Step-by-Step Guide to Forming a Foreign Company in India


India, the world's fifth-largest economy and a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, offers immense opportunities for those looking to establish a company. With its bustling economy, diverse consumer base, and investor-friendly policies, India has become a sought-after destination for entrepreneurs worldwide.

However, navigating the process of setting up a company in India requires a thorough understanding of the legal, regulatory, and bureaucratic framework. From understanding the various types of business structures to the intricacies of company registration, compliance, taxation, and labour laws, explore deeper insights into the setting up of foreign companies in India.

Before we learn how to register a company, let's try and understand the types of business structures in India.

Business Structures for Foreign Companies Setting Up in India

Foreign companies entering India have two primary options for business structures: liaison offices/representative offices and subsidiary companies. Each structure has its advantages and implications.

  • Liaison Office/Representative Office

A liaison office, also known as a representative office, serves as a communication channel between the foreign company and potential Indian customers and business partners. It is primarily limited to market research, promoting the parent company's products or services, and facilitating communication. However, it is not allowed to engage in commercial activities or generate revenue directly.

  • Subsidiary Company

A subsidiary company is a separate legal entity registered under Indian laws. It can be either a private limited company or a public limited company, wholly owned or partially owned by a foreign company. The subsidiary company operates independently and has its own legal identity and liability. It allows the foreign company to engage in commercial activities, enter into contracts, and generate revenue in India.

Within the subsidiary company structure, there are two common options:

  • Wholly Owned Subsidiary (WOS)

A wholly owned subsidiary is a company where the foreign company owns 100% of the shares. It provides complete control and ownership to the foreign company and allows for greater flexibility in decision-making.

  • Joint Venture (JV)

A joint venture involves collaboration between a foreign company and an Indian partner. Both parties contribute capital, resources, and expertise to establish and operate a company jointly. Joint ventures can provide local market knowledge, distribution networks, and shared risk.

Other commonly found business structure in India

  • Sole Proprietorship: Owned and operated by a single individual, with no separate legal identity.
  • Partnership: Involves two or more individuals sharing ownership, responsibilities, and profits.
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP): Offers limited liability protection to partners, combining elements of partnerships and companies.
  • Private Limited Company: A separate legal entity with limited liability for shareholders, requiring at least two directors and shareholders.
  • Public Limited Company: Similar to a private limited company but can raise capital from the public, with stricter compliance requirements.
  • One Person Company (OPC): Allows a single individual to establish a company with limited liability.

When choosing a business structure, foreign companies should consider factors such as the nature of business operations, desired level of control, liability protection, taxation, regulatory compliance, and long-term objectives. It is essential to consult with legal and financial experts to understand the legal requirements, restrictions, and implications of each structure before making a decision.

Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up a Foreign Company in India

1. Research and Understand Indian Market: Conduct thorough research on the Indian market, including consumer behavior, competition, regulatory environment, and market potential. Identify the viability and opportunities for your foreign company in India.

2. Evaluate Entry Strategy: Determine the most suitable entry strategy for your foreign company, such as setting up a liaison office, subsidiary company, joint venture, or acquiring an existing Indian company. Consider factors like control, liability, market access, and resource requirements.

3. Seek Professional Guidance: Engage legal, financial, and business consultants with expertise in Indian regulations and procedures. They will guide you through the complex process and ensure compliance with Indian laws.

4. Obtain Necessary Approvals: Depending on the chosen entry strategy, obtain necessary approvals from regulatory authorities like the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), and Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), if applicable.

5. Register with the Registrar of Companies (ROC): If establishing a subsidiary company, register it with the ROC by submitting the required documents, such as incorporation papers, memorandum, articles of association, and other relevant information.

6. Obtain Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Tax Registration: Apply for PAN and tax registration with the Income Tax Department. This is essential for fulfilling tax obligations and conducting business transactions in India.

7. Open Bank Account: Open a designated bank account for your foreign company in India. Follow the Reserve Bank of India's guidelines for foreign companies regarding capital repatriation and other financial matters.

8. Comply with Statutory Requirements: Ensure compliance with Indian laws and regulations, including tax filings, audits, annual financial statements, and other regulatory obligations specific to your industry.

9. Hire Local Talent and Establish Operations: Recruit local employees and establish a physical presence in India as per your business requirements. Comply with labor laws, employment contracts, and related obligations.

10. Build Relationships and Network: Establish strong relationships with key stakeholders, business partners, and relevant industry associations to navigate the Indian market successfully.

11. Regularly Monitor and Evaluate: Continuously monitor the performance of your foreign company in India, evaluate market trends, and adapt strategies accordingly to ensure sustained growth and success.

Remember, the process of setting up a foreign company in India involves complex legal and regulatory requirements. Seeking professional assistance and staying updated with the latest regulations are crucial for a smooth and compliant entry into the Indian market.


Venturing into the Indian market can be a rewarding endeavor for foreign companies, but it requires careful planning, compliance with regulations, and understanding of the local business landscape. This step-by-step guide has provided an overview of the key considerations and processes involved in setting up a foreign company in India.

To ensure a smooth and successful entry, it is highly recommended to engage professional assistance from experts well-versed in Indian laws and regulations. KDP Accountants is a renowned firm with extensive experience in assisting foreign companies to establish their presence in India. Our expertise in legal, financial, and business matters can provide invaluable guidance throughout the entire setup process. By working closely with professionals like KDP Accountants, foreign companies can navigate the complexities of Indian regulations, optimize their market entry strategy, and position themselves for long-term success.

Remember, India's business landscape offers immense potential and opportunities. By following the necessary steps, seeking professional guidance, and adapting to the local market, foreign companies can establish a strong foothold in India and reap the benefits of this dynamic and growing economy.

The above note is subject to further study and clarifications. This note does not form an opinion from our end and before taking any decision based on above, it is recommended to consult our experts on the subject.Kamdar, Desai & Patel will not be liable for any damages (including, without limitation, damages for loss of business projects, or loss of profits) arising in contract, tort or otherwise from the use of or inability to use this article, or any of its contents, or from any action taken (or refrained from being taken) as a result of using this article or any such contents.

Get A Call Back Get A Call Back