India: Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2015 - Key Changes

To regulate the procedural aspect under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 ("FCRA") and to substantially improve upon the existing services provided under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 2011 ("FCRR"), the Ministry of Home Affairs has notified Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2015 ("Amendment Rules") on December 14, 2015.

A new revamped website has also been launched to offer applicants seamless services under FCRA with adequate ease and facilitation. With the launch of new website, all services will be offered online reducing human interface to the minimum. All applications under FCRA can now be filled online, documents can also be uploaded online including payment of fee etc. All queries and replies to the applicants will be made through emails and digitally signed registration certificates, prior permission sanctions, etc. will be issued to the applicants through emails.

The major changes brought through Amendment Rules are discussed hereunder:

I. Application for obtaining registration or prior approval to receive foreign contribution:

  • Separate applications were required to be filed under Rule 9 of FCRR for obtaining registration or prior approval for receiving foreign contribution. Under the Amendment Rules, only a single application in form FC-3 is required to be filed for obtaining 'registration' or 'prior approval' to receive foreign contribution.
  • The application for registration, or obtaining prior permission for acceptance of foreign contribution is required to be filed online in Form FC-3 and the requirement of forwarding a hard copy of the on-line application duly signed by the Chief Functionary of the association has been dispensed with. The applicant shall now be required to upload signed or digitally signed application along with documents as may be specified by the Central Government from time to time.
  • If a person desires to open more than one account in one or more banks for purpose of utilizing foreign contribution, an intimation to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs will have to be given online in Form FC-6 instead of plain paper, as was required earlier under the FCCR.
  • A person seeking prior permission or registration can also deposit the fees through online electronic payment gateway as specified by the Central Government.

II. Renewal of registration certificate:

  • Application for renewal of registration certificate is now required to be filed in Form FC-3 (i.e. application for obtaining 'registration' or 'prior approval' to receive foreign contribution), instead of Form FC-5.
  • Under the Amendment Rules, a person implementing ongoing multiyear project, will now not be required to apply 12 months before the date of expiry of the certificate of registration.
  • The fees for renewal of certificate of registration can also be deposited through online electronic payment gateway as specified by the Central Government.

III. Declaration of receipt of foreign contribution:

  • Prior to the Amendment Rules, only in the event that an association who has been granted a certificate of registration or prior permission, receives foreign contribution in excess of INR 10 million, or equivalent thereto in a financial year, it was required to place the summary data on receipts and utilization of foreign contribution pertaining to the year of receipt as well as for one year thereafter in the public domain.
  • However, Amendment Rules now requires all associations who have been granted certificate of registration or prior permission, irrespective of the amount of foreign contribution received, to place their audited statement of accounts on receipt and utilization of foreign contribution, including income and expenditure statement, receipt and payment account and balance sheet for every financial year beginning on first day of April within nine months of the closure of the financial year on its official website or on website as specified by the Central Government.
  • Further, a person receiving foreign contribution in a quarter of the financial year shall place details of foreign contribution received on its official website or on website specified by the Central Government within 15 days following the last day of the quarter in which it has been received clearly indicating the details of donor, amount received and date of receipt.

IV. Reporting by banks of receipt of foreign contribution:

  • According to Amendment Rules, the banks are required to report to the Central Government within 48 hours, instead of 30 days (as provided earlier), regarding any transaction in respect of receipt or utilization of foreign contribution by any person whether or not such person is registered or granted prior permission under FCRA. The manner in which the said reporting shall be done, which was earlier specified under FCRR, has now been omitted under the Amendment Rules.

V. Intimation of foreign contribution by recipient:

  • Under the Amendment Rules, physical filing of form with the Central Government giving intimation about the receipt and utilization of foreign contribution has been dispensed with.
  • Now a person receiving foreign contribution shall be required to submit online, a signed or digitally signed, report in form FC-4 (erstwhile Form FC-6) alongwith scanned copies of income and expenditure statement, receipt and payment account and balance sheet of every financial year beginning on 1st day of April within 9 months of the closure of financial year.
  • If foreign contribution relates only to articles, intimation shall be submitted in form FC-1 instead of FC-7.
  • If foreign contribution relates only to foreign security, intimation shall be submitted in form FC-1 instead of FC-8.
  • Under Rule 17(8) of FCRR, earlier, a nil report was required to be furnished in case no foreign contribution has been received during a financial year. Under the Amendment Rules a new proviso has been interested in Rule 17(8) which provides that there is no requirement to enclose a certificate from a chartered accountant or income and expenditure statement or receipt and payment account or balance sheet with form FC-4 where foreign contribution has not been received or utilized during a financial year.
  • A person, who has been granted certificate of registration or prior permission under section 11 of the FCRA, shall be required to give intimation in Form FC-6 to be filed online, within 15 days, of any the following changes:

    1. change in the designated bank account of the association;
    2. change in the name and address of the association;
    3. amendment in the aims and objectives of the association, and
    4. change in the key members of the association if such change causes replacement of 50% or more of the original key members as stated in the registration or prior approval granted under FCRA.

VI. Foreign contribution received by a candidate for election:

  • Foreign contribution received by a candidate for election shall be furnished in form FC-1 instead of Form FC-9 within 45 days from the date he is duly nominated as a candidate for election.

VII. Procedure for transferring foreign contribution to either registered or unregistered persons:

  • An application for transfer of foreign contribution by any person to other registered or unregistered person is now required to be filed in form FC-5 instead of FC-10.

© 2015, Vaish Associates Advocates,
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Advocates, 1st & 11th Floors, Mohan Dev Building 13, Tolstoy Marg New Delhi-110001 (India).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist professional advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. The views expressed in this article are solely of the authors of this article.

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Vinay Vaish, Partner, Vaish Associates Advocates
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