A guide on foreign exchange transactions in India for NRIs

A guide on foreign exchange transactions in India for NRIs

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Executive Summary: If you’re an NRI travelling to India or staying here for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to be well informed about the rules governing foreign exchange transactions in India. Read more to find out.


It’s time for your annual holiday to India or maybe you are planning a visit to India for a special family occasion. Whatever the reason, you are likely to bring along some foreign currency. What are the rules regarding this? The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has laid down some requirements with regards to foreign exchange transactions for NRIs in India. Here’s what you need to know:

Forex rules for NRIs travelling to India

Carry an unlimited amount of foreign currency back to India but comply with customs declarations.

There is no cap or limit on the amount of foreign exchange that you can bring with you to India. That said, if you are bringing back a substantial sum, you must ensure that you declare the same to the customs authorities at the airport. Customs declarations are mandatory if the aggregate or total value of the foreign exchange is equal to or exceeds USD 10,000 in various forms; be it currency notes, travellers’ cheques or bank notes.

When it comes to cash, you must declare amounts exceeding USD 5,000 or its equivalent1.

Rules regarding NRIs staying in India for a while

If you plan on staying in India for a long period of time, you may need cash in INR.

As an NRI, you can bring in as much foreign currency as you like after declaring it to customs. But if you plan on staying in India for a while, you can open an NRO/NRE account, deposit your foreign currency and withdraw in INR. Banks typically levy a nominal transaction and currency conversion fee. In case you choose to extend your stay for more than 182 days, your residency status will change to a resident Indian. In this case, you are required to surrender the foreign currency amounts (cash and travellers’ cheques) exceeding USD 2,000 or its equivalent.


Final Note: As mentioned above, you can bring in any amount you like into India as long as you declare it to customs. In case your visit is for an extended period of time, please do review the rules regarding foreign currency.

References: 1 2

*Disclaimer: This article has been shared purely from an information perspective and we recommend you conduct extensive research before proceeding.

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