NRIs, It’s Probably Not Worth Converting Your Old Currency Notes

Imagine this. You have about 5,000 Rupees in change for Taxi and is visiting India after long (or you were traveling abroad during the Nov – Dec time). While you land at an Airport in India, a series of chaos await you. It’s probably not worth your time changing that 5,000 Rupees. Here’s why.

First off, you have to stand in multiple lines at the Airport. First, in the immigration line, then in the luggage line and then in the “red line” – which is a line with the customs where you declare your cash and get a receipt. Oh and by the way, you can only get up to 25,000 Rupees converted as NRIs are only allowed to carry 25K INR outside of India.

Now, if you landed in the wee hours, good luck to you. Expect a cool 5 – 8 hours to get out of the Airport! (Here’s all the technical details on how you can convert your notes though.

Now, once you have your receipt from customs, you have to go to an RBI office to get your old notes exchanged. And no, you cannot go to any RBI, only the designated ones. Which are Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkatta and Nagpur.

Now, if you happen to be anywhere outside of these places, then you would probably have to shell out another 5,000 Rupees to get to these RBI offices. (Ex: Say you are in Kochi, Kerala. Although there is an RBI office, there you have to go to the Chennai one to get your cash converted/deposited. Imagine hotel stay, travel etc.)

Now, before going to the RBI office, please understand that you have to have an NRO account to be able to deposit old notes. Which means, for those of you NRIs who’s been having only NRE accounts, you have to get one. You will need to get to a bank, stand in queue there, get your documents attested etc, you know the drill.

So, I’d imagine a cool two days would go by in getting up your NRO account and reaching the nearest RBI office.

Once you reach the RBI office, another long line of queue awaits you. You have to show your identity cards, NRI status, Passport, bank account details etc multiple times at the office. Another one whole day will go by easily! All this for just 5,000 Rupees.

So, if you got anywhere from 1,000 – 10,000 Rupees to change, I’d think you better keep it to yourself as a sovereign item for your generations to come and save the time and energy you have to spent in getting it converted at an RBI office.

What do you think?

About the author

Mani Karthik

Having lived in the USA, India & Middle East for over a decade, and having worked for big MNC's to startups, I have a lot to share with you. My aim is to help people, by sharing everything I've learned in life through this blog. Come join my pursuit of happiness! WhatsApp me at +001-408-489-4785


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  • hello
    I am an NRI coming to India on 19th feb…I have some indian currency but at my home. We locked our house and flew overseas… Please can anyone tell me what should I do… Please guide and reply.

    • You cannot change it now. The date for changing INR in India was Dec 30th. If you have cash with you, when you get to the Airport, you have to get a document from customs showing how much money you are carrying which then can be presented to the designated RBI offices and your cash deposited to an NRO account. Here are some details

Having lived in USA, India and UAE, I share everything that I’ve learnt in life, on this blog. From spirituality to personal finance and everything in between. Come join my pursuit to happiness! I’m a professional blogger today, working from home. > Here’s my journey so far!


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