Travelling abroad requires you to carry foreign exchange to settle all transactions in the country where you are headed. However, on returning to India you must not forget to surrender the unspent foreign exchange that you have with you. The foreign exchange can be either in the form of foreign currency or traveller's cheque.
According to Foreign Exchange Management act, 2000, you must surrender the unused foreign exchange within 180 days of your return from abroad. However, if you so desire you can keep foreign exchange up to USD 2,000 in your Resident Foreign Currency (Domestic) or RFC (Domestic)Accounts . You can also keep the amount in foreign currency notes or traveller cheques for use in future course of time.
But, if you have foreign coins then you need not surrender it to authorised brokers. You are eligible to keep foreign coins without any limit.
How much foreign exchange can be brought in while visiting India?
There is no limit on the amount of foreign exchange a traveller can bring while returning to or visiting India. However, if the total value of the foreign exchange exceeds USD 10,000 in form of foreign currency or travellers cheques or the traveller carries more than USD 5,000 in foreign currency alone then he/she has to declare it. It should be declared to the Customs Authorities at the Airport in the Currency declaration Form (CDF) on his/her arrival in India.RBI
Foreign Exchange Limits under Liberalised Remittance Scheme or LRS
Under the revised FEMA 2000, Liberalised Remittance Scheme subsumes foreign exchange limit for travel outside India and is in force since the year 20104. And under the scheme, ADs may freely release forex to resident individuals (including minors) up to USD 2,50,000 per financial year. But it is to be noted that the remittance allowed is for the transaction permissible under the scheme such as free acquisition of shares, mutual fund units, debentures, promissory notes or any other instrument of like nature.
For private visits or holiday abroad an individual is allowed to draw foreign exchange up to $10,000 in a year for one or more private trips abroad.
Foreign currency that can be carried in cash when travelling abroad
Travellers going to all other countries excluding a) and b) below can purchase foreign currency notes / coins only up to USD 3000 per visit. Rest or the balance can be carried as store value cards, travellers cheque or banker's draft.
Exception to the above include
(a) Travellers going to Iraq and Libya can draw foreign exchange in the form of foreign currency notes and coins not exceeding USD 5000 or its equivalent per visit
(b) travellers going to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Russian Federation and other Republics of Commonwealth of Independent States who can draw entire foreign exchange up to USD 250,000 in the form of foreign currency notes or coins.
For travellers going for Haj/ Umrah pilgrimage, full amount of entitlement i.e USD 250,000 in cash or up to the cash limit as specified by the Haj Committee of India, may be released by the Authorised dealers and full fleged money changers or FFMCs.
How much foreign exchange can be purchased with cash payment of rupee for travel abroad?
Foreign exchange for travel abroad can be purchased from an authorized person against rupee payment in cash below Rs.50,000. However, if the amount of foreign exchange purchased is equivalent to or more than Rs. 50000, the payment has to be made by a crossed cheque, pay order, DD, banker's cheque, debit or credit or prepaid card only.
Foreign currency you can take on a business trip
If you are going abroad excluding Bhutan and Nepal on a business trip then you can carry foreign exchange up to US$25,000. In case you need to carry over and above the limit then you have to take prior permission from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regardless of the period of stay abroad.
Read more on forex limit for business trips outside of India
Non Resident Indians (NRIs) are eligible to carry up to Rs. 25,000 of Indian currency abroad. Earlier, only Indian residents were allowed to carry Indian currency notes up to Rs.10,000 out of the country.
You should always be careful to surrender your forex amount after making a trip to abroad. Keeping foreign currency is a serious violation of the FEMA Act and could entail one landing in jail as well.