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The below content is purely for informational purposes and is not intended to constitute advisory of any kind. Please note, these are in-depth articles which are best viewed on large screen devices like laptops, desktops and tablets. The position reflected in this article has been updated as of March 15, 2024.

As a sailor, you spend extended periods at sea and international ports away from your family. Given the unique nature of your profession, your banking needs are also unique. While you may want to access international ATMs to withdraw or deposit cash in multiple currencies, you may also need to transfer funds to your family in India or pay for your utility bills remotely. This is where a seafarer account or mariner account provides a tailored solution.

This article dives into seafarer accounts, exploring their features, benefits, eligibility and how to get one.

 

When does a seafarer become an NRI?

A seafarer under Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, means any person who is employed or engaged or works in any capacity onboard a sea going ship, excluding:

  • The employment or engagement or work onboard in any capacity of any person in a ship of war; or
  • Any government ship used for military or non-commercial purposes

An Indian citizen is considered as a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) for tax purposes if they spend 183 days or more outside India during a Financial Year (April– March) as a crew member on an Indian ship as defined under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. Their stay in India during the Financial Year will be calculated as per their Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC) or passport.

 

What is a seafarer account?

A seafarer account or a mariner account is a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) bank account maintained in Indian Rupees. It can be held either as a Non-Resident External (NRE) or a Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) savings account. This account helps you to:

  • Deposit the income earned abroad in multiple currencies
  • Withdraw cash in any currency (subject to applicable conversion rates and charges)
  • Withdraw cash at foreign locations
  • Repatriate your funds abroad
  • Transfer funds to your family in India
  • Make payments of your utility bills/EMIs etc. in India

Leading banks like ICICI Bank provide you with a premium savings account for marine professionals with unique benefits including preferential rates on money transfer, family banking, priority services etc. You can avail preferential rates on money transfer through Money2India and Wire Transfer to india.

Open NRI Seafarer Pro Account

Did you know?

NRIs can hold their seafarer account jointly with either:

  • Two or more NRIs, or
  • A resident Indian

on a former or survivor* basis.

In case of an NRE seafarer account, you can have a joint account with a resident relative** only. On the other hand, you can hold an NRO seafarer account jointly with any resident Indian.

You can also designate someone as your mandate holder to manage and operate your account on

*The term ‘former’ or ‘survivor’ basis refers to the condition where only one of the two joint account holders that is the former account holder can primarily operate the account. The ‘Survivor’ can only operate the account after the ‘Former’ passes away.

**Relative is defined under section 2 (77) of the Companies Act, 2013. This includes their parents (including stepparents), son (including stepson), son’s wife, daughter, daughter’s husband, siblings (including stepsiblings), and children.

 

Seafarer account: A quick overview

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Who can apply for a

If you qualify to be an NRI, then you can open a seafarer account, provided you are a sailor/crew member on:

  • Merchant navy ships

  • International vessel

  • International cruise liners

  • International oil rigs

Documentation required*

 

To open a seafarer account, you will need to submit documentation for your Know Your Customer (KYC) verifications. Typically, you need to provide the below listed documentation:

  • Passport

  • Work permit or visa

  • Permanent Account number (PAN) or in absence of PAN, Form 60 (If applicable)

  • Indian address proof: Driving License/Utility bill/Bank statement

  • Contract letter from the employer

  • Seafarer's declaration from the customer

  • Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC) issued in India

  • Disembarkation stamp/papers

  • Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) declaration.

All KYC documents provided need to be self-attested and prescribed by the certified authorities such as Indian embassy or any notarised public. Please note that the documentation requirements may vary from bank to bank.

Benefits and features

A seafarer account provides you with distinct benefits such as:

  • No minimum balance requirements

  • An international ATM-cum-debit card

  • Cash withdrawal in multiple currency

Repatriation

The repatriation from the seafarer account depends on the type of seafarer account you choose.

  • In case of an NRO seafarer account you can repatriate funds up to USD 1 million per Financial Year (April - March) subject to necessary documentation and tax compliances.

  • Funds in your NRE seafarer account are fully repatriable.

Taxation

Any interest income earned on:

  • NRE seafarer account is exempt from income tax.

  • NRO seafarer account is taxable in India as per the tax slab rate of your opted regime. There will be an upfront tax deduction (Tax Deducted at Source (TDS)) at the maximum rate of 30% plus applicable surcharge and cess. To know more, click here.

Please note: The list mentioned above is indicative and are not exhaustive. These may differ from bank to bank. You may want to consult your bank for more details.

Open NRI Seafarer Account

You can open a seafarer account by either of the following ways:

  • By visiting your bank's designated branch in India to submit the account opening form with requisite documentation.
  • If you're overseas, by visiting your bank's overseas branch and following the same process.
  • Leading banks like ICICI Bank also provide you with the flexibility to download the account opening form from their website and fill it offline. You can then send the form with requisite documentation through post to the designated branches in India.

Find your nearest ICICI Bank branch here: Branch Locator

Conclusion

Sailors can benefit from the unique advantages of a seafarer account which can be opened either as an NRE, or an NRO account. These accounts allow you to make deposits or withdrawals in multiple currencies internationally. If you opt for an NRE seafarer account, you can earn tax free interest in India and repatriate funds overseas without any

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Disclaimer:

The contents of this article/infographic are meant solely for informational purposes. The contents are generic in nature and are not intended to serve as a substitute for specific advice on any matter whatsoever. The information is subject to updation, completion and verification and the applicable norms may keep changing materially from time to time. This information is also not intended for distribution or use by any person in any jurisdiction where such distribution or use would be contrary to applicable laws or would subject ICICI Bank Limited/its affiliates to any licensing or registration requirements. ICICI Bank Limited/its affiliates and their representatives shall not be liable for any direct or indirect losses or liability incurred arising in connection with any decision taken by any person on the basis of this content. Please conduct your own due diligence and consult your financial advisor before making any decision. Terms and conditions of ICICI Bank and third parties apply. ICICI Bank is not responsible for third party services. Nothing contained herein shall constitute or be deemed to constitute an advice, invitation or solicitation to avail any products/ services of third parties.