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There are few restrictions on transferring money to India but the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has begun enforcing an existing Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) article that prohibits rupees from being taken out of India. As a result, outgoing wire transfers from India may not be conducted in rupee, and travellers are required to convert any remaining currency before departure. Sending money from India is very challenging due to these currency restrictions.
Indias money transfer regulations change frequently. The RBI increased the amount of currency that can be remitted from India to USD 250,000 under its latest scheme, the Liberalised Remittance Scheme, which came into effect on June 1, 2015. Under this latest proviso, Indian residents, including minors, are allowed to remit a maximum of USD 250,000 each financial year (which runs from April to March). An individual is considered to be a resident of India if they have resided in the country for a minimum of 180 days during the financial year.
The remittance limit is inclusive of NRI/PIO rupee gifts or loans, private visits to a foreign country (exclusive of Bhutan and Nepal), travelling abroad for employment, emigration, supporting family members abroad, travel for business or medical treatment. If an individual is required to remit more than the cap amount of USD 250,000 for emigration purposes as required by the particular country, he or she may submit a claim to the RBI for review.
Indias exchange restrictions also focus on capital account transactions, which include foreign direct investment (FDI), portfolio or other investment, both in India and abroad. This will most notably have an impact on foreign ownership of property, corporate shares and other assets.
Foreign investment in India can generally be repatriated freely via an authorised dealer. Non-residents can sell shares of publicly-listed Indian firms and repatriate the proceeds via bank, if they have prior tax clearances. Foreign nationals residing in India are able to acquire fixed property, but must declare the purchase to the RBI and cannot transfer this property without approval from the central bank. In addition, central bank approval is required to exchange Indian currency above certain limits for purposes such as foreign travel and studies.
Indias central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), formulates and implements the countrys monetary policy, with the primary goal of ensuring price stability and credit flows. The RBI also supervises the financial system and manages the countrys foreign exchange operations, which are regulated under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
FEMA, which has been in force since 1999, sets the guidelines for Indias remaining foreign exchange controls. Money transfers to India are entirely unrestricted for current account transactions, which include payments for goods and services and the transfer of foreign-earned income. Non-residents are able to open temporary rupee-denominated bank accounts in India without a visa.
In the years following independence, India adopted a state-driven, nationalistic development policy, with strict controls on foreign exchange. However, the government began a process of liberalisation in the 1990s that led to the privatisation of many public enterprises, industrial deregulation, openness to foreign investment and looser currency controls. These reforms helped to stimulate the countrys impressive GDP growth in the 1990s and 2000s, and while the state maintains some currency controls today, it has confirmed its openness to the foreign exchange market.
Indias currency, the rupee, was fairly stable in the first decades following independence, riding on the back of the countrys GDP growth. However, the impact of the 2008 global economic downturn has introduced price volatility in recent years. Indias annual GDP growth fell to the lowest point in a decade in 2013, bogged down by the countrys heavy budget and current account deficits. In May 2013, news that the US Federal Reserve planned to taper its foreign bond purchases caused capital flight from a number of emerging economies, including India, Turkey, Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia. Once considered the engines of economic growth during the global downturn, these countries were then dubbed the Fragile Five by Morgan Stanley, an investment bank. As a result, the value of the rupee dropped sharply in 2013 and early 2014, but the currencys performance is expected to improve considerably on the back of economic reforms promised by Indias newly-elected government. An IMF mission in October 2014 noted that, given recent reforms, India is now in a much stronger position to withstand future shocks than the other four.
One Indian Rupee (INR) consists of 100 paise. Currency isissued by the central bank, and notes are available in denominations of Rs5,Rs10, Rs20, Rs50, Rs100, Rs500 and Rs1,000; coins come in denominations of Rs1,Rs2 and Rs5, as well as 10, 20, 25, and 50 paise.
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