Factbox-How foreign investors can invest in India By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The new logo of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building is seen in Mumbai, India, July 12, 2023. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

By Jayshree P Upadhyay

Mumbai (Reuters) – India’s stock markets have become the fourth largest in the world, overtaking Hong Kong’s, as investors flock to a fast-growing alternative to China’s floundering stock indexes.

As the country heads for elections this year, India continues to attract foreign investors, who have a number of ways to invest in the country.


To invest in shares of India’s listed companies, foreign investors have to use the foreign portfolio investment (FPI) route. Investors, whether individuals or firms, need to be registered with country’s markets regulator and adhere to its disclosure requirements. Most of the 10,800 FPIs are funds.

There are no restrictions for investing in Indian companies via this route, however an FPI cannot hold more than 10% in a listed company. If an FPI invests more than 10% in any company, it is categorised as foreign direct investment for which there are restrictions in some sectors.

All FPI investments must be in Indian rupees and dealt through brokers. All FPI transactions are taxed at par with taxes applicable to domestic investors, which includes capital gains at 15% for short-term holdings of less than a year, 10% for long term holdings and a surcharge and securities transaction tax.


The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has a hands-off approach for offshore funds’ registrations but mandates custodian banks, through whom foreign money flows into India, to disclose details of the investors in these funds.

Custodians are typically domestic banks or Indian branches of foreign banks. There are a total of 17 custodian banks registered in India including – Citi Bank, Deutsche Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, DBS Bank, HSBC, State Bank of India, Standard Chartered (OTC:) Bank among others, according to SEBI website.

Under India’s anti-money-laundering rules, regulators also require details of the so-called beneficial owners, which refers to any investor holding 10% or more of the assets of a fund.

Further, SEBI has enhanced disclosure requirements for funds which have concentrated holdings in a single corporate group.


Non-resident Indians can invest in the Indian stock market through the portfolio investment scheme and transactions are routed through a non-resident ordinary (NRO) savings account. The overall investment limit for NRIs and any person of Indian origin (PIO) in stocks is 10% of the company’s paid-up capital. Individual investment is capped at 5%.

NRIs cannot engage in intra-day trading, they have to take delivery of shares and can’t trade derivatives.  


If a foreign investor does not wish to go through the process of registering with SEBI, they can invest in Indian shares through offshore derivatives instruments or participatory notes (P-notes). SEBI defines these instruments as ones issued overseas by an FPI against securities held by the FPI in India.

Taking a short position in India requires upfront disclosures, but investors can do so via P-notes to obscure their positions.

Foreigners can also invest in the roughly 150 American and Global Depository Receipts (ADRs/GDRs) of Indian firms listed on offshore exchanges. In recent years, the number of companies raising funds via ADR/GDR has reduced.

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