Aadhaar card
File picture of a woman registering for the Aadhar identity card in New Delhi. A governmental public notice was issued last week calling for linking an Indian resident’s PAN with his/her Aadhaar card before 2019 ends. Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: While it is true that a non-resident Indian (NRI) is not required to have an Aadhaar or a PAN (Permanent Account Number), it’s a must to have the cards linked by Tuesday if one has them.

A governmental public notice was issued last week calling for linking an Indian resident’s PAN with his/her Aadhaar card before 2019 ends. An NRI with financial dealings back home is advised to have both an Aadhaar and a PAN card, which means the Indian expat will need to link them too.

The deadline was revised to December 31 from an initial deadline of September 30. The linking was first proposed to be enforced in 2017 but the deadline has been extended several times since then.

As mandated earlier, if one’s PAN is not linked to his/her Aadhaar by then, the account number will be made ‘inoperative’. How exactly the PAN will be made inoperative is yet to be announced. It is clear, however, that since PAN is mandatory for many transactions in India from bank procedures to purchase of land/property, it can adversely affect financial decisions if not done.

According to a governmental circular issued earlier this year, any Indian citizen who was issued a PAN card on or before July 2017 is required to link the card to their Aadhaar, which can be done via SMS, online or designated service centres. Since July 2017, anyone in need of a PAN is asked to get an Aadhaar issued to them first, which automatically links the two together.

Cards vital for some

A PAN card is mandatory for an NRI if he/she has got a taxable income in India or wants to make any sizeable investments in the country, as per government rules.

“I interact with a number of developers across South Indian cities such as Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad,” said a Chennai-based property consultant. “The consensus is that without a PAN card, it is increasingly difficult to do a banking transaction if the amount exceeds Rs50,000 [Dh2,595] in any property-related buying and selling, and moreover the registrar insists submission of a PAN card.”

While they are citizens of India, NRIs were not eligible for Aadhaar until earlier this year unless they had stayed in the country for more than 6 months or more in the past year. However, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in July proposed to issue Aadhaar cards to NRIs upon arrival in India without having to wait for the mandatory 180-day-stay.

Many Indian expatriates in the UAE lauded the move after the lack of an Aadhaar card led them to struggle with issues when getting a PAN card, registering a property, having kids study at Indian institutions, buying SIM cards, getting a new driving licence or renewing an existing one.

“The Aadhaar is becoming the primary source of identification [like the Emirates ID] and is being gradually integrated into all economic spheres of activity,” said Krishnan Ramachandran, the chief executive of Dubai-based Barjeel Geojit Securities. “Be it obtaining a mobile number or to avail of government benefits/subsidy, the Aadhaar card is the prime requirement for many a transaction.

“The need for linking of PAN with Aadhaar means that while filing income tax returns in India, apart from giving PAN card details, the assesse is also required to furnish his/her Aadhaar number.”

NRIs and others who possess Aadhaar and PAN, can link them through the government income tax department’s website: https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/.

290 million and counting

As of November 11, 293 million PAN cards had been linked to Aadhaar numbers, India’s Junior Finance Minister Anurag Thakur said last month. He also told that linking PAN and Aadhaar is mandatory, and has to be done by December 31.

“The objective behind this move is to ensure unique identity of the PAN card holders and to weed out undetected duplicate PANs,” Thakur said. “This is also essential to prevent misuse of PANs and potential tax frauds. It will ensure uniqueness of PAN and prevent applicants/entities from obtaining multiple PANs.”

As of mid-November, more than 2,800 Aadhaar cards had been generated for NRIs, India’s IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, adding that Aadhaar enrolment for NRIs has been active since September 20. To get an Aadhaar, NRIs need to have an Indian passport to establish their identity, which is also acceptable as proof of address and date of birth.

A PAN is a ‘permanent account number’ issued by India’s Income Tax Department that enable citizens make high-value financial transactions within the country. An Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to residents or passport holders.