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International Relocation for Expats in India

Submitted: October 2013

As exciting as the prospect of moving to a new location is, when it comes to the actual move, there are few who look with excitement at packing boxes, dealing with immigration authorities and completing seemingly endless forms. It can indeed be wearisome dealing with bureaucracy in two countries and trying to arrange everything on time. However, the key is to familiarise yourself with the requirements and start planning well in advance! In this respect, our Expat Briefing articles on India offer a good starting point. 

Relocation companies

It is also a good idea to opt for a relocation company to assist with your move.  Most of these companies are more than just mere shipment companies. While they do also organise the move of your personal and household belongings, they also offer guidance on administrative procedures during and after relocation and assist with immigration issues and housing searches. However, as the array of offered services and the applicable prices vary greatly from company to company, it is crucial to do thorough research before committing to one. In this respect, online reviews and expat forums are a valuable resource!

Below you will find examples of companies offering relocation services for expats moving to India:

Moving your belongings

If, however, you are planning your relocation on your own, you will have to decide how to best move your items to India. Most airline companies will only allow one or two pieces of personal luggage. Sending items via post or express delivery services such as DHL or UPS is only recommendable for lesser quantities. For larger quantities it is best to choose one of the specialised shipment companies and opt for a good insurance.

In addition to the relocation companies mentioned above, which also organise shipments, you might want to consider the following specialised shipment companies:

In general, expats moving to India are allowed to bring their personal possessions and household items to India tax free, provided that they have owned these items for at least one year before relocation and that these belongings arrive to India within 15 days of your arrival (if sent by air) or within 30 days of your arrival (if brought by land or sea).

However, note that there are restrictions in place for certain electronic appliances and jewellery.  There are also a number of restricted items which cannot be imported to India. For more information see the guidelines for the Transfer of Residence provided by the Chief Commissioner of Mumbai Customs and the regulations of the Central Board of Excise and Customs.

On how to relocate to India with pets see Relocation with Families and Pets for Expats in India.

Importing your vehicle

If you are considering relocating to India with your own vehicle, think twice! While most expats are allowed to bring one vehicle with them upon relocation to India, vehicles - both new and used - are normally subject to high import duties. Customs is payable on the depreciated price of the vehicle at the time of importation depending on the age of the car and can be as high as 160% for used vehicles.

If you do still decide to import your vehicle, you will have to import it through the Customs port in Mumbai and present the original purchase invoice. Before doing so, make sure that your vehicle meets the road safety and environmental requirements of India. Note also that generally only right-hand drive vehicles are permitted in India.

For more information on vehicle importation, see the guidelines provided on the Chief Commissioner of Mumbai Customs website and the website of the Central Board of Excise and Customs. For road safety and registration requirements, take a look at the Motor Vehicle Rules or contact the applicable Regional Transport Authority/Office (RTA/RTO).

To read more on driving in India in general see Driving and Public Transport for Expats.



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