Is it illegal for NRIs to maintain a resident savings account?

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Is it illegal for NRIs to keep a resident savings account?
If you are a non resident Indian (NRI) and continue to maintain a domestic resident savings bank account at your bank, like a resident Indian, then you must know that it is against the law. Every NRI has to have a NRE account and a NRO account only.

This means, if you had to rush for a job abroad and have not intimated your bank to convert your domestic resident savings account into a NRO account, then you could be in trouble, if you have now qualified as a NRI.

Remember, the onus to change the status is not on the bank and is on the individual. Also, the tax deducted at source on NRO accounts is higher than domestic savings account of a resident. This means being a NRI and maintaining a resident savings bank account means that you are paying lesser taxes, which is not correct.

Dual Resident status cannot be maintained, hence all resident accounts needs to be converted to NRO or NRE accounts.

How do you know if you are an NRI?

A NRI as per India's Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA), is an Indian citizen or Foreign National of Indian Origin resident outside India for purposes of employment, carrying on business or vocation in circumstances as would indicate an intention to stay outside India for an indefinite period. An individual will also be considered NRI if his stay in India is less than 182 days during the preceding financial year.

According to the above definition, if you have stayed out of the country for more then 182 days, you are deemed to be a non resident Indian. So, if the above criteria applies to you and you still have a domestic account it's time to intimate your bank and convert the same into an NRO or NRE account. Read more on understanding residential status

Read more about: nris
Story first published: Monday, April 29, 2013, 8:59 [IST]
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