India - Licensing Requirements for Professional ServicesIndia - Licensing Requirements
In the last two decades, the services sector has made rapid progress and has emerged as the largest and one of the fastest growing sectors of the Indian economy. According to government estimates, the services sector accounted for 61% of India’s GDP in FY 2015-16, making it one of the driving forces of the Indian economy. Over the years, various policy reforms have taken place in India in a number of services sector, such as banking and financial services, telecom services, air transport services, healthcare services, postal services, and other professional services. However, India still has restrictions for providing certain professional services by foreign nationals (including U.S. nationals). These limitations or restrictions are in terms of the number of services suppliers, service operations or employees in a sector, the value of transactions, the legal form of the service supplier, or the extent of participation of foreign capital. For example:
- For accounting and audit services there are many restrictions, but U.S. accounting firms have been able to navigate those by having a local (Indian) accounting firm as an affiliate.
- There are no restrictions for the practice of professionals in engineering, integrated engineering and construction services. However, foreign engineering and construction firms are generally not awarded government contracts unless local firms are unable to perform the work.
- International/U.S. architectural firms are not allowed to provide direct services in India. Foreign firms may only participate through joint ventures with Indian architecture firms. To get an architectural plan approved for a local project, an Indian partner (i.e., registered Indian architect) has to sign.
- Foreign law firms or foreign lawyers cannot practice the profession of law in India either on the litigation or non-litigation side, unless they fulfill the requirements of the Advocates Act, 1961 and the Bar Council of India Rules. However, foreign law firms (including U.S. firms) have been permitted to fly in and fly out for rendering advice on a temporary basis.
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