The NRI Guides Team regularly reviews this article to ensure the content is up-to-date and accurate. The last editorial review and update were on 30 October 2023.
From gold jewellery gifted at weddings to investments in gold coins, Indians have a deep-seated affection for the yellow metal, driven by several factors.
A significant advantage of gold as an asset is its high liquidity and portability. It can be easily converted to cash in emergencies and readily exchanged as needed.
Indian expatriates, in particular, have a penchant for purchasing gold from abroad due to its lower prices and superior quality. Nevertheless, in recent years, stringent conditions and customs duties on gold imports have dissuaded many from bringing gold to India.
This article explains the Indian Customs gold duty, the latest rules, regulations, and procedures to follow while taking gold in and out of India.
Table of Contents
The below information has been prepared after studying the Indian Baggage Rules and traveller guidelines issued by the Central Board of Indirect Customs and Taxes.
Indian Customs Gold Duty Rules
To answer your questions, we will divide this into two parts:
- Part 1: Carrying gold to India during travel (duty-free allowance)
- Part 2: Importing gold to India as baggage (by paying customs duty)
Part 1: Carrying Gold To India During Travel
Let’s start with the most obvious question:
1. Is carrying gold to India legal?
Yes, it is entirely legal for Indian nationals to carry gold jewellery to India. However, the amount you can bring and the customs duty you need to pay depend on your residency status and the time you’ve spent abroad.
2. How much gold can I carry to India without paying customs duty?
If you have lived abroad for more than a year, you can bring gold jewellery up to a certain weight without paying customs duty.
- For male passengers, the limit is 20 grams, with a maximum value of Rs. 50,000.
- For female passengers, the limit is 40 grams, with a maximum value of Rs. 100,000.
Please note that since the current market price of gold per gram is more than Rs 5,000/gram, you cannot take 20/40 grams. So the limit will be the value of Rs 50,000/Rs 100,000.
|Male Indian passenger
|More than one year
|Up to a value of Rs 50,000
|Female Indian passenger
|More than one year
|Up to a value of Rs 100,000
|Male or Female
|Less than one year
|No free allowance
3. Is the allowance applicable to children as well?
Yes, the duty-free allowance on gold jewellery also applies to children, provided they have stayed abroad for one year or more.
4. Can I bring a gold coin, gold biscuit or gold bar within the allowance?
No, the duty-free allowance only applies to gold jewellery. Other forms of gold, like coins, biscuits, or bars, are subject to customs duty.
5. What are the conditions for carrying gold to India as a duty-free allowance?
Here are the main conditions you need to know:
- You must be an Indian citizen.
- You should have stayed abroad for one year.
- The gold must be in the form of jewellery, not in the form of coins, biscuits, or bars.
- The maximum duty-free allowance is Rs. 50,000 for men and Rs. 100,000 for women.
- Gold above this limit is subject to customs duty.
6. How much is the customs duty on excess gold jewellery?
If you’ve stayed abroad for more than a year and carry gold beyond the duty-free allowance, you will be required to pay a discounted duty of 13.75%.
7. Do I have to declare the gold if I am not asked about it?
Yes, if you have gold exceeding the standard duty-free allowance, you must declare it. Failing to declare it can lead to confiscation, penalties, and even legal consequences.
8. Do I have to pay duty if I bought the jewellery from India?
Any gold jewelry purchased in India is exempt from duty if you declare it correctly and obtain an export certificate at the customs desk before leaving the country.
Part 2: Importing Gold As Baggage
1. Who can import gold as baggage?
“Passengers of Indian origin or a passenger holding a valid Indian passport, coming to India after a minimum of six months abroad, can import gold as baggage.
Short visits within six months are not considered if they total less than 30 days. Additionally, the passenger should not have utilized the exemption under this scheme during such short visits.
Apart from these passengers, others are not permitted to import gold as baggage.
2. How much is the Customs Duty for importing gold?
The customs duty for imported gold depends on the duration of your stay abroad:
- One year or more: Duty-free allowance is Rs. 50,000 for males and Rs. 100,000 for females, and for gold above this limit, a 13.75% duty applies.
- Six months to one year: No duty-free allowance, but gold up to 1 kg can be imported by paying a 13.75% duty.
- Less than six months: No duty-free allowance and a 38.5% duty applies.
|Period of Stay Abroad
|One year and above
|Maximum value of Rs 50,000 for males;
Maximum value of Rs 100,000 for female
|Up to 1 kg: 13.75%
|Six months to one year
|Up to 1 kg: 13.75%
|Less than six months
3. What is the maximum gold I can bring above the free allowance?
If you’ve stayed abroad for at least a year, you can bring up to 1 kg of gold on payment of duty, which can be in various forms such as jewelry, crude gold, gold coins, or gold biscuits.
4. I have visited India for a few days in the last six months. Can I qualify to bring gold?
Short visits to India (less than 30 days) within the preceding six months are not counted when determining eligibility to bring gold. You can import up to 1 kg of gold on payment of duty.
5. What if I did not complete six months of stay abroad?
If you haven’t stayed abroad for six months, a duty of 38.5% may be charged on all the gold you bring with you.
6. Do I have to carry the gold with me while travelling?
You can either bring the gold yourself upon arrival or import it as unaccompanied baggage within fifteen days of your arrival in India. There are no restrictions on selling gold in India.
The passenger can also obtain the permitted quantity of gold from the Customs bonded warehouse of the State Bank of India and Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation. This is subject to the same conditions.
8. How is the gold price calculated? Can I show the purchase receipt?
The price of gold is calculated based on the value notified by the government of India at the time of travel. While a purchase receipt can help prove the source, the value of the gold is determined based on the date of travel.
Payment of Gold Duty
To pay customs duty at a discounted rate, you must use foreign currency. Paying in Indian Rupees incurs a duty rate of 38.5%.
If you can’t provide authentic information about the gold jewellery or the means to pay the duty, customs officials may detain the jewellery and offer you the choice of paying the duty or re-exporting the gold when leaving India.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I allowed to carry small jewellery for daily use?
Generally, customs officials usually do not object to ladies wearing small, daily-use jewelry (e.g., a small chain, a pair of earrings, etc.). To ensure a smooth experience, you can obtain an export certificate before leaving India.
Is jewellery studded with stones included in the duty-free allowance?
The duty-free allowance applies exclusively to pure gold jewelry. Jewelry adorned with stones does not qualify for this allowance.
How much gold is allowed on international flights to India?
The duty-free gold allowance for male passengers is 20 grams (with a maximum value of Rs. 50,000), while for female passengers, it’s 40 grams (with a maximum value of Rs. 100,000).
How much gold is allowed from Dubai to India?
Male passengers returning to India from Dubai can bring gold jewelry weighing up to 20 grams, valued at not more than Rs. 50,000. Female passengers are permitted to bring up to 40 grams of gold jewelry, valued at no more than Rs. 1 lakh. Exceeding these limits requires payment of customs duty.
How much gold jewellery can I carry to the USA from India?
According to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), there is no specific limit on the amount of gold jewelry that can be brought into the United States. However, if the value of the jewelry exceeds $10,000, it must be declared to a CBP officer on a FINCEN 105 form upon entry. If the jewelry is a personal possession being brought back to the US, there is no need to declare it.
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Aneesh, the Founder & Editor of DG Pixels, holds a Master’s Degree in Communication & Journalism, and has two decades of experience living in the Middle East. Since 2014, he and his team have been sharing helpful content on travel, visa rules, and expatriate affairs.