A practical foreign exchange and currency guide to India
What’s in this India currency guide:
The official currency of India is the Indian rupee, with symbol ₹ and currency code INR.
Read our Guide to the US dollar currency.
In 2021, a pipeline of IPOs attracted inflows of portfolio capital which helped buoy the Indian rupee relative to some of its other Asian peers. When most currencies in the region have weakened to some extent versus a stronger dollar.
However, the recent flop of the PayTM IPO and some others suggests that the rupee in 2022 won’t benefit so much from another inflow of funds.
In 2021 the market’s expectation for a rise in US inflation and thus interest rates pushed up the USD exchange rate against most currencies.
This trend is seemingly continuing into 2022 although with a slight hiccup for the greenback mid January with Mr Powell’s confirmation hearing testimony disappointing the markets about the imminence of rate hikes.
12 Jan 2022
28 Oct 2021
26 Jan 2021
27 Jan 2017
29 Jan 2012
31 Jan 2002
The below comparison table makes it easy to find the best exchange rates and lowest fees when you want to make a Transfer or Spend Indian rupee.
India is a vibrant, colourful, and fascinating country to explore but can be a little intimidating for first time visitors. There are many magical places to visit so try to make a point of staying at least two nights in any one place.
You will be using the local currency (rupee) on the street, however credit cards are now widely able to be used at the more expensive locations. Though depending on your security concerns purchasing a Prepaid Travel Card before heading there may ease your mind. Never exchange foreign currency on the street.
For getting around cities its rickshaws, they are old looking but very cheap, and definitely add to the experience. On arriving at an airport you can avoid the crowd of taxi drivers waiting outside by going to a prepaid taxi counter inside the terminal. There you can purchase a fixed price fare to the hotel you want, pay on the spot, and they will give you a green slip. Then you can head outside and once the less scrupulous drivers see you holding a prepaid slip you won’t get swamped with offers. For longer distance travels both bus and train are available and most hotels will be happy to organise this for you as they generally get a cut of the action.
The are also many small travel shops everywhere that will do this also but they may over charge. Trains are available as well and can be a good way to get around. Be aware however that they can be extremely crowded and often booking ahead at least a day or two is required. Another good option is you intend to travel around within a state for a few days is to hire a driver. This not expensive and certainly can make life easier. Only drink from bottles water and make sure it is properly sealed when you buy it. As tasty as it looks, don’t eat from street vendors, and try to eat food you know has probably been prepared properly.
For a long time flights within India have been expensive and most travelers went by the bus system or by train. Now however, flights to major cities are very affordable and convenient, and can save a lot of time seeing more of the country. Doing a bit of looking around online can save you a lot of money on flights.
For female travellers you’ll need to prepare for being stared at, this is usually out of curiosity more than anything else, and you will get used to it very fast. Dress conservatively, loose ankle-length pants or skirts, tops that cover your shoulders and shawls to avoid to most unwanted attention, and avoid travelling alone during festivals when thick crowds can be used as an excuse for a pinch or two.
Only returning residents can bring rupee into India. If you’re a foreigner, you can’t bring rupee into India with you. There are exceptions if you’re a returning resident, you can carry 7,500 INR into the country. There is no restriction to the amount of foreign currency you can bring with you. However, if you’re carrying more than the foreign currency equivalent of US$5,000, you’ll need to declare the cash at customs when you arrive.
On 8 November 2016, the Government of India announced the demonetisation of all ₹500 and ₹1000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series. The cancelled ₹500 and ₹1000 notes are no longer exchangeable at any bank in India: they have since March 2017 effectively lost all monetary value.
In addition to the 500 and 1000 rupees, the Mumbai-based Reserve Bank of India has decided to withdraw all pre-2005 Indian Rupee notes. These discontinued Rupee bills have no year of issue printed on the back side. These Indian rupees without date on the back are no longer a valid means of payment in India or Bhutan.
Bhutan’s unit of currency is called the Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN). A Ngultrum has the same value as the Indian rupee, the rupee is also legal in Bhutan.
INR 100 & 50 Rupee denomination may be used in Bhutan, but Ngultrum cannot be used in India. Indian Rupee denomination note of INR 500, INR 1000 and INR 2000 are not accepted in Bhutan.
You can read about the best providers and compare the latest deals for international money transfers to India in our Send Money to India guide.