Moving to India

You’ll probably find yourself in a completely unfamiliar environment when you move to India, particularly if you’re heading to one of the big cities like Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore.

The cultural differences can be overwhelming at first, but there are huge rewards if you give yourself time to get used to your new way of life. After the initial shock wears off and you come to terms with the heat, the monsoon rains, the crowds and the poverty, you can immerse yourself in the magic of India’s ancient heritage – and explore the natural beauty of its jungles, rainforests and the majestic Himalayas.

Show more

Basic info

  • Population: Over 1.3 billion
  • Capital city: New Delhi
  • Largest city: Mumbai
  • Main languages: The official languages are Hindi and English. Urdu is spoken by large numbers of people in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and areas around Kashmir. Other languages include Tamil, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujurati and Marathi.
  • Main religion: Hinduism. Other religions include Islam, Christianity and Sikhism.
  • Political system: Federal parliamentary republic
  • Time: GMT+5.5
  • Electricity: 240V, 50Hz. Plugs with two or three round pins are used.
  • Currency: Indian rupee (INR)
  • International dialling code: +91
  • Internet domain: .in
  • Emergency numbers: 112 (general emergencies), 100 (police), 102 (ambulance), 101 (fire)
  • Road traffic: Drives on the left

Next holiday

Oct

18

Birth of the Prophet

India also has a number of public holidays that are only celebrated in certain regions.

Public Holidays

2020
1 January New Year's Day
26 January Republic Day
10 April Good Friday
7 May Buddha Purnima (Birth of the Buddha)
24 May Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan)
31 July Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
15 August Independence Day
10 September Day of Ashurah (Muharram)
2 October Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday
25 October Dussehra
29 October Birth of the Prophet
14 November Diwali (Hindu Festival of Light)
30 November Guru Nanak's Birthday
25 December Christmas Day
2021
1 January New Year's Day
26 January Republic Day
2 April Good Friday
12 May Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan)
19 May Buddha Purnima (Birth of the Buddha)
21 July Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
15 August Independence Day
18 August Day of Ashurah (Muharram)
2 October Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday
15 October Dussehra
18 October Birth of the Prophet
4 November Diwali (Hindu Festival of Light)
19 November Guru Nanak's Birthday
25 December Christmas Day

Your relocation checklist

Moving to a new country takes a lot of planning. To help you get started, here are some of the things you need to do before you leave home – or just after you arrive.

Key phrases in Hindi

  • Hello/good evening/goodbye Namaste
  • How are you? Aap kaise hain? (formal) Tum kaise ho? (informal)
  • Thank you Shukriyaa
  • Yes Haan
  • No Nahin
  • Do you speak English? Kya aap English bolte hain?
  • Can you help me? Aap meri madaD kar sakte ho?
  • I’m sorry Mujhe maaf kijiye

Top tips

View a selection of tips sourced from expats about India:

“Learn about the diversity of India. Study before you move, and explore as much as you can while you live here. Immunise yourself before you move. Access to specialist medical treatment is a lot easier in India than in Australia.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Make friends in your local neighbourhood and don't be shy to ask them for help and advice with practicalities. Word of mouth is the only way to find out how to get things done in India” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“India is so amazing! The quality of life for expats is undeniable. It's a lot different from home but quite enjoyable and travelling and discovering this rich culture is priceless!” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Take the chance to live in a foreign country and learn new languages and about different cultures. Plus your earning power is higher as you are paid a bit more and spend a lot less.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Consider the education of your kids, the food available and think about employing domestic help.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for India

Show more

If you have children and move to Bangalore, choose the school before your housing. Distances are wide and adults can travel longer and do useful work in a car compared to children on a bus.

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for India

Shipping

With plenty of ports to choose from, it makes sense to ship your belongings to India by sea. It’s also a cheaper option than air freight. Most expats leave the whole process to an international removal company so they don’t have to deal with the red tape.

Show more

Customs

You’re allowed to take household goods into India duty free as long as you’ve owned them for at least a year before you move. Goods must arrive within 15 days of your arrival if you ship them by air, and 30 days if they’re sent by land or sea.

Restricted items

You’ll need permission from the Indian authorities it you want to take satellite phones, recording devices or powerful cameras and binoculars into the country. Plants, politically sensitive literature and pornography are banned.

Medicine

You can take medicines into India as long as you carry the prescription with you.

Pets

You can take two pets per person of each species (dog, cat and bird) to India. They must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and have a health certificate signed by a vet. You’ll also need an import permit from the Indian authorities, and your pet’s health will be checked on arrival.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in October 2020. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Open an Expat Bank Account with HSBC Expat. Find out more
Open an Expat Bank Account with HSBC Expat. Find out more