice periods are normally at least 15 days, though longer periods may be stipulated in the rental agreement.

Healthcare in India

The quality of healthcare in India varies. Expats shouldn't struggle to find highly-qualified and experienced English-speaking medical practitioners at private hospitals in cities such as DelhiMumbai and Bengaluru, but facilities in rural areas are limited.

Most people use private healthcare in India given that state funding for public healthcare is shockingly low. With private medical facilities comes higher expenses that escalate quickly, so expats will need to invest in health insurance.


Public healthcare in India

India's public health policies and government family planning programmes are overseen at a national level by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. However, each state is responsible for providing health services to their residents and, as such, standards vary across the country.

Public hospitals in India often employ well-trained English-speaking doctors, but a lack of equipment, funding and staff cause serious problems in the government sector. There have been both government-led and public-private partnerships collectively working on initiatives to improve the availability of quality healthcare in urban and rural areas in India.

Unfortunately, India’s public hospitals remain overcrowded, waiting lists for treatment are long and conditions aren't always hygienic. Public healthcare facilities in rural areas are even more limited.

Access to state hospitals and healthcare is free and subsidised for Indian citizens that fall below the poverty line. For expats working in India and many locals, private healthcare is the only feasible option.


Private healthcare in India

Private hospitals in India are generally more in line with standards that Western expats are used to. They are also preferred by Indian locals, who typically pay for these services out of pocket.

Private hospitals can be used in non-emergencies for most medical needs, including regular check-ups and consultations. While there are many private facilities in cities such as Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai, expats should research to find out which of their local healthcare providers best suits their needs.

Across India, private practitioners offer a range of medical services, including scientifically-supported allopathic, Western medicine as well as traditional and alternative treatments including Ayurveda and homoeopathy.


Health insurance in India

All expats moving to India should ensure that they have adequate health insurance coverage. Working expats might have insurance provided by their employer, but it's important to keep in mind that some policies will only cover treatment at certain hospitals. New arrivals should investigate the terms of their given policy and make sure they understand what it covers. If there are limitations to the cover offered, consider paying extra for a more comprehensive policy.

Some international insurance providers may not be recognised by Indian hospitals, and in these cases, patients will have to pay cash out of pocket. If this does happen, keeping all the necessary paperwork is essential if they want to be reimbursed by their insurer.


Pharmacies in India

Pharmacies are easy enough to find in major Indian cities. They're attached to most private medical facilities or in major shopping precincts. Most types of medication will be readily available and the costs are generally low. 

Note that when travelling to more rural areas, expats must ensure that they have a supply of any necessary medication because pharmacies may not be as well-stocked in such places. 


Health hazards in India

New arrivals in India need to be especially careful when it comes to water and food hygiene – having an upset stomach is a common complaint of newcomers. Tap water in India is not usually safe, so it's best to use boiled or bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth. Ice cubes should be avoided. It's also a good idea to be wary of eating meat at street vendors and restaurants – at the very least, expats should make sure that their meal is hot and properly cooked.

Mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, are present throughout much of the country. We recommend that expats take precautions against mosquito bites by using a repellent and covering up at dusk. Seeking medical advice about prophylaxis before moving to India is advisable.

India is also subject to natural disasters. Floods and landslides are common during monsoon season, typically June to October, and there are safety hazards linked to earthquakes in the northern mountainous regions, as well as cyclones and tropical storms off the east coast. It's important to stay updated on the latest news in India and call for help in case of emergencies.


Emergency services in India

While most private hospitals in India provide ambulance services at an additional fee, calling an ambulance is not always the best way to get to the hospital. Traffic congestion is a major problem in Indian cities and motorists often ignore an ambulance's siren. Some residents report that private transport is often the fastest way to get to the hospital, although ambulances can provide vital support en route to the hospital.

To directly call an ambulance in the event of an emergency, dial 102. The national emergency number is 112.

Education and Schools in India

It comes as no surprise that a strong emphasis on education in India is one of the driving forces behind its emerging economy. Indian schools constantly challenge their students to do better – but expats will find that this doesn't necessarily apply to the suffering public school system.

Private schools are popular in India, with most middle-class families opting to send their children to one. For expat parents, this will most likely take the form of a private international school, but with hundreds to choose from throughout the country, the decision can be a tough one. The curricula, learning environments and teaching philosophies at these institutions vary widely, and expat parents will need to select a school that aligns with their budget and expectations.

Expat families with younger children and differently-abled children or homeschooling preferences have additional factors to consider, but there is a broad scope of options for education in large cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. We recommend that expats start planning for schools and admissions as early as possible.


Public schools in India

India’s public schools are managed at central, state and local levels, and various school boards set the curriculum, including the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE). Exams are mainly conducted in grades 10 and 12, and there are also opportunities for vocational education.

While private schools often provide a mix of the Indian curriculum with an international one, wholly public schools in India are unlikely to meet most expats' standards. 

Children aged six to 14 have the right to free public education in India, but the lack of funding lowers the quality of facilities and education. Class sizes often exceed international norms, facilities may be mediocre at best, and administrative and budgetary issues are common. Also, while many public schools in India teach in English, not all do, which creates a language barrier that expat children may struggle to overcome.


Private schools in India

Indian private schools have a good reputation, but the emphasis on results and rote learning can be challenging for expat students. Students are incredibly competitive and are pushed to perform by their families and society in general. International students may be unaccustomed to this pressure and, as a result, many feel frustrated and insecure. That said, many students rise to the occasion and benefit greatly from learning in a multicultural environment.

Local private schools are also a great option for expats who plan on living in India long term and who want their children to have a more integrated experience with the opportunity to mix and make friends with local children while receiving a high standard of education. 


International schools in India

International schools are ideal for expats who want their children to continue with their home-country curriculum. They also maintain their home country's primary teaching language and tend to employ familiar methods of instruction. American and British international schools are well-represented across India and several schools representing other countries, such as France and Germany, have opened in larger cities.

Expats should note that international schools are among the most expensive. So if hired to work in India on a lucrative employment package, expats should ensure that a sizeable allowance is included to accommodate for school fees.

Another consideration is the shortage of seats at international schools throughout India. It's best to start the admissions process early and secure a place as early as possible. Often consisting of entrance exams and interviews, the admissions process is highly competitive and waiting lists at popular schools are long. 


Nurseries in India

Large cities in India provide a host of playgroups, daycares and nurseries. Many kindergartens are attached to a larger international school and meet high standards of care. 

One of the main factors determining which nursery to select will be its location. Pre-primary schools are limited in number in rural villages while in major cities, expat families can find many well-established and reputable nurseries. But, due to heavy traffic and transport issues, it’s important to choose an area near one’s home or workplace.


Homeschooling in India

Despite confusion over the compulsory schooling age and feasibility of homeschooling in India, the homeschool community is growing. There is limited awareness on the topic of homeschooling in the country, but expat families increasingly find themselves in situations where mainstream schooling is not suitable.

With Indian state schools having a lower standard on the one end and private schools charging exorbitant fees on the other, homeschooling becomes a happy medium for committed parents. Online support and resources for homeschooling are widely available, such as through the Swashikshan Indian Association of Homeschoolers website, and various curricula options should be explored. International schools may also provide distance learning opportunities or act as an exam centre where homeschooled students can write their exams.


Special needs education in India

Expat parents of children with disabilities will have to do their research when looking for the right schooling option. Policies on special needs education in India are criticised for being unclear, with some government departments managing separate schools for children with disabilities and others encouraging inclusive education. Even private schools that offer support may lack firm guidelines on inclusivity.

International schools in India offer inclusive education for differently-abled students, though the types of services and level of classroom support may vary. Special-needs support covers a range of physical, mental, emotional and behavioural difficulties. To promote inclusivity, private schools may offer special educators, assistant teachers and counsellors as well as access to assistive learning devices. We suggest contacting schools personally for direct information.


Tutors in India

Education is highly valued in India and there are many opportunities for additional tuition for students alongside their mainstream schooling or homeschooling education. Adults can also find tutors for their educational needs.

Online platforms, such as BharatTutors, TeacherOn and FabTutor, are a great way to search for tutors in India, and there are a wealth of options for expats who prefer tutoring sessions online or in person. Increasing numbers of organisations and companies, such as Vedantu, offer free access to interactive live online classes and are popular learning resources.

Transport and Driving in India

Getting around in India can be an adventure and a challenge. In such a vast country, finding the best ways to travel will be important for expats looking to make the most of their time.

From modern metro systems in several cities, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata, to old-fashioned rickshaws, transport in India is extremely varied and the choices can be overwhelming. Expats who want to interact with the locals will enjoy using public transport, while those who want to get across the country fast can take advantage of affordable domestic flights.


Public transport in India

Using public transport in India is often challenging at first. It can be crowded, uncomfortable and somewhat dangerous at times. But patient expats will see that using buses and trains in India is cost-effective, allows them the chance to see more of the country and gives them insight into local everyday life.

Buses

Buses in India are often the cheapest way to get around. Both public and private buses operate in India, and although public buses are often cheaper, private ones offer greater comfort and air conditioning.

Buying tickets for private buses is more likely done from the bus company's booth at a bus station while travellers on public buses can buy tickets onboard.

While many people prefer trains for long-distance journeys, the country's colourful buses offer quite a saving and are sometimes the only way to reach some of the country's more isolated areas. Major cities are also served by a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), which offers a speedier and more efficient way of getting around locally and commuting.

Those who do decide to travel by bus should be aware of several factors. Language barriers may seem like a challenge. Signage is rarely in English, especially in smaller towns, but people are friendly and generally willing to help. Road accidents are another consideration as these are a constant risk. Luggage is usually stored on the roof of long-distance buses or in compartments under the bus, so expats should make sure their bags are locked and secured.

Trains

One of the best ways to see the country is travelling by train. The train network in India, provided by the state-run organisation, Indian Railways, is extensive, prices are reasonable and they're a more comfortable choice for travelling long distances.

India's rail network consists of country-wide routes as well as commuter rail transport in metropolitan regions, including suburban rail systems, metros and trams. The latter has faded out across India – although the city of Kolkata still operates their tram system.

It's possible to hire a private sleeper compartment on some rail services and, where available, travelling in an air-conditioned compartment is worth the extra expense.

Train travel can become difficult during major festival periods, so it's a good idea to book tickets in advance. Tickets can either be booked at ticketing agents or bought at stations.

Metro

Despite stereotypes of India as a developing country, modern underground train networks can be found in several cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata. Metro systems are continually constructed, expanded and maintained all over the country. Travelling by metro is a fast and efficient way to travel around these cities and allows commuters to avoid traffic congestion.

Navigating the metro in Indian cities need not be overly intimidating for a new arrival as routes can be easily tracked and followed with apps such as Google Maps.


Rickshaws in India

Auto rickshaws, or tuk-tuks, are three-wheeled vehicles that are found across Indian towns and cities. They are generally cheaper than taxis, but while most of them have meters, drivers rarely use them. Passengers should negotiate with the driver and agree on a fare before they start their journey.

Women travelling solo in India who are concerned about their safety on the roads can find pink rickshaws. These are an alternative to auto rickshaws, used by females passengers, and equipped with panic buttons and GPS tracking systems.

Cycle rickshaws are three-wheeled bicycles with a support bench for passengers at the back and a canopy for shelter. They're more common in smaller towns than cities and have been banned in certain cities for causing congestion. Cycle rickshaws aren't the most efficient mode of transport, but they certainly provide a novel way of getting around.


Taxis in India

Taxis are easy to find in large cities throughout India. They can usually be hailed from the roadside, found at taxi stands or called in advance. Some cities do not allow taxis to be hailed on the street – this includes Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad. Taxis in India are required to have a meter and expats should make sure it's working at the start of their journey. Ride-hailing services including Uber and local equivalents, such as Ola Cabs, are also available.

Taxi services for women are developing, particularly in large cities. For example, Go Pink Cabs, based in Bengaluru, has recently started up as the country's first taxicab service by women for women.

Share taxis are similar to normal taxis but carry several passengers who are travelling in the same direction. Fares are charged according to the number of passengers and the distance they're travelling. Aside from being cheap, they're a good option during city rush hours because they limit waiting time.


Driving in India

Some foreign driving licences will allow expats to drive in India for a set period but driving isn't for the faint-hearted. Unless they're used to navigating chaotic streets with erratic drivers, expats should think twice before getting behind the steering wheel.

Road standards in India vary. National highways are well maintained in certain areas, but city roads can be narrow, potholed and poorly signposted. The Indian government has taken steps to improve road standards but the biggest challenge for expats will be dealing with local drivers who don't pay much attention to road rules.

Expats who want to use a car in India should consider hiring a local driver, which removes the stress of finding one's way around and dealing with the chaos of Indian streets.


Air travel in India

Expats who need to get between major destinations quickly will find that flying is most convenient. Numerous domestic airlines operate in India and flight prices are competitive.

New airlines are known to pop up from time to time offering great deals, but end up shutting down quite quickly – getting a refund can be a major hassle. It is best to use established airlines such as Air India, which is India's flag carrier airline, or GoAir, IndiGo or SpiceJet.

To get the best prices on domestic flights in India, expats should book as far in advance as possible.

Keeping in Touch in India

Expats shouldn't have much trouble keeping in touch with family and friends while they're in India, especially if they live in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Internet, telephone, mobile phone and postal services are available and service standards are generally good.


Internet in India

Internet speeds in India generally lag behind other large economies. Nevertheless, broadband usage is steadily growing and even though a relatively small percentage of the population has access to high speeds and fixed lines, this still translates to millions of people. Internet connectivity is unlikely to be a major concern for new arrivals in India.

There are numerous companies and services to choose from, expats shouldn't have too much of a problem finding an internet service provider and Fibre setup that suits them. Costs vary between companies and depend on the package, but they generally increase with download speeds and the amount of data being used, though uncapped packages are available.

When out and about in big cities, expats will frequently come across free WiFi hotspots. However, internet speeds can be slow. Another option is internet cafes, of which there are many to choose from.


Landline telephones in India

There are multiple fixed-line providers in India, including the state-run BSNL and MTNL as well as various private companies that also offer mobile phone and internet services.

To get a landline installed, expats will need to fill out an application form and submit certain documents, usually including proof of identification and residence. Once that's done, the line will be activated in a few days.

Owing to its size, India is divided into various telecom zones that are often called 'circles'. These usually correspond with the different states, but not always. Each circle has its own dialling code and inter-circle calls might carry extra charges.


Mobile phones in India

Mobile telephones are the most common form of communication in India, offering affordable packages and coverage in remote areas of the country.

The largest operators in India include Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio and BSNL. While Jio seems to dominate in terms of 4G availability across the country, Airtel and Vodafone Idea tend to offer faster internet speeds using mobile data.

Overall, India offers one of the world's lowest rates for mobile data, and expats will be happy that internet costs will not heavily burden their cost of living. Payment plans for cell phones can either be pre-paid or post-paid, but navigating the different available packages can be challenging. If at all unsure, locals can often give good recommendations.


Postal service in India

India Post is the national postal service and is generally reliable. Regular post usually takes two to three days between major cities or neighbouring states, and up to a week to the rest of the country. At higher prices, expats can send registered post and speed post at their local post office, and India Post has recently begun delivering medication too.

Though many people rely on India Post, expats may prefer the reputation of private courier companies. These guarantee secure arrival of post and offer competitive rates, with same-day delivery in metros and next-day delivery to most towns. 


English media in India

Indian newspapers are printed in all of its major languages, including English. The Times of India is published nationally and available online. The Hindu is popular in the south, while Hindustan Times has a large readership in the north, and some foreign newspapers are available in Indian cities.

Though large newspapers are published in print in India, articles are easily available online through their websites, making the internet one of the best ways to receive up to date information in India.

Shipping and Removals in India

Expats interested in shipping household goods to India will find an abundance of service providers offering both piecemeal delivery and complete relocation company packages from anywhere in the world. Expats will generally have the choice of using sea freight, airfreight or both. The cost of shipping is determined by volume and method of delivery of the goods, as well as how far they will need to be transported.

Sea freight will, in most cases, prove to be more cost-effective, especially if moving a large volume of goods. Airfreight is delivered much quicker but costs are also higher. As a general rule, it’s best to divide shipments; send the essentials ahead of time via airfreight, and goods that are not immediate necessities via sea freight.

That said, expats should consider that inexpensive furniture options abound in India, and many accommodation options come either fully- or partially furnished. As a result, it may not even be necessary to ship furniture at all.


Hiring an international removal company

The process of cross-continental relocation is best handled by international removal companies familiar with Indian transport and customs rules. These companies will survey everything that needs to be shipped and make a quote based on the size of the shipment. It's worthwhile to get several quotes for comparison before deciding which company to go with.

On the day of the move, the company will pack everything, take inventory, do basic disassembling of furniture and deal with all customs formalities. Expect quotes to include delivery and unpacking services, as well as the removal of debris, and basic reassembling of furniture at the destination point.

Expats should take out shipping insurance with a company not involved in the removal, as to ensure adequate protection and coverage of their goods.


Shipping duty-free to India

Expats planning on becoming formal residents of India may be able to import their used personal and household goods duty free. There are some exceptions to this rule, though, so expats should consult the Indian government’s baggage rules before finalising their shipment. 

Most expat relocation packages offer an allowance for air- and sea freight, and it's best to take full advantage of any airfreight allowance for essentials needed right away.

E-commerce has also grown as a strong industry in India, and shipping- and delivery costs may be charged for buying goods from outside the country. Be sure to check all related fees, whether bringing in old items or buying new ones online from outside of India.


Shipping pets to India

The rules for shipping pets to India vary according to the country of origin, but a vet's certificate and proof of certain vaccinations, such as against rabies, are standard requirements. Pets will also need to have a microchip implanted.

In some cases, expats may need a particular permit along with their visa to import their pets. Expats wishing to bring their furry family member into the country will also have to prioritise their search for pet-friendly accommodation. As animal import regulations can be complex, it's best to consult with a pet relocation company.

Articles about India

Banking, Money and Taxes in India

Banks in India have somewhat of a reputation for cumbersome bureaucracy, but most of them provide convenient services once expats get through the red tape. Paying taxes can also be challenging but is much easier with the help of a local specialist.

Another thing expats will have to get used to is the Indian numbering system. In the Indian numbering system, the lakh and crore are the main terms to be familiar with. Lakh is a unit that equals 100,000. 100 lakhs is one crore or 10 million. Globally, commas are put after every three digits when dealing with large numbers. In India, a comma is placed after every two digits past the 100,000 mark (1,00,000). This can be confusing, especially when dealing with financial statements. This way of dealing with numbers is an interesting and perhaps unexpected element of culture shock in India.


Money in India

The official currency in India is the Rupee, abbreviated as INR, and it's controlled by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The rupee is technically subdivided into 100 paise, but coins that are valued less than 1 rupee are no longer in circulation. Getting change is often difficult in India, so keeping a stock of smaller denominations is wise.

Here are the frequently used banknotes and coins in India:

  • Notes: INR 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 2,000

  • Coins: INR 1, 2, 5 and 10 

To get local currency, there are several factors to consider. India restricts visitors and tourists from bringing any Indian currency into the country, while residents can bring in a maximum of INR 25,000, and large sums of foreign cash must be declared. It's best to explore the different options for obtaining local rupees in the country.

Expats can exchange money at the airport, though the rate is unlikely to be favourable. It's possible to exchange money at local and international banks in India, and there are also organisations or money changers approved by the RBI where foreign currency can be exchanged.


Banking in India

The Indian banking sector is robust and offers numerous services in public, private and international banks. Public sector banks include Punjab National Bank, Central Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and State Bank of India. Private sector banks include ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank, while international and foreign-owned banks such as Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC also operate in India.

Opening a bank account

A select few types of bank accounts in India can be held by non-residents. Some may only apply to non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs), while the main account type available for all foreign citizens in India is called the Non-Resident Ordinary Rupee Account Scheme, also known as NRO accounts.

Most banks offer a non-resident (NRO) savings or current account for expats who earn an income in India. Features vary between banks but account holders will at least be provided with debit or credit cards as well as internet and phone banking.

Most NRO accounts will require expats to maintain an average quarterly balance. While the amount may differ depending on the bank, failure to maintain the balance will result in a penalty fee.

Opening a bank account is normally a simple process if expats provide the necessary documents. Some bank accounts can be opened online, without the need to physically go into a branch. Many expats have their company open an account for them, which is often with an international bank.

To open a bank account in India, expats will generally need to provide proof of identity, proof of address and copies of their passport and visa as well as a mobile phone number. Some bank accounts require applicants to provide a 12-digit Aadhaar number (Indian identification number) as well as a 10-character PAN or permanent account number (tax number). For information on Aadhaar, visit the official Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) website.

Credit cards and ATMs

ATMs and bank branches are easily accessible in major cities and towns. Credit cards are widely accepted and most banks offer internet banking services. Still, it's advisable to carry cash when travelling away from cities.


Taxes in India

Expats who live in India for 182 days or more in a year are considered to be tax residents and will have to pay tax on their local income. Personal income tax in India is progressive up to 30 percent.

India has full double tax avoidance agreements with many countries, and we advise expats to confirm if their home country falls under this list or not.

Individual taxpayers earning above a given threshold must file an individual tax return and expats can do this themselves online. Given that tax in India is relatively complicated, expats who aren't especially tax-savvy or simply prefer for a professional to complete the process can enlist the help of an accountant or tax consultant.

Getting a tax number

In India, a tax number is referred to as a permanent account number or PAN. Not all expats in India will need to obtain a PAN, although this unique identifier is essential in certain instances, including filing tax returns.

To get a PAN in India, the best resource is the Tax Information Network website. Here, many tax-related processes, including linking the Aadhar with the PAN, can be done swiftly online provided the available e-services and support.

Expat Experiences in India

When considering a move to a new city, there is nothing more useful than hearing real life stories and experiences from other expats who have lived there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you live or have lived in India and would like to share your story.


Daniel is a digital marketing specialist, globetrotter and digital nomad who has lived and travelled around the world. He shares with us the importance of keeping an open mind and learning about local culture in India. Read about his experiences of life in Delhi in this expat interview.

Daniel

A British expat from Nottinghamshire, Striddle moved to Bengaluru in 2018 to pursue a teaching opportunity at an international school. Six months later, he reflects on daily life in India and what he misses about home in his expat interview about living in Bengaluru.

striddle_bengaluru_0.jpg

Gabriel is an Australian expat living in New Delhi. He moved to India in 2007 and took a brave step and set up his own business. Learn more about how Gabriel is making the most of his life in the country by embracing the local culture by reading his interview about his expat experience in India.

Deborah is a British expat living in Bangalore, India with her husband and young daughter. She relocated to India as a 'trailing spouse' when her husband landed a new job in Bangalore. In her interview with Expat Arrivals she provides some fantastic insights into culture shock and life as an expat in Bangalore. Check out her interview about expat life in India

Adria Bannock is a British expat living in Chennai, India. She is a photographer who loves the liveliness and chaos that Chennai has to offer. To find out more about Adria's experiences as a trailing spouse in Chennai check out her interview with Expat Arrivals about life in India.

Lisa Marks is an American expat living in India. Lisa is no stranger to expat life, having previously had homes in the UK and Thailand. To find out more about Lisa's experiences of being a trailing spouse read her interview with Expat Arrivals about her time in India.

BombayJules is a British expat living in India. She moved to Mumbai with her husband when he was transferred there for work. She has made the most of her time in Mumbai as a “trailing spouse” (a term she is not too fond of) by volunteering, writing for an expat magazine, travelling, and experiencing all that India has to offer. Read more about her expat life in India.

Bombay Jules - an expat living in India

Doris Delassard is a French expat who has been living in Delhi for the past nine years, and thinks India is a wonderful place to be. She works as a relocation specialist and is a partner in MD Relocation and Consultancy. Read more about her expat life in Delhi.

Doris pf MD Relocation - A French expat in India

Mathilde Souffront is a French expat living in Mumbai. She first came to India as a manager of a French boutique hotel and is now a relocation specialist and partner in MD Relocation and Consultancy. Read more about her expat life in Mumbai.

Mathilde of MD Relocation - A French expat in India

Rakhee is an Australian expat of Indian origin. She moved to India for a life change, and after nine months backpacking around the country, decided to settle in Mumbai. She enjoys the cosmopolitan nature of Mumbai, which brings a new adventure every day. Read about her expat experience in India.

Rakhee - An Australian expat living in India

Lindsey Gordon is a British expat who moved to India as the "trailing spouse" when her husband got a job in Mumbai. Three years later, despite the cultural adjustments, life has been an adventure and she does not regret the move. Read about her expat experience in Mumbai.

Gordon family in India

Pruma is an Indian national who has lived in the States for many years and recently decided to return to India. Now living between Hyderabad and Bangalore with her husband and young son, she shares some of her of expat experiences of repatriating to India after being away for so long. 

Pruma - An Indian national returning to India

Theo Scheffler is a 35-year-old born in Cape Town, South Africa, now living in Hyderabad, India. He is currently the Chief Actuary at Shriram Life Insurance. Theo has been married for more than 12 years and has a 9-month-old daughter. Read in detail about his expat experiences in India.

Piet Viljoen is a 52 year-young Mining Engineer who manages projects for Joy Mining Machinery (India). He ended up in India in October 2008 and loves the difference he makes there. "In South Africa I was too old and too white, here I am honoured because I am so experienced." Read about his take on expat life in India.


Ellen Weeren moved from Northern Virginia to Delhi, India a year ago and has since made Delhi her home, along with her husband and 3 children. They reside on her husband's employment visa which was arranged by his company. Read about her expat life in Delhi here.

Lloyd Lauland moved from Houston, Texas to New Delhi, India almost 2 years ago with his wife and 16 year old son after being awarded a company promotion. In his opinion the inconveniences of living in a 3rd world country are outweighed by the city's "rich history, wonderful people and high quality of life". Learn more about his expat experience in New Delhi, India.

Despite Jennifer Kumar’s cross-cultural expertise, she’s still finding life as an American living in India challenging, and in some cases, quite unforgiving. In her interview with ExpatArrivals.com, she provides a telling window into expat life in Kochi (state of Kerala).

JenniferK - an American expat living in India

Kathi is from the USA but has been living in Ahmedabad, India for the last 3 years. She and her husband relocated to India and started their own business. Her Expat Arrivals interview about her experience in India gives a good idea of what to expect.

Naomi Hattaway lives in Delhi, India and actively blogs about her experiences there. She has found the transition to life in India to be a challenging but hugely rewarding experience. Read about her unique perspective on expat life in Delhi.

Annie Andrews is an Environmental Scientist who left a life lived 20 years in Darwin, Australia for a cricket inspired relocation to Pune, India. Her husband is a state cricket coach, her boys are enjoying the country's competition, and she finds herself an unlikely "cricket widow", which leaves plenty of time for expat activities like volunteering and travelling. Read her insights to expat life in India here.

Katia Novet is a writer and translator from France and Haiti, now living in Hyderabad, India. She has written the well-received children's book Amadi's Snowman, "the story of a Nigerian boy, a book, and the opening of worlds." Read all about Katia's take on expat life in India and particularly the local educational system.

Marina Marangos is a Greek Cypriot by origin, born and raised on the island. Her professional background is law but she enjoys writing and travelling even more. Luck or circumstance have taken her to London, Kenya, Liverpool, Geneva and now to New Delhi in India which will be her new home for the next few years. Read about Marina's expat experience of expat experience life in India here.

Alex de Goederen has turned a love affair with India's exoticism and rich opportunity into a career by moving to Delhi and opening a real estate consultancy with a partner. He now acts as a guide to expats moving to Delhi and bewildered by the lack of any correlation between price, quality and area. Read more in his interview about his expat experience in India.