Although it is safer to carry cash in the form of a credit or debit card if you are traveling to India from the United States, it is convenient to bring some banknotes with you for your daily expenses. However, you must meet certain government requirements for carrying Indian or foreign currency.


As you may know, each country has its own set of rules for visitors entering the country.

Customs duties are imposed on goods imported or exported by countries around the world. Customs duty is a type of indirect tax levied on imported and exported goods. Import duties are imposed on items imported into the country and export duties are imposed on exported products.

This right is used by the government to increase revenue, protect domestic industries from predatory or efficient foreign competitors, and regulate the movement of goods across international borders.

Indian customs rules

Every traveler entering India must clear customs after being cleared by an immigration officer. Travelers carrying prohibited or dutiable goods must complete a Customs Declaration Form (CDF). Dutiable goods are those that must be taxed when imported into a country.

The Indian government imposes a customs levy on all imports into the country, as well as some exports.

Travelers can choose between two channels for customs clearance:

  • Greenway: For travelers who do not have taxable or prohibited products
  • Red Channel: For travelers carrying dutiable or prohibited goods, use the Red Channel.

Travelers should report to the appropriate customs clearance channel. Travelers carrying dutiable/prohibited goods on the Green Channel face prosecution, fines and confiscation of the goods.

Indian Customs Payment Limit

Cash/foreign currency must be declared to customs officers, according to the Central Commission for Direct Taxes and Customs Traveller’s Regulations.

Failure to comply with Indian customs rules may result in the confiscation of your money, a fine or, in serious circumstances, arrest and prosecution.

The Reserve Bank of India has strict limits on the maximum amount of currency that residents, non-resident Indians (NRIs) and international visitors can carry at Indian airports.

This article discusses Indian customs rules for carrying cash, as well as Indian customs cash limit (in Indian rupees and foreign currency) allowed at Indian airports when traveling to and from India .

What is considered money?

Coins, banknotes, funds on deposit with a bank, checks and money orders are examples of cash. Travelers checks can be counted as cash equivalents in your cash total.

Indian Customs Limit on Indian Currency at Indian Airports

When traveling to India from the US (or overseas):

Indian residents

According to RBI Foreign Exchange Management (Export and Import of Currency) Regulations2015, any resident of India who came out of India for temporary visit from any place outside India (other than Nepal and Bhutan) can bring Indian government banknotes and banknotes RBI in India upon return, up to a total value of Rs. 25,000 per person.

Non-Indian Residents/Foreigners

While visiting India, non-Indian residents including foreign nationals (excluding citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh) are allowed to bring up to Rs 25,000 in Government of India and RBI notes .

When traveling from India to the United States (or abroad):

Indian residents

  • Any Indian resident can carry up to Rs 25,000 in Indian Government and RBI notes outside India (except Nepal and Bhutan).
  • No more than two commemorative coins may be taken outside India (except Nepal and Bhutan). Coins minted by the Indian Government Mint to commemorate a certain date or event and expressed in Indian currency are known as commemorative coins.

Non-Indian Residents/Foreigners

NRIs and international visitors (excluding citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh) are allowed to take Indian Government and RBI tickets outside India up to a limit of Rs. 25,000 per person .

Cash limit on foreign currency at Indian airports

When traveling to India from the US (or overseas):

Any person (resident, NRI or tourist) can bring foreign currency without any limit into India from any place outside India,

However, in the following circumstances, you must declare to the customs authorities at the airport using the prescribed Currency Declaration Form (CDF):

  • If the total amount of foreign currency notes exceeds $5,000 or its equivalent in another currency,
  • If the value of the foreign currency (in the form of banknotes, banknotes or travelers checks) exceeds $10,000 or its equivalent,

When traveling from India to the United States (or abroad):

Indian residents

Residents of India traveling abroad are allowed to take foreign currency with them without any limit as long as it has been purchased or issued by an RBI licensed/authorized forex dealer as per standards.

Non-Indian Residents/Foreigners

NRIs or foreign nationals leaving India can only take the amount of foreign currency they have brought with them, i.e. any unspent foreign money remaining after deducting the amount stated in the declaration form currency (CDF).

How to declare to Indian customs authorities on arrival

Customs offices at international airports and seaports can provide Indian customs declaration forms. Before you arrive in India, they can be distributed on airlines or cruise ships. Alternatively, you can be picked up at the airport when going through customs.

You can also download the form and complete it in advance.

Or use the ATITHI application to make a prior declaration. The ATITHI App is a simple mobile application that allows foreign travelers to complete customs declarations for dutiable goods and currencies with Indian Customs even before boarding a flight to India.

Does every passenger traveling to India need to complete a customs declaration form?

The answer is no. Only passengers carrying dutiable or prohibited goods need to complete a customs declaration form or use the ATITHI app to complete a customs declaration.

In conclusion, it is essential to keep in mind that the country you are visiting may have restrictions on the amount of cash you can bring with you. Be sure to do your research for the country you are visiting.

If you want to avoid carrying huge amounts of cash and send money online internationally, there are plenty of options. To send money online to India from the United States., compare money transfer options on real-time comparison sites like CompareRemitwhere you can get the best USD to INR exchange rate and low transfer fees.