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Since 2004, India and the UK have enjoyed a strategic partnership especially in the areas of economic and technological development, as well as cooperation in regional and global affairs. This coordination is further enhanced by the fact that it is easy to transfer money from UK to India and there are few restrictions to transfer money overseas into India.
UK citizens require a visa to travel to India. Although the process of obtaining a visa is not difficult, there are many different categories of visas to choose from and you will have to choose the one that is right for your particular situation.
You will have to apply for a tourist visa if you intend to visit friends and family or to vacation in India. Travellers must apply for this visa before leaving for India. It is usually valid for three to six months, allowing the holder a single, double, or multiple entries. A business visa is necessary for entrepreneurs and business people who intend to make sales or establish contacts in India. For this, applicants will require a letter from the company in the UK as well as the associate company in India. If you are going to be working with a company in India you will have to obtain an employment visa.
Within the UK, visa applications for India are handled by VFS Global. Before leaving for India it is important to check travel advisories for various elements of political and social unrest such as acts of terrorism and violence.
If you are living or working in India, having an Indian bank account will make it convenient to transfer money from UK to India. There are several major international and UK based banks in India, to include Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC. Many expats in India tend to lean more towards foreign-based banks with which they are most familiar. However, the Indian banking system has come a long way; offering more customer focused features and services such as online banking, widespread services and dedicated banking managers. Local banks such as ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank are much more competitive with greater accessibility and number of branches than international banks.
It is a fairly straightforward process to open a bank account in India and in some cases, employers are able to do this on behalf of their expat employees. In order to open a non-resident savings or checking account UK nationals will have to provide proof of identity, a copy of a passport or visa, proof of a local address and a copy of a residential permit.
Expats in India face the same taxation policies as Indian citizens. However, based on a double taxation avoidance agreement signed between India and the Government of the UK, expats who have lived in India for at least 180 days will only have to pay taxes on income earned in India.
Indians are the largest minority group in the UK’s population 1,412,958, which amounts to 2.5% of the population. According to results from Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, of the £2,031 million in remittances sent from the UK, India accounted for one of the largest recipient countries. Indians rank among the top five ethnic groups for transferring money internationally. Money sent back home from the UK is usually aimed at helping family and relatives.
India is inviting increased investments from the UK in energy and infrastructure. The UK is one of India’s top trading partners. Bilateral trade amounted to $14.905 billion in 2012-2013.
India is an attractive market for direct foreign investments because of cheaper wages and special privileges such as tax exemptions. The UK is India’s third largest investor. Total FDI from UK totalled US$20,759 million between 2000 to 2014. Several major UK companies have operations in India, which include BP, Tesco, ICI India, Reuters, British Telecom, Shell India and Unilever, to name a few.
The UK plans to double its trade relationship with India by 2015. Some recent UK investments in India include British Petroleum’s $7 billion partnership with Reliance, Serco investment of £385 million in Intelnet, McVities’ (United Biscuits) approximately $1.6 billion investment in a factories in India, which will be their first. Joint ventures are being developed between AeroDNA and several Indian clients with combined revenues amounting to £2.2 billion.
Approximately 5,000 Indians are studying towards obtaining UK degrees in India. The UK is active in implementing programmes to teach business level English in India, which thus far has affected over 17 million Indian learners. The British Council is also active in educating more than 750,000 English teachers. Primary level education in English is now being delivered as part of the initiative of Primary Education for all.
Each year, more than 700 scholarships are granted to Indian citizens from UK institutions. These scholarships allow for future leaders and decision makers in India to access the resources of Britain’s top educational institutions. In 2012 a Jubilee Scholarship programme was launched by the British Council and the government of the UK. It enables 60 Indian youth to engage in a one year Masters programme in manufacturing, management or science and technology at a participating UK educational institution.
Development is a primary element of the UK-India partnership aimed at promoting prosperity, combating poverty, and helping to realize the Millennium Development Goals. The UK-India development programme targets the poorest states in India – Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Odisha with the aim of providing jobs, developing infrastructure, providing products and basic services. The main focus is to provide educational opportunities, nutrition, healthcare, and jobs to the poorest women and girls. As a result, more than 2.3 million Indian citizens have moved out of poverty, and 1.2 million children have been able to go to school. India has also been free of polio for the past ten years.
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