Master Circular No.05 /2009-10
July 1, 2009
All Authorised Persons in Foreign Exchange
Madam / Sir,
Master Circular on Miscellaneous Remittances from India –
Facilities for Residents
Miscellaneous remittance facilities for residents are allowed in terms of section 5 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, read with Government of India Notification No. G.S.R 381(E) dated May 3, 2000, as amended from time to time.
2. This Master Circular consolidates the existing instructions on the subject of "Miscellaneous Remittances from India - Facilities for Residents" at one place. The list of underlying circulars/notifications consolidated in this Master Circular is furnished in Appendix-1.
3. This Master Circular is being issued with a sunset clause of one year. This circular will stand withdrawn on July 1, 2010 and be replaced by an updated Master Circular on the subject.
Chief General Manager-in-Charge
Release of Foreign Exchange by Authorised Dealers
1.1 For release of foreign exchange to persons resident in India for various current account transactions, Authorised Dealer banks are to be guided by the Rules made by the Govt. of India under Section 5 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (as indicated in item 1 of Appendix 2) which are detailed in the Foreign Exchange Management (Current Account Transactions) Rules, 2000 (Annex-1) notified by the Government of India vide Notification No. G.S.R.381 (E) dated 3rd May 2000 (Rules). In terms of the said Rules, drawal of exchange for certain categories of transactions as listed in Schedule I is expressly prohibited. Exchange facilities for transactions included in Schedule II to the Rules may be permitted by the Authorised Dealer banks provided the applicant has secured the approval from the Ministry/Department of the Government of India as specified therein. In respect of transactions included in Schedule III, prior approval of the Reserve Bank would be required for remittance exceeding the specified limits. The release of foreign exchange up to the threshold ceilings specified in Schedule III stands delegated to Authorised Dealer banks. All applications for release of exchange exceeding the limits as prescribed in Schedule III to the Rules should be referred to the Regional Office concerned of the Foreign Exchange Department of the Reserve Bank, under whose jurisdiction the applicant is functioning / residing.
1.2 “Drawal” of foreign exchange also includes use of International Credit Cards (ICC), International Debit Cards (IDC), ATM cards, etc. “Currency”, interalia, includes ICC, IDC and ATM Cards. Accordingly, all Rules, Regulations made and Directions issued under the Act apply to the use of ICC, IDC and ATM Cards.
1.3 In order to provide adequate foreign exchange facilities and efficient customer service, the Reserve Bank has decided to grant licences to certain
entities by authorising them as Authorised Dealer – Category II to undertake a range of non-trade current account transactions. Accordingly, Authorised Dealer – Category II are authorised to release / remit foreign exchange for the following non-trade current account transactions:
(a) Private visits,
(b) Remittance by tour operators / travel agents to overseas agents / principals / hotels,
(c) Business travel,
(d) Fee for participation in global conferences and specialized training,
(e) Remittance for participation in international events / competitions (towards training, sponsorship and prize money),
(f) Film shooting,
(g) Medical treatment abroad,
(h) Disbursement of crew wages,
(i) Overseas education,
(j) Remittance under educational tie up arrangements with universities abroad,
(k) Remittance towards fees for examinations held in India and abroad and additional score sheets for GRE, TOEFL, etc.,
(l) Employment and processing, assessment fees for overseas job applications,
(m) Emigration and emigration consultancy fees,
(n) Skills / credential assessment fees for intending migrants,
(o) Visa fees,
(p) Processing fees for registration of documents as required by the Portuguese / other Governments, registration / subscription /membership fees to International Organisations.
1.4 Release of foreign exchange is not admissible for travel to and transaction with residents of Nepal and Bhutan. (cf. Clause (b) of Rule 3 of the Rules (as indicated in item 2 of Appendix 2).
A.2 Sale of Exchange
2.1 Where approvals have been granted by the Reserve Bank / Government of India, foreign exchange may be sold within the period of validity stated in the approval and the details of the sale should be endorsed on the reverse of the original approval.
2.2 Authorized Dealers may release foreign exchange for travel purposes on the basis of a declaration given by the traveller regarding the amount of foreign exchange availed of during the financial year.
2.3 In case of issue of travellers cheques, the traveller should sign the cheques in the presence of an authorised official and the purchaser’s acknowledgement for receipt of the travellers cheques should be held on record.
2.4 Out of the overall foreign exchange being sold to a traveller, exchange in the form of foreign currency notes and coins may be sold up to the limit indicated below:
(i) Travellers proceeding to countries other than Iraq, Libya, Islamic Republic of Iran, Russian Federation and other Republics of Commonwealth of Independent States - not exceeding USD 2000 or its equivalent.
(ii) Travellers proceeding to Iraq or Libya - not exceeding USD 5000 or its equivalent
(iii) Travellers proceeding to Islamic Republic of Iran, Russian Federation and other Republics of Commonwealth of Independent States - full exchange may be released.
2.5 The form A2 relating to sale of foreign exchange should be retained for a period of one year by the Authorised Dealers, together with the related documents, for the purpose of verification by their Internal Auditors. However, in respect of remittance applications for miscellaneous non-trade current account transactions of amount not exceeding USD 5,000, Authorised Dealers may obtain simplified Application-cum-Declaration form (Form A2) as shown at Annex -2.
2.6 In cases where the remittances are allowed on the basis of self declaration, the onus of furnishing the correct details in the application will remain with the applicant who has certified the details relating to the purpose of such remittance.
A.3 Medical Treatment
3.1 With a view to enable residents to avail of foreign exchange for medical treatment abroad without any hassles and any loss of time, Authorised Dealers may release foreign exchange up to an amount of USD 100,000 or its equivalent, on the basis of self declaration that the applicant is buying exchange for medical treatment outside India, without insisting on any estimate from a hospital/doctor.
3.2 For amount exceeding the above limit, estimate from the doctor in India or hospital/ doctor abroad, is required to be submitted to the Authorised Dealers.
3.3 A person who has fallen sick after proceeding abroad may also be released foreign exchange by an Authorised Dealer for medical treatment outside India.
A.4 Cultural Tours
Dance troupes, artistes, etc., who wish to undertake tours abroad for cultural purposes should apply to the Ministry of Human Resources Development (Department of Education and Culture), Government of India, for their foreign exchange requirements. Authorised Dealers may release foreign exchange, on the strength of the sanction from the Ministry concerned, to the extent and subject to conditions indicated therein.
A.5 Private Visits
Foreign exchange for private visit can also be released to a person who is availing of foreign exchange for travel outside India for any purpose up to the limits specified in Schedule III to the Rules.
A.6 Business Visits
Foreign exchange for undertaking business travel or attending a conference or specialised training or for maintenance expenses of a patient going abroad for medical treatment or check up abroad or for accompanying as attendant to a patient going abroad for medical treatment / check up to the limits specified in Schedule III to the Rules.
A.7 Period of surrender of foreign exchange
7.1 In case the foreign exchange purchased for a specific purpose is not utilized for that purpose, it could be utilized for any other eligible purpose for which drawal of foreign exchange is permitted under the relevant Regulation.
7.2 General permission is available to any resident individual to surrender received / realised / unspent / unused foreign exchange to an Authorised Person within a period of 180 days from the date of receipt / realisation / purchase / acquisition / date of return of the traveller, as the case may be.
7.3 The liberalized uniform time limit of 180 days is applicable only to resident individuals and that too in areas other than export of goods and services.
7.4 In all other cases, the regulations / directions on surrender requirement shall remain unchanged. (cf. Notification No. FEMA 9/2000-RB dated May 3, 2000, as amended from time to time).
A.8 Unspent Foreign Exchange
8.1 As stated above, unspent foreign exchange brought back to India by a resident individual should be surrendered to an Authorised Person within 180 days from the date of return of the traveller. Exchange so brought back can be utilized by the individual for his/her subsequent visit abroad.
8.2 However, a returning traveller is permitted to retain with him, foreign currency travellers cheques and currency notes up to an aggregate amount of USD 2000 and foreign coins without any ceiling (cf. Notification No. FEMA 11/2000-RB dated May 3, 2000). Foreign exchange so retained, can be utilized by the traveller for his subsequent visit abroad.
8.3 A person resident in India can open, hold and maintain with an Authorised Dealer in India, a Resident Foreign Currency (Domestic) Account, out of foreign exchange acquired in the form of currency notes, bank notes and travellers cheques from any of the sources like, payment for services rendered abroad, as honorarium, gift, services rendered or in settlement of any lawful obligation from any person not resident in India.
8.4 The account may also be opened / credited with foreign exchange earned abroad, including proceeds of export of goods and/or services, royalty, honorarium, etc., and/or gifts received from close relatives (as defined in the Companies Act) and repatriated to India through normal banking channels by resident individuals.
8.5 The eligible credits to the Resident Foreign Currency (Domestic) Account, out of foreign exchange acquired in the form of currency notes, bank notes and travellers cheques, are as under :-
(i) acquired by him from an Authorised Person for travel abroad and represents the unspent amount thereof or
(ii) acquired by him, while on a visit to any place outside India, by way of payment for services not arising from any business in or anything done in India and by way of honorarium or gift or
(iii) acquired by him, from any person not resident in India, and who is on a visit to India, as honorarium, gift, for services rendered or in settlement of any lawful obligation.
Note: Where a person approaches an Authorised Person for surrender of unspent/ unutilized foreign exchange after the prescribed period, Authorised Person should not refuse to purchase the foreign exchange merely on the ground that the prescribed period has expired.
A.9 Remittances for Tour Arrangements, etc.
9.1 Authorised Dealers may remit foreign exchange up to a reasonable limit, at the request of a traveller towards his hotel accommodation, tour arrangements, etc., in the countries proposed to be visited by him or for making other tour arrangements for travellers from India, provided in each case the Authorised Dealer is satisfied that the remittance is being made out of the foreign exchange purchased by the traveller concerned from an Authorised Person (including exchange drawn for private travel abroad), in accordance with the Rules, Regulations and Directions in force.
9.2 Authorised Dealers may effect remittances at the request of agents in India who have tie-up arrangements with hotels / agents, etc., abroad for providing hotel accommodation or making other tour arrangements for travel from India, provided the Aurhorised Dealer is satisfied that the remittance is being made out of the foreign exchange purchased by the traveller concerned from an Authorised Person (including exchange drawn for private travel abroad) in accordance with the Rules, Regulations and Directions in force.
9.3 Authorised Dealer may open foreign currency accounts in the name of agents in India who have tie up arrangements with hotels / agents, etc., abroad for providing hotel accommodation or making other tour arrangements for travellers from India provided:-
a) the credits to the account are by way of depositing
i) collections made in foreign exchange from travellers; and
ii) refunds received from outside India on account of cancellation of bookings / tour arrangements, etc., and
b) the debits in foreign exchange are for making payments towards hotel accommodation, tour arrangements, etc., outside India, in accordance with paragraph 9.2 above.
9.4 Authorised Dealer may allow tour operators to remit the cost of rail/ road/ water/ transportation charges outside India without any prior approval from the Reserve Bank, net of commission/mark up due to the agent. The sale of passes/ticket in India can be made either against the payment in Indian Rupees or in foreign exchange released for visits abroad. The cost of passes/tickets collected in Indian Rupees need not be adjusted in the travellers’ entitlement of foreign exchange for private visit.
9.5 In respect of consolidated tours arranged by travel agents in India for foreign tourists visiting India and neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc., against advance payments / reimbursement through an Authorised Dealer, part of the foreign exchange received in India against such consolidated tour arrangement, may require to be remitted from India to these neighbouring countries for services rendered by travel agents and hoteliers in these countries. Authorised Dealers may allow such remittances after verifying that the amount being remitted to the neighbouring countries (inclusive of remittances, if any, already made against the tour) does not exceed the amount actually remitted to India and the country of residence of the beneficiary is not Pakistan.
A.10 Payment in Rupees
Authorised Dealers may accept payment in cash up to Rs. 50,000 (Rupees fifty thousand only) against sale of foreign exchange for travel abroad (for private visit or for any other purpose). Wherever the sale of foreign exchange exceeds the amount equivalent to Rs.50,000, the payment must be received only by
- a crossed cheque drawn on the applicant’s bank account, or
- crossed cheque drawn on the bank account of the firm/company sponsoring the visit of the applicant, or
- Banker’s Cheque / Pay Order / Demand Draft or
- Debit / credit / prepaid cards provided
a) KYC/AML guidelines are complied with
b) sale of foreign currency / issue of foreign currency TCs is within the limits (credit / prepaid cards) prescribed by the bank and
c) the purchaser of foreign currency / foreign currency TCs and the credit/debit/prepaid card holder is one and the same person.
Note: Where the rupee equivalent of foreign exchange drawn exceeds Rs 50,000 either for any single drawal or more than one drawal reckoned together for a single journey/visit, it should be paid by cheque or draft.
A.11 Advance Remittance – Import of services
Authorised Dealers may allow advance remittance for import of services. However, where the amount exceeds USD 500,000 or its equivalent, a guarantee from a bank of International repute situated outside India or a guarantee from an Authorised Dealer in India, if such a guarantee is issued against the counter-guarantee of a bank of International repute situated outside India, should be obtained from the overseas beneficiary. The Authorised Dealer should also follow up to ensure that the beneficiary of the advance remittance has fulfilled his obligations under the contract or agreement with the remitter in India.
A.12 Issue of Guarantee- Import of services
Authorised Dealer may issue guarantee on behalf of their customers importing services, provided :
a. the guarantee amount does not exceed USD 100,000;
b. AD is satisfied about the bonafides of the transaction;
c. AD ensures submission of documentary evidence for import of services in the normal course; and
d. the guarantee is to secure a direct contractual liability arising out of a contract between a resident and a non-resident.
In case of invocation of the guarantee, the Authorised Dealer is required to submit to the Chief General Manager-in-Charge, Foreign Exchange Department, Foreign Investments Division (EPD), Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, Mumbai- 400001 a report on the circumstances leading to the invocation of the guarantee.
A.13 Liberalised Remittance Scheme of USD 200,000 for Resident Individuals
13.1 Under this Scheme, Authorised Dealers may freely allow remittances by resident individuals up to USD 200,000 per financial year (April-March) for any permitted current or capital account transactions or a combination of both.
13.2 The facility is available to all resident individuals including minors.
13.3 Remittances under the facilitiy can be consolidated in respect of family members subject to individual family members complying with the terms and conditions of the Scheme.
13.4 Remittances under the Scheme are allowed only in respect of permissible current or capital account transactions or a combination of both. All other transactions which are otherwise not permissible under FEMA and those in the nature of remittance for margins or margin calls to overseas exchanges / overseas counterparty are not allowed under the Scheme.
13.5 Resident individuals are free to acquire and hold immovable property or shares (of listed companies or otherwise) or debt instruments or any other asset outside India without prior approval of the Reserve Bank.
13.6 The limit of USD 200,000 under the Scheme also include remittances towards gift and donation by a resident individual.
13.7 Remittances under the Scheme can be used for purchasing objects of art subject to the provisions of other applicable laws such as the extant Foreign Trade Policy of the Government of India.
13.8 The Scheme can also be used for remittance of funds for acquisition of ESOPs. The Scheme is in addition to acquisition of ESOPs linked to ADR / GDR and acquisition of qualification shares.
13.9 A resident individual can invest in units of Mutual Funds, Venture Funds, unrated debt securities, promissory notes, etc. under this Scheme. Further, the resident can invest in such securities out of the bank account opened abroad under the Scheme (see 13.12).
13.10 An individual who has availed of a loan abroad while a non resident can repay the same on return to India under the Scheme as a resident.
13.11 The Scheme can be used for outward remittance in the form of a DD either in the resident individual’s own name or in the name of beneficiary with whom he intends putting through the permissible transactions at the time of private visit abroad, can be effected, against self declaration of the remitter in the format prescribed.
13.12 Individuals can also open, maintain and hold foreign currency accounts with a bank outside India for making remittances under the Scheme without prior approval of the Reserve Bank. The foreign currency accounts may be used for putting through all transactions connected with or arising from remittances eligible under this Scheme.
13.13 Banks should not extend any kind of credit facilities to resident individuals to facilitate remittances under the Scheme.
13.14 The scheme is not available for remittances for any purpose specifically prohibited under Schedule I or any item restricted under Schedule II of Foreign Exchange Management (Current Account Transaction) Rules, 2000.
13.15 The facility is not available for remittances made directly or indirectly to Bhutan, Nepal, Mauritius and Pakistan.
13.16 The Scheme is not available for remittance to countries identified by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as non co-operative countries and territories as available on FATF website www.fatf-gafi.org. /or as notified by the Reserve Bank.
13.17 For undertaking transactions under the Scheme, resident individuals may use the application-cum-Declaration Form as at Annex-3 and it is mandatory to have PAN number to make remittances under the Scheme.
13.18 Beginning from April 2008, AD Category – I banks are required to furnish the information on a monthly basis, in the revised format as at Annex-8, to the Chief General Manager-in-Charge, Foreign Exchange Department, (FID-EPD), Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, 11th Floor, Central Office Building, Mumbai - 400 001, on or before fifth of the following month to which it relates. A soft copy of the statement (in Excel format) may also be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This statement in the revised format should be forwarded through Online Returns Filing System (ORFS) for which purpose all the AD Category – I Banks have been given user ID and password by the Reserve Bank.
14.1 The Reserve Bank will not, generally, prescribe the documents which should be verified by the Authorised Dealers while releasing foreign exchange. In this connection, attention of authorized dealers is drawn to sub-section (5) of Section 10 of the FEMA, 1999 (as indicated in item 3 of Appendix 2)) which provides that an authorised person shall require any person wanting to transact in foreign exchange to make such a declaration and to give such information as will reasonably satisfy him that the transaction will not involve and is not designed for the purpose of any contravention or evasion of the provisions of the FEMA or any rule, regulation, notification, direction or order issued there under.
14.2 Authorised Dealers are also required to keep on record any information / documentation, on the basis of which the transaction was undertaken, for verification by the Reserve Bank. In case the applicant refuses to comply with any such requirement or makes unsatisfactory compliance therewith, the Authorised Dealer shall refuse, in writing, to undertake the transaction and shall, if he has reasons to believe that any contravention / evasion is contemplated by the person, report the matter to Reserve Bank.
14.3 Authorised Dealers have specifically been advised that they may release foreign exchange up to USD 100,000 each for employment, emigration, maintenance of close relatives, education and medical treatment abroad without insisting on any supporting documents but on the basis of self declaration incorporating certain basic details of the transactions and submission of Form A2. In addition, the existing facility of release of exchange by Authorised Persons up to USD 10,000 or its equivalent in one financial year for one or more private visits to any country (except Nepal and Bhutan) will continue to be available on a self declaration basis.
A.15 Endorsement on Passport
It is not mandatory for Authorised Dealers to endorse the amount of foreign exchange sold for travel abroad on the passport of the traveller. However, if requested by the traveller, they may record under their stamp, date and signature, details of foreign exchange sold for travel.
A.16 International Credit Cards
16.1 The restrictions contained in Rule 5 of the Foreign Exchange Management (Current Account Transactions) Rules, 2000 will not be applicable for use of International Credit Cards (ICCs) by residents for making payment towards expenses, while on a visit outside India.
16.2 Residents can use ICCs on internet for any purpose for which exchange can be purchased from an Authorised Dealer in India, e.g. for import of books, purchase of downloadable software or import of any other item permissible under Foreign Trade Policy (FTP).
16.3 ICCs cannot be used on internet or otherwise for purchase of prohibited items, like lottery tickets, banned or proscribed magazines, participation in sweepstakes, payment for call-back services, etc., since no drawal of foreign exchange is permitted for such items/activities.
16.4 There is no aggregate monetary ceiling separately prescribed for use of ICCs through internet.
16.5 Resident individuals maintaining foreign currency accounts with an Authorised Dealer in India or a bank abroad, as permissible under extant Foreign Exchange Regulations, are free to obtain ICCs issued by overseas banks and other reputed agencies. The charges incurred against the card either in India or abroad, can be met out of funds held in such foreign currency account/s of the card holder or through remittances, if any, from India only through a bank where the card holder has a current or savings account. The remittance for this purpose should also be made directly to the card issuing agency abroad, and not to a third party.
16.6 The applicable limit will be the credit limit fixed by the card issuing banks. There is no monetary ceiling fixed by the Reserve Bank for remittances, if any, under this facility.
A.17 International Debit Cards
17.1 Banks authorised to deal in foreign exchange are issuing International Debit Cards (IDCs) which can be used by a resident for drawing cash or making payment to a merchant establishment overseas during his visit abroad. It is clarified that IDCs can be used only for permissible current account transactions and the item-wise limits as mentioned in the Schedules to Rules as amended from time to time, are equally applicable to payments made through use of these cards.
17.2 The IDCs cannot be used on internet for purchase of prohibited items like lottery tickets, banned or proscribed magazines, participation in sweepstakes, payment for call-back services, etc., i.e. for such items/activities for which drawal of foreign exchange is not permitted.
17.3 The International Banking Divisions/Foreign Exchange Departments of AD banks may submit a statement as on December 31, each year (as per proforma at Annex-5) in case the aggregate forex utilization by the IDC holders exceeds USD 100,000 in a calendar year. The statement should reach the Chief General Manager-in-Charge, Foreign Exchange Department, External Payments Division, Central Office, Mumbai- 400 001 on or before 20th January of the succeeding year.
A.18 Store Value Cards/Charge Cards/Smart Cards, etc.
Certain Authorised Dealer banks are also issuing Store Value Card/Charge Card/Smart Card to residents travelling on private/business visit abroad which are used for making payments at overseas merchant establishments and also for drawing cash from ATM terminals. No prior permission from Reserve Bank is required for issue of such cards. However, the use of such cards is limited to permissible current account transactions and subject to the prescribed limits under the Rules, as amended from time to time.
A.19 Acquisition of foreign securities under Employees Stock Option
Resident individuals who are either employees or director of an Indian office or branch of a foreign company in which foreign holding is not less than 51% are permitted to acquire foreign securities under ESOP Scheme without any monetary limit. They are also permitted to freely sell the shares provided the proceeds thereof are repatriated to India.
A.20 Income- tax clearance
Remittances to non-residents will be allowed to be made by the Authorised Dealers on production of an undertaking by the remitter and a Certificate from a Chartered Accountant in the formats (Annex - 4)prescribed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Ministry of Finance, Government of India in their Circular No.10/2002 dated October 9, 2002. [cf. A. P. (DIR Series) Circular No.56 dated November 26, 2002].