Indian Customs Rules For Carrying Cash (2023 Guide)

Indian Customs Rules For Carrying Cash

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 22 October 2023.

With the number of Indians travelling abroad at its highest level, many of us will have to decide how much cash to carry on our international flights. Even though it is safer to carry money as a credit or debit card, there are some situations where we have to keep some currency notes for our day-to-day expenses.

Indian Customs Cash Limit 2023

There are specific guidelines by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the maximum limit of cash that can be carried through Indian airports by travellers including residents, NRIs and foreign tourists.

This article explains the Indian Customs rules for carrying cash as well as the cash limit allowed at Indian airports (Indian Rupees and Foreign Currency) while travelling to and from India.

Cash Limit on Indian Currency At Indian Airports

According to the Central Board of Direct Taxes and Customs (CBDTC) guidelines, a resident of India who is returning from a visit abroad is allowed to bring in or take out Indian currency up to Rs 25,000.

NOTE: A person coming to India from Nepal or Bhutan may bring Indian currency notes only in denominations not exceeding Rs 100 (which means currency notes of Rs 200, Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 are not allowed).

Traveller TypeIndian RupeesForeign Currency
Indian residents returning from a visit abroad Rs 25,000Unlimited (see condition 1 below)
Indian residents going abroadRs 25,000Unlimited (see condition 2 below)
Foreigners* or NRI coming to India Rs 25,000Unlimited (see condition 1 below)
Foreigners* or NRI going back from IndiaRs 25,000Not more than what was bought in by them
Currency allowance during travel to and from India

* If the traveller is a citizen of Pakistan and Bangladesh or coming from and going to either of the countries, carrying Indian currency is not allowed.

Condition 1: Passengers carrying foreign currency have to fill up a Currency Declaration Form (CDF) before Custom officers in the following cases:

  • Where the value of foreign currency notes exceeds US$ 5,000 or equivalent.
  • Where the aggregate value of foreign exchange including currency exceeds US$ 10,000 or equivalent.
Foreign Currency ValueDeclaration Required
Foreign Currency value less than US$ 5,000No
Foreign Currency value equal to or more than US$ 5,000Yes
The total value of Foreign Exchange is equal to or more than US$ 10,000Yes
Conditions when currency declaration is required

Condition 2: Foreign currency taken out of India has to be purchased/issued by an RBI-approved/authorized foreign exchange dealer as per norms.

Exceptions Allowed With RBI Permission

According to Foreign Exchange Management (Export and Import of Currency) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020, “the Reserve Bank may, on an application made to it and on being satisfied that it is necessary to do so, allow any person to take or send out of India to any country or bring into India from any country currency notes of Government of India and /or of Reserve Bank of India subject to such terms and conditions as the Reserve Bank may stipulate.” (source)

Foreign Currency
Illustration of foreign currency

Cash Limit on Foreign Currency At Indian Airports

According to CBDTC, any person (Resident, NRI or Tourist) can bring into India, from a place outside India, foreign currencies without any limit (subject to declaration limit).

Traveller TypeMaximum Limit
Residents, NRIs or Tourists bringing Foreign Currency to IndiaUnlimited (see condition 1 above)
Residents taking Foreign Currency out of IndiaUnlimited (see condition 2 above)
NRIs or Tourists taking Foreign Currency out of IndiaNot more than what was bought in by them
Foreign currency limit while travelling to and from India

Passengers can also use the ATITHI app to file a declaration of dutiable items as well as currency with Indian Customs even before boarding the flight to India.

Currency Limit When Going Abroad From India

Indian residents travelling abroad can take Indian currency notes (Indian rupees) not exceeding Rs. 25,000. Indian residents who went outside can also bring back Indian currency notes not exceeding Rs. 25,000.

Non-residents, tourists including foreign citizens (except citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh),

  1. may take outside India currency notes up to an amount not exceeding Rs. 25,000 per person *
  2. may bring into India currency notes up to an amount not exceeding Rs. 25,000 per person *

*or such other amount and subject to such conditions as notified by the Reserve Bank of India from time to time.

How much money we can carry on international flights from India?

Indian residents travelling abroad can take foreign currency without any limit. This is as long as the same has been purchased or issued by an RBI-approved/authorized foreign exchange dealer as per the norms.

Tourists or NRIs while leaving India are allowed to take with them foreign currency not exceeding an amount brought in by them i.e. unspent foreign exchange left over from the amount declared in the Currency Declaration Form at the time of their arrival in India.

Currency Declaration Form India
Currency Declaration Form Sample

Important Tips On Currency Declaration Form

In case a visitor to India does not wish to encash all the foreign exchange declared on arrival they should retain the Currency Declaration Form with them for production to Indian Customs at the time of their departure from India to enable them to take with them the unutilised balance.

No declaration is required for bringing in foreign exchange/currency not exceeding US$ 5,000 in currency notes or its equivalent. This is also applicable to foreign exchange in the form of currency notes, bank notes or traveller’s cheques not greater than US$ 10,000 or its equivalent.

Generally, tourists can take out of India with them at the time of their departure foreign exchange/ currency not exceeding the above amount.

How much cash can I carry on a domestic flight in India?

There is no specific limit on the amount of cash that can be carried on a domestic flight in India. However, you are responsible for providing a valid reason and source (with proof) for carrying cash of more than INR 200,000 (Rupees 2 lakhs).

Please note that income tax laws in India prohibit any cash transaction exceeding INR 200,000. Recently, there have been incidents of domestic travellers being caught with cash exceeding this limit.

Foreign Currency Limit For NRI

An NRI coming into India from abroad can bring foreign exchange without any limit.

In case, the total value of foreign currency notes, traveller’s cheques, etc. exceeds US$ 10,000 or its equivalent and/ or the value of foreign currency exceeds US$ 5,000 in currency notes or its equivalent, it should be declared to the Customs Authorities at the Airport in the Currency Declaration Form, on arrival in India.

Foreign Currency Limit for Medical Treatment Abroad

To meet medical treatment expenses outside India, you can purchase foreign currency self-certification for up to US$ 50,000. Banks may also release exchanges for amounts above US$ 50,000 if they receive estimates from doctors or hospitals in India or overseas.

Also, foreign exchange of up to US$ 25,000 is available for the patient and accompanying attendant on self-certification in order to meet boarding/lodging/travel costs.

Foreign Currency Limit for Studying Abroad

The maximum amount of foreign exchange you can buy per academic year is US$ 30,000 or the estimate from the institution abroad, whichever is higher. There must be documentary evidence indicating the requirement.

Important Tips on How To Avoid Currency Issues at Airport

  • If you are bringing foreign currency (in big amounts) from abroad, fill up the Currency Declaration form, get it stamped by Customs and keep it with you while returning.
  • If you are buying foreign currency from India, buy from an authorised dealer or bank and keep the transaction receipts with you.
  • On any travel, keep less than Rs 25,000 in Indian Rupees. Know the additional restrictions if you are travelling to and from Nepal or Bhutan.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much foreign currency can I carry to India?

There is no limit on the foreign currency that you can carry to India. However, you need to file a declaration if the currency value exceeds USD 5,000 or the total foreign exchange exceeds USD 10,000.

How much Indian currency can I carry outside India?

When going abroad, Indian residents, NRIs or Foreigners (except citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh) are allowed to carry Indian currency notes of up to Rs 25,000.

Do I have to pay any tax on the foreign currency being imported to India?

There is no tax on the foreign currency you are importing to India. You just need to file a declaration if the currency value is above USD 5,000 or foreign exchange is above USD 10,000.

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Copyright © – Unauthorized reproduction of this article in any language is prohibited. The information provided on this website is intended for general guidance and informational purposes only. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice, and travellers are encouraged to verify visa requirements and travel advisories through official government sources before making any travel arrangements.

Reference: CBEC Customs Guide for Travellers, Reserve Bank of India Circular No. 45/2015, RBI Notification No. FEMA 6 (R)/2015-RB

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  1. Sir,
    Though your article was found by many as useful, i still need some clarifications. Appreciating the effort you took.
    Let me ask a direct question, my relative is in need of 550 pounds ( she is in UK now ) to give deposit for her accomodation. As she has no money left, we are arranging it in India and planning to send with someone who travels to London. So my question is can the passenger who is travelling, carry 550 pounds. Is it legal ? Or is there any other cheaper and quicker way ? Appreciate anyone who reads this give a authentic reply. Thanks in advanc

    1. Hi Shammy, Apologies for the late reply, as your comment went to the next page. We know you would have resolved this by now, but let’s answer it for the sake of others. There is no limit to Indian residents taking foreign currency out of India. The only condition is that it has to be purchased/issued by RBI-approved/authorized foreign exchange dealer as per norms. Just keep the source/purchase receipts while travelling. Wire transfer through banks is another alternative, but you need to compare the exchange rates for both options.

  2. Purnima Walavalkar

    How much Indian currency can an NRI returning from India abroad can keep without declaring to customs.


    Imp query is not answered in article :
    How much Indian currency can NRI carry when he travels from abroad to India??

    Can this be answered

    1. As the Indian rupee is not fully convertible one will not be able to purchase it in any banks abroad.This means in theory that one should not be in possession of the rupees while travelling to India bearing in mind that the export of the Indian currency is strictly prohibited to non residents.Indian citizens however are permitted to carry with them rupees 25,000.00 while travelling abroad from India which they then can legally bring back when returning to India.

  4. Himanshi Dhoundiyal

    Thank you so much. Being a tourism student I really wanted to clarify my concept regarding Forex regulation.

  5. I have a query as one of my friend visting India for short term got stuck up at Kolkata Airport Authority by Custom Department as he was carrying 47 gms of gold jewellery and had no idea of Custom duty fee. Now he did not have much amount to be paid at Custom so I helped him by paying INR 85,000 so the Jewellery will not be seized by custom officials. When I made a contact with an Airport Authority person, Shyamolima Kashyap Dutta, she said the amount paid is all reimbursed to you within 12 hours of payment as they keep it just for security purposes. But I still have no clue for the amount paid as I did not receive any notification so far. Please help….
    Please reply if I will get INR. 85,000 back ??

  6. Does this apply for EACH person within a family? Example, family of 5 traveling to India – is each person allowed 25000 INR (including children)?

  7. I am from India. I am on a business visit to Singapore. I want to exchange sgd to inr while returning back to india. How many inr can I take with me.
    I understand from the above information that the limit is Rs 25000. Is it correct?

  8. Md sameer alam

    Dears i want to know how much indian rupees i can carry with me from jeddah (saudi) to delhi(India) i hope i can get information here please .

  9. Does Indian airport authority sieze the luggage and travel documents who carries huge amt of foreign currency on landing India? Does they have to obtain Anti terrorist certificate in order to release their funds?
    In that case how much they have to pay and where they have to pay? Answer needed urgently.

  10. Hi! Im cristina from philippines and im planning to visit to india. But i have a indian friend and he invited me. He is my sponsor also. Can i ask u if how much i need for show money.

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