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RBI Rules On Outward Remittance & Money Exchange

RBI rules on foreign currency exchange and money transfer abroad

The Reserve Bank of India is the top rulemaking authority in India regarding financial affairs, including foreign exchange transactions. So if you are looking to do a money transfer abroad from India or currency exchange in India, then you need to be aware of the RBI rules regarding the same. Let’s take a look at the RBI rules on forex transactions and how to lawfully seek forex services in India.

RBI Rules On Forex Transaction


One of the functions of the RBI is to keep track of the foreign exchange transactions in India. To this effect, they’ve drafted rules for the maintenance of the foreign exchange market in India called the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). The foreign exchange rules applicable to individual residents are drafted under FEMA in the “Liberalized Remittance Scheme (LRS)” and this is the rule of most interest to us.

Contents

  1. RBI Rules On Money Transfer Abroad

    1.
    Maximum Transfer Limit
    2. RBI approved Institutions For Money Transfer Abroad
    3. RBI requirements for Money Transfer Abroad
    4. Purposes of Remittance and KYC Documents
       
        4.1   Overseas Education
        4.2   Living expense of student studying abroad
        4.3   Maintenance of Close Relatives Abroad
        4.4   Gift Remittance
        4.5   Emigration
        4.6   Tour Remittance
        4.7   Medical Treatment Abroad
        4.8   Participation in Global Conference / Training
        4.9   Business Travel Abroad
        4.10 Private Visit Abroad

    5. Banned Transactions Under LRS
    6. RBI approved Money Transfer Methods
    7. Required Beneficiary Account Details
    8. Intermediary Bank Charges

  2. RBI Rules On Currency Exchange

    1. RBI rules for buying foreign currency in India

        1.1 KYC Documents required for buying foreign currency
        1.2 When to purchase foreign currency
        1.3 Limit on buying foreign currency
        1.4 Payment mode to be used for buying forex in India

    2. RBI rules for selling foreign currency in India

        2.1 KYC Documents required for selling foreign currency
        2.2 When to sell foreign currency
        2.3 Amount of foreign currency we can bring back to India
        2.4 Receiving money after selling foreign currency

RBI Rules On Money Transfer Abroad

  1. Maximum limit of money that can be transferred abroad by an Indian citizen – As per the Liberalized Remittance Scheme, a resident individual has the facility to transfer money abroad to the limit of USD 2,50,000 per financial year (approx INR 1.8 crore, check today’s USD exchange rate in India). This limit can be used in a one-time transaction or through multiple transactions.

    An important update regarding the LRS scheme: Earlier, it was not necessary to produce PAN card for money transfer transactions abroad up to USD 25,000 or its equivalent. However, in April 2018, this rule was amended. Now, it is mandatory to produce the PAN card for all remittance transactions from India to Abroad regardless of the amount being transferred. This is to ensure that a resident individual is being compliant to the LRS limit of USD 2,50,000 in a single financial year.

    Note: The LRS scheme is not available to corporates, partnership firms, trusts etc.

  2. RBI approved institutions for sending money from India to abroad – The only RBI approved institutions for transferring money abroad from India are;

    1. Banks (Authorised Dealer – I)
    2. Money changers having AD-II category licence (Authorised Dealer – II).

    Money changers having AD-II licence are authorized by RBI to carry out money changing activities like money transfer abroad and currency exchange.

    Note: Paypal and other such online payment sites are not an RBI-approved way of sending money abroad for personal payments. They can only be used for payment of invoices raised by businesses abroad for any service/goods one has rendered from them in India. These are business payments and do not fall under LRS.

  3. Mandatory RBI requirements for an individual to do outward remittance from India

    1. Purpose of Remittance
    2. KYC Documents

    When sending money abroad from India, RBI insists on knowing the Purpose of Remittance and submitting the KYC Documents with your bank or money changer, whom you have chosen to do the money transfer. 

    If these 2 two conditions are not met, then you will not be able to do outward remittance from India.

  4. List of popular Purposes of Remittance and their RBI guidelines on money transfer abroad

    1. Overseas Education

    Required KYC documents;

    a. Indian Passport Copy of the sender
    b. PAN Card Copy of the sender
    c. Indian Passport or Voters ID or Aadhar Card or other Govt. Issued Photo ID Card of the sender
    d. Purpose proof (University Letter/Prospectus)
    e. Bank account statement (if required)
    f. Maintenance of Close Relative Abroad

    2. Living expense of student studying abroad

    Required KYC documents;

    a. Indian Passport or Voters ID or Aadhar Card or other Govt. Issued Photo ID Card
    b. PAN Card Copy
    c. Relationship Proof
    d. Beneficiary Passport Copy
    e. Bank Account Statement

    3. Maintenance of Close Relative Abroad

    Required KYC documents;

    a. Indian Passport or Voters ID or Aadhar Card or other Govt. Issued Photo ID Card
    b. PAN Card Copy
    c. Relationship Proof (only blood relative defined by RBI)
        Spouse of the individual
        Brother or sister of the individual
        Brother or sister of the spouse of the individual
        Brother or sister of either of the parents of the individual
        Any lineal ascendant or descendant of the individual
        Any lineal ascendant or descendant of the spouse of the individual
    d. Beneficiary Passport Copy
    e. Bank account statement

    4. Gift Remittance

    Required KYC documents;

    a. Indian Passport or Voters ID or Aadhar Card or other Govt. Issued Photo ID Card
    b. PAN Card Copy
    c. Beneficiary Passport Copy (If required by money changers)
    d. Bank account statement

    5. Emigration

    Required KYC documents;

    a. Indian Passport or Voters ID or Aadhar Card or other Govt. Issued Photo ID Card
    b. PAN Card Copy
    c. Beneficiary Passport Copy (If required by money changers)
    d. Bank account statement (if required)

    6. Tour Remittance

    Required KYC documents;

    a. Invoice copy for the Hotel Booking or Travel arrangement
    b. Passport Copy
    c. PAN Card copy
    d. Bank account statement (if required)

    7. Medical Treatment Abroad

    Required KYC documents;

    a. Indian Passport Copy
    b. Visa Copy or Confirmed Air Ticket Copy
    c. PAN Card Copy
    d. Purpose proof (Letter from Overseas Hospital)

    8. Participation in Global Conference / Training

    Required KYC documents;

    a. Invitation letter or invoice from overseas
    b. Passport or Voters ID or Aadhar Card or Government Issued other photo ID Cards
    c. PAN Card Copy

    9. Business Travel Abroad

    Required KYC documents;

    a. Company Incorporation Certificate Copy
    b. Company PAN Card Copy
    c. GST Certificate Copy
    d. Two address-proof Copies (Govt approved – BSNL/Shop Est Certificate/Govt License Copy etc.)
    e. A letter requesting for releasing foreign exchange in company letterhead with seal (Format prescribed by authorised dealer)
    f. Passenger’s Passport, Visa & Air Ticket Copy
    g. Filled A2 Form with company seal (Format prescribed by authorised dealer)
    h. An ID Proof of authorised official signing the request letter.

    10. Private Visit Abroad

    Required KYC documents;

    a. Indian Passport
    b. Confirmed Air Ticket showing travel within 60 days
    c. PAN Card
    d. Valid Visa (Mandatory for some countries)
    e.   Aadhar Card (If required)

  5. Banned Transactions Under LRS

    1. Remittances for the purchase of lottery tickets/sweepstakes, banned magazines, etc. or any item restricted under schedule 2 of foreign exchange management rule 2000 are prohibited under LRS.

    2. Remittance for trading in foreign exchange, purchase of FCCB issued by the Indian company in the overseas secondary market are not allowed under LRS.

    3. Capital account remittances, to countries identified as “non-cooperative countries and territories” by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), are also limited under LRS.

    4. Remittances to entities, which are identified as a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism, are also banned under LRS scheme as advised by the Reserve bank of India.

  6. RBI approved Money Transfer Methods

    1. Wire Transfer / Telegraphic Transfer
    2. Demand Draft

    Note 1: In the case of money transfer, RBI mandates that the money to be transferred, must be sent to the bank or to the chosen money changers account only by way of online bank transfer (NEFT/RTGS/Payment Gateway). No cheque, cash or card payment is allowed.

    Note 2: The money transfer must be initiated from your personal savings account (Resident Indian).

  7. Required Beneficiary Account Details

    The following are the Beneficiary details required by your bank or money changer to process the money transfer abroad transaction;

    1. Bank Name
    2. Bank Address
    3. Name of the account holder
    4. Address of the account holder
    5. Account number

    SWIFT code is mandatory for all countries and the following code is required for different countries:

    1. The Middle East & Europe – IBAN number
    2. Australia -BSB code
    3. The UK – Sort Code
    4. Canada – Transit code
    5. USA – Routing Number

  8. Intermediary Bank Charges

    When sending money abroad, the money is routed through intermediary banks before it finally reaches the beneficiary bank abroad. These intermediary banks usually charge a specific amount of money for this service called the intermediary bank charges.

    The following are the intermediary bank charges for different countries;
CNY Intermediary Bank Charge
US Dollar Up to 20 to 25 USD
Australian Dollar Up to 25 AUD
Euro Up to 25 Euros
British Pound Up to 18 to 20 GBP
New Zealand Dollar Up to 28 to 30 NZD
UAE Dirham Up to 110 AED
Canadian Dollar Up to 38 to 40 CAD
Swiss Franc Up to 28 to 30 CHF
Hong Kong Dollar Up to 240 to 250 HKD
Japanese Yen Up to 5500 JPY
Saudi Riyal Up to SAR 40
Singapore Dollar Up to 28 to 30 SGD
South African Rand Up to 450 to 500 ZAR
Swedish Krona Up to 90 to 100 SEK
Norwegian Krone Up to 110 NOK
Danish Krone
Up to 110 DKK

Now let us take a look at the RBI rules on currency exchange in India.

RBI Rules On Currency Exchange

As per LRS, a resident individual has the facility to buy foreign currency for the full limit of USD 2,50,000 for a single trip or multiple trips abroad per financial year.

RBI permits the LRS limit to be drawn as cash, traveller’s cheque, forex card or a combination of these methods. These are all covered under currency exchange.

Note: There is no separate LRS limit for Money Transfer Abroad and Foreign Currency Exchange. The limit of USD 2,50,000 is applicable for both of them combined in a single financial year. This limit also includes expenses incurred for business trips abroad.

Let us now take a look at the RBI rules regarding currency exchange in India.
(If you are looking to buy foreign currency, then our currency exchange guide in India can help)

  1. RBI rules for buying foreign currency in India

    1. KYC Documents required for buying foreign currency

    a. Indian Passport
    b. Confirmed Air Ticket showing travel within 60 days
    c. PAN Card
    d. Valid Visa (Mandatory for some countries)
    e. Aadhar Card (If required)

    2. The period when we can purchase foreign currency

    60 days within the date of travel (date of travel in flight ticket)

    3. Limit on buying foreign currency

    Limit of up to USD 2,50,000 or its equivalent in any currency out of which only up to USD 3,000 can be purchased as cash per trip abroad. The rest of the money can be carried in forex card or in traveller’s cheque for that trip.

    Note 1: If you are travelling as a family or group and need more than USD 3000 as cash for your combined expenses abroad, then you can procure the additional forex by providing the KYC documents of the other members of the group, thus expanding your cash limit.

    Note 2: Only resident Indians can buy foreign currency in India.
    NRIs and foreigners are not allowed to buy forex in India.

    4. Payment mode to be used for buying forex in India

    Cash – A resident Indian can purchase foreign currency in India by directly paying for it via cash to the respective bank or money change only if the total transaction value if below Rs 49,990 including GST and transaction charges.

    Online Payment – If the total value of the forex transaction exceeds Rs, 49,990, then as per RBI rules only online payment like NEFT/RTGS and payment gateway mode is accepted.

    Card – Credit/debit card payment is not accepted at all.

    Note: Only one payment mode can be used for completing one transaction. You cannot use a combination of 2 or more payment modes to pay for the forex for one person, i.e., cash + bank transfer (Part payment not accepted).

  2. RBI rules for selling foreign currency in India

    1. KYC Documents required for selling foreign currency

    a. Indian Passport (Mandatory for transactions above Rs.25,000)
    b. Driving License
    c. Voters ID
    d. Aadhar Card
    e. PAN Card (If required)

    2. When to sell foreign currency in hand after coming back to India

    On return from a trip abroad, travellers have to surrender their unspent foreign exchange held in the form of cash and traveller’s cheques within 180 days of return. 

    However, one can retain foreign exchange up to USD 2,000 or its equivalent in any currency, without any time limit, in the form of foreign currency notes or TCs for future use.

    3. Amount of foreign currency we can bring back to India

    There is no limit to bring foreign exchange in India. 

    Note : However, if the total value of the foreign currency in the form of currency notes exceeds US$ 5000, or the total value of foreign currency notes + traveller’s cheque exceeds US$ 10,000, then you are required by RBI to declare the total amount in the Currency Declaration Form (CDF) which is available at all international airports. 

    The CDF is an important document that needs to be produced at the bank or money changer store at the time of selling your foreign exchange.

    4. Receiving money after selling foreign currency

    If the total amount of money you are about to receive after selling your foreign currency is less than Rs. 49,990, then the bank or money changer can give you the money as either cash, cheque or through online transfer to your bank account (NEFT).

    However, if the total amount of money for selling your forex exceeds Rs, 49,990, then the only payment mode through which your bank or money changer will give the money to you is online transfer (NEFT/RTGS).

    Note: For example, if you have Rs 90,000 worth of USD which you are about to sell and you want to be paid back in cash (Rupees) then there is a way to do it. Simply submit the relevant KYC Documents of another fellow traveller (Only close relatives).

Just following these above rules will make your currency exchange process in India a cakewalk.

Broadly speaking these are all the important RBI rules and guidelines you as a customer need to be aware of regarding money transfer abroad and currency exchange in India.

If you have any queries or points to add, please mention in the comments below.

Also Read: 10 Things you should know before buying foreign exchange in India

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