Fortunately, if you’re wondering how to exchange foreign currency in India, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s like in any other nation. You present a foreign currency and exchange this for Indian rupees (INR) or trade your INR for another currency. Different businesses offer different exchange rates and commission rates, so shop around before committing.
If you are a visitor to India, you will not be allowed to bring Indian currency into the country. This is due to strict anti-corruption laws and a black market of fake banknotes. Instead, you will need to travel to India with foreign currency and change it upon your arrival. Read on to learn more and, ahead of your trip, find out about acquiring your India eVisa too!
Do I Need ID to Exchange Currency in India?
Yes, if you wish to exchange currencies, you will be asked to provide ID. Under the regulations of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), you will need at least 1 of the following documents:
- An Indian passport.
- An air ticket showing that you have travelled into India within the last 60 days or will be leaving within the same timeframe.
- A PAN card.
- An Indian driving license.
- A Voter’s ID.
- An Aadhar card.
If you are not an Indian national, you are unlikely to have any of these forms of ID bar your travel tickets. When you exchange currencies, ensure these documents are on your person, either as a paper ticket or an official e-ticket accessible on your smartphone. Your request to change money will be rejected without this ID.
Where to Exchange Currency in India
3 types of business will exchange money in this country. Each of these has different policies surrounding exchanging funds.
Any bank that holds an AD-I licence, distributed by the RBI, is legally permitted to buy or sell foreign currency.
If you hope to change money in an Indian bank, you will need to hold an account with the branch. You will also need to provide the ID discussed above.
Be aware, banks in the country rarely offer competitive exchange rates for foreign currency. This is considered an additional service, not a core business need.
2. Money Changers
You can visit the shopfront of a licensed money changer. These businesses need an AD-II license from the RBI or a Full-Fledged Money Changer License (FFMC) provided under Section 10 (1) of the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
You are likely to get the best exchange rate and deal from a money changer. These businesses will not insist that you open a bank account before making your currency exchange, though you will still need ID.
Reliable money changers in the country include:
- Unimoni (formerly known as UAE Exchange)
- Muthoot Forex
- Thomas Cook
- Cox & Kings
If you are using a common international currency, such as USD, GBP or EUR, these exchanges should be instantaneous. You will walk out of the money changer’s premises with the appropriate amount of INR on your person. All the same, it is advisable to check this before you commit to handing over your funds.
All major airports have kiosks that enable you to exchange foreign currency. This is great for last-minute exchanges. That said, only change money at the airport if you have no other choice. The rates are usually terrible for consumers, and you may lose a substantial amount of money in commission.
Which Bank Gives the Best Exchange Rates in India?
As discussed previously, banks rarely offer the best rates for foreign currency. What’s more, you must be an account holder with an Indian bank to exchange money at such a facility. If you are a foreign national, this is unlikely to be the case. In such an instance, visit a licensed money changer instead.
If you are an Indian bank account holder and wish to exchange money with a bank, the following are considered to offer the best rates. Again, though, remember that rates vary day-by-day.
- Axis Bank
- Bank of Baroda
- HDFC Bank
- ICICI Bank
- Indian Bank (this is the name of a bank with an HQ in Chennai)
- Kotak Mahindra BankIf you are planning to do business in the country or visit regularly and want to open a local account, you may wish to consider one of these banks due to their preferential rates.
What Is the Best Place to Exchange Dollars for Rupees?
If you travel to India with USD, try to exchange these with a licensed money changer. Banks impose regulations that may make the exchange impossible, as well as offering less than desirable exchange rates. Airport kiosks, meanwhile, will offer a poor rate that leaves you out of pocket.
Can I Use an ATM in India?
Yes, we can withdraw INR from an ATM in India using a standard debit or credit card. Just look for the usual Visa or Mastercard symbols on an ATM, change the language on the ATM if necessary, and follow the on-screen instructions.
You will likely be charged an international currency fee by your bank every time you use an ATM in the country. Many Indian ATMs also levy a fee of between 150-300 INR (2-4 USD) per withdrawal.
More Currency of India Information
By now we’ve provided you with lots of helpful details about how to exchange currencies in this country. In addition, there are a few things that you should know about the currency of India ahead of your trip. Read on to learn more!
What Is the Currency in India?
The currency is the rupee (INR). 100 paise make up 1 rupee, but all expenses in the country are incurred in rupees. This is the only legal tender in the country. If you wish to use foreign money during your stay, this will need to be exchanged first.
In a pinch, most restaurants, cities and larger shops accept Visa and Mastercard, especially in the major cities like Mumbai and New Delhi. Some also accept American Express and Discover, though this is less commonplace.
What Are the Rupee Exchange Rates?
Exchange rates into rupees vary depending on the fluctuating state of the global financial market. However, broadly speaking, expect the following rates to apply:
- 1 USD = 75 INR
- 1 GBP = 100 INR
- 1 EUR = 90 INR
To stress again, though, this is just an average guide. You may enjoy a higher or lower rate at any given time. The only way to be certain of an exchange rate is investigating what is offered by local currency conversion services.
What Are the Rupee Denominations?
Rupees are available as both notes and coins in India. The most frequently used denominations of notes are:
- 10 INR
- 20 INR
- 50 INR
- 100 INR
- 200 INR
- 500 INR
Meanwhile, there are also a handful of coins in circulation to the value of:
- 1 INR
- 2 INR
- 5 INR
- 10 INR
Notes are typically used much more. All genuine Indian banknotes are issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and feature the face of Mahatma Gandhi on the front.
About Currency Digit Grouping
In India, the currency is labelled in a 2, 2, 3 formation. This means that 250,000 INR will be marked 2,50,000 INR. Do not make a mistake and think that this means you only owe a shopkeeper or restaurant 2.50 INR – very little in India is that cheap!
What Are Lakhs?
You may see references to lakhs in India. 1 lakh is equal to 100,000 INR. This means that a cost of 250,000 INR may be referred to as 2.5 lakh rupees or the aforementioned 2,50,000 INR.
How Much Indian Currency Can I Carry to India?
Unless you are an Indian resident, it is not permitted to bring Indian money into the country. You will need to exchange your currency upon arrival in India. If you are an Indian resident, you can bring up to 25,000 INR of cash into the country.
How Much Foreign Currency Can I Carry to India?
You can bring foreign funds, as well as debit and credit cards or travellers’ cheques. Travellers’ cheques can be made out in INR if that is your preference.
There is no limit on how much foreign money you can bring into the country. However, if you have more than 5,000 USD in cash or 10,000 USD in combined cash and travellers’ cheques upon arrival in the country, you must declare this at customs.
Is There a Cash Carrying Limit in India?
There is no legal limit on how much cash you can carry in the country. However, Indian police have stop-and-search powers. If the police find a large amount of cash on your person, you will be expected to justify this with an explanation that is considered reasonable.
You will also likely be asked to provide evidence that the cash was acquired legitimately, so always ask for a receipt from an ATM or currency exchanger service. If you fail to satisfy the police queries, you can be interrogated further.
We hope you’ve found this article useful! To find out more about visiting this country before you go, check our Visiting India page.