Establishment of Branch Office (BO)/ Liaison Office (LO)/ Project Office (PO) in India by Foreign Entities
A foreign entity before entering into new territory would like to check the business environment, available market and acceptability of its product, social and economic influencer of any new country. In India, a foreign company can enter by way of:
1) Liaison Office,
2) Branch Office,
3) Project Office.
What is LO, BO & PO?
‘Branch Office’ in relation to a company, means any establishment described as such by the company.
‘Liaison Office’ means a place of business to act as a channel of communication between the principal place of business or Head Office or by whatever name called and entities in India but which does not undertake any commercial /trading/ industrial activity, directly or indirectly, and maintains itself out of inward remittances received from abroad through normal banking channel.
‘Project Office’ means a place of business in India to represent the interests of the foreign company executing a project in India but excludes a Liaison Office.
Establishment of Liaison Office, Branch Office, and Project Office is governed by RBI guidelines. The same is issued with the aim to facilitate ease in doing business in India.
The Application for establishment of LO, BO & PO may be submitted by the Non-resident entity in Form as may be prescribed to the designated AD Category-I Bank. The AD Category-I bank shall, after exercising due diligence in respect of the applicant’s background, and satisfying itself as regards adherence to the eligibility criteria for establishing BO/LO/PO, antecedents of the promoter, nature and location of activity of the applicant, sources of funds, etc., and compliance with the extant KYC norms, grant approval to the foreign entity for establishing BO/LO/PO in India. The AD Category-I banks may frame appropriate policy for dealing with these applications in conformity with the FEMA Regulations and Directions.
Delegation of Power to AD-
Authorized Dealer Banks can approve of application to set up LO / BO in India except in the following cases:
The applicant is a citizen of or is registered/incorporated in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, China, Hong Kong or Macau and the application is for opening a BO/LO/PO in Jammu and Kashmir, North East region and Andaman and Nicobar Islands;
When business undertaken includes the sectors of Defence, Telecom, Private Security, Information and Broadcasting and Non-government organization, Further, anyone who has been awarded a contract for a project by a Government authority/PSU would be automatically given approval to open a bank account.