indian rupees guide

Indian Rupees: A Guide for Foreign Visitors

The currency used in India is the Indian Rupee (₹). The Rupee is a closed currency. This means that Rupees cannot be purchased outside of India and there are restrictions on how many can be taken out of India.

This means that most travelers will only be able to obtain Indian Rupees by exchanging their money once they have arrived in India. There are a number of ways to do this.

Discover how to get Rupees in India, how many you will need, and the restrictions on taking money in and out of the country with this guide to Indian currency.

Indian Rupees and Paise

The Indian Rupee (₹) is the currency of India. There are 100 paise (p) to 1 Rupee. However, paise are worth so little that the lowest value coin that exists as legal tender is the 50-paise coin.

The following values exist as coins:

  • 50p
  • ₹1
  • ₹2
  • ₹5
  • ₹10

The ₹1 and ₹2 coins look very similar, so visitors should take care when giving and receiving change to ensure the correct amount is exchanged.

There are also notes with the following values:

  • ₹5
  • ₹10
  • ₹20
  • ₹50
  • ₹100
  • ₹200
  • ₹500
  • ₹2000

In an effort to reduce counterfeiting of the currency, Indian Rupees are a closed currency. Foreign visitors are prohibited from taking them out of India and from bringing them into the country.

How to Exchange Currency for Indian Rupees

Whether traveling to volunteer in India, visit family, or to simply be a tourist, such as seeing the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of India, money is a necessity.

There are a number of methods of exchanging currency to obtain Indian Rupees. All of these must be done after arriving in India due to the fact that the currency is not available outside the country.

Visitors can obtain Rupees in the following ways:

  • At a bureau de change at the airport
  • Withdrawing money from an ATM
  • From an informal moneychanger
  • Using a money transfer service and collecting the cash from a designated collection point (usually a bank or financial service)

Which Is the Best Way to Get Rupees?

There are advantages and disadvantages of each method of obtaining Indian Rupees.

Using a bureau de change or an ATM at the airport where you land will be secure, but the exchange rate may be far higher than the official one. There are also usually long lines of new arrivals waiting to exchange or withdraw money.

ATMs can be unreliable. Many of them are old and may not recognize foreign bank cards. It is important to inform your bank that you are going to India before you leave to make sure they do not block your card. It is also a good idea to have a contact number for your bank in case of emergency.

Informal moneychangers are common in the street and may offer good exchange rates. However, there is a much higher risk of being scammed. Informal moneychangers have been known to give travelers fake money, notes that are out of circulation, or worn-out older notes that may not be accepted everywhere.

Money transfer services like Azimo tend to be safe and offer reasonable exchange rates. To collect the money, the visitor must bring the transfer number and their passport.

Indian Rupee Exchange Rates

Exchange rates fluctuate frequently, so you should always check the latest rates before changing currency. Different banks and services offer different exchange rates and different commissions, so it is advisable to compare them and choose the best option.

For a general idea, the exchange rate for Rupees against the US Dollar (USD/$), Pound Sterling (GBP/£), and Euro (EUR/€) are approximately:

  • ₹1 = $0.014
  • ₹1 = £0.011
  • ₹1 = €0.013

When exchanging foreign currency for Indian Rupees, this works out at roughly the following rate:

  • $1 = ₹71.37
  • £1 = ₹92.98
  • €1 = ₹79.07

How Much Money Do I Need in India?

The amount of money a traveler needs depends on their personal budget. For example, accommodation prices range from ₹400–₹600 for basic dorm rooms to ₹24,000 for a deluxe room at a luxury hotel.

Daily expenses such as food can vary, for example:

  • Low-end restaurants: ₹100–₹300
  • Midrange restaurants: ₹600–₹1500
  • Top-end restaurants: ₹2000–₹5000

Getting around India comes with a range of transport options at different prices:

  • Bus or train tickets: ₹300–₹500
  • Local taxi or auto-rickshaw: ₹500–₹2000
  • Hire car and driver: from ₹2000 per day

How Much Cash Can I Take to India?

The majority of visitors cannot bring Indian Rupees in or out of the country, due to the fact that it is a closed currency. Cash or travelers’ cheques in a different currency may be brought in and exchanged for Rupees once in India.

Any amount over US$5,000 in notes, or US$10,000 in notes and travelers’ cheques combined must be declared at customs.

Only legal residents of India can bring Rupees in or out of the country. The maximum amount of Indian Rupees that can be brought into India without being declared is ₹25,000 per person. This is also the maximum amount of Rupees that can be legally taken out of India.

Rupees cannot be bought outside of India, so it is assumed that a traveler can only bring Rupees into the country if they were acquired on a previous visit. If a legal resident of India has accumulated more than ₹25,000 over multiple visits to India and tries to bring a larger quantity of money into the country, they must declare it at customs.

Bringing Money to India with an eVisa

Travelers coming to the country with an Indian eVisa must abide by the same rules. It is not permitted to bring Indian Rupees in or out of India.

The eVisa does, however, have other advantages. The process of obtaining it is highly simplified compared to the process of acquiring a traditional visa. The online application form for the India eVisa means that the applicant can pay in their own currency using a credit or debit card and not worry about having to buy a visa on arrival at the Indian border.

Find out if you are eligible to apply by checking the requirements for the Indian eVisa.