Currency change implications for travellers

If you are already in Delhi or are traveling to India post 9th of November 2016, you should accommodate the recent currency demonetization in your travel plans.

The Government of India banned all existing ₹500 and ₹1000 notes on November 9th. This is a part of the government’s plan to move India to a completely cashless economy in the medium to long term. Here’s what this means to you as a traveler to New Delhi.

Please DO NOT accept older currency from anyone as they area out of circulation and no one else will accept it. Here are images or the older (demonetized) and new notes:

Old and new note comparison
Old and new note comparison

You should avoid dealing in cash during your visit to Delhi. If you have a valid international credit card or a debit card you should plan to use it for as many transactions and expenses as you can. Using cash requires a lot of effort right now. Here’s why.

If you have older bills of ₹500 and ₹1000 denominations then you will need to visit preferably a local branch of an international bank( Citibank, HSBC etc.) to exchange older bills for newer ones. You can only convert ₹4500(Approx USD 70) per person per day. You will need to carry your passport and submit photocopy of it with a form that will be provided by the bank.
Note: This requirement is changing. Some banks may not ask for Photocopy but carry one just in case.

This daily limit cash is being reviewed every week and might be different by the time you arrive.

You can also withdraw money from ATMs but only up to ₹2500 per day. This limit will keep increasing as new ₹500 bills are introduced and the process of collecting cash should become easier with every passing day. Currently there are long queues outside banks and ATMs for exchanging older bills and there is a risk of ATM’s running out of cash quickly.

Some of the nationalized banks are refusing changing cash for foreign nationals so please check before you stand in queue if they will exchange cash at all for you.

There are few options to keep in mind when you are planing your trip in the coming months.

Please pre-book and pre-pay all the tours or have an option of paying later by either PayPal or credit card. Please ensure that you are aware of the balance payment and mode of payment accepted by your vendors. Lot of tour operators will be open to transferring the amount to directly to their bank accounts via a wire transfer as well.

Carry bank cards from two different banks as sometimes the machines do not recognise international cards. Do carry cards which has been issued by either by VISA or MASTERCARD or CIRRUS. Please inform your banks that you will be using your cards in India so that they don’t block it after one use.

Please try and exchange money at the airport and take proper receipt as some banks may even ask where you got the old currency from.

Most shops will accept credit cards but may charge 2-5% extra for using your card. So be prepared to pay extra. Cash only shops will be difficult to shop at. So save up your cash for bare necessities like water and food. Chemists and hospitals are accepting old currencies as of now but will soon stop as soon as the situation improves.

Do not forget simple safety measures while carrying cards. Please avoid putting all your cards in one wallet and spread them out in diff pockets to avoid them being picked.

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