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Last week I tried to exchange some Swiss Francs into Indian rupees. For that I visited a big bank and they told me that they have rupees but I'm not allowed to import any into India. Is this really true?

And if so, what's the reason behind such a law?

P.S. The bank also told me that in practice it isn't a problem if you take money below 200 Swiss Francs into the country.

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    There's an important update to the answer, added now with a link to the customs page. Import of Indian currency is allowed...but only for Indian citizens. This is an important distinction they make which foreign travellers need to be aware of. Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 15:02
  • @AnkurBanerjee the accepted answer (which you wrote!) says that the distinction is drawn not on citizenship but on place of "normal residence." This implies that a foreigner who resides in India may import Indian currency and an Indian citizen who resides abroad may not (though I suppose it's possible that citizens count as "normally resident" even if they don't actually reside in India).
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 10:44
  • @phoog Yeah, technically what counts here for “normally resident” is since citizens who don’t live in India could have tax domicile there, or non-citizens with work/student visas etc Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 15:26

1 Answer 1

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Currency inflow/outflow in India is regulated under the Foreign Exchange Management Act. The relevant foreign exchange / customs rules are:

  • Import of Indian Currency is prohibited. However, in the case of passengers normally resident in India who are returning from a visit abroad, import of Indian Currency upto Rs.25,000 is allowed. This translates to roughly USD 300 (depending on current exchange rates).
  • There is no limit on amount you can bring in foreign currency into India. If the amount is above USD 5000 in cash or if carried in form of travellers cheques + cash, then any amount above USD 10,000 has to be declared using a customs declaration form when entering India.

Even though you are technically allowed to bring in large amounts of cash/money in other forms, you may be asked questions by Customs officials when you hand in your declaration form.

I believe the limit your bank has mentioned refers to the first rule, although at current exchange rates it won't translate to 200 Swiss francs. In practice customs officials rarely, if ever, check how much currency a traveller is carrying but if you do get stopped for inspections for any reason and they find you exceeding any of the limits mentioned above, then they can take action against you.

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    The reasons why this is done: one supposed reason it to prevent import of fake currency into India. And also, probably, regulating inflow of foreign exchange on Indian central banks own terms / rates. Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 15:14
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    I had no knowledge of such a regulation, so I must say I've been lucky so far, because each time I visited India I had some rupees at the end of the stay which I kept for the following trip (usually one year later... ). The amount was never very high, let's say 1,500 rupees at the most, but I guess I would have landed in trouble all the same, as I'm not a regular resident there.
    – Paola
    Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 20:42
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    @AnkurBanerjee They also restrict the outflow of Indian currency from the country. This is also possibly in order to prevent the hoarding of currency in foreign banks or restrict the amount of black money outflow and curb corruption. Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 17:21
  • In practice, if you bring just enough money for catching a taxi and one day expenses, it should be ok, even for a foreigner. Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 8:25

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