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Foreign Companies Starting a Business in India


Last Updated on October 9, 2023 by Divya

Steps for Foreign Companies Starting a Business in India

India is a very appealing location for foreign direct investment (FDI) due to its strong economic development, large population of over 1.2 billion, and exciting prospects. A rising number of international businesses are entering the Indian market each year. Detailed instructions on how international companies can set up shop in India are provided in this article.

Optimal Entry Strategies for Foreign Businesses in the Indian Market

There are normally two main ways for foreign companies to join the Indian market: by registering as a company or by opening a branch or liaison office.

Creating a private limited company is frequently regarded as the easiest and fastest entrance route for foreign persons and businesses. The automatic method used in this strategy enables foreign direct investment of up to 100% into private limited or limited companies without requiring prior authorisation from the central government. Consequently, the most economical, simple, and quick way for international businesses and people to enter the Indian market is by establishing a private limited company as a wholly-owned subsidiary of a foreign corporation or as a joint venture.

Compared to creating a private limited company, this emphasizes the regulatory considerations and restrictions involved with opening branches, liaisons, or project offices for foreign companies in India.

Certain legal criteria and permits must be obtained to register a branch office, liaison office, or project office in India for a foreign firm; however, this process is not always more expensive or time-consuming than forming a private limited company. The foreign company’s conditions and unique business goals when it enters the Indian market will determine which of these two possibilities it chooses.

Here are some important things to consider

  • Regulatory Approvals: It is true that to open a branch office, liaison office, or project office in India, international enterprises must get the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) and, occasionally, other government agencies’ clearance. Usually issued for specific activities, these permissions come with stipulations. Contrarily, although fewer formalities may be involved when forming a private limited company, the Companies Act and other pertinent legislation must still be followed.
  • Cost: Depending on the unique requirements and activities, opening a branch office, liaison office, or project office might have a range of costs. There are expenses associated with legal fees, registration fees, and compliance requirements while forming a private limited company. The former’s cost difference might not necessarily be notably greater.
  • Time frame: The time it takes to register depends on the thoroughness of the paperwork, the particular regulatory clearances needed, and how quickly the relevant authorities can process the necessary paperwork. The completion times for both possibilities range from a few weeks to a few months, and there could not be much difference between them.
  • Activities Permitted: Branch offices, liaison offices, and project offices are frequently arranged for particular purposes, including representation, market analysis, and project implementation. Private limited businesses provide more latitude for conducting business. The two options should be chosen based on the planned company activities in India.
  • Foreign National Ownership: Foreign Nationals can establish projects, liaisons, or branch offices in India. However, they must adhere to the rules and authorizations outlined before. Foreign nationals may invest and own shares in private limited enterprises with specific restrictions.

Requirements for Establishing a Company in India

The Requirements to start a Company In India are:

  • Minimum Directors and Shareholders: A private limited company in India must have a minimum of two directors and two shareholders. The other director(s) can be foreign nationals, but at least one of the directors must be an Indian citizen and resident. There is no minimum shareholding requirement for the Indian director, and the shareholders may be either people or corporations.
  • Registered Office: The corporation must have a physical address in India to function as its registered office. Legal papers and formal communication should be forwarded to this address. The choice of the registered office location may affect the company’s relevant jurisdiction, which may impact legal issues and compliance.
  • Foreign Directors: While having a native Indian director is typical for international enterprises, it is unnecessary for all foreign-owned businesses. As long as they meet the minimal standards for directors and shareholders, several international corporations opt to have only foreign people on their boards of directors.
  • Shareholding: The shareholding structure may change depending on the firm type and business plan. In several industries, foreign individuals or corporations may own all the shares of an Indian private limited business. However, some industries may have constraints on foreign investment and prohibitions.
  • Legal Jurisdiction: The legal jurisdiction that governs the firm may be affected by the choice of the registered office location. In India, each state has its own Registrar of Companies (RoC), and a business established in one state is bound by that state’s rules and laws.
  • Compliance and Documentation: Obtaining a Director Identification Number (DIN), a Digital Signature Certificate (DSC), and completing the required incorporation paperwork with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) are among the legal and regulatory prerequisites for starting a business in India.
  • Business Activities: The foreign firm’s unique business aims and activities in India should be considered while deciding whether to form a private limited company, branch office, liaison office, or project office. Each choice has benefits and drawbacks.

To successfully manage the incorporation process, it is recommended to contact legal and business specialists like Kanakkupillai. We are familiar with Indian company law and regulations because the regulatory environment in India is subject to change. To ensure compliance with industry-specific legislation and foreign investment policies, performing due diligence on the specific industry and sector is necessary.

Documents Required

Foreign nationals and business organizations normally require the following documents to register a corporation in India:

Foreign directors:

  • Copy of Passport: Each foreign national with a director position with the Indian firm must submit a copy of their passport.
  • Address Proof: Foreign directors must additionally produce a document proving their residence address, such as a driver’s license, bank statement, utility bill, or other official document issued by their country.
  • Notarization: Passport copies and documentation proving your residence should be notarized. The Indian Embassy or Consulate and a notary public in the foreign director’s home country are authorized to notarize documents.

Corporate entities holding shares:

  • Board Resolution: To invest in an Indian firm as a shareholder, a corporate body (foreign corporation) must normally pass a board resolution allowing the investment.
  • Certificate of Incorporation: A copy of the foreign entity’s certificate of incorporation must be included with the board resolution.

Proof of Registered Office Address:

The Indian corporation is required to show documentation of its registered office address. Along with a utility bill in the property owner’s name, such as an energy or water bill, this might include a leasing agreement or a sale transaction.

Additional documents

  • Director Identification Number (DIN) Application: Directors may need to apply for Director Identification Numbers (DINs), which are distinctive identity numbers for directors in India.
  • Certificates for digital signatures (DSC): Documents requiring digital signatures for incorporation must have DSCs.

It’s important to remember that different particular documents and regulations may apply depending on the type of company, the sector, and the state in which the company is being formed. Additionally, rules and processes might change. Therefore, it is advised to speak with a certified legal and business expert like Kanakkupillai, who can assist you with the incorporation process by guiding you through the most recent criteria.

Since foreign directors are not required to be physically present in India during the incorporation procedure, starting and running a business in India is quite simple for foreign nationals. However, they must ensure that every necessary document is created, notarized, and presented by legal requirements.

Cost of Registering a company in India 

In India, forming a business is not too expensive. India is an excellent business choice because the procedure normally takes a few weeks.

After Incorporation Process

The Indian Director can assist in opening a bank account for the company in India once it has been registered. After opening a bank account, the company must notify the Reserve Bank of India of any Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). A legal or accounting expert in India like Kanakkupillai may quickly finish the FDI reporting process since it is simple. The firm will be in adherence with all Indian legislation and prepared to start operations if the FDI reporting requirements are met.


A reputable service provider in India, Kanakkupilli provides complete Company formation services. Kanakkupilli aids clients with creating bank accounts, navigating FDI reporting, and assuring complete compliance with Indian legislation. The firm is skilled in managing the crucial procedures that follow business registration. Feel free to reach out to us today for expert assistance and support. We are here to help you every step of the way.


Telecom engineer turned content creator with a knack for crafting compelling narratives. Experienced in client management and community engagement, and ventured into freelance content creation, contributing tailored and impactful content across diverse industries. Currently, collaborating with companies like Kanakkupillai, dedicated to delivering inspiring technical content rooted in a solid foundation.