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How to open NPS account - An overview

NPS account opening can be done through both online and offline methods. Individuals can apply for an NPS account offline by submitting their application at a Point-of-presence (POP) branch. Around 85 major banks and financial institutions have been registered as POPs with PFRDA. Online NPS registration can be done through the eNPS portal. Even in eNPS, the applicant needs to select a POP with whom they have a bank, demat, mutual fund, or insurance account. Of the 85 POPs, 55 are available on the eNPS platform. In both cases, the selected POP is responsible for verifying the application details and then forwarding it to the Central Recordkeeping Agency (CRA). There are two CRAs in NPS – NSDL and Karvy. The CRA receiving the application will open an NPS account for the applicant.

First-time NPS investors can apply for only the Tier 1 account or Tier 1 + Tier 2 account both. In this case, a new PRAN will be generated. Existing NPS subscribers who only have a Tier 1 account can apply for starting the Tier 2 account at a later date under the same PRAN. In this post, we provide an overview of the NPS account opening process. Please note that unless otherwise stated, the contents of this post are relevant to the All Citizens Model.

While this is an overview post, we have also done detailed posts which deal with specific aspects of the NPS account opening process:

NPS account opening process

The graphic below shows the flow of the NPS account opening process for a first-time joiner. While the procedure for applying seems different for the online and offline methods, what happens subsequently is similar. As we discuss later, a subscriber who has opened NPS account offline can subsequently switch to eNPS for further contributions, if they so wish.  
Procedure for opening NPS account using online and offline methods

How to join the NPS scheme – New Registration

In this section, we discuss the procedure for new registration – to open a Tier 1 account or a Tier 1 +Tier 2 account both. We discuss the procedure for opening a Tier 2 account by an existing subscriber as a special case, later.

Apply for NPS scheme Offline 

A complete NPS application consists of the following:
  1. Filled Subscriber Registration form or NPS SRF (with any relevant annexures) 
  2. Two self-attested copies of supporting documents. Applicants should also carry the originals of the supporting documents for verification.
  3. The first contribution amount together with a filled NCIS or NPS Contribution Instruction slip
The subscriber registration form can be collected from any convenient POP. Around 85 major financial institutions have been registered as POPs however, this number can vary with time. You can check the latest list by using these tools on the CRA website:
Alternatively, investors can also download the forms from the CRA website

We have done a detailed post on how to fill your NPS application form and get your application ready. There you will also find the link to accessing the forms online. The complete application also needs to be submitted at a POP branch. At the time of submission of the PRAN application, POP-SP shall give you a receipt number which can be used to track the status of the PRAN application.


Apply for NPS scheme Online

To invest in NPS online, you need to visit the eNPS portal. This portal is offered by both the CRAs – NSDL and Karvy. HDFC bank also offers you the option to open NPS account online on their website. But in this case, they link back to the Karvy eNPS portal. 

Earlier there used to be two methods for opening NPS account online: using Aadhar and using PAN card. However Aadhar-based authentication for opening NPS accounts has been discontinued. In the PAN card method, KYC verification of the applicant needs to be done by a POP with whom the subscriber has an existing PAN-card linked account. This can be a bank, demat, trading, mutual fund, or insurance account. Of the 85 POPs, 55 are empanelled with either NSDL or Karvy or both and are available for eNPS.

We have done a detailed post on How to open NPS account online where we discuss how to open your eNPS account on both portals with screenshots of the entire process. You can also find the list of online POPS there. Briefly, the applicant needs to fill their details, upload scanned copies of documents and make the first contribution online. As a final step, they need to print the completed application form, paste their photo on it and send the form to CRA mailing address within 30 days. Failing this last step, the PRAN will be frozen temporarily.

Once the payment is made successfully, a payment receipt along with a PRAN number will be generated. This should be printed or saved as a pdf for future reference. There will also be a Transaction ID that can be used to track the progress of an application using the eNPS portal. 

Special case 1: - how to open NPS account for NRIs

NRIs are only eligible for opening Tier 1 account. They cannot open a Tier 2 account. 

The process for NPS registration for NRIs is very similar to Resident Indians. Hence we would focus on the few differences here:
  • Subscriber registration form: The physical subscriber registration form is slightly different for NRIs since they have to provide additional details such as passport information and overseas address. On the eNPS portals, the applicant needs to select their residence status on the first screen itself and need to submit information accordingly.
  • Documents to be submitted: NRIs also need to submit/upload additional documents, mainly a copy of the passport.
  • Bank details: NRIs can make contributions from an NRE (repatriable) or NRO (non-repatriable) account only. 
In the blog post, Can NRIs invest in NPS we discuss the NRI-specific aspects of NPS including how NRIs can open their NPS account.

Special case 2: - how to open NPS Tier 2 account for existing NPS subscribers

For existing subscribers, there is a separate physical form for “Activation of Tier 2 Account” – Annexure S10. On the eNPS portal also, an applicant needs to select the “Activation of Tier 2 account” option instead of the Registration option. The form and list of documents to be submitted are much shorter than the New Registration process, as all the personal details of the applicant have already been captured and verified.

Since the NPS Tier 2 accounts can have a different investment profile and a different bank account compared to the Tier 1 account, so those are the main fresh details to be submitted. Apart from this, the applicant needs to submit proof of bank account, copy of PAN card and copy of PRAN card and the first contribution amount.

What happens after you submit the NPS application

Role of POPs

PoP/PoP-SP is the first point of interaction between the subscriber and the NPS system. They receive the application from the subscriber (in the offline method). For both the online and offline methods, the POP is responsible for verifying the details submitted by the applicant. Once the verification is done, the POP forwards the application form, one copy of supporting documents and details of the contribution received to the CRA for further processing. They also transfer the contribution funds to the Trustee Bank, after deducting their fees.

Role of CRA

The CRA is responsible for maintaining the PRAN database. When they receive an application from the POP, they add the applicant to the NPS database and issue their unique 12-digit Permanent Retirement Account Number or PRAN. (A CRA can also reject an application if it comes across a discrepancy which has been overlooked by the POP). After this, the CRA will maintain a record of all subscriber details and investment preferences, updating them when required. They will also track subscriber contributions and generate and dispatch the Statement of Transactions.

Tracking your NPS application

Progress of the application can be tracked using the CRA Transaction ID, as mentioned above. Email and SMS alerts would also be sent to the registered email address and mobile number of the subscriber, both when PRAN is generated and when the PRAN kit is dispatched.

You can also use the following links on CRA websites to track the status of your application:

Dispatch of Welcome kit with PRAN card

The CRA usually dispatches a Welcome kit within 10 working days from the date of receipt of duly filled-in registration form. This kit is sent to the address submitted by you at the time of filling the form. The Welcome Kit contains a printed PAN Card, Subscriber personal details and NPS brochure. It also contains the Internet password (I-pin) and Telephone password (T-pin) details which can be used to access the NPS account online and via telephonic means for subsequent services such as making contributions, changing investment options, update your details, etc.

A representative image of the PAN card

A screenshot of what the NPS PRAN card looks like

What if the NPS application is rejected?

A few common reasons for why the NPS application may be rejected are:
  • Mismatch of details between what is submitted vs. what is mentioned in the documents vs. what is already available with the POP (only in case of eNPS application)
  • Not mentioning the choice of Pension Fund Manager
  • Photograph not meeting specifications etc.
In such cases, it is the PoP/PoP-SP’s responsibility to contact the applicant and return contribution money (including processing fees and taxes deducted upfront) and documents submitted by him/her provide the reason for rejection.

If an offline application is rejected it can be submitted again after making the required changes. In case an eNPS application is rejected, the applicant has to contact the initially selected POP with a printout of the form and supporting KYC document. These documents will be stamped and verified by the POP branch after which the forms + documents can be dispatched to the CRA.

Charges for opening and maintaining NPS account 

When you open the NPS account, charges need to be paid to the POP and the CRA. The table below shows a list of the charges that need to be paid at the time of opening the account:
List of POP and CRA charges for opening NPS account
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of charges. For that, you can visit the blog on NPS details: All you want to know about this retirement planning scheme. 

Should you open account offline/online. Does it matter?

There is no advantage to opening an eNPS account vs. offline application or vice versa. Hence the choice should be driven by your personal preference and convenience. Do note that there are fewer POPs which can do KYC for eNPS compared to the total list of POPs. So if you do not have an existing account with these 55 POPs, then the offline application may be your only option. Also submitting a copy of your PAN card is not necessary if you open NPS account offline as any other proof of identity will also suffice.

However, once your account is opened, there is a clear advantage in making subsequent contributions through eNPS. The table below shows the charge structure for making contributions through eNPS vs. physical methods. As you can see the charges for the offline method are 2.5x!
POP charges for subsequent contribution in eNPS vs. offline NPS
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Even if you have started your NPS account offline, you can make subsequent contributions through the eNPS portal and the eNPS charges will apply.

Hence we recommend that you can open NPS account online or offline as per your convenience, but select the eNPS method for subsequent contributions to pay minimum fees.

Conclusion

In this post, we provided an overview of how to apply for NPS Tier 1 and NPS Tier 2 account. We discuss both online and offline methods and special cases such as NPS account opening for NRIs and How to open only the Tier 2 account later.

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