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NPCI allows NRIs with international numbers to use UPI

Updated: Feb 5

NPCI allows NRIs with international numbers to use UPI
NPCI allows NRIs with international numbers to use UPI

According to NPCI’s latest update, Non-resident Indians (NRIs) in 10 foreign countries can now use their international mobile numbers for UPI transactions. This change allows NRIs to link their mobile numbers to NRE or NRO accounts.


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UPI is a quick online payment system in India, known for its security and convenience. NPCI's decision helps Indians abroad easily handle financial transactions in India.

Understanding the UPI Expansion

In order to make payments via UPI, one needs to link his/her Indian mobile number with the bank account that has the same mobile number registered in the bank’s database. During the UPI activation process, the payment interface app sends an SMS to the registered number to confirm whether it is linked to the bank account. 

This onboarding process restricted NRIs who used their international mobile numbers -as the mobile number wasn’t linked to an Indian SIM, the UPI account couldn’t be linked with an Indian bank account. This definitely created a hassle for individuals who moved overseas; many NRIs had to keep their Indian mobile numbers active to get access to UPI payment apps. 

However, in a recent move to expand the horizons of UPI technology, NPCI has permitted NRIs to use the international mobile number linked to their NRE and NRO accounts to make UPI payments. 

Hence, NRIs who have NRE/NRO accounts with Indian banks can now get themselves onboarded on UPI and make transactions. This facility cannot be used for making cross-border payments,, but NRIs can use it for making seamless online transactions in India. This facility would definitely seal UPI’s position as a leading financial technology around the world. 

Implications for Non-Resident Indians

As per an NPCI circular released on 10th January, 2023, NPCI has allowed UPI transactions for mobile numbers with country codes from the USA, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. 

This will enable NRIs belonging to these 10 countries to facilitate UPI payments with their international numbers. They won’t need to maintain an Indian number to make UPI payments anymore.   

NRIs who were previously unable to access Indian banking services due to the requirement of an Indian mobile number can now use these services using their international mobile numbers.

Streamlining Global Transactions

NRIs can use UPI to make multiple types of online transactions
NRIs can use UPI to make multiple types of online transactions

Here are the ways this unique facility will help to streamline global transactions: 

  • NRI can now send and receive money instantly from anywhere in the world by using the UPI payments app on their phone. 

  • The UPI system is highly popular in India. Introducing this feature makes it simpler for NRIs with global phone numbers to handle various payments, like bills or sending money to family in India.

  •  UPI has daily transaction limits to control the money transferred each day, preventing fraud and minimizing losses in case of a data breach.

Overall, this facility will benefit NRIs as it will allow them to make UPI payments when they travel to India and pay easily across millions of Indian merchants who accept UPI payments.

Embracing Financial Inclusivity

In recent years, there's been a rising global demand for UPI, especially among NRIs facing challenges with Indian financial services.

An issue that many NRIs face is the need for an Indian mobile number to make UPI payments. This used to restrict NRIs who wanted to use UPI to transfer money to their family or friends in India, pay bills, or make online purchases. 

By enabling UPI integration with international mobile numbers, NPCI is making it easier for NRIs to make online payments in India easily. 

NRIs can now easily make UPI payments to Indian merchants when they visit India - no need to use international cards with expensive processing/transaction fees. On the flip side, UPI payments come with low fees, making it a cost-effective choice for NRIs. Additionally, NRIs can use their special UPI ID to send and receive money from anyone using UPI payment apps.

Navigating Regulatory Frameworks

Right now, this option is only for certain countries, but there are plans to include more in the future. To make sure these new rules are applied safely, NPCI has given instructions to the UPI system.

  • To ensure secure implementation of the new regulations, NPCI has instructed the UPI ecosystem to permit only non-resident bank accounts in Indian banks with a linked intentional number to get onboarded on UPI.

So, NRIs can only use UPI for transactions within India. 

  • Cross-border payments are not allowed. Indian banks must follow RBI guidelines and FEMA regulations, allowing only NRO or NRE accounts for UPI integration.

  • The remitter and beneficiary banks must do all required anti-money laundering/terrorism financing and compliance checks. 

All members of the UPI ecosystem had been asked to comply with the directives by 30th April 2023.

Here comes the bright announcement!

Non-resident account types like NRE/NRO with international mobile numbers will now be authorized to transact with UPI per notice by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

A reference note:

United Payments Interface (UPI) is a real-time payment system that transfers funds instantly from a mobile platform - all you need to do is create a UPI ID with a UPI-enabled bank account and use it to send/transfer money.

It is important to note that the notice is valid for NRIs from ten countries.

So, let us quickly find out about the countries!

The NPCI will allow transactions from mobile numbers having country codes of Australia, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, USA, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom, along with the current domestic country code, as per an NPCI circular released on January 10, 2023.

NPCI has requested all the members to comply with this directive by April 30, 2023.

Before we talk about the benefits of this enabler, allow me to lay out the conditions that need to get abided by to onboard and transact in UPI:

1) Member banks must ensure NRE or NRO accounts are only allowed as per the extant FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) regulations and adherence to the guidelines administered by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

2) All required anti-money laundering/ combating of financing of terrorism checks and compliance validation as per the rules have to be assured by the remitter and beneficiary banks.

Additionally, the NPCI stated that all onboarding and transaction level checks, such as cooling period and risk rules, will be applicable as per current UPI guidelines.

“This allows the diaspora to use it not just when they come to India but also when they are abroad. They can make instant transfers and use it on e-commerce portals," said Dilip Asbe, chief executive of NPCI.

"NRIs will no longer need to use their international cards while in India," said Vishwas Patel, chairman of the Payments Council of India.

Over the last couple of years, the concerned authorities witnessed customer demand in the ecosystem to allow UPI to get linked to their international numbers. Digitalisation has made the world smaller, increasing the access and spectrums of opportunities, growth, and ease of transaction. Let us apprehend the dramatically wide range of promising benefits the announcement brings.

1) This advancement will help ease the transfer of funds across borders, especially for families with one or more kids studying in one of the ten countries listed above. It is getting estimated that 1.8 million Indians will be spending US $85 billion on education overseas by 2024, according to a RedSeer report.

2) If you have members of your family living abroad, sending and receiving gifts and money will now be hassle-free. Indians living overseas will now be able to rejoice in a seamless payment journey along with instant transactions and unmatched convenience

3) When UPI travels to merchants in the country of their residence, the NRIs could start making instant transfers. They will only have to link their NRE and NRO accounts connected to their international SIM to UPI, and they will be able to utilize it like any other Indian UPI user for merchant payment.

4) Taking the above benefit forward, local Indian businesses will also acquire growth because of the comfort of transfer across ten countries via UPI. Think globally and act globally seem to be coming through beautifully! Remittances across borders will get more effortless and cheaper due to the UPI ecosystem.

The announcement by the NPCI to make the UPI enabler available to international sims of NRE/NRO account holders is a reckoning force for the possibilities of digitalization. It is an emphatic initiative for broadening the scope of digital payments and anchors the RBI's journey towards flourishing digital payments. The announcement is a beacon of flexibility and convenience with global visions and rooted ideas.


All member banks must follow the directives by April 30.

Conclusion: UPI's Global Expansion for NRIs

NPCI's decision to allow NRIs to make UPI payments using their international mobile numbers will greatly impact India's financial system. In addition to boosting the Indian economy, it will promote competition in digital payments.

This ‘niche’ facility will increase foreign investment in the country. It is an emphatic initiative for broadening the scope of global digitization and anchors RBI's promise of facilitating seamless digital payments. The announcement is a beacon of flexibility and convenience with global visions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1 Can NRIs utilize UPI with NPCI?

Yes, as per a circular issued by the National Payments Corporation in India (NPCI) on 10th January 2023, NRIs having NRE/NRO bank accounts in Indian banks can utilize UPI payment apps to send and receive money in India. All they have to do is link their international mobile number to their NRE/NRO account and use it to get onboarded to the UPI system. 

Q2 Can I use an international phone number with UPI?

Yes. If you're an NRI in the UK, USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Canada, Oman, Qatar, Australia, Singapore, or Hong Kong, you can use your global mobile number for UPI payments. Just make sure it's linked to an NRE/NRO account in India.

However, the international phone number must be linked to an NRE/NRO bank account based in India. Also, NRIs can only use UPI for sending and receiving money within Indian borders. 

Q3 Which nations allow NRI UPI payments?

Per the latest NPCI regulation, NRIs from the UK, USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Canada, Oman, Qatar, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong can use UPI to send and receive money. Yet, these individuals need an NRE/NRO account in India connected to their global mobile number. More countries will be included in the list in the future.

Q4 Can someone outside of India use UPI?

Yes, the Government of India has made UPI payments available for NRIs and people traveling abroad. All they need is an Indian bank account linked to their mobile number and have it integrated into the UPI system. NRIs can now use their NRE/NRO accounts linked to their international mobile number to facilitate UPI payments. 

Additionally, many countries have adopted this unique Indian payment system. Indians in France, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Singapore, Maldives, Bhutan, and Oman can now make payments through UPI. 

Q5 What is the NRI account UPI limit?

As per NPCI regulations, non-resident Indians from select countries can now make transactions amounting to Rs. 1 lakh per day. A maximum of 10 transactions can be initiated in 24 hours, irrespective of the number of UPI apps one uses. 

However, the user's bank decides the daily UPI transfer limit. The daily limit can range anything between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1,00,000. As most banks keep the daily limit at Rs. 25,000, it is safe to say that most NRIs will be using UPI for small-ticket transactions. 

Q6 Which UPI is globally recognized?

One of the world's most popular UPI payment platforms is Google Pay. However, PhonePe is a close contender in the race to become the best UPI app in the world. As of the end of Q2 2022, PhonePe and Google Pay had the highest UPI app market share of about 43%. 

Q7 How do I make my international UPI active?

To activate international transactions on UPI, follow these steps: 

  • Open your UPI payments app. 

  • Navigate to the 'Scan QR code' option. 

  • Scan the code of the international merchant. 

  • Once prompted, enter the amount you want to pay in foreign currency. 

  • Select the bank account you want to use to pay. The debited amount will include the foreign exchange conversion rate and applicable processing fee. 

  • Once prompted, click on 'Activate UPI International'.

You will now be able to make international UPI payments. 

Q8 What distinguishes NRO from NRE?

Non-resident external (NRE) and non-resident ordinary (NRO) accounts are the two types of bank accounts that NRIs usually use for transactions in India. 

An NRE account is a bank account that an NRI opens to park his/her foreign income. On the other hand, NRIs opt for an NRO account to manage their income in India. These incomes may include rent, dividends, pension, interest, etc.

Q9 What is the new UPI NRI policy?

As per a circular issued on 10th January 2023, non-resident Indians (NRIs) will now be allowed to send and receive money via the UPI payments app. However, this facility has only been offered to NRIs with an NRE/NRO account in India. 

Moreover, only NRIs living in 10 specified countries can access UPI using their international mobile numbers. 

Q10 What is the UPI ten-time limit?

As per the latest NPCI regulations, the number of transactions a UPI user can make in 24 hours across all UPI payment apps cannot exceed 10 times. This means that even if you use three different digital payment apps, say Google Pay, PhonePe, and Amazon Pay, you will only be allowed to make 10 transactions in total across all UPI apps.

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