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Moving to India

Your guide to expat life in India. Culture and community in the heart of Asia

Want to move 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 metros of Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore. The cultural differences can be overwhelming at first, but 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.

India is also a particularly popular destination for expats with children, consistently ranking high as one of the best places to move to with a family. Moving abroad can seem a daunting prospect for those with children, but parents in India see their children grow in confidence, with the high quality of education helping them to flourish and develop new skills.

And it isn't just the little ones who feel a sense of fulfilment in India, as expats of all ages have been made to feel welcome in their new communities. With a rich history and a diverse range of traditions, India has plenty of festivals and events that expats are able to make the most of thanks to a strong work-life balance.

With most expats working in manufacturing and financial services in India, there is no shortage of opportunities for them to be promoted. Professionals tend to enjoy enhanced salaries, allowing them to use the country as a base to explore and travel.

Basic info about India

  • 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

Weather in India

The weather in India ranges from snowfalls in the high mountainous regions to humid, tropical conditions on the coast. It’s warm throughout the year, with temperatures rising to between 32°C and 40°C (90°F and 104°F) during the summer (April to July). From December to March, the temperature dips to around 25°C (77°F). A monsoon season of heavy rains sweeps from the south to the north of the country between June and September.

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

Shipping to India

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.

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.

Banned 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.

Top tips for India

See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey think about living in 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.
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.
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!
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.
Consider the education of your kids, the food available and think about employing domestic help.

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 September 2021. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you're aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

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