Do NRIs Need to Have an NRE/NRO Account to Send Money to India?

As an NRI, do I need an NRE/NRO account to send money to India?

Do NRIs need to convert resident savings account to NRO NRE account

Can NRI hold a savings account in India?

Am I required to convert my resident savings account to NRI bank account once I move abroad?

Is there a penalty for not converting resident Indian savings account to NRO account?

In this post, I am going to answer these questions around what’s wrong with holding your savings account in India once your status changes to NRI.

Let’s dive right in.

Once you have stayed out of India for more than 182 days during the preceding financial year, your status changes from a Resident Indian to an NRI [Non-Resident Indian]. That’s when you lose certain privileges that a resident Indian has, and holding domestic savings bank account back in India is one of them.

Once you become an NRI, you can no longer keep a resident bank account and are required by law to convert your resident savings account to NRO or NRE.

It is your responsibility to inform your bank to convert your savings account to NRO account. Chances are, you didn’t even know such a requirement existed to change your resident domestic savings bank account to one of the NRI accounts after you have been outside India for more than six months.

Can you send money to India without an NRI account?

You might be wondering:

But I send money to my savings account without any issues.

Well, once you become an NRI and do not convert your Indian saving account to an NRI category (NRO/NRE), technically nothing is stopping you from making the transfer.

You can initiate the transfer using your preferred channel, and the money WILL reach your bank account in India.

BUT, there’s a problem…

In the eye’s of the government of India, that’s not legal.

Let me explain.

The rules, interest rates and legalities that apply to NRI accounts are different to the bank account you hold as a resident Indian. You need to maintain an account as per your residency status.

If you come under the radar leading to an inquiry, you cannot just say “nobody told me this” and will have to face the consequences.

Related: The ultimate guide to sending money to India

Is it illegal if you don’t convert Savings account to NRI account?


As I already mentioned, the moment your status changes to NRI, many rules and regulations change for you from a personal finance point of view as compared to when you were a resident Indian.

As per FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999) regulations, it is illegal for an NRI to hold resident savings account in India.

If authorities notice, you could face a penalty for not converting to NRO account, and operating a savings account in India with NRI status (stayed out of India for more than 182 days).

Related: When is the best time to send money to India?

Unaware that holding a savings account is illegal for NRIs as per Indian laws, most people who have travelled to the UK for work ignore this.

They continue with resident savings accounts to send money to India from overseas even after the six month period expires thinking it doesn’t matter.

That’s a mistake!

Even I didn’t know about this requirement at the start.

However, as soon as I came to know of this law, I straight away switched my Indian savings account to an NRO account to deposit any earnings in India.

NRO or NRE: Which Account is Right For You?

This question is for a separate post. But I will try to explain it very briefly here and then do an elaborate post on whether to choose NRO or NRE account later.

In plain terms, an NRO account is to deposit your INR income in India. If you have any income in India like from passive income sources like rental property, the stock market, dividends or any other investments, you need an NRO account.

Any payments towards insurance premiums, EMIs for loans you took while in India should also be paid using NRO account. You can send money from UK to India to an NRO account without any issues as long as all taxes due are paid in the UK.

NRE account is only to deposit earnings from employment overseas.

With an NRO account, you can repatriate up to an equivalent of 1 Million USD per year from India to your resident country abroad, given you fulfil the required formalities. Like, you need to get a certification from a CA for taxes paid on your income in India.

For NRIs with an NRE account, there is no such limit.

In addition to an NRO account, I hold a separate NRE account that allows me to transfer my overseas income from UK to India with an option to repatriate the money back to the UK without any restrictions, if I may need to in the future.

I will do a detailed post here about the differences between NRO and NRE accounts.

Most of my friends who I spoke to about this, didn’t know there was any such requirement after moving abroad. They never bothered converting resident savings to NRO/NRE account.

When I told them about this being illegal, many of them took action right away not to end up getting penalised in the future. That’s when I realised a wider audience should be made aware of the law, and I wrote this post (you can do your part by sharing it!).

Convert your savings account to NRO account now to avoid getting penalised

What next?

Take action!

I can’t emphasise this enough:

If you are an NRI residing outside India and operating resident savings account back home, I recommend you convert your home account to NRO account right now.

How to Convert Your Indian Savings Account to NRE/NRO

I converted my savings accounts to NRI status and it didn’t take much of my time.

Here are your options to comply with the Indian law:

1. Convert existing savings account to NRO account

To convert savings account to NRO account, contact your bank to make the changes. The bank will change your status on the account, and your account number stays the same. If you opt for this option, you don’t have to worry about changing your account number if you pay any monthly EMI/SIP etc.

2. Open a new NRO account

You can also close the savings account with your current bank and open a new NRO account with a different bank in case you decide to change your bank (in which case you will have a new account number for your NRO account). With this option, because you will have a new NRO account number, you will need to inform the respective banks/companies about your new account number.

3. Open an NRE account

If you have no income in India to be deposited, you can simply just close your savings bank account and open a new NRE account. To open a new NRE account, you can contact the bank you want to open an account with by calling them, or you can do it online. Most of the banks have online application portals which you can access for more details on the process.

Remember: you can take up option 3 in addition to option 1 or option 2.

In my case, I went with option 1 and 3 as I mentioned in NRO vs NRE section above.


I hope it’s now clear that you do need to convert your resident savings account to NRO account or open a new NRE account to satisfy Indian law for NRIs.

If you have any queries or suggestions to add to this topic, please do write in the comments section below.

And if you found this post helpful, again don’t forget to share this with your friends, family members and anyone you think this information could help.

55 thoughts on “Do NRIs Need to Have an NRE/NRO Account to Send Money to India?”

  1. HI Aman,
    You have provided very useful information and i thank you for this. i understand that sending money from outside India to NRO account is legal and will not be taxed (except interest earned on it), is transferwise a legal system to send money from abroad to India in NRO account ? i believe money transaction happens with in Zones like Euros sent from Europe in Transferwise Euro account in Europe and then same amount is sent to NRO account in India through Transferwise India branch (INR to INR transaction). Request your opinion on this.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Sachin,

      Thanks for your comment – I am glad you found this useful.

      Yes, it is totally legal to send money from abroad to your NRO account. And yes, you’ll not have any additional tax except for on the interest you earn on the amount lying in your NRO account as you’d have already paid tax on this amount in the source country.

      TransferWise (review) is a completely legal and safe way to send money to India to both your NRO/NRE accounts. Your understanding of how TransferWise works is on point. That’s also the main reason how transfers happen quite quickly – you can read how TransferWise works here.

      I hope this helps – let me know if you have any further queries.


  2. Hi Aman, we are moving to NL. Can i convert my savings account to NRO now or shall wait for 182 days? I don’t have any address proof or electricity bill as we have not moved yet.

  3. Thank you sir. Finally found a perfect explanation on this topic after searching web for this since many days. Many thanks again and definitely I will share this with my friends, colleagues as well..

  4. Subramani Ananthapadmanabhan

    Do you have to be in India to open an NRE/NRO account. I live in the US and want to take the least hassle free method to open and operate.
    Previously I used SBI but to even change my phone numnber, I had to fill up forms and take it to India!

    I want to change account profile, get cheque books, and debit cards to my US address as when i visit india, I don’t want to spend 80% of my holiday bouncing from bank to banl

    1. Hi Subramani,

      You don’t need to be in India. Most banks have an online application process where you can download the form and post them with the documents – I changed my savings account to NRO and got them to arrange courier pick up service with the application form and required documents.

      I used the same process to open a new NRE account as well.

  5. Abhijeet Katkar

    Hi Aman,
    Thanks for neat and useful article,
    I have a query, I am working for company in India and on Deputation with Malaysian unit of same group.
    I just landed here and will be here for 1 year, SO surely I am breaching 182 days fence, But I am entitled to quarterly all paid visit to India.
    Now my case is such that I am still on a roll in Indian company and getting salary in India and I will be getting salary in Malaysia as well, The taxation in Malaysia will be taken care by Company,

    So basically what will be my status after 182 days (Might be around in February 2020)
    Do I need to convert my salary account to NRO? And I have 5 other savings accounts in India, Do I need to convert those as well?


    1. Hi Abhijeet,

      As per the FEMA guidelines, yes you would need to change the status on all accounts if you have stayed outside India for 182 days in the last Financial Year. If this is a temporary move, I would suggest changing the status on at least your main account but really for you to take a call. You can also consult your CA to help take a decision but looking simply at FEMA guidelines, unfortunately, that’s the ask.


  6. Hi Aman,

    Thanks for sharing very helpful info and continuing to answer all queries politely for more than an year. Good job!!! Requesting you to take some time to answer my below queries as well.

    I’ve been in US for past couple of years and never learnt about NRE/NRO account completely until I read your article. All my transfers from US are made to India saving account only. If its converted to NRO account, I guess then amount currently available in savings would be changed to NRO and lead to taxable of 30% (correct me if I’m wrong). Is there any way to transfer amount from NRO to NRI or avoid those tax payment .


    1. Hello Diwahar, thanks a lot for your comment and please accept my apologies for the late reply.

      Can you please clarify which 30% tax are you referring to? You can easily transfer money from NRE to NRO account but not from your NRO to NRE. Cheers!

  7. Hi Aman,
    In order to open a NRE account bank generally asks for approved work permit or valid visa. In my case my visa is expired and extension request is in process. My bank is refusing to open a NRE account since I do not have a valid visa at this time. What are my options other than waiting for my work permit to be approved. And what if my work permit is denied, how do I transfer my US earnings ? Any help is appreciated.

    1. Hello Anoop,

      My sincere apologies for replying late to your comment – somehow it landed in the spam folder and I recovered it only now.

      I hope your work permit visa has been sorted out?


  8. Hi Aman,
    Thanks for your insightful post. This clarifies a lot of doubts. I have a couple of questions
    1- When I open a new NRE/NRO account and close the existing saving account in India, I can only move my money to NRO account, not the NEW account. Is that correct?
    2- If the answer to #1 is yes, will I be taxed on the amount that I am transferring to my NRO account from my old savings account?
    3 – We normally have multiple savings account in India, Do you suggest to keep multiple NRO accounts or is it better to keep just one?


    1. Hi Sameer,

      My apologies for the late reply.

      1- You don’t need to close your savings account – you can convert it to NRO.
      2- I hope #1 addresses this.
      3- You can have as many you want just that you’ll need to manage them 🙂


  9. Hi Aman,
    I’m working in US since 2+ years and have NRE & NRO accounts in my name so in short, abiding whatever you mentioned in your article.

    My wife is dependent and living with me here. She is not working and have no overseas income. I’m not doing foreign transfers to her India account. She has Savings Bank Accoutn in India and gets deposits through rental property in India and paying taxes every year regularly. My question, does she too need to convert her Savings Account to NRO account?

    Please help with your response. Thanks!

    1. Hi Srinivas,

      Yes, she would need to. The NRI status is driven by the time spent outside of India in the last financial year.


  10. Thanks a ton for this post, even we didn’t know we have to change the status in the accounts. Will start doing it right away!

  11. Quick question what about the PPF accounts? What happens if our status change to NRI. Are we allowed to still invest in PPF?

  12. Hi Aman

    This post is very informative. But there is a small query. We recently moved to UAE in march 2018, but we have still not been coming under NRI status as it is less than 6 Months. Can we send money to India to our normal savings account. We would like to make a lumpsum payment. Wanted to know what would be the implications on such a transfer

    Thanks and Regards


    1. Hello Vikram,

      You can send money to India using your savings account without any issues (amount doesn’t matter really).

      Once it’s past 6 months (when your status changes to NRI), still there is nothing technically stopping you from sending money as such. Legally, you are required to change your account status, which is a straight-forward process.

      Do check out the deals section to grab the best deals on your money transfers.

  13. Hello Aman,

    Thank you for the post. It was really very informative. I have few questions:

    1. As an NRI, can I have both NRE and NRO account in the same bank?
    [Aman] – Yes

    2. I usually travel to India 2-3 times in a year, what is your recommendations to cover the expenditure while I am in India during my visit? After reading your article, my idea is that I will transfer my money from USA to India via NRE account. Then from I transfer the money from NRE account to NRO account (if possible from Q.1), use ATM or debit card of this NRO account for regular expenditures during my stay in India.
    [Aman] – Yes just to add to that, you can transfer money to India from US to your NRE as well as directly to NRO account if you are going to withdraw it for expenditure in India.

    3. If I accept a foreign citizenship and renounce my Indian citizenship, would I be still able to keep my NRE and NRO accounts in Indian bank?
    [Aman] – Yes

    Thank You in Advance.

    1. Hello Alok,

      Thanks for your comment. Please see my reply in-line with your comments 🙂

      I hope you find it useful.


  14. Hi Aman ,Thanks a lot for this post mate !! .
    I have couple of doubts . I came to UK in Spt 2016 and havent converted my Indian accounts to NRO/NRE . I havent sent any money to my Indian account from UK .
    I am planning to close my account in India and separately open an NRO /NRE accounts afresh to keep it clean . My question is
    1) Do I need to close all my savings bank accounts in India ?? Coz I dont have track of previous accounts which were opened at different times by diferent employers .?? Or closing the latest one in use is enough ?
    Please suggest me a cleaner way of doing this .
    Thanks !!

    1. Hi Pradeep,

      First of all, my apologies for the late reply!

      If you didn’t convert your resident account to NRO/NRE and want to get things straight now, you don’t need to separately close the resident accounts and open new NRO. You can simply request your bank to convert the Resident account to NRO (the one you use most and want to keep).

      For NRE, you would have to open as a new application.

      Ideally, yes you cannot hold any savings resident account in India so I can only recommend at least close/convert the ones that you know of.

  15. Thanks Aman, that was very informative post.

    I have a one query pertaining to Multiple accounts. I have become NRI recently and I wish to change my Indian bank account soon. But I do have two three accounts opened eventhough I operate only one in most cases.
    My question do I need to change all the bank accounts I hold or can I change the widely used one and keep the rest as it is?
    Would appreciate your response.

    1. Hi Mohammed – sorry for missing your comments earlier.

      As per my understanding of the law, it has to be all accounts. But you can consult with your CA or someone with legal standing to guide you for your specific case.

  16. Hi Aman,
    These are nice pieces of information shared by you in crisp language. I have one query, I have been out of india more than six months and intend to convert my Resident account to NRO. I got salary in india till july, 2017 and post that I am employed in Canada.
    1. Do we have to pay tax in india on income earned in india and in canada on income earned in canada
    I can show my indian income in canada and pay tax here. Tax on indian salary is already deducted (TDS). Being my first year here I am a bit confused. TIA

    1. Hi Pankaj, I am not an expert on tax. But my understanding is if you have already paid tax on your income in India, you don’t need to pay it again in Canada.

      I hope this helps.

  17. Hi Aman,

    I’m a indian student travelling abroad for further studies to the US. When do you recommend I convert my account to NRO. Do I have to wait for the six month period for converting or can I convert it before moving to the US. One of the supporting documents seems to be proof of residence in the overseas country. What would be an acceptable proof in this case?

    1. Hi Anand,

      You can convert it as you cross 182 days of stay outside India. As proof of residence, banks usually accept utility bill or bank statement where your address is shown. But, I recommend you contact your bank to get the list of documents they accept.

      Hope this helps.

  18. Hi. Can we pay existing home loan through an NRE account?. If so are you aware of the procedure?

    I dont need an NRO account because I don’t have any incomes from India after I leave and an NRE account is better suited for my needs.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hello Vidya,

      Yes, I don’t see any reasons why not… You can simply get in touch with your bank asking how you can transfer money to your loan account.

      If you don’t need the NRO account, you can simply close your savings account and open a new NRE account instead.

      BUT, NRE account is only for NRIs which you won’t be when you just leave India for the first time. Ideally, you should do that WHEN you become an NRI (6 months after staying out of India).

      So, you would need to check with your bank about such a case.

      If you do find out, please do share the information here 😉


  19. NRI are of different types – people on visas or those Indians who have acquired Foreign Nationality but now possess OCI Card. Can an OCI card holder convert resident savings account to NRO account easily or is there any catch behind that? Thanks !!!

    1. Hi Munna,

      My apologies for the late reply.

      Any Indian who is out of India for a period more than 6 months is categorized an NRI. I am not aware of any issues an OCI card holder would face while converting savings account to NRO.

      I hope that helps.

  20. Hi Aman,

    Thanks for your very informative post. Appreciate your gesture to disseminate the knowledge to others.

    As like many others, I am not aware that I could not hold a resident account being a NRI. I would convert my account to NRO immediately. Meanwhile request your guidance on the below queries:

    1. I do have a FD on my resident account, that would mature after an year only. What will happen if I convert my account to NRO now? Will that be closed and moved to my NRO account or would it continue to exist and later moved to NRO account once it matures.

    2. In case if that gets closed now, do I need to make a new FD request on NRO account? What will be the tax rate (TDS) applicable on FDs made on NRO account

    3. Can I move funds from my NRO account to NRE account? What will be the Tax (TDS) applicable on FDs made on NRE account

    Thanks in advance for clarifying

    1. Hi Vesekar,

      I am glad you found this post useful!

      My sincere apologies for the delay in replying to your comment.

      Here’s what I think:

      1. The FDs on your resident account will continue to exist with the same account numbers. When I changed my savings account to NRO, the FDs stayed intact as the account number for your NRO account stays the same as your resident savings account.

      2. I hope this is covered above.

      3. No, you cannot transfer funds from NRO to NRE account. I don’t know about the TDS applicable on NRE account Fixed Deposits – I suggest you check with your bank on this, please.

      I hope this is what you were looking for? Please do let me know if can help you further!


  21. I am 77 years old Became NRI in April 2016, living in USA but I do visit india twice a year . Should I convert my status to NRI ? I don’t have income in the USA but in India like dividends
    Savings interest . Please reply whether it is essential to change my status at this age. I

    1. Hello Savithri ji,

      In such a case, based on the information I gathered FEMA regulations apply!

      Under FEMA guidelines, any Indian whose residency status changes to NRI needs to inform their bank of this change to an NRI. If you have income in India in any form, I would recommend you change your resident savings account to NRO so that you comply to the law.

      Again, I am not professionally equipped to answer your query as this article is based on my personal experience and the information I curated on this topic. If you need more details tailored to your personal circumstances, please consider speaking to a financial advisor who can guide you through this.

      I hope this information helps.

  22. Hi Aman, Firstly a big THANK YOU for sharing this important information. I was under assumption that I can keep the resident status if I don’t transfer any foreign funds and continue to pay my Taxes to Indian IT dept. Any ways I am going to convert my resident account to NRE/NRO at earliest.
    I have few questions for you, hope you will be able to clarify the same.

    1. Will there be any impact to Fixed Deposits and Bank Locker if I convert my Savings account to NRE/NRO?
    2. Currently I am on temporary work Visa (since 18 months) and not sure how long I will be staying abroad. Would it be a complex process to convert my NRE/NRO account to Resident again – once I am back in India for good?
    3. How soon I can initiate the process to convert my NRE/NRO account to Resident account once I am back in India?

    1. Hey Krishna, thanks for dropping by and I am glad you found this helpful.

      The status change to NRO is governed by the period of stay outside India and not by whether you send funds from overseas to India or not. That is what I thought myself long time back and made required changes as soon as I could and thought of sharing with others as many of my friends I spoke to, didn’t know this as well 🙂

      1. No, if you want to keep the FDs/Lockers, you would need to convert to NRO account and that would not change your account number. This means you won’t have to update any companies who you pay on a monthly basis (EMI/SIP etc). Please note you cannot convert your resident account to an NRE. NRE is to be opened separately if you want to!

      2. As I understand, the process is similar to convert your NRO account back to resident status.

      3. It’s the same rule as per my understanding; once you are in India for 180+ days in any financial year, your status changes back to Resident Indian. That is when you can request to change your account status from NRO to Resident Savings Account.

      I hope this information helps.


  23. Hi Aman,
    I have a joint account with my wife. She is staying in India. Will I have to convert this account to NRO?

    1. Hi Arun,

      Thanks for dropping by!

      To answer your query, I presume you have already stayed out of India for more than 182 days and your status is now NRI.

      If the status of the account is Resident Savings account: you are allowed to hold this account jointly with your wife but you can only be on ‘former or survivor’ basis. Such a restriction does not allow the non-resident joint account holder to operate the account during the lifetime of the other primary account holder (in this case your wife).

      If the account is an NRO account: you can hold a joint account with your wife and you can both operate this account.

      So to allow both you and your wife to operate the bank account, you can let your bank know of the status change.

      Please let me know if this answers your query.

  24. Do I need an NRE account to just payback my student loan? I don’t intend to save up the money but directly transfer to student loan account.

    1. Hi Parin, thanks for your comment.

      You don’t necessarily need an NRE account for your purpose, I understand. However, you do need to convert your saving account to NRO account to comply with Indian law.

      Hope this helps.

  25. Hi Aman,,

    Thanks for this post. It is really informative. I have one query that I have recently moved out of India for 1 year. I tried to enquire with banks to convert my Savings account to NRO but they told that it can be done only when you have resident permit or valid VISA for another country which I was not having earlier. Need to know that can it be done online.? Also since, its still lessthan 182 days for me outside India, is it safe to do it once I am in India in next 5-6 months.

    1. Hello Gaurav,

      Thanks 🙂

      You can convert your resident account to an NRO once 182 days have passed.

      To answer your query,

      – No, you cannot do it online – you need to send the filled form and supporting documents (although you can go to your bank’s website and download forms!)
      – Once 182 days have passed, you can send the printed forms and supporting documents to your bank (If you plan to visit India anyways, you can do it there but you don’t necessarily have to be in India and could request NRI status change from overseas too).

      Check with your bank (or on their website) about the process and documents required.

      Hope this helps!


  26. The situation is same for my son as for Mr. Kirti Shetty. He went in Aug 2015 to US and not converted domestic savings account. Please clarify:
    1. what penalty we will get for not converting.
    2. which is better – to open NRE/NRO in the same bank or different bank.
    3. He is sending money to meet parents expenses and for his education loan. The education loan is paid from my savings account (different bank) as mandated by loan provider. The money gets from his domestic account to my account and then to loan provider.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hello Ganeshbaabu,

      Thanks for your comment. I hope the below information helps.

      1. As per the query answered on this article by Tribune,

      There is no specific penalty provided for not converting an ordinary saving account into a non-resident ordinary account. However, Section 13 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 provides that if any person contravenes any provision of this Act or contravenes any rule, regulation, notification, direction or order issued in exercise of the powers under this Act, or contravenes any condition subject to which an authorisation is issued by the RBI, he shall, upon adjudication, be liable to a penalty up to thrice the sum involved in such contravention where such amount is quantifiable, or up to Rs 2 lakh where the amount is not quantifiable. Where such contravention is a continuing one, a further penalty that may extend to Rs 5,000 for every day after the first day during which the contravention continues. It is, therefore, desirable that an account should be converted into an NRO account without delay.

      2. It is totally your choice – I personally have both my NRE/NRO with the same bank. Doing this would save you some admin in managing your accounts.

      Cheers, Aman.

  27. I came to USA ,post marriage in april 2015. but i have still not converted my saving account into NRO account.I have not transferred any funds from USA .
    but am planning to go to india by this year end and will get the saving account converted to NRO. But my question is, in the bank form i need to inform them that my status changed in end of 2015,that is almost 2 years back. Will that raise any query from the authorities.
    Currently am using the saving account only for monthly sip payments and receive dividend and interest income which is nominal. Am also filing IT return with NRI status , though i do not have any taxable income in india except for interest ,below taxable limit.

    1. Hello Kirti, thanks for dropping by.

      What I would recommend is to check with an official when you are in the bank to seek their advice. If I were you, I would just put the true information in there. There shouldn’t be any major issues but I again recommend to convert the account as soon as you can. Living outside India and depositing income from India into a resident account is not OK with the taxman.

      If possible, do come back and update your experience here based on which I will update the article. Even I need to sort out the status on one of my accounts and I will update that information here.

      All the best,

      1. Thanks for your comment, Arun. THAT is also an option but doing this would add the hassle of updating all the places where you have your old account number and have any EMIs or SIPs being paid.

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