Travel Guide : How much currency can you carry to India?

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This article explains the Indian Customs limit on the amount of cash (Indian and Foreign currency) you can carry in and out of India with you.

Ever since India Government announced the ban on higher denomination currencies (Rs 500 and Rs 1000) overnight, there has been lot of panic among Indians as on how to exchange the currency in their hands.

While Indian residents can exchange or deposit the money in banks until 30 December 2016, the options for NRIs are limited. The most suitable option is to either take the money with them or send with someone who is travelling to India soon (Read more here).

The next question is how much money they can take by hand. Unfortunately, there is lot of confusing information online, including some official websites, which are not updated in the past one year (since announcement of new rules during early 2016). Even RBI and Customs website have pages which are not updated.

Here is the up-to-date information based on Reserve Bank of India notification dated 4 February 2016.

Importing Indian Currency

  • As RBI norms, passengers (excluding citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh) coming to India may carry Indian currency up to Rs. 25,000.

The information you see on most websites – like Rs 7500, Rs 10000 etc – are old limits prior to 2016. For those who need to see official confirmation from government, see the RBI notification:

Detailed explanation from Reserve Bank of India Notification

“Any person resident outside India, not being a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh, and visiting India …. may bring into India currency notes of Government of India and Reserve
Bank of India notes up to an amount not exceeding Rs.25,000 (Rupees Twenty Five Thousand only) per person”


Exporting Indian Currency

  • As RBI norms, passengers (excluding citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh) may take out of India (other than to Nepal and Bhutan), Indian currency up to Rs. 25,000.

Detailed explanation from Reserve Bank of India Notification

“Any person resident in India …. may take outside India (other than to Nepal and Bhutan) currency notes of Government of India and Reserve Bank of India notes up to an amount not exceeding Rs.25,000 (Rupees Twenty Five Thousand only) per person.”

“Any person resident outside India, not being a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh, and visiting India …. may take outside India currency notes of Government of India and Reserve Bank of India notes up to an amount not exceeding Rs.25,000 (Rupees Twenty Five Thousand only) per person”


Importing Foreign Currency

Any person can bring into India, from a place outside India, foreign currency without any limit.

However the currency must be declared by filing CDF (Currency Declaration Form) in the following cases:

  • the aggregate value of foreign currency notes is in excess of USD 5000 or equivalent OR
  • the aggregate value of foreign exchange in the form of currency notes, bank notes or traveller’s cheques is in excess of USD 10,000 or its equivalent.

Detailed explanation from Reserve Bank of India Notification

“A person …. may bring into India from any place outside India without limit foreign
exchange (other than unissued notes) subject to the condition that such
person makes, on arrival in India, a declaration to the Customs authorities in
Currency Declaration Form (CDF). It shall not be necessary to make such
declaration where the aggregate value of the foreign exchange in the form of
currency notes, bank notes or travelers cheques brought in by such person at
any one time does not exceed US$10,000 (US Dollars ten thousand) or its
equivalent and/ or the aggregate value of foreign currency notes brought in by
such person at any one time does not exceed US$ 5,000 (US Dollars five
thousand) or its equivalent”


Exporting Foreign Currency

  • There is no limit to carry foreign exchange from India to any country.

However the currency must be declared by filing CDF (Currency Declaration Form) if :

  • the aggregate value of foreign currency notes is in excess of USD 5000 or equivalent OR
  • the aggregate value of foreign exchange in the form of currency notes, bank notes or traveller’s cheques is in excess of USD 10,000 or its equivalent.

Detailed explanation from Reserve Bank of India Notification

“any person may take out of India … a. foreign exchange possessed by him in accordance with the Foreign Exchange Management (Possession and Retention of Foreign Currency) Regulations, 2000 ; b. unspent foreign exchange brought back by him to India while returning from travel abroad and retained in accordance with the Foreign Exchange Management (Possession and Retention of Foreign Currency) Regulations, 2000”

“any person resident outside India may take out of India unspent foreign exchange not exceeding the amount brought in by him and declared in Currency Declaration Form (CDF).”


Conclusion

To sum up the complicated rules :

a) Passengers can bring up to Rs 25,000 and take out Rs 25,000 in Indian currency.

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b) Passengers can bring in or take out unlimited foreign currency, but has to fill up declaration form if total cash amount is more than USD 5000 or total is more than USD 10,000.

Sources :

CBEC Customs Guide for Travellers, Reserve Bank of India Circular No. 45/2015

- Published on 12 November 2016 

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70 Comments

  1. Under the new rule, NRIs can carry upto Rs. 25,000 for NRIs via airports & deposit at RBI by 30th June. The return airfare is almost Rs 30,000 if one is planning to travel to India only to deposit the money.

    What is right : to spend another Rs 30,000 on airfare to avail the opportunity to go to India just for depositing Rs 25,000; taking all the hassles or just let the hard earned money go waste?

    The govt should make some arrangements to authorize Indian embassies abroad, to accept cash upto Rs 25,000 per person from NRIs, giving all necessary details & bank accounts, for depositing old currency.

  2. S.Somasundaram on

    I am in USA from July 2016 . Returning to India during January 2017. I have 500 and 1000 old currencies worth Rs 30,000/- How can I bring back to India and exchange

  3. I am in US and have money sitting at my house in India which is locked. I had planned to visit India in Feb to deposit them… now per the new rules I can only deposit what I declare at the airport and also have to take it to RBI at one of the 5 major city ( no center in my state of Kerala which has highest number of NRI as a percentage of population)?? RBI about time you did a modification to your rules for NRI’s.

  4. Balwinder Singh on

    Retired parents and grandparents who have attained overseas citizenship and have their assets in India in terms of Fixed Deposits, pension income and are paying taxes in India are totally ignored to exchange their INR cash in their possession. They visit India frequently as their lives are divided with their other children who are living in India. Govt should consider allowing them to convert their INR currency brought by them from the country.

    SURPRISED TO NOTE THAT OCI’s/PIO’s ARE NOT ALLOWED TO RETURN THEIR INDIAN NOTES HELD IN THEIR CUSTODY?

    PLEASE BRING THIS TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF AUTHORITIES

  5. Indian government should do something to help NRI to deposit money in there present country of residence. It seems the Indian government does not care about indian people living outside India. This is very heartbreaking and shows the careless attitude of Indian government.

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