Your complete guide to going back to India from USA

Aman Saxena
01.10.21
5 minute read

It can feel like a big move when you are heading back to India after a few years or decades in the US. Here's a checklist to make sure you have everything in order before flying home.

This checklist can be a helpful guide on things you may need to do to move back to India, but it is in no way exhaustive or intended as professional advice.

⚠️ Check with the necessary professionals, such as accountants, tax consultants and others, in the US and in India for what you may need before you move.

✅ Moving back to India: Checklist

Here is a list of points to consider when you’re relocating back to India. Some items can be done prior to arriving in India, while others can only be completed once you are there.¹

📄 Important documents

When thinking of moving back to India, make sure you gather up important documents that you have accumulated during your stay. This can be copies of:

  • Visas
  • Employment letters
  • Residential agreements
  • Medical and dental records
  • Marriage or birth certificates
  • Bank account statements.

To make things easier, it is suggested to scan and upload documents to your computer or personal drive so you have copies you can access at any time.

🛃 Passports, Visas, & OCI

Make sure you have your passports up to date for India in order to travel. And also that you have not nor will not overstay in the US on your American visa. Arrange your travel accordingly to make sure your travel documents are sorted.

Additionally, if you have children or family members who are US citizens, it is a good idea to get them Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) visas. This lifetime visa allows for foreign citizens to travel in and out of India, open Indian bank accounts and work in India easily. You can complete the process with the Indian consulates or embassies in the US. ²

🏦 Organize bank accounts

Identify which bank accounts you need to close in the US and which you need to open in India. Are there accounts you would like to keep open in the US, for instance?

Also identify if there is a way to have accounts with a global bank which has branches in the US and India. Identify what process would work best for you and your family.

Plus, check out the status of your NRE and NRO bank accounts. Will you need to repatriate any funds? And request your bank in India to convert any NRI accounts to a resident account once you are back in the country.

🔖Read more: Full guide to NRI accounts

💳 Organize credit cards, loans and taxes

Before leaving the US, you will want to wrap up any loose ends when it comes to credit cards, loans and taxes with the IRS. It is best to have as much paid off as possible and make sure you are up to date with payments.

Even if you have debt to pay off in the US after returning to India, identify the bank account and method you intend to use and ensure that can be kept open.

🏘️ Change residence and addresses

One of the most important changes is your actual address. So make sure you create a forwarding address for important bank, work or personal information to be sent to in India. Also remove your US address where it is needed.

Remember to get new accounts or change your location for services like Amazon so you can order and get deliveries in India.

📦 Moving & packing

Figuring out what you want to take with you to India can be difficult. Keep in mind certain items are cheaper to purchase in the US than in India, such as electronics, but that also means you will need a different plug.

Many things can also be bought cheaper in India, especially household items. So create a priority list of what you want to take with you. Then you can look at services for moving and packing. Indian moving companies can also be a good place to start, even if you move within India.

🆔 Aadhaar card

Getting an Aadhaar card is going to be important for easy verification in India. The Aadhaar card also helps verify that you are a resident of India, and no longer an NRI. To get an Aadhaar, you will need to show proof of residence in India and provide your fingerprints for biometric verification.

If you already have an Aadhaar card but are moving residences within India, make sure you update your card for the next permanent residence you move to.

🔢 PAN card

A PAN card is issued by the Income Tax department in India is a crucial piece for opening bank accounts or getting employment salaries. The Permanent Account Number (PAN) is a 10 digit number that is tied to you as an individual, and not to residence. As a government issued card, it can also be used for identity verification.

If you don’t have a PAN card yet, you can apply online or check out this guide for how to get a PAN card even as an NRI.

🔎 Finding work

Relocating back to India can also mean that its time to find new employment. India has been growing at a dynamic pace and there is a demand for highly skilled talent, especially with foreign experience. The domestic startup ecosystem is also a burgeoning area that is garnering tremendous growth.
Check online for openings in areas you feel you can contribute to, or reconnect with old networks to identify possible opportunities.

🧭 Travel before you leave

Although there is alot to plan before moving, do remember this may be one of the last few times you can travel the US and surrounding countries so easily. Take a road trip, visit other cities or go see the great national parks before you leave. Once you’re back in India, you’ll be glad you have those memories.

📡 Arrange internet and phone

One thing you will find in India is that phone, data and internet services are much cheaper than in the US.

And having an Indian number is going to be important not only for phone calls, but for One Time Passwords (OTP) for everything from orders online to Netbanking. You will need to show proof of address, or an Aadhaar card, to get a phone line.

Second, think about if you want to keep your US number and use an internet service provider to keep it active while in India. Of course, make sure you’ve set up a payment plan to continue to be able to pay the phone bill.

💸 Send money to a local Indian bank account

You’ve worked hard and accumulated funds, so make sure you can put it to use in India by transferring money home. Having a cushion to make deposits, payments and to pay for set up fees locally can make your transition home easier.

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Wise is fast, easy and quick. And is completely online and free to sign up. So if you need to send money to India for your move, check out Wise to save money on your next transfer.

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Sources used for this article:

  1. Going back to India
  2. OCI

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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