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The Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA)


The Foreign Exchange Management Act (1999) or in short FEMA has been introduced as a replacement for earlier Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA). FEMA became an act on the 1st day of June, 2000. FEMA was introduced because the FERA didn’t fit in with post-liberalisation policies. A significant change that the FEMA brought with it, was that it made all offenses regarding foreign exchange civil offenses, as opposed to criminal offenses as dictated by FERA.

The main objective behind the Foreign Exchange Management Act (1999) is to consolidate and amend the law relating to foreign exchange with the objective of facilitating external trade and payments. It was also formulated to promote the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India.

FEMA is applicable to all parts of India. The act is also applicable to all branches, offices and agencies outside India owned or controlled by a person who is a resident of India.

The FEMA head-office, also known as Enforcement Directorate is situated in New Delhi and is headed by a Director. The Directorate is further divided into 5 zonal offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Jalandhar and each office is headed by a Deputy Director. Each zone is further divided into 7 sub-zonal offices headed by the Assistant Directors and 5 field units headed by Chief Enforcement Officers.