Relocating out of India for better career prospects and an improved lifestyle is a common decision made by many business professionals and employees. It’s a significant step that often brings financial considerations to the forefront. One of these considerations is what happens to your Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF) account as an NRI.
EPF Account for NRIs – Eligibility and Withdrawal Rules
In your journey as a professional in India, you may have diligently contributed to your EPF account, including both your contributions and those of your employer. Over time, this sum, along with accrued interest, can become a substantial nest egg. The prospect of abandoning these funds as you embark on your international journey is not wise, as they can facilitate your overseas life or serve as investments for higher returns.
When you relocate and change your status to NRI, you are no longer eligible to contribute to the EPF as per the Employees’ Provident Fund Act. However, there is a process in place for NRIs to withdraw their EPF balance, and it doesn’t require waiting until retirement.
Rules of EPF Withdrawal for NRIs
Under normal circumstances, EPF withdrawals can be made after turning 58, on retirement, or if you are unemployed for over two months. However, for NRIs relocating for work outside India, a special provision applies. You can withdraw the entire EPF balance immediately without any waiting period. This includes your contributions, your employer’s contributions, and the accrued interest.
1. Utilising the Online Portal: If your UAN is linked with your Aadhaar, you have the option to apply for EPF withdrawal online via the UAN member unified portal.
2. Using the Application: Alternatively, you can download the EPFO’s UMANG App from the App Store or Play Store to initiate the process of withdrawing your EPF balance.
3. Providing Details: Within the online application, it is imperative to complete the required information and state the reason for your job termination as “Abroad Settlement.”
4. Uploading Documents: You should upload well-scanned copies of supporting documents in either JPEG or PDF format and proceed to submit the form. An OTP will be provided for verification, and you should enter it as requested.
5. Balancing Your EPF: If your application and documentation meet the necessary criteria, typically, the balance in your Indian Employee Provident Fund account will be transferred within two weeks after the completed application undergoes scrutiny.
However, to ensure compliance with regulations, you must prove your intention to work or settle abroad. Proper documentation is essential.
The Process of EPF Withdrawal for NRIs
Before initiating the EPF withdrawal process as an NRI, make sure your passport and visa are in order. The process can be carried out either offline or online.
1. Obtain the “EPF Withdrawal Form” from your employer or download it from the EPF Organization’s (EPFO) portal.
2. There are two types of forms: – Aadhaar-based form: If your Universal Account Number (UAN) is linked with your Aadhaar, you can directly go to the local EPFO office. – Non-Aadhaar Form: If your UAN is not linked with your Aadhaar, you will need endorsement from your employer before submitting the application at the EPFO office.
3. Complete the form legibly and specify the reason for leaving the job as “Abroad Settlement.”
4. Attach self-attested copies of all required documents and submit the completed form at the local EPFO office.
1. If your UAN is linked to your Aadhaar, you can apply for EPF withdrawal online through the UAN member unified portal.
2. Alternatively, you can download the EPFO’s UMANG App from the App Store or Play Store to apply for EPF balance withdrawal.
3. In the online application, fill in the necessary details and state the reason for leaving the job as “Abroad Settlement.”
4. Upload clearly scanned copies of supporting documents in JPEG or PDF format and submit the form. You will receive an OTP for verification. If your application and documents are in order, your EPF balance will usually be transferred within two weeks after a thorough review.
Documents Needed for EPF Withdrawal
To facilitate the EPF withdrawal process, ensure you have the following self-attested copies of documents:
– Aadhar Card for Identity
– Proof of date of birth
– Local Indian address proof
– Certified copy of the EPF passbook if UAN is not allotted
– Proof of date of exit from last employment – Bank details with IFSC code (cancelled cheque)
– PAN Card
– Marriage certificate (for female members only, if previously unmarried)
Inoperative EPF Account – Clarification:
There has been confusion regarding inoperative EPF accounts, but as of July 2017, the Ministry of Labour & Employment clarified that interest will be credited to the account until the member attains the age of 58 years. This means your balance will continue earning interest until that age.
Temporarily Relocating Abroad:
If you are temporarily relocating abroad and plan to return and continue your job in India, it’s important to preserve your EPF balance. In this case, do not apply for withdrawal; your account will remain operative for three years, and the balance will continue earning interest. Upon your return, you can transfer the balance to a new EPF account using your UAN. If your account remains inoperative for over three years, ensure its status is updated by visiting the local EPFO offices.
When relocating and starting a new chapter of your life abroad, it’s essential to tie up financial loose ends. For a small corpus, withdrawing the NRI EPF balance and closing the account is a smart financial decision that eliminates potential concerns. However, if you have a larger corpus and intend to return to India, it’s advisable to continue contributing to your EPF. Properly managing your EPF as an NRI ensures that your hard-earned savings are put to the best use, whether abroad or in your home country.