Since 1991, the regulatory environment for foreign investment has consistently been eased to make it investor-friendly, catapulting India into the position of one of the fastest-growing economies of the world. It has been ranked (9th in terms of FDI inflows for 2016 by UNCTAD) among the top attractive destinations for inbound investments in the world. The Government of India (GoI) with intent to attract and promote foreign investments has put in place a foreign direct investment policy framework which is transparent, predictable and easily comprehensible.
Foreign investment into a domestic entity on a strategic basis is subject to FDI policy in India. The GoI through Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) formulates a consolidated FDI Policy in India on a yearly basis which is a defined framework for FDI. Currently, the FDI policy of 28 August 2017 is in effect.
Foreign investors can invest directly in India, either on their own or through joint ventures in virtually all the sectors except in a very small list of activities where foreign investment is prohibited.
FDI in majority of the sectors is under automatic route, i.e., allowed without any requirement of seeking regulatory approval prior to such investment. Eligible investors can invest in most of the sectors of Indian Economy on an automatic basis.
Any Non-resident individual (NRI)/Entity can invest subject to FDI policy (except in prohibited sectors). NRI resident in and Citizens of Nepal & Bhutan are permitted to invest on repatriation basis (amount of consideration for such investment shall be paid only by way of inward remittances through normal banking channels).
Company, trust or partnership firm incorporated outside India and owned and controlled by NRIs
Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) and Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPI)
Registered FIIs/ FPIs/ NRIs as per Schedules 2, 2A and 3 respectively of Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident Outside India) Regulations, 2000 can invest or trade through a registered broker of Indian Companies on recognized stock exchanges.
SEBI registered Foreign Venture Capital Investor (FVCI) in any activity mentioned in Schedule 6 of Notification No. FEMA 20/2000.
Please refer to Specific Clauses for Citizens of Bangladesh, Pakistan and FII and FPIs in latest FDI Circular 2017: Section 5.
FDI Investment Routes
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) can be made through two routes that are:
Automatic Route: Indian companies engaged in various industries can issue shares to foreign investors up to 100% of their paid up capital in Indian companies
Government Approval Route: Certain activities that are not covered under the automatic route require prior Government approval for FDIs.
*Investors are advised to check for government approval and other related sector condition in latest FDI Circular Section 5.
Category 1- Sectors in which FDI is permitted up to 100% under automatic route
Category 2- Sectors in which FDI is permitted up to 100% under Government Route
Category 3- Sectors in which FDI is permitted beyond certain limit with Government
Category 4- Sectors wherein FDI is permitted up to certain limit under both Government and Automatic routes subject to applicable laws/ regulations security and other conditionalities
Procedure for Government Approval
Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (FIFP) is the new online single point interface of the Government of India for investors to facilitate Foreign Direct Investment. This portal is designed to facilitate the single window clearance of applications which are through approval route. Upon receipt of the FDI application, the concerned Administrative Ministry/Department shall process the application as per the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP).
Subsequent to abolition of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) by the Government, the work of granting government approval for foreign investment under the extant FDI Policy and FEMA Regulations, has been entrusted to the concerned Administrative Ministries/Departments.
The eleven notified sectors/activities requiring government approval are:
- Mining, Defence/cases relating to FDI in small arms
- Print media
- Civil Aviation
- Private Security Agencies
- Trading(Single, Multi brand and Food Products)
- Financial services not regulated or regulated by more than one regulator/ Banking Public and Private (as per FDI Policy)
FDI Reporting Requirements
Within 30 days of receipt of money from the foreign investor, the Indian company will report to the Regional Office of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under whose jurisdiction its registered office is located.
Within 30 days from the date of issue of shares a report in Form FC-GPR together with the following documents should be filed with the Regional Office of RBI:
Certificate from the Company Secretary of the company accepting investment from persons resident outside
Certificate from Statutory Auditors or Chartered Accountant indicating the manner of arriving at the price of the shares issued to the persons resident outside India