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Expat Info Mumbai: Social Security & More

Planning on working in Mumbai? It is not always easy to find a job in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Our InterNations Guide lists a few things for expats to keep in mind when working in Mumbai, including etiquette and social security.
Learning local business etiquette helps you get along with your new colleagues.

What to Expect in the Workplace

When it comes to being on time, don’t be surprised if you are kept waiting or if business meetings are rescheduled on short notice. This isn’t necessarily a sign of disrespect or low priority, it’s just simply the way it is. Similarly, don’t be offended if your guests are not on time. In fact, when invited to a social event like a dinner party, make sure to turn up between 15 and 30 minutes late.

As in most places, business attire in Mumbai depends largely on the branch or industry you are working in. To be on the safe side, men should always wear a suit and tie. Considering that Mumbai temperatures can be extremely hot, it is acceptable to remove your jacket. Women wear formal dresses or pantsuits covering their legs, shoulders, and upper arms. Some expats may switch to Indian clothing after a while as it is better suited to the climate — shirts and trousers made of linen are your best option here.

Avoiding Double Taxation

Foreign nationals with a permanent resident status in Mumbai are subject to Indian taxation laws. They are expected to pay income tax on their earnings, calculated at a rate of 0%, 5%, or 20% for incomes below 250,000, 500,000, or 1,000,000 INR respectively. All incomes above 1,000,000 INR a year are taxed at a rate of 30%.

Expats who spend fewer than 183 days in one fiscal year in India and who receive their salary from non-Indian sources may be eligible for tax relief if they continue to pay tax in their home country.

Tax relief can be granted under a formal Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and the country concerned. It can also be negotiated on an individual basis if no agreement exists. To find out whether your country has a DTAA with India, consult your national financial authorities or visit the Income Tax Department website of the Indian Ministry of Finance.

Social Security in India

With about 370 million people having no pension plan whatsoever, India’s social security system is still very rudimentary. The two government schemes for old-age pensions and other benefits, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) and the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), only include employees in the small “organized” sector. These are mostly private sector employees, civil servants, and military personnel.

However, proper enforcement strategies are not in place, due to a lack of government infrastructure. The ESIC, responsible for medical, sickness, maternity, and disability benefits, faces similar problems despite recent extensions of the membership criteria to cover wider parts of the working population. Since the ESIC does not provide medical coverage to the whole population, India can’t be described as having a working national health service.

Social Security Agreements for a Lucky Few

Expats in Mumbai who are employed by an Indian company are likely to qualify for EPFO and ESIC coverage and need to make social security contributions. However, bilateral social security agreements with other governments can excuse expats from paying contributions in India. Check the Emigration Services website of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to find out if your country has an agreement and if it is in force.

If present, social security agreements are applicable only to expats whose work assignment in Mumbai does not exceed 60 months. They may choose to continue their social security contributions in their home country instead, and all payments made to one system or the other count towards calculating the employee’s benefits. Your employer/company is also likely to organize a private pension plan for you in Mumbai.

Trust in the Private or International Healthcare System?

Mumbai offers good access to hospitals and healthcare facilities for those who can afford it. Expats can either take out health insurance with an international provider before coming to India or access private healthcare through their company’s insurance provider. Public hospitals are often understaffed and underequipped, due to poor funding and India’s huge population.

There are roughly 70 municipal hospitals in Mumbai and over 90 private clinics with varying specializations in the greater metropolitan area of Mumbai. It is always a good idea to keep a list of hospitals and clinics including their contact details handy. Most private hospitals have a website, and you can search for doctors or clinics by area or specialization.

You might be expected to pay for medical treatment immediately, as an integrated claims system only works for some public-private insurance companies. To prepare for this possibility, set aside some easily accessible funds for medical emergencies. In case you or a family member come down with something serious that requires prolonged treatment, make sure that your international health insurance also covers the cost of repatriation.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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