As a new directive from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), from now on every non-resident Indian (NRI) and foreigner leaving the country will have to compulsorily change Indian rupees in their possession into a foreign currency before they board the flight.
It’s a common practice among NRIs to carry some amount of Indian currency with them when they leave the country, mainly for the convenience of not having to exchange forex into rupee when they return the next time. But from now on, they will not be allowed to carry any Indian notes with them.
Although the rule, which is part of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), has been in place for quite sometime now, it is only now that the central bank is trying to enforce it.
On Monday, RBI allowed forex changers to open kiosks beyond the immigration desks at international airports to facilitate NRIs and foreigners opting to exchange rupee for other currencies before they enter the aircraft. According to RBI officials, in case these travellers have Indian currency notes in their possession before boarding the flight, Indian customs officials can act against them.
RBI has allowed NRIs to carry up to Rs 10,000 beyond the immigration and customs desks, and to the duty-free shopping and security checking areas in the departure hall in international airports to meet miscellaneous expenses. However, this has been allowed subject to the condition that NRIs “will not be allowed to carry any Indian rupee beyond SHA and that they should dispose of Indian currency before boarding the plane”, an RBI notification said.
To facilitate money changing facilities for NRIs and foreigners, foreign exchange counters have been allowed in departure halls in international airports beyond the immigration and customs desks.
“Such foreign exchange counters will, however, only buy Indian rupees from non-residents and sell foreign currency to them subject to usual terms and conditions,” RBI said. It has also directed authorities to put up displays at international airports, “reminding passengers that the area is the last point for non-residents to possess Indian Rupees”.