Under the revised FEMA rules 2000, the limit of for foreign travel is subsumed under LRS scheme. Hence with effect from 26.05.2015, any resident of India can obtain foreign exchange up to an aggregate amount of USD 250000 in a financial year (from 1st April to 31st March) for travelling abroad.
The travellers going abroad for business and private visits may purchase foreign currency and currency from Authorised dealers like AD Category banks and Full-Fledged Money Changers (FFMCs) are also permitted to release exchange for business and private visits. The resident Indians can buy foreign exchange maximum 180 days in advance of travelling. The rules for carrying foreign exchange abroad are revised with effect from May 26, 2015. Accordingly, the detail of the foreign currency notes and coins a traveller can carry on visit to foreign countries are furnished below.
- Travellers proceeding for Haj/ Umrah pilgrimage may carry full amount of entitlement (USD 250,000) or up to the cash limit as specified by the Haj Committee of India, in currency and coins.
- Travellers going to all countries other than proceeding to Iraq, Libya, Iran, Russian Federation and other Republic of commonwealth of Independent States are allowed to purchase foreign currency notes / coins only up to USD 3000 per visit. Balance amount can be carried in the form of store value cards, travelers’ cheque, Demand Drafts, Pay order, Debit Card, Credit Card etc.
- Travellers going to proceeding to Iraq, Libya can carry foreign exchange in the form of currency notes up to USD 5000 or its equivalent per visit.
- Travellers going to proceeding to Iran, Russian Federation and other Republic of the commonwealth of Independent States can draw and carry entire foreign exchange (not exceeding USD 250,000) in the form of Currencies and Coins.
- The Reserve Bank of India has lifted on 22.01.2015 the ban on individuals carrying Indian currency notes of higher denominations to Nepal and Bhutan. Earlier Indian travelers were allowed to carry Indian currency without any limit in the denomination of only up to Rs.100/-.Now Indian travelers to Nepal and Bhutan can carry Indian currency notes in denominations of Rs.500 and/or Rs.1000, provided the maximum value of these currency notes should not exceed a limit of Rs.25000/-. The ban on carrying higher denomination of Indian currency notes has been relaxed to mitigate the hardship faced by individuals travelling to Nepal and Bhutan from India.
- The air tickets purchased in India in Indian Rupees for travel to any third country would be a part of the traveller’s overall entitlement of USD 250000/-.
- The person travelling can purchase foreign exchange value up to Rs.50000.00 by cash.
If the total value of foreign exchange required to be purchase is exceeding Rs.50000/- then entire foreign exchange should be purchased through crossed cheque, draft, banker’s Cheque etc.
Usage of cards on foreign travel
The travellers going abroad are permitted to hold International Credit Card (ICC) and International Debit Card (IDC). AD banks can also issue Store Value Card, Charge Card, and Smart Card to residents traveling on private/business visit abroad for making payments at overseas merchant establishments and also for drawing cash from ATM terminals. However, the use of such cards is limited to permissible current account transactions and subject to the LRS limit of USD 250000/-. The use of ICCs/IDCs is NOT permitted for prohibited transactions specified in Schedule 1 of FEM (CAT) Amendment Rules 2015, like the purchase of lottery tickets, banned magazines etc. The use of cards for payment in foreign exchange in Nepal and Bhutan is also not permitted.
The limit for Indian currency that can be brought into India from abroad
The resident Indians while returning from temporary foreign visits (other than Nepal and Bhutan), can bring back Indian currency notes up to Rs.25000/-. The Non-Resident Indians or foreigners (not being a citizen of Pakistan and Bangladesh) entering India through an airport can bring an amount up to Indian Rupees 25,000/-. The travellers who are residents of India, who had gone to Pakistan or Bangladesh on a temporary visit, may bring back Indian Rupees up to Rs.10000/- per person.
The limit for foreign currency that can be brought in while visiting India
There is no upper limit to foreign currencies that can be brought to India while visiting India. However, in case of the aggregate value of the foreign exchange in the form of currency notes, bank notes or travellers cheques brought are in excess of USD 10,000 or its equivalent and/or the value of foreign currency alone exceeds USD 5,000 or its equivalent, it should be declared to the Customs Authorities at the Airport in the Currency Declaration Form (CDF), on arrival in India.
Disposal of unspent foreign exchange on returning back to India from foreign tour
The unspent foreign exchange held in the form of currency notes and travelers cheques shall be surrendered to AD within 180 days of return. However, after return from the tour the resident is allowed to keep foreign exchange up to USD 2,000, in the form of foreign currency notes or TCs for future use or credit to their RFC (Domestic)] Accounts. There is no restriction for residents to hold foreign coins without any limit.
Indian currency purchase limit at duty-free shops
The Central Board of Excise & Customs has amended the rules for purchase of goods from duty-free shops. The Government of India communication dated July 8, 2016, states that the Indian currency limit is increased purchase limit from Rs.5000/- to Rs.25000/- at duty-free shops. The above revision is in order to avoid paying excessive exchange fees on foreign currencies by travellers to and from India. It means that the travellers can use Rs.25000/- in Indian currency and rest of the payment can be made in foreign currency for their purchases.
Duty-free shops (stores) can be found in the international zones of international airports, (Ex; Delhi International Airport, Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru etc. in India), Seaports, and several borders crossings (Ex: between USA, Canada, and Mexico). The travellers are allowed to purchase duty-free on board airplanes and passenger ships. The goods sold from duty-free shops to travellers who will carry them out of the country are exempt from local or national taxes/duties. However, duty-free depending upon the location of duty-free shops.
Disclaimer: This post is a sketchy write up for general information and is not necessarily meticulous in respect of RBI guidelines or FEMA rules and amendments taken place from time to time. Therefore, the contents of this article should not be construed as a professional advice under any circumstances. The author of this article is not responsible for the mistakes, errors, ambiguity, inconsistency, discrepancy, doubts or quality of information provided in this article. The liabilities or claims of any nature on account of information provided in this post for whatsoever cause are not recognized.