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Liaison office (also known as Representative Office) acts as a channel of communication between the principal place of business or head office and entities in India. Liaison office can not undertake any commercial activity directly or indirectly and cannot, therefore, earn any income in India. Its role is limited to collecting information about possible market opportunities and providing information about the company and its products to prospective Indian customers. It can promote export/import from/to India and also facilitate technical/financial collaboration between parent company and companies in India.

Approval for establishing a liaison office in India is granted by Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Permission to set up such offices is initially granted for a period of 3 years and this may be extended from time to time by an AD Category I bank.

Liaison Office by certain Entities:

Foreign Insurance Companies can establish Liaison Offices in India only after obtaining approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).

Foreign Banks can establish Liaison Offices in India only after obtaining approval from the Department of Banking Operations and Development (DBOD), Reserve Bank of India.

Foreign Legal Firms cannot open liaison office in India even to practice in non-litigious matters. They can carry on practice in non-litigious matters only on being enrolled as advocates under Advocates Act .

Permitted Activities

Representing in India the Parent Company / Group Companies

Promoting export/ import from/ to India

Promoting technical / financial collaborations between the Parent / Group Companies and Companies in India

Acting as a communication channel between the Parent Company and Indian Companies

Restricted Activities

No commercial operation can be done by the liaison office (No invoicing)

The liaison office can neither borrow, nor lend money.

All expenses of the office must be met through inward remittances to the office from abroad (parent company) through the bank. The liaison office is not subject to taxation in India.

The following eligibility criteria are also considered by the Reserve Bank of India while sanctioning Liaison Offices of foreign entities:

Track Record - A profit making track record during the immediately preceding three financial years in the home country.

Net Worth - Not less than USD 50,000 or its equivalent (Net Worth is the total of paid-up capital and free reserves, less intangible assets as per the latest Audited Balance Sheet or Account Statement certified by a Certified Public Accountant or any Registered Accounts Practitioner by whatever name)

The application for establishing Liaison Office in India should be forwarded by the foreign entity through a designated AD Category - I bank to the Reserve Bank of India along with the prescribed documents. Applicants that do not satisfy the eligibility criteria and are subsidiaries of other companies may submit a Letter of Comfort from their parent company in the prescribed form, subject to the condition that the parent company satisfies the eligibility criteria as prescribed.

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Are there any eligibility criteria for registering a liaison office?
Whether any approval is required for establishing a Liaison office in India?
For what purpose a Liaison office can be established in India?
Whether any approval is required for establishing a Liaison office in India?
Can a Liaison office be opened for carrying on any activity/business?
How much time it takes to get the Liaison office established in India? 3 months
Whether any approval is required for closing of Liaison office?
Whether any physical presence is required during the approval process of setting up liaison office?
Do I need to have some Indian residents in the liaison office?

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