Exporting to India

The size of India’s economy, now the world’s fifth largest (IMF, 2019), makes it an attractive market for UK exporters. Trade between the UK and India totalled more than £20 billion in 2018, an increase of 13.6% compared with the previous year (ONS, 2018). India has a range of exciting export opportunities, although success in this market can require patience and a longer-term approach.

Demand for UK goods

UK exports to India increased in value by nearly a fifth (19.3%) between 2017 and 2018, amounting to £8 billion in total. Of these, nearly 70% were goods, with total goods exports from the UK to India totalling £5.5 billion in 2018 (ONS, 2018).

Strong links with the UK

India and the UK have strong ties through people, ideas, institutions, language and technology. These common links help the establishment of successful partnerships between UK and Indian businesses of all sizes and in all sectors.

Young and growing consumer base

India is a huge and growing market seeing a sustained period of strong growth. There is a large youth demographic and a rising, more affluent middle class.

Ease of doing business

77th

out of 190 countries (World Bank, 2019)

Currency

Indian rupee

Business languages

English is widely spoken in business

GDP per capita

$2,200

UK is $42,560 (IMF, 2018)

Economic growth

7.1%

(IMF, 2018)

Time zone

GMT + 5h30 (New Delhi)

Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in India have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors.

Doing business in India

Preparing to export

Taxes

The UK and India have signed a double taxation agreement, meaning the same income is not taxed twice.

Taxes in India are levied by the central government and the state governments. The national Goods and Services Tax (GST) unifies the country’s economy and 1.35 billion people into a common market as GST replaces more than a dozen indirect taxes. You can find out more about taxation from India’s National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency.

Import restrictions

The Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) lists goods where restrictions are imposed or import is not allowed.

Standards and regulations

Some imported products will need to meet Indian quality standards and have to be certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) before being exported to India. BIS does offer pre-certification, subject to production inspections. Find out more about product certification.

Use the Food Import Clearance System if you’re exporting food to India.

Labelling requirements

Product labels can be in English or Hindi. All imported goods, as well as transport documents, must show standard units of measurement and weight.

You must comply with these requirements for your consignment to be cleared by customs in India.

Intellectual property

As a first step, we advise you to speak to an intellectual property (IP) lawyer if you think you need patent protection when exporting.

You must register your intellectual property in India to guard against potential infringement. Registration can take time, so you should plan well ahead.

If faced with infringement or piracy you should engage a local legal practitioner who understands the context and has experience of initiating appropriate civil or criminal proceedings. Read guidance on how to protect and enforce your intellectual property rights in India.

Operating in India

Using agents and distributors

You can export to India by contacting customers directly. This could be a first step before appointing a partner in India. Before appointing an agent or distributor you should look closely at your potential partner’s:

  • local business reputation
  • financial resources
  • regional coverage
  • marketing ability

It may be best to appoint a series of agents or distributors to cover different regions.

Online selling to India

Our trade advisers in India can help you find the online marketplace best suited to your product or service in India and get access to deals negotiated by the UK government.

Getting paid

You need to use secure terms of payment in India through a letter of credit or documentary collection through your bank. The other option is payment or partial payment in advance. Open account transactions are not allowed in India.

Your contract should always clearly state the terms for delivery and payment of goods and services. Indian law does not regulate late payments, and settlement action through the courts can be expensive and take a long time.

If you have any concerns about getting paid for your export, speak to UK Export Finance (UKEF) about insurance against buyer default.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.