How can I exchange Rs 500 & 1000 notes in India as a foreigner?

  • I am travelling to India in late December. I exchanged cash for my trip a couple weeks back and now have a considerable amount of those 500 rupee notes which are no longer valid. I'm a bit at a loss what to do.

    I read this other question and realise that my options while overseas are quite limited. My local (Singapore) branches of Indian banks or money changers don't accept the notes and the Indian High Commission refuses to give any useful answer. However, as I will be travelling to India my situation is a bit different then the one mentioned in the related question.

    Is there any way I can exchange this money in India?

    Note that this is after the deadline (14th November) at which money can be exchanged by tourists at the airport. I am also not an Indian national, so depositing it into an Indian account is (as far as I know) not an option.

    I'm in the same boat (also from Singapore). I celebrated Diwali in India and returned to Singapore on the 5th of November. And barely three days had passed (not enough time to fully recover from my travel) when that dratted announcement was made. Luckily, I only have two 500 rupee notes, just about $21 in Singapore currency. I'm writing this off and keeping the notes as souvenirs. I think I'll survive.

    I am briefly in India at the moment. All ATMs other than the hotel have hour(s)-long queues. Reports of bank queues for exchange and deposit are at six hours, and three people died in queue yesterday. There are so many people, though, that may be statistically normal. I expect that tourists will have more and more difficulty exchanging notes because import and export of rupee notes by non-Indians is prohibited, so now that the notes can not be from earlier in a visit, their provenance is suspect.

  • Fiksdal

    Fiksdal Correct answer

    4 years ago

    I am in India. I know of people who have done this during the last few days without bank accounts while visiting on tourist visas.

    Your first option is to take your passport and a few photocopies of both it and your visa and go to any bank. You're supposed to be able to exchange up to 5000 INR (if this is too low for you, there's a second option further down) into lower denominations or new bills after filling out some forms. Once you have the valid denominations, you're fine.

    The catches are:

    1. There may be long lines. It's better to show up at 8 or 9 in the morning. You might have to wait for several hours.

    2. Even after waiting, there is no guarantee that you'll succeed at any given bank. They may run out of cash at any time. If that happens, you'll just have to try again at another bank or time. If you can, try asking someone before getting in line, to at least get some idea of whether such exchange is possible.

    You can also do this at post offices. The above advice applies there too. Both that and the banks will be possible until December 30th.

    Second option: If the above sounds tedious to you (it is) you can try to sell the notes to someone for lower than their face value. That would effectively be paying them to go through the hassle of going to the bank, etc. If you have a local friend with a bank account, they could do this for you.

    One of my friends just told me about such business taking place on a large scale in the town which I live. Apparantly they pay 80% of the face value of the money. This may be an option if you don't want to go through the hassle of the banks. Such businesses are probably operating somewhat outside the law, so keep that in mind.

    Please note that some shops (especially large ones) do still accept the old notes.

    The lines and limitations at banks may get better as time passes, but it's hard to know for sure. Also, it may be bad again at the end of December (when you'll be here) since it'll be the last chance to do it. (Except for going to the Reserve Bank of India before March 31, which sounds like a hassle.)

    You might be able to do 5000 multiple times at multiple banks.

    accepting the notes is on the condition that they don't give change correct?

    @theotherone It probably varies from shop to shop, and may also depend on how much change we're talking about relative to the total amount. Large businesses have special arrangements with banks, so it's not that hard for them to deposit the old notes.

    The old notes are not an issue for any business that depots all its taking in the bank. They are a issue for the claimed 90% plus of business that try to hide some of their turnover.

    @IanRingrose Yup, well put.

    Most of the things you said is true, except that the limit is actually ₹4000. My colleagues visiting India on business have been waiting in line for hours and sometimes the bank just goes out of cash. You can really change multiple times at different banks. To make it easier just go to banks where they organize the queue better like HDFC or Standard Chartered

    @LưuVĩnhPhúc In my bank it's actually 4500, but that's probably the exception.

    The second option suggested in answer is wrong and illegal.

    @Versatile The answer already warns against this. If you want to state that it's **certainly** illegal, then please provide a source and the legal paragraph and I will include it into the answer.

    @Fiksdal For every business to run legally they have to have some license or authorization and registered with some business association. For exchanging currency notes Indian banks and post offices are the only two authorized sources. Anyone working outside the permissible list of authorized institutions is committing fraud. For source refer to any news website or Reserve bank of India website: To start with:

    @Fiksdal Source: Where can I go to exchange the notes? From the website: The exchange facility is available at all Issue Offices of RBI and branches of commercial banks/RRBS/ Co-operative banks or at any Head Post Office or Sub-Post Office. Apart from this you will find answers to: I have no account but my relative / friend has an account, can I get my notes exchanged into that account? and Should I go to bank personally or can I send the notes through my representative? I can't post everything here because of the character limit.

    Thanks @Fiksdal . I managed to exchange my money with your second option, as it turns out there's people doing the same thing abroad. That was definitely the easiest way and as it happens outside of India, I think it might not even be illegal (for me, not for the guy bringing the money back to India of course).

    Last week I did not see any businesses still accepting the old notes. Of course, it may be necessary to ask, or to proffer an inducement. The note exchange limit for foreigners has been changed (again) to 5000 INR per week.

    @AndrewLazarus In my town there were a few, but at least one of them has stopped now. Thanks for the update.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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