The National Pension System, or NPS, is a market-linked retirement savings scheme started by the Government of India in 2004. Under this scheme, Indian citizens including the non-resident Indians can regularly contribute to build a retirement corpus for their golden years. NPS for NRIs is a secured and flexible retirement savings scheme that ensures financial stability in post-retirement life.
Managed and regulated by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), NPS is open to all Indian citizens barring military personnel. NRIs are also eligible for NPS since they are Indian citizens residing outside the Indian territory but possessing an Indian passport.
Post-retirement, 60% of the accumulated corpus must be withdrawn to purchase an annuity for a stable monthly pension, while 40% can be withdrawn as a lump-sum. If you’re an NRI looking to benefit from this government-backed retirement scheme, here’s everything you need to know about NPS for NRIs.
Your NPS account for NRIs will remain valid until you cease to be an Indian citizen. If your citizenship status changes, your account will be suspended.
As an NRI, you can only open a Tier I NPS account (pension account). Tier II or voluntary NPS accounts are not open to NRIs.
You can retain investment flexibility as NPS for NRIs allows you to choose an investment mix per your risk appetite.
You can pick a Pension Fund Manager (PFM) from the managers available to oversee your investment in various asset classes.
Based on your expertise and risk assessment, you can choose a preferred investment route - Auto or Active.
Under the default Auto option, investment is made automatically based on age. As you near retirement age, investment in equity and corporate debt funds are diverted to government securities to minimise risk.
The Active option allows you to pick the asset classes you wish to invest in and the proportion of investment in each class. While you can choose asset allocation under this option, you can only invest up to 50% of your contribution on equity assets.
You reserve the right to switch your fund manager and investment route once a year, free of charge.
There is no upper cap on NPS investments. The applicable NPS for NRI interest rates will depend on the performance of your selected assets.
NPS accounts for NRIs don’t offer a Power of Attorney (PoA) facility.
You reserve the right to appoint up to 3 nominees and decide on their individual shares under your NRI NPS account. Your nominees will be eligible for the corpus collected under the NPS for NRIs scheme in case of your premature demise.
Pension/annuity paid from the scheme will be in Indian currency (INR). There will be no cap on the repatriation of the sum (paid as lump-sum or annuity).
To complete your NPS NRI registration, you will have to first meet the following eligibility criteria:
You should be 18-60 years of age.
You should hold a valid PAN Card.
You should have documents that comply with the NRI NPS account opening KYC requirements.
You should have a valid NRO/NRE bank account with one of the empanelled banks.
Note: OCI and PIOs cannot open an NRI NPS account. No joint account provisions are available under NRI NPS accounts.
You can open an NPS account for NRIs via the government’s NSDL website or through one of the empanelled bank websites. Follow these steps to start and complete your NRI NPS account registration:
Step 1: Download the NRI NPS form from the PFRDA, NSDL (now Protean), NPS Trust, or a participating bank’s website.
Step 2: Carefully fill up the application form with the elicited details.
Step 3: Submit the duly filled form with the required documents to your NRI bank branch in India.
Step 4: Wait for your bank to verify NRO/NRE account details and forward the form to the CRA.
Step 5: Deposit the initial cheque of ₹500 with the bank.
Step 6: Wait for the application to be digitised and your PRAN (Permanent Retirement Account Number) to be generated.
Step 7: You will be notified of your 12-digit PRAN status via email or SMS.
Step 8: You can then make subsequent contributions online.
Alternatively, you can open an NPS NRI account online via the eNPS website with your Aadhaar or PAN Card.
Step 1: Go to the ‘Registration’ option and click on ‘New Registration’.
Step 2: Pick the ‘Non-Resident Indian’ option and select your account type (non-repatriable or repatriable account).
Step 3: Select a preferred verification method (Aadhaar/PAN Card).
Step 4: If you pick Aadhaar, enter your Passport and Aadhaar number to generate an OTP for verification via your registered phone number. If you choose PAN verification, enter your Passport and PAN.
Step 5: Select your bank from the list of empanelled banks and enter your NRO/NRE account details.
Step 6: Specify your country of residence and click on continue.
Step 7: Pick a PFM and preferred investment route, and enter your nomination details.
Step 8: Upload your scanned photograph and signature, conforming to the format and image size limits.
Step 9: Pay via Net Banking and receive your 12-digit PRAN.
Contributions to the NPS scheme for NRIs are only permitted through NRO/NRE accounts. You must deposit a minimum contribution of ₹500 when opening the account. Once opened, the minimum amount per contribution cap is placed at ₹500, with a minimum yearly contribution mandate of ₹6,000.
Since NPS is a retirement savings scheme, Tier I accounts have stringent withdrawal rules for Indian residents and NRI account holders. That said, if you need money for your child’s higher education or marriage, you don’t need to liquidate an FD since withdrawals are allowed under these circumstances. Similarly, NPS for NRIs allows partial withdrawals to fund medical treatment expenses and/or construct a new home.
However, you can withdraw only 25% of your contributed funds if you’ve invested in the scheme for ten years. Moreover, the National Pension Scheme for NRIs also mandates a withdrawal frequency, permitting only three withdrawals throughout the investment tenure. Lastly, there must be at least a 5-year gap between the three consecutive withdrawals.
If the partial withdrawal limit doesn’t meet your fund requirements, you can opt to exit the NPS scheme for NRIs. You can also exercise this option when renouncing your Indian citizenship in favour of a foreign one. However, remember that leaving NPS is only possible if you’ve remained a subscriber to the scheme for at least ten years.
Here’s a quick run-down of what exiting your NPS account for NRIs means under the following scenarios:
Purchase a compulsory annuity with 80% of the fund.
Withdraw 20% as a lump-sum.
Complete withdrawal allowed for a corpus value of less than ₹1 Lakh.
Purchase a compulsory annuity with 60% of the fund.
Withdraw 40% as a lump-sum.
Complete withdrawal allowed for a corpus value of less than ₹2 Lakhs.
Stay invested until 70, making fresh contributions to the scheme.
Defer the lump-sum withdrawal until 70.
Postpone annuity purchase for up to 3 years upon exit.
Your nominee receives 100% of the NPS fund as lump-sum.
While opting for the National Pension Scheme for NRIs, you should be mindful of the following charges:
Type of Fee
Initial Account Registration Charge
Charges on Initial and Subsequent Contributions
PRA Opening Charges
PRA Maintenance Charges
Financial and Non-Financial Transaction Fee (Per Transaction)
Annual Asset Servicing Fee
Annual PFM fee