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UPI Payment for NRIs: Guide and Benefits Explained


NRIs can now use UPI with their NRI Account and International Phone Number.

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has taken an important step that enables Indians living abroad to utilize the quick payments network, or universal payments interface (UPI), as long as their home bank accounts are connected to their foreign cell numbers. This action creates new opportunities for non-resident Indians (NRIs) and represents an important step toward UPI’s adoption by a larger audience (NRIs).


According to the NPCI’s official circular, “Non-resident account types such as non-resident external and non-resident ordinary (NRE and NRO) accounts holding international mobile numbers shall be authorized to get on-boarded or transact in UPI.” The organization specifies further that NRIs would be permitted provided they do not contravene “Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regulations” and member institutions adhere to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recommendations.

NRIs have occasionally brought up the problem and requested permission to use UPI with overseas numbers linked to NRE and NRO accounts with the Government of India. On January 6, Dr Deepak Megeri, an Indian psychiatrist practising in the United Kingdom, responded to a tweet and expressed regret that NRIs could not use the UPI payment system because it is incompatible with NRE and NRO accounts. Since few stores have card readers, he tweeted, “We must keep pulling the cash.”

Germany-born NRI Nilay Singh told OpIndia, “It is a terrific initiative by the NPCI. I hope they soon permit NRIs from other nations to participate in the cashless revolution. We were talking about this the other day on Twitter, and it is encouraging to see how the government responds to the requests.”

Notably, NRIs have repeatedly asked the Indian government to permit UPI services on their Indian bank accounts connected to their international cell phones, and the subject has been brought up frequently on social media platforms. The choice was made as India commemorated its 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, a celebration honouring the Indian Diaspora overseas.

According to sources, NPCI has given the go-ahead for NRE/NRO accounts with overseas mobile numbers to sign up for UPI. The service was formerly restricted to accounts tied to Indian numbers (+91).

NCPI has given its member banks particular instructions to ensure such accounts are permitted under FEMA laws. They are required to abide by the rules periodically issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). 

This means that NRIs will be subject to a set of rules while using the UPI ecosystem. By April 30, 2023, members are expected to follow instructions from the NPCI. Although the precise dates have not been made public, the services may begin in May this year.

Additionally, it will be the duty of the remitter and beneficiary institutions to make sure that the rules and regulations to stop money laundering, financing terrorism, and compliance validation are in place.

The announcement comes as the Union government has set a budget of INR 2600 crore to encourage using RuPay cards and the UPI for payments.

What is UPI?

With the help of a mobile device and the real-time payment system known as UPI, money can be transferred between two bank accounts. Ecosystems and technology heavily influence the evolution of the Indian payments sector. It was introduced in 2016 and has become popular among digital payment options in India. To utilize UPI, however, NRIs formerly needed to have an Indian mobile number.

What are NRE and NRO accounts?

A non-resident external account is referred to as an NRE account. NRIs use it to send money from outside to India. The funds transferred into these accounts are not subject to taxes. A non-resident ordinary account is referred to as an NRO account. NRIs use it to handle their revenue from India. The funds of this kind of account are taxable.

Until now, creating a UPI ID for any app, including Google Pay, PhonePay, Paytm, etc., required a working Indian mobile number. When a mobile number is connected to a bank account, the software sends an SMS (short message service). 

However, thanks to the NPCI’s directives, these customers can now use UPI services without using their India phone number. It is abundantly evident that all UPI ecosystem participants must follow NPCI guidelines to verify that they have received proper anti-money laundering and countering the funding of terrorism (CT) compliance validation.

Which are these ten countries?

According to an NPCI circular issued on January 10, 2023, the NPCI will initially permit transactions from mobile numbers with the current domestic country code as well as the country codes of Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

UPI with international mobile numbers: Here are the conditions

The NPCI circular states that if the following requirements are met, NRE or NRO account holders with international mobile numbers may register and conduct transactions on UPI platforms:

(1) Member banks shall ensure that NRE or NRO accounts are only permitted by the current FEMA regulations and compliance with the guidelines and instructions provided from time to time by the relevant regulatory departments of the RBI.

(2) The remitter and beneficiary banks must guarantee that the relevant anti-money laundering/combating financing of terrorism checks and compliance validations are made as per the rules.

The NPCI added that such accounts would be subject to all onboarding and transaction-level checks per current UPI principles, including the cooling-off period, risk regulations, etc.

All members must follow this instruction by April 30, 2023, according to the NPCI.

The founder of Sarvatra Technologies, a provider of financial technology solutions, Mandar Agashe, welcomed the change and said, “Now that mobiles (SIMs) from so many countries may be used, it will unlock a lot of unmet NRI demand.” Now, they can utilize UPI on their current international mobile phones. They can start making quick transfers when UPI is available to merchants in the nation where they reside, making it easier for them to utilize UPI when they travel to India. “NRIs only need to link their NRE and NRO accounts to their international SIMs to use UPI and make merchant payments and peer-to-peer transfers like any other Indian UPI users.”

“Along with the current list of 10 nations,” Agashe continued, “we expect this option will soon be open to NRIs living in other countries as well.”

“The NPCI’s recent announcement to expand the UPI facility to overseas NRE/NRO account holders is a fantastic step for expanding digital payments.” Smooth payment journeys, fast transactions, and unparalleled convenience will now be available to Indians who live abroad. “This step would further support the RBI’s efforts to promote digital payments,” said Rajsri Rengan, Head of Development for Banking and Payments in India and the Philippines at FIS, a fintech platform. He added, “NPCI has been working to increase and broaden the use of UPI worldwide.”

How can NRIs benefit from UPI Services?

Millions of NRIs will greatly benefit from this decision when making payments or transfers, such as sending money to loved ones, investing in India without relying on online banking, or paying Indian shops accepting UPI. NRIs can profit from it in the following ways:

  • NRIs can now invest via UPI without constantly logging into their Internet banking.  
  • Payment gateway fees will drop considerably.
  • NRIs can quickly finish the “know your customer” (KYC) verification process for investing in India.
  • To create a mutual fund systematic investment plan (SIP), users must sign and distribute a physical National Automated Clearing House (NACH) copy. Using the UPI auto debit option will allow NRIs to forego this need. 
  • NRIs could use the auto debit option for regular expenses for their parents and other family members in India.

Many people applaud NPCI’s decision to revolutionise cross-border payments for customers with NRI accounts. Additionally, NRI visitors can easily make purchases without needing pricey foreign credit cards or Internet banking.


Non-resident bank accounts connected to their international phone numbers haven’t been authorized on UPI because only Indian phone numbers have been permitted. Thanks to our government’s game-changing innovation, NRIs can now utilize UPI with an NRI account and an overseas phone number. The NPCI has also said that in addition to the 10 countries currently permitted to use this facility in the future, it may be made available to other countries as well.

The NPCI’s decision to permit NRIs to utilize UPI is anticipated to benefit the platform. With the addition of NRIs, UPI will experience a surge in users and transactions, fueling the platform’s further growth and development. Additionally, it is anticipated that UPIs will gain more users and popularity among NRIs in particular and people from other countries in general due to their capacity to conduct transactions quickly, securely, and conveniently.


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