From gold jewellery gifted at weddings to investments in gold coins, Indians are obsessed with yellow metal for several reasons.
A notable advantage of gold as an asset is that it is highly liquid and portable. It can be converted to cash when an emergency arises and is easy to exchange whenever needed.
Indian expatriates, in particular, love buying gold from abroad due to its lower prices and superior quality. However, over the past few years, restrictive conditions and customs duties on gold imports discourage many people from carrying 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.
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?
Absolutely! Indian nationals can legally carry gold jewellery to India subject to certain quantity restrictions. The amount allowed and customs duty payable depends on his residency status and duration of his stay abroad.
2. How much gold can I carry to India without paying customs duty?
An Indian passenger who has lived abroad for over one year can bring jewellery free of duty in his bonafide baggage up to an aggregate weight of:
- 20 grams, subject to a maximum value of Rs. 50,000/- (in the case of a male passenger)
- 40 grams, subject to a maximum value of Rs. 100,000/- (in the case of a female passenger)
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.
|Passenger Type||Stay Abroad||Gold Type||Maximum Value|
|Male Indian passenger||More than one year||Gold Jewellery||Up to a value of Rs 50,000|
|Female Indian passenger||More than one year||Gold Jewellery||Up to a value of Rs 100,000|
|Male or Female||Less than one year||Any||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 allowance is only for gold jewellery. Gold in any other form is liable to pay duty.
5. What are the conditions for carrying gold to India as a duty-free allowance?
The main conditions are as follows:
- The passenger should be an Indian citizen.
- The passenger should have stayed abroad for one year.
- It must be in the form of jewellery only. Gold coins, gold biscuits or gold bars cannot be part of the duty-free allowance.
- The maximum duty-free allowance is Rs 50,000 (for men) and Rs 100,000 (for women).
- Gold above this limit will be subject for customs duty.
6. How much is the customs duty on excess gold jewellery?
For those who stayed abroad for more than a year, the discounted duty payable is 13.75%.
7. Do I have to declare gold if I am not asked about it?
If you carry gold above the standard duty-free allowance, you must declare it. Importing gold by concealment in baggage coupled with no declaration will lead to confiscation and the imposition of a fine/penalty, and the offender may also be arrested.
8. Do I have to pay duty if I bought the jewellery from India?
All gold jewellery bought in India is exempt from duty if the passenger exiting the home country duly declares it and secures an export certificate at the airport customs desk.
Export Certificate For Gold
An export certificate is a document issued by customs and contains information like the passenger’s name, passport number and details of the item. In the case of gold jewellery, it will have weight, description etc.
Passengers departing India can obtain an export certificate for high-value items if they intend to bring such items back on their return to India.
Once you have this export certificate for a piece of jewellery, you can bring it in or take it out any number of times without any hassle.
How To Get Export Certificate From India
You must fill out the form and apply with a valuation certificate from an authorised valuer. You can search online for a government-approved registered gold valuer near your place and contact them for a valuation certificate.
Once you have the valuation certificate, produce the certificate and items for the Customs Officer for examination. In addition, provide a boarding pass and passport. He will issue an export certificate for this item.
Please check with your departure airport well in advance, as the procedure is different for some airports.
Export Certificate Validity
The export certificate is valid for three years. It must accompany the item when brought back into India by the passenger or any member of his or her immediate family. This is to clear the item without paying any customs duty on gold.
Part 2: Importing Gold As Baggage
1. Who can import gold as baggage?
Any passenger of Indian origin or a passenger holding a valid Indian passport coming to India after a period of six months abroad can import gold as baggage.
However, short visits during these six months shall be ignored if the total duration of such short visits does not exceed 30 days. In addition, the passenger has not availed of the exemption under this scheme for such short visits.
Except for these passengers, others cannot import gold in baggage.
2. How much is the Customs Duty for importing gold?
The customs duty payable on importing gold is as follows:
|Period of Stay Abroad||Duty-free Allowance||Duty Payable|
|One year and above||Max value of Rs 50,000 for male;|
Max value of Rs 100,000 for female
|Up to 1 kg: 13.75%|
|Six months to one year||No Allowance||Up to 1 kg: 13.75%|
|Less than six months||No Allowance||38.5%|
3. What is the maximum gold I can bring above the free allowance?
Holders of an Indian passport who have at least one-year continuous stay abroad can bring in up to 1 kg of gold on payment of duty. This can be jewellery, 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 of 30 days or less are ignored in calculating this six-month period. If the total days on short visits to India are less than 30 days during the preceding six months, you can import up to 1 kg of gold on duty payment.
5. What if I did not complete six months of stay abroad?
If the passenger bringing in the gold has not stayed abroad for six months, duty @ 38.5% may be charged on all the gold the passenger arrives with.
6. Do I have to carry the gold with me while travelling?
The passenger can either bring the gold himself at arrival or import it within fifteen days of his arrival in India as unaccompanied baggage. There are no restrictions on the sale of gold in India.
The passenger can also obtain the permitted quantity of gold from the Customs bonded warehouse of 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. According to market conditions, this value is subject to change from time to time. A purchase receipt can be good to show the source. However, prices are calculated as per value on the date of travel.
Payment of Gold Duty
To pay customs duty discounted, you must bring foreign currency. If the duty is paid in Indian rupees, the duty rate would be 38.5%.
If the passenger is not able to furnish authentic information for the gold jewellery they bought or money to pay the duty, the only course available to customs officials is to detain the jewellery giving an option to the passenger to release the gold jewellery on payment of duty OR to hand over the gold jewellery to the passenger when he is going to a foreign country (which is called re-export).
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I allowed to carry small jewellery for daily use?
Usually, customs officials do not mind if ladies wear small jewellery for daily use (e.g. a small chain, a pair of earrings etc.). To be on the safer side, you can get an export certificate.
Is jewellery studded with stones included in the duty-free allowance?
The duty-free allowance applies only to pure gold jewellery. Jewellery studded with stones does not qualify for a free allowance.
How much gold is allowed on international flights to India?
The duty-free gold allowance for male passengers is 20 grams (maximum Rs 50,000) and for female passengers is 40 grams (maximum Rs 100,000).
How much gold is allowed from Dubai to India?
Male passengers coming back to India from Dubai can bring gold jewellery up to 20 grams that should not cost more than Rs 50,000. Female passengers are allowed to bring up to 40 grams of gold jewellery, not costing more than Rs 1 lakh. If you are bringing more than this, you have to pay the customs duty.
How much gold jewellery can i carry to USA from India?
According to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), there is no limit on the amount of gold jewelry that can be brought into the United States. However, if the value of the jewelry is over $10,000, it must be declared to a CBP officer on a FINCEN 105 form at the time of 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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