Foreign exchange guide to India and the Indian rupee
What's in this India currency guide?
The official currency of India (country code: IN) is the Indian rupee, with symbol ₹ and currency code INR.
The Indian rupee gets its name from the rupiya – a silver coin first produced in the sixteenth century.
Rupee trades make up around 1% of the total volume of the foreign exchange market. This market share is comparable to currencies from other major emerging market economies, such as South Africa, Brazil and Russia, but falls some way short of the 4% share taken by the Chinese yuan – the most actively traded emerging market currency.
Importantly, the rupee has strong seasonal characteristics. The currency typically falls in value every second-quarter (April-to-June) due to India’s heightened gold demand heading into the Hindu festival of Akshaya Tritiya. Heavy rains between June and September can also depress industrial production in the country and weaken exports, which weigh on the currency.
The rupee’s all-time low against the US dollar came in May 2020 when USD/INR reached 75.86 (INR/USD 0.0138). It's all-time high came in March 1973 when USD/INR traded at just 7.19 (INR/USD 0.139). More recently, since 2007, the rupee was at its strongest in November 2007 when USD/INR fell to 39.10 (INR/USD 0.0256).
The physical currency consists of coins and banknotes. The coins come in denominations of 1 paisa, 2 paisa, 5 paisa, 10 paisa, 20 paisa, 25 paisa, and 50 paisa. The banknotes come in denominations of 1 rupee, 2 rupees, 5 rupees, 10 rupees, 20 rupees, 50 rupees, 100 rupees, 500 rupees, and 2,000 rupees. The banknotes feature images of famous Indian historical figures, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and B. R. Ambedkar. The design of the currency is constantly being updated, so the physical appearance of the coins and banknotes may vary slightly over time.
As mentioned above, the Indian rupee is a closed currency. Which means that you may find it difficult (or be permitted) to purchase the currency (INR) before departure and will need to buy it upon arrival in .
For these types of destinations, using a pre-paid travel card is a good solution. As no travel cards support loading closed currencies like the INR you will incur currency conversion or foreign transaction fees if you use a travel money card in .
However, using a pre-paid travel card is still a good idea as you can avoid ATM fees and also you can avoid using (and losing!) your main bank or debit/credit card.
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.
The domestic currency in India is the Indian rupee.
The three letter currency code for the Indian rupee is INR — symbol is ₹.
It is the domestic currency in   India.
Yes the Indian rupee is a closed currency. Which means that you may find it difficult to purchase the currency (INR) before departure and will probably need to buy it upon arrival. If you do manage to buy some of the currency or have some left over from a previous trip, make sure you are aware if you are allowed to bring this closed currency into the country.
For more information and a full list of closed currencies please refer to our guide: What is a closed currency?
To get a good (and fair) exchange rate when sending money to India you need to find and compare exchange rates for International Money Transfers (IMTs).
The available FX rates for sending money abroad can be very different to the mid-market (wholesale) rate which you see reported online and in the News.
You should especially compare your own bank's exchange rates to those available from Money Transfer specialists to see how much you can save - we make that calculation easy in the below table.
When sending money to India it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers. To get a better deal you should follow these 4 simple steps :
Use the above calculator to compare the exchange rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more - end result is more Indian rupee deposited into the recipient bank account and less margins and fees kept by the banks!
Managing your money effectively while living and working abroad can be challenging, but there are several steps you can take to ensure that your finances are in order.
By following these tips and managing your money effectively, you can reduce financial stress and enjoy your experience living or doing business in India.
The cost of living in India is relatively low compared to developed countries. Basic goods and services cost less than 50% of what they cost in developed nations.
The expat life in India can be very exciting and enriching. There are many things to see and do, and the people are generally very friendly and welcoming. India can be a challenging place to live at times, but it is also very rewarding.
Foreign nationals are subject to all laws in India, including local, state and national laws. There is no special legal status or exemption from Indian law for foreigners.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the experience of doing business in India can vary greatly depending on the specific industry, company, and location. However, in general, doing business in India can be challenging due to the country's complex bureaucracy, red tape, and corruption. Additionally, businesses may find it difficult to find qualified workers, and infrastructure can be unreliable.
The economy in India is complex and diversified. India is a newly industrialized country with a fast-growing economy. India's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 7.5% in 2016, and is expected to grow by 7.1% in 2017. India is the world's second-fastest growing economy after China.
Here we list some key points for expats and businesses to consider when managing financial dealings in India:
Understand Indian rupee currency exchange rates: Exchange rates can have a big impact on your finances, so it is important to keep an eye on the INR exchange rate and consider using a currency exchange service or a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees to get the best exchange rate.
Use a local Indian rupee bank account: A local INR bank account can make it easier for you to manage your finances and pay bills while you are in India. It may also be more convenient to use a local INR bank account to make purchases and withdraw cash.
Research local laws and regulations: It is important to understand the local laws and regulations that apply to financial transactions in India. This can help you avoid legal issues and ensure that you are complying with local requirements.
Consider the tax implications: It is important to understand the tax implications of living or doing business in India. This can help you plan your finances and ensure that you are paying the correct amount of tax.
Seek financial advice: If you are unsure of how to manage your finances in India, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a financial professional who is familiar with the local financial system. This can help you make informed decisions and avoid financial pitfalls.
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.