Friday, February 8, 2019

How much Indian Currency/Cash NRIs can Carry to/from Overseas/India?

After India's great demonetization drive, NRIs are worried about taking cash overseas. I often received queries regarding this and one of the common one is, how much Indian currency an NRI can take to India from Overseas? The main reason for asking this question now is to make use of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes before they became worthless after December 30th, 2016, because the only way to deposit old Indian currency was to deposit them into NRI Account in India.

Now, the answer to the question is the import of Indian currency is generally prohibited but as per custom rules, an Indian citizen can bring up to 25,000 INR to India for expenses without declaring to customs.

As per custom rules in India, Passengers normally a resident of India who is returning from a visit abroad may carry Indian currency up to Rs. 25,000.

Similarly, while traveling to overseas from India, you can carry maximum 25K (Twenty-five Thousand rupees) Indian rupees.

How much Indian rupees you can take to India from Abroad?

As per custom laws, import of Indian currency e.g. bank notes is prohibited. However, in the case of passengers normally resident in India who are returning from a visit abroad or an Indian citizen working abroad going to India for vacation can take Indian Currency up to Rs.25,000 in the green channel without declaration.

This means, if you are carrying old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes to India to deposit them into your NRI account, you cannot carry more than 25K INR per person.

Also, the norm for Airlines/Vessel Crew members is a little bit different. Crew members are required to submit the correct declaration before Custom authorities with respect to the currency gold ornaments and electronic goods etc. in their possession on arrival as well as the departure of flights.

For example, you are an Indian citizen, living and working in the USA and brought around 25,000 INR from your last visit to India. Now, you are going back to India on Christmas vacation and you want to carry some Indian currency for basic expenses like transportation, food, and other small shopping, you are allowed to take that 25K INR with you, even if they are old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. You can deposit them into your NRO (Non Resident Ordinary) account by 30th December 2016.

Remember, you can not send cash, currency or coins via FedEx or DTDC to India, hence there is no point taking a large Indian currency to Abroad, you never know when those notes become a piece of paper.

How much Indian currency NRI can bring Overseas?

Similar to the import of Indian rupees, export of Indian currency is also strictly prohibited. However Indian residents, when they go abroad for tourism or employment, are allowed to take with them Indian currency not exceeding Rs. 25,000/. This is the same amount you can bring back to India when returning to India.

There are some specific rules for the neighboring country though e.g. carrying of Indian currency notes in the denomination of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 to Nepal is prohibited, so NRIs living in Nepal need not worry about Rs 500 or Rs 1000 as they could not have carried them there in first place.

For example, if you a software engineer going abroad to work in London, you can take a maximum of Rs 25,000 with you, mainly to bring back that money while returning to India and avoid foreign exchange conversion for general expenses like taxi fairs, food items, snacks and some airport duty-free shopping.

You must remember that Indian and foreign currency in excess of prescribed limits are strictly prohibited by Customs and if you had to carry, please don't use green channel.

As per custom rules in India, Please note that non-declaration, misdeclaration, and concealment of imported goods is an offense under the Customs Act which may result in confiscation, fine, penalty and even prosecution”.

The Customs Act, 1962 empowers imposition of heavy penalties for those passengers who:
- attempt to walk through the Green Channel with prohibited, restricted or dutiable goods.
- misdeclaration of their goods at the Red Channel.
- attempt to export prohibited or restricted goods.
- abet the commission of any of the above offenses.

The penal provisions may lead to absolute confiscation of goods and other consequences. Of course, you don't trouble Custom guys while traveling to India.

In short, an Indian citizen traveling to abroad can carry up to 25,000 INR with him as cash. Similarly, an NRI traveling to India can carry 25K INR with them. AFAIK, You don't need to declare that to custom and you can use the green channel.

So, if you are carrying old Rs 500/1000 notes of friends and colleagues to India to deposit them to their NRO account with an authorization letter, you must be aware of this custom limit on import and export of Indian currency from Overseas.

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