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What is the limit of carrying foreign currency? : #TravelWorryFree

Vibhav Hathi, (Head FOREX Cards Business, ICICI Bank) answers questions on the limit of carrying foreign currency while on a foreign trip.

Q: How much amount of currency can I carry (on a foreign trip) and what is the best way to carry currency as well. Can you shed some light?

Ans. In a given year, RBI and FEMA regulations say that, it depends on the purpose for which you are going. If you are going on a vacation, you can take up to 10,000 dollars in a year. If are doing 2 trips, you can carry 5-5 thousand dollars. If you are going for business, you can today take 25,000 dollars per trip. So, there are different limits based on the purpose for which you are going. These vary by the FOREX laws. Typically, we recommend either banks or authorized dealers is what you should buy it from. In terms of how do you carry FOREX, increasingly we are seeing that FOREX cards, which are prepaid cards that the consumers can take in India and convert their rupees into let's say dollar or a Euro is the safest mode of carrying currency, compared to currency or travellers cheque. If you lose currency notes, you are stranded.

If you take travellers cheque, you have to spend more in encashing it. If you lose it, you cannot get it in time. FOREX prepaid cards give you a locked FOREX exchange rate. So, you know that you are converting a rupee (60 rupees to a dollar) and not being dependent on what the local guy in your destination abroad charges you. He will charge you 62, he will charge you 64, you don't know. So, you can plan, based on your expenses how much FOREX you want to take. That is emerging the best method of carrying at least 85% of your FOREX requirements when you go abroad.

Q: Interesting that you mentioned that 85%. Is there a rule that you carry X amount in cash and Y amount in any other form? What is your experience about this?

Ans. Our experience has been that nowadays FOREX cards are accepted everywhere. These are Visa or Master denominated cards, accepted across all ATM's and all locations. Even a cab accepts it. But, typically, given our Indian consumer mindset it is usually safer if you carry some amount of currency notes. So, we normally recommend between 10 to 15 % in cash or currency notes, and remaining you carry as FOREX prepaid cards. The beauty of FOREX prepaid cards, especially the ICICI Bank FOREX prepaid card is sitting over there, you can, you know, reload it on ICICI Bank Account through a remote mechanism. That is something that is good and the consumer can choose to load it again and again.

Concluding Remark by Interviewer: That's wonderful. Hence, you can have an option of even topping up or loading it whilst you are in another country and don't have to worry about carrying the entire amount there.