Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: What are the rules about changing cash for India?
Simon Calder is Travel Editor at Large for The Independent, writing a weekly column, various articles and features as well as filming a weekly video diary. Every Sunday afternoon, Simon presents the UK's only radio travel phone-in programme called The LBC Travel Show with Simon Calder (97.3 FM). He is a regular guest on national TV, often seen on BBC Breakfast, Daybreak, ITV News and Sky News. He is often interviewed on BBC Radio, particularly for BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours programme and BBC Five Live.
Wednesday 27 February 2013
Q. I'm travelling to India next month. Is it true that I should buy my rupees in India, and that I can’t bring them back to the UK?
A. Whoopee. The rupee is one of the few currencies to have sunk against the pound over the past year, making India even better value – as well, of course, as being one of the most beautiful, cultural and friendly nations on earth. But archaic foreign-exchange rules mean that handling your money is not straightforward.
The basic rule: you are not allowed to take rupees in or out of India. That means that you will need to obtain some currency upon arrival, rather than sorting it out in advance. The easy option is to take your debit card and use that at the ubiquitous ATMs in urban areas (and at airports). However, there are three reasons not to rely upon plastic. The first is the risk that your card might be declined (even if you warn your bank in advance, as you should, that your transaction patterns will change). Next, technical problems sometimes mean ATMs may not work. And third, you have no control over the rate of exchange you will receive. So it is certainly worth bringing some cash.
Sterling will do nicely. In many parts of the developing world, it is best to change pounds into dollars or euros in advance, but because of Britain’s cultural connections with India that is not necessary. Take clean notes in £5, £10 and £20 denominations. You probably won’t need too much, because prices in India are low – so long as you avoid high-end places.
You can change money very easily in all sizeable towns and cities, and it is worth shopping around a little for the best rate. In resorts and other tourist areas, many shops will also change money. Such transactions are not always legal, but I have not heard of any problems arising. Under no circumstances change money in the street.
Try to keep exchange receipts (or ATM receipts) because you will need them if you seek to change rupees back to sterling at the end of your trip. But in practice it is much easier simply to change money little and often during your trip, so that by the end of it you are down to zero.
Click HERE to email Simon.
You can also tweet him your questions @SimonCalder
- 1 William Shakespeare's 450th birthday: 50 everyday phrases that came from the Bard
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Pope Francis ‘told divorced and remarried woman there is nothing wrong with her taking Communion’, Italian newspaper says
- 4 Man gives barefoot bus passenger the shoes off his feet
- 5 50-year mystery of the ocean ‘quack’ finally solved by scientists
Ukip election posters: Nigel Farage defends 'racist' campaign anti-immigration campaign ahead of Europe elections
Ukip leader Nigel Farage defends employing German wife, at launch of anti-immigration poster campaign
Is Britain really a land of God? Furious debate after David Cameron claims we are a Christian country
An open letter to Nigel Farage: you may smile, but I am not seduced
Nigel Farage: Calling Ukip’s posters ‘racist’ is yet another example of shameful Westminster evasion
David Cameron's constituency office calls police on food bank campaigners Bishop of Oxford and Reverend Keith Hebden
Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...
Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...
Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...
Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...