India, as a country, is full of contrasts. You will be greeted by skyscrapers in some cities while others will charm you with their rustic pace. Depending on where in India you are relocating, you will have a different experience of the area, and your cost of living will also vary drastically.
Regarding employment, expatriates (or expats) generally find opportunities in India’s IT, Financial Services, Healthcare, Manufacturing, and Telecom sectors. Most companies in these sectors are based in large cities, like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Gurgaon, and Bengaluru. Almost all these cities are modern hubs with facilities that expats are used to. The cost of living may not be as cheap as you expected, but you can surely expect a good standard of living. But before you can start to enjoy what India has to offer you, here are a few things you must do during the first week in India to ensure a comfortable stay for yourself.
List of Things Expats Must do on First Arrival in India
1. Get the Paperwork Done
Form C Registration
As soon as you arrive in India, you’ll need a Form-C, a residence proof document required by all foreigners. Any organization that accommodates foreigners as guests (like hotels and apartment owners) must apply for a C-Form within 24-hours of a foreigner arriving at their premises.
Once you submit Form C to registration authorities, you need to register with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) within 14 days of arrival in India on an employment visa. You are required to visit the office in person, and your family members accompany you.
Most expats have 14 days to register at the FRRO, but individuals from some nations may be required to register within 24 hours of landing in India. The Indian government has also introduced a completely online-based FRRO registration for a more user-friendly experience.
FRROs are located in several major cities, like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Goa, Kolkata, Kochi, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. If the area you live in doesn’t have an office, you can register at the nearest police station with a Superintendent or Deputy Superintendent of Police.
After providing the FRRO with the requisite documentation, you will be issued a residence permit that will be an important document and address proof for you. You’ll require this permit for opening a bank account. If you forget this step, you may face difficulty when you wish to leave the country.
Registration with the FRRO is extremely important. Without it, you cannot apply for a PAN Card (required for opening a bank account in India) or even a driving license.
2. Apply for a PAN Card
A Permanent Account Number (PAN) Card is issued by the Income Tax Department to foreign individuals who intend to work in India or carry out any financial transactions. You will require a valid ID card (like your passport), address proof (including the residential permit from the FRRO), and your birth certificate to apply for a PAN Card. You are required to submit Form 49AA on the TIN-NSDL website to apply for a PAN Card in India.
3. Set up a Local Bank Account
Once you have a PAN Card, you can consider setting up a local bank account. It may be worth checking if your bank has a branch in India. For instance, international banks like HSBC, RBS, and Citibank have branches in India.
If you wish to set up a local bank account, you can easily do it once you have the following documents, which you’ll almost always need to set up a bank account in India.
- Identity proof like your Passport
- Address proof, which could be your rental agreement
- Your visa, residential permit and a letter from your employer to confirm a legitimate stay in India
Once your documentation is ready, visit the nearest bank branch or check with your employer if they have an agreement with a particular bank to submit an account opening application.
4. Apply for an Aadhar Card (After 6 Months of Stay in India)
Aadhaar is a 12-digit Unique Identity number that can be voluntarily obtained by Indian citizens and resident foreign nationals who have spent over 182 days in twelve days preceding the date of application for enrolment. You must provide your biometrics (such as a scan of all ten fingers) for the Aadhar Card to be issued. For this, you may visit the official UIDAI website to book an appointment or directly visit an Aadhaar center to book a biometric appointment. These details will be used to issue you a unique identification number that will serve as a government ID Proof for you in India.
Expats may benefit from the Aadhaar Card in the following ways:
- To connect an Aadhar number with a bank account for KYC needs
- To activate a PF account
- To file tax and enjoy other benefits
5. Find the Right Accommodation
Before you plan your relocation, it could be worth negotiating your contract with your employer to help with the accommodation. Finding suitable quality accommodation at a reasonable price isn’t very simple in popular suburbs in India. Still, a relocation agency can help you find the most suitable accommodation for you and your family.
One important factor worth considering is the distance between your residence and workplace. Therefore, finding a place near your office could save you a troublesome commute and long hours of traffic typical in busy Indian cities.
If you are not sure about where to stay, you could rent out a place for a couple of weeks through Airbnb or ask your company to book you a hotel while you scout the neighbourhood for a suitable home.
Once you zero down on the house, do insist on having all the paperwork in place, including a rental agreement vetted by a legal professional. Many landlords prefer an informal arrangement, but it’s not something you should agree to.
6. About Schools and Education
If you are moving to India with school-going children, you’ll naturally be curious to know about the various curriculums offered in India. India has a high level of education, with several international schools offering IB/IGCSE curriculums, preferred by expat children. Even though the fees for such schools are relatively high in A-level or DP years, the global infrastructure and quality of education will not disappoint you.
7. Get a Health Insurance
Though India is a beautiful country, there are health concerns that expats need to be aware of. It is important to ensure all your vaccination shots are up to date before you reach India. You can check with your local consulate regarding the latest requirement in this regard.
Additionally, it is vital to have adequate health insurance coverage before you shift to India. Even though India has affordable public health services, the population and the medical burden of the pandemic could make it difficult to access emergency healthcare at a public facility. However, this is not something to worry about because India has some great private hospitals, but they are expensive. Having proper medical insurance can help you pay the bills in case of any exigency and ensure the best quality of care for you and your family.
Ready to move?
India is a beautiful country, and you are likely to enjoy your stay here. It is also a land of opportunities, and you can expect progression on the professional front as well.
Indian people are known to be friendly, and they are hospitable to expats. Learning their traditions and respecting their culture will help you make social bonds that will make your stay memorable. So keep your paperwork in order and be respectful towards the people around you, and we are sure moving to India will be an excellent experience for you.
Lexagent offers easy and hassle-free Expat Relocation Services in India, helping Expats to cover all essential documentation and a list of things to do on the first arrival without any worries.