What is a PAN Card and how to apply for an NRI PAN?

by | Oct 25, 2022 | Indian Law, Indian Law Weekly Round-Up, NRI Legal Services, PAN, Real Estate, Wills, Probate & Trusts, Taxation

For the purpose of this article, the term (NRI) as per popular use is used for a Foreign Citizen. PAN Card for a Foreign Citizen.

What is a PAN?

A PAN is a ten-digit alphanumeric number issued by the Income Tax Department of the Government of India. It is in the form of a laminated card OR in the form of an Electronic PAN card known as an E-PAN CARD. It is a unique identifier that is allotted to a person by the Income Tax Department Government of India.

What does PAN stand for?

The full terminology is Permanent Account Number.

What is it used for?

PAN is a unique identifier allotted to an individual by the Income Tax Department of India which is required for filing income tax and other financial activities in India. In some cases, it is required to open a new bank account. The PAN is mandatory for Demat accounts and often for utility such as for a new landline or mobile phone.

Who issues a PAN Card?

It is issued by the Indian Income Tax Department, Government of India under the supervision of the Central Board for Direct Taxes.

When did it begin?

The PAN was first rolled out in 1972 replacing the existing General Index Registers (GIR) system and then improved again in 1995.

Today, it is an important part of the Indian economic infrastructure. The PAN is required for any individual that carries out financial or economic activity in India. It was introduced via centralisation in order to improve the issues being faced at the local level.

In 1995, PAN was amended under the 1961 Income Tax Act to address loopholes in the first model. The current system places responsibility on the Income Tax Department of India. It is a more centralised in approach.

Does an NRI need PAN Card?

Set by the Government of India, for any income exceeding the current Nil tax threshold.

(0% tax) on income up to INR 2,50,000/- in a financial year, a person requires a PAN for income tax purposes without which income tax cannot be filed.

This means that there is NIL tax (0% tax) to pay on income up to Rupees Two Lakh and Fifty Thousand (only) in a financial year and in this case PAN would not be required.

However, a PAN is also required for any high-value financial transactions. For example, transactions such as buying and selling property/land, rental income, funds and investments with banks etc. 

Today in most cases you require a PAN for opening bank accounts as well. 

Why do I need a PAN?

PAN is an important regulatory requirement if your source of income in India exceeds the NIL tax (0% tax) threshold as detailed above.

For financial transactions in India, anyone that falls under the prescribed parameters by the Income Tax Department must have a PAN. Therefore, it is necessary for one’s financial affairs in India. In some cases it is mandatory. There a penalties issued by the Income Tax Department Government of India for non compliance.

Can it be used as ID in India?

PAN in some cases can be used as a form of general ID in India. Although, it is not proof of Indian citizenship or citizenship status.

What is the use of an NRI PAN Card?

The PAN is a mandatory requirement for any person whose income exceeds the 0% tax threshold in a financial year. As we have detailed above, currently the NIL tax threshold set by the government of India is up to Rupees Two Lakh Fifty Thousand Only. Thereon, a percentage of income tax begins to apply.

Further, it is also mandatory for tax deduction at the source where applicable (TDS).

For example, a person employed in India, PAN is mandatory as TDS is required to be deducted by the employer at the source.

You may have financial investments, transactions related to buying and selling property/land and bank accounts in India most institutions require you to hold a PAN. It is required to be quoted in most documents related to financial activities exceeding a certain amount.

Being prepared in advance could avoid undue delays to your financial affairs in India. 

PAN is also required for opening a new bank account. It is mandatory for a Demat account for trading Indian stocks and shares. It is required to purchase of foreign currency, bank deposits above INR 50,000, purchase and sale of immovable properties and vehicles. As well as for some basic utilities such as a new landline telephone connection or mobile phone connection. 

Therefore a proactive approach in applying for a PAN would be beneficial to any person falling within the Income Tax Departments parameters. 

Who does not need it?

If your income is below the NIL taxable threshold which currently stands at up to INR 2,50,000/- in a financial year PAN is not required. In other words, Income tax filing is not required up to this amount. Or, if you do not fall within the parameters outlined by the Income Tax Department, Gov. India the same applies. 

What is an example of a PAN?

A typical example of PAN, is as follows –  AFZPK7190K.

The example above details a 10 digit alphanumeric code that acts as a unique identifier to the individual to whom it is allocated by the ITD.GOV.IN. [Please note this dummy PAN (AFZPK7190K) has been provided as an example only, from the Income Tax Department’s Official Site.]

On a Physical Pan or on a e-PAN your 10 digit alphanumeric code would be detailed.

Is a PAN Card automatically issued?

On the contrary, no, you must apply for a PAN card. However, in rare cases, it can be issued by the Income Tax Department without an application. Most individuals have to apply for it themselves or via a representative/agent.

In order to facilitate both Indian Nationals and Foreign Nationals (NRI, OCI Citizen), PAN can be applied for online or through a representative. The Income Tax Department, Government of India has tried to make the process more accessible.

Are there any particularly complicated parts on the application?

There are some parts that you may find perhaps complicated. It depends.

We’ve listed a few areas below;

  • Understanding your title.
  • The correct format to input your telephone number.
  • Understanding your AO Code.
  • The SOI section.
  • Your photograph(s) area and subsequent signatures.
  • Making sure your application and supporting documents details match.
  • Preparing to post.

Are there any implications to my application if I make an error?

Yes, your application can be rejected.

What would then happen?

You then follow due process to correct what perhaps could’ve been avoided.

This can prolong your time involved ie; correcting or re-applying.

Can I file my taxes in India without a PAN?

You cannot. To file an income tax return in India you need a Permanent Account Number.

What are the official Indian government websites to apply for PAN online from abroad?

There are officially two Indian companies authorised by the Government of India that provide an online portal whereby an individual can apply directly on their website. You will have to follow the guidance provided. 

The two official portal providers have been listed here:

  • Protean eGov Technologies (formally known as National Securities Depository Limited – NSDL). Is an Indian central securities depository situated in Pune, India. The official website can be found here — https://www.protean-tinpan.com/.
  • UTI Infrastructure Technology And Services Limited (UTIITSL), formerly known as UTI Technology Services Limited (UTITSL). Is a working Government-owned company. The official website can be found here — https://www.utiitsl.com/.

Both portals work under the Income-Tax Department of India. Any person applying for PAN can do so online via their sites with secure internet access. Both portals provide a similar service, albeit Protean eGov Technologies seems to be the more known and used portal. The difference between the two portals may be a comparative level of service.

For the purpose of this article, Protean eGov Technologies (Protean) PAN application process has been referenced throughout this article. 

Alternatively, you can take assistance from a professional for preparation and submission of your application online. Or you can apply via your local PAN centre in India as per locality. 

Can I apply for a PAN Card online?

Yes, individuals whether of Indian origin or non-Indian origin can apply for a PAN directly online.

Follow the application guidelines via the site you decide to select to apply from.

How to apply via Protean eGov Technologies website

You can directly make an application by visiting the Protean eGov Technologies official site. It is advisable to first read the guidelines presented on the site, as well as the dos and don’ts sections on the site. 

Do ensure that you are reading the correct section depending on whether you require, Form 49A OR Form 49AA.

Once familiar with the application guidelines you can proceed in applying for your PAN as per the outlined steps on the Protean eGov Technologies site links. 

After you complete all stages of the application you will be presented with a 15 digit acknowledgement number. Continue with the final steps from there.

Not sure enough to apply for PAN yourself? Use our PAN Application Services.

What is the Protean eGov Technologies official website address?


What documents do I need to apply for my PAN?

The full document list has been detailed on the Protean eGov Technologies site. Depending on which category you fall in, select the appropriate form. Form 49A OR Form 49AA and then follow the guidelines for the required documents for application.

How much does a PAN application cost?

If you apply via the Protean eGov Technologies site, the associated fee depends on which form of PAN you request. It also depends on where it is to be sent to, i.e. the destination country within India or abroad. Lastly, whether a physical PAN card or E-PAN card is preferred by you.

Processing Fee during application

The associated cost detailed on the Protean eGov Technologies site varies between INR 107 – INR 1020/- (+18% GST applicable) approximately. For ease, the payment can be made via a credit or debit card at the time of your live application online. Yes, you can make payment using an international debit or credit card.

Postal cost for submission

To submit a hard copy of your application and documents to Protean eGov Technologies, Pune, India, you will post your application to them. It is advisable to post your application using registered post. The cost may be between £10-£30 approximately from the UK. For other countries please check with your postal services. 

Remember, if there are shortfalls or mistakes in your application you may likely pay the associated costs again. Unless any special sanction is advised by the Protean eGov Technologies once your application has been received and they communicate with you thereon. Sometimes this can happen but it can be avoided.

Can I speak with Protean eGov Technologies on the phone?

Yes, you can call on the numbers detailed on the Protean eGov Technologies site. 

What languages do the Protean eGov Technologies agents speak?

Hindi and English.

On occasion you may need to call them more than once.

What is the AO code in a PAN application?

The AO code in the application is to be submitted when you are applying for your PAN via the official sites. The AO codes identify under whose jurisdiction the applicant of the new PAN falls. AO code (Area Code, AO Type, Range Code and AO Number). 

Details can be obtained from the Income Tax Office India or PAN Centre India or websites of PAN Service Providers on www.utiitsl.com or https://www.protean-tinpan.com/.

More information can be found on the Protean AO search section click here. 

As detailed on the Protean eGov Technologies site the AO code is related to which jurisdiction you fall under in India. The AO code is related to your locality.

Visit our resources for AO code here, you may find it helpful.

What size photographs do I need?

Currently, the dimension listed by Protean eGov Technologies for photographs is as follows;

Two recent colour photographs with white background (size 3.5 cm x 2.5 cm).

You would require a specialist photographer to provide these specific dimensions, usually, experienced photographers are aware of the required dimensions.

How long does it take to get a PAN Card?

Once your application is submitted, Protean eGov Technologies can take between 10-15 days to process providing your application has been submitted as per the guidelines. Including the required documents attached, along with correct dimension photographs specific to the application.

However, if your application is missing information or contains errors in the information you have provided, then it can take more than 10-15 days. You would then need to rectify or in some cases re-apply in order to satisfy the outlined requirements of the application. You may have to begin again. It depends on how quickly the Protean eGov Technologies can facilitate if this occurs.

Can I check the progress of my PAN application?

Yes, you can check the progress of your application directly on the Protean eGov Technologies site via your login.

Use the Track my PAN areas.

If you’ve provided an email address in your application, you may receive automatic email updates.

What does it look like?

During the application stages, select from options at the latter part of your application. Ie; Physical Card or E-PAN Card.

Assuming you are an NRI, you may receive both, this has been the case with some of our recent clients. Subject to portal changes.

Either option has different costs associated as we have detailed in the top section of this article. Providing you meet all the application requirements and your application is approved by Protean eGov Technologies then;

If you’ve applied for physical card it is issued as a small laminated card sent to the primary communication address detailed by you on your application.


If you’ve applied for e-PAN Card then a PDF file which is the e-PAN Card for your PAN will be sent to your primary email address provided by you on your application.

Do I need a PAN Card to sell my property in India?

Whether you’re selling property in India now or waiting for the right time, processes can take some time in India.

There are a number of ways to sell property in India. Most importantly, as an NRI it helps to maintain reasonable flexibility with process in India. That being said, it does not imply that the sale of property in India as an NRI is easy. You should be prepared to see the process all the way through and ensure that you have the means to do so. Yes, there are benefits to the process. It is different for everyone.

Certainly, it helps to be prepared for your financial affairs, you never know when PAN maybe required.

Avoiding urgency – time delays

Also you may avoid an urgency that can come about relating to your financial affairs in India.

For example for property sale proceeds, or buying new property etcetera. Subsequently, it is good to be proactive. In some cases, as we have described above PAN is mandatory.

Most individuals who have financial transactions in India hold a PAN. 

In summary, the Indian PAN is a mandatory requirement for individuals in relation to financial matters in India. You fall under the parameters if your income exceeds the 0% taxation threshold of up to INR 2,50,000/- (PA) set by the Government of India. Despite being an Indian citizen or Non-Resident Indian if you fall into any of the above, you should obtain a PAN.

I have tried to apply for PAN but find it difficult to understand. Can you assist me?

Yes we can, you can view our list of PAN Application Services and select the right one for you. Start by selecting the most suitable service and make payment. We will then be in touch within 24 hours to begin the process.

Applying online and require some assistance for your PAN application from abroad? You may find our NRI PAN Card E-Guide service helpful – rated excellent by our clients. Alternatively Full PAN Assistance.

See what our Clients say:

“Quick response, clear advice and simplified a confusing process”


Overseas Indian Citizen PAN Services

Related Links

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between form 49A and form 49AA in PAN application on Protean eGov Technologies site?

FORM 49A : application for allotment of New PAN (Form 49A) – applicable for Citizens of India. This means that FORM 49A is to be used by persons holding INDIAN CITIZENSHIP when applying on the Protean eGov Technologies website. 
FORM 49AA: application for allotment of New PAN (Form 49AA) – applicable for foreign citizens. This means that FORM 49AA is to be used by persons who are FOREIGN CITIZENS when applying on the Protean eGov Technologies website.

Does an NRI require an Adhaar Card in addition to a PAN Card?

Where the NRI, resides in India for 182 days or 12 months more, then PAN and Adhaar must be linked as prescribed by the government of India guidelines, therefore an Adhaar card would also be required. NRI’s are eligible for Adhaar card but if they do not fall into the parameters as details then it is optional.

Is the PAN and Adhaar Card link mandatory?

Yes, if you reside in India the Adhaar Card is an official form of identification for a resident of India. Whereas the PAN is a permanent account number related to Income Tax. Both are mandatory to be linked.

How long is the Token Number valid for?

30 days

Do I need to include a covering letter when I send my application to the portal for processing?


How long do I have after my Acknowledgement number has been generated to send my PAN supporting documents?

15 days

Should I use a courier or postal service to send my application?

It is your preference however courier service maybe a faster option.

My PAN application from abroad has been lost in the post. What can I do?

Inform the depositary and request for further guidance.

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