On 19 June, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowed all residents and non-residents, except individuals from Pakistan and Bangladesh, to carry Indian currency notes up to 25,000 while leaving the country.

The change

The central bank stated that it was looking to provide convenience to travellers. To address the requirements of residents and non-residents visiting India, RBI decided to allow all residents and non-residents to carry Indian currency notes up to 25,000 while leaving the country. They can also bring Indian currency up to 25,000 into India every time they visit. However, citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh travelling to and from India will not be allowed to carry Indian currency. Resident individuals travelling to Nepal and Bhutan will also not be allowed to carry Indian currency.

RBI had first made this announcement on 3 June, in the second bi-monthly monetary policy statement.

Till recently, only Indian residents were allowed to take Indian currency abroad; non-resident Indians (NRIs) were neither permitted to take out nor bring in any Indian currency while entering or leaving India.

The central bank has been increasing the limit of Indian currency that can be carried overseas in a phased manner for residents. For instance, in 2009, it had increased the limit from 5,000 to 7,500 per person. Then, in September 2013, it further increased the limit to 10,000 per person.

What does it mean?

You don’t need Indian rupees while abroad, but you may need it when you return. The increased limit to 25,000 can be useful for various things—it can cover the cost of transportation on reaching India, hotel stay, buying a SIM card or even buying gifts at duty-free shops at an Indian airport. Say, you plan to go to a small town in Orissa or Uttar Pradesh, and your international flight lands in Delhi. This extra cash will allow you to cover the cost of your long journey. It can also come in handy in case of an emergency.

But with automated teller machines (ATM) easily accessible, is this cash really needed? Yes, for various reasons.

You can convert the cash into foreign currency in your destination country if you didn’t have the chance to do so while departing from India.

Moreover, some people may not be comfortable using their ATM cards in another country for reasons of safety or the extra charges involved.

This may be especially useful for frequent travellers as it will save them from having to rush to a foreign exchange counter every time they visit India.