OCI – PAN – Aadhaar Explained: Foreign Citizen

by | Sep 5, 2023 | Indian Law, Indian Law Weekly Round-Up, NRI Legal Services, OCI, PAN, Power of Attorney, Taxation

When it comes to the matter of identity and documentation in India, there are several crucial aspects that require consideration. One such aspect pertains to the OCI-PAN-Aadhaar Cards.

Foreign Citizens of India may find themselves grappling with the question of whether all three of these entities are applicable to them or not. Moreover, the inconsistency in information, both offline and online, can significantly consume valuable time in ascertaining the correct procedures. In this section, we delve into an explanation of these three entities and explore their fundamental distinctions.

Beginning with the definition of each and subsequent key use according to the Government of India guidelines.

Definitions & Key Purpose of OCI-PAN-Aadhaar

OCI Card – LifeLong Indian Visa for a person of Indian Origin

Firstly, the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card is a form of permanent residency issued to individuals of Indian origin or Indian diaspora living outside India. It provides several benefits and privileges to the bearer, such as;

  • The right to travel to and from India without a visa,
  • Exemption from registration with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) for any length of stay in India,
  • The ability to work or study in India, and more.

The OCI card is a lifelong visa to enter India, which ensures a seamless connection with the individual’s roots and heritage. It is important to note that the OCI card does not grant Indian citizenship rights, including the right to vote, hold government positions, or purchase agricultural land.

In order for an individual to obtain a lifelong visa for India, they must provide documentation that serves as proof of Indian origin in accordance with the official guidelines.

OCI is for a Foreign Citizen of India only.

PAN Card – LifeLong Number For Financial Transactions in India

Secondly, a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card is a unique 10-digit alphanumeric identifier issued by the Indian Income Tax Department. It is primarily used for financial transactions and serves as a major proof of identity and address in some cases. The PAN card is mandatory for various financial activities, such as;

  • Filing income tax returns
  • Opening a bank account
  • Investing in mutual funds
  • Indian bank loan
  • Purchasing property, and more.

It helps in tracking financial transactions and serves in financial administrative requirements. Individuals, as well as businesses, can apply for a PAN card through the designated application process.

Both an Indian national or a Foreign Citizen Individual or Business can obtain a PAN. In some cases it is a mandatory requirement.

Aadhaar Card – LifeLong Form of ID & Proof of Address in India

Thirdly, the Aadhaar card is a unique 12-digit alphanumeric identity number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It serves as proof of identity and address for Indian residents. The Aadhaar card contains biometric data, including fingerprints and iris scans, making it a secure form of identification. It is used for various purposes, such as;

  • Availing government subsidies
  • Opening a bank account
  • Getting a SIM card, and more.

The Aadhaar card plays a crucial role in streamlining government services and reducing identity fraud. However, it is important to note that the Aadhaar card is not a proof of citizenship.

A Foreign Citizen can only obtain Aadhaar if they reside in India for more than 182 days in a given financial year.

In summary, while PAN Card is primarily used for financial purposes, OCI provides immigration privileges, and Aadhaar serves as a multi-purpose identification document with biometric authentication. Each document has its specific uses and significance depending on the purpose and requirements of the individual or organization. It’s important to understand these differences to navigate the Indian administrative and financial landscape effectively.

Regulatory Guidelines : Obtaining OCI PAN Aadhaar For Foreign Citizen

Not mandatory to obtain Mandatory in most financial Transactions Not mandatory and depends on proof of length of stay in India for eligibility

OCI – PAN – Aadhar Explained : Foreign Citizen
OCI – PAN – Aadhaar Explained : Foreign Citizen

Key Differences

Form of Visa related to Indian ImmigrationForm of a national identity card related to financial transactions in India & propertyForm of national ID card related to personal identification and proof of Indian address
Applies to Foreign Citizen of India onlyApplies to both Indian national & Foreign Citizen of IndiaApplies to both Indian national & Depends on Foreign Citizen eligibility

Application Process


To apply for an OCI, individuals are required to undergo an application process that entails completing application forms, submitting supporting documents, and paying the necessary fees. The procedure involves partially filling out the application online and subsequently attending an appointment for in-person submission. You would make an application through the Indian High Commission Consular services online and offline.

It may take between 4-6 weeks for OCI to be issued subject to changes.


On the other hand, a PAN can be applied for from abroad. The process involves utilizing the depositary portals to submit the application form, providing the required supporting evidential documentation, and subsequently sending a physical copy of the application to India via postal service. The two depositary’s are UTIITSL and Protean eGov. The application process involves both an online and offline requirement.

It may take anywhere between 10-20 days once your application has been received by the Indian authorities to allot PAN.


In order to obtain an Aadhaar, individuals must go through an application process, adhering to the prescribed steps and requirements. Applicants can locate the nearest Aadhaar Enrolment Center or Aadhaar Seva Kendra. At these centers, they will need to fill out an application form, providing personal details such as their name, gender, and contact information. It’s essential to ensure that all the information provided is accurate and up to date. The main body responsible for Aadhaar is UIDAI.

It may take anywhere between 60-90 days once your application has been received by the Indian authorities.

Lastly, here is one key benefit of a PAN for a Foreign Citizen in India; Opening Bank Accounts: One of the significant benefits of having a PAN card as a foreign citizen is the ease of opening a bank account. Whether it’s a savings account for personal use or a corporate account for business purposes, the PAN card serves as a primary identification document required by most banks in India.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is OCI mandatory for PAN?

OCI is not mandatory to obtain PAN.

If I am a Foreign Citizen can I obtain a PAN?

Yes you can hold a PAN providing you do not already have one.

Can I obtain Aadhaar if I have not resided in India for more than 182 days?


Can an OCI buy property in India without an Aadhaar Card?

Yes an OCI can buy property in India without Aadhaar but PAN is mandatory.

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