If you are an NRI having cash you carried when you flew out of India, you’d be aware of the OHD (Old High Denomination) currency ban by the Indian government effective 09 Nov 2016.
As an NRI, there are certain ways you can exchange them and save your 500 and 1000 rupee notes from turning into ‘mere paper.’
I wrote a detailed guide on how exactly you can do that! Don’t forget to check this post “Complete guide for NRIs on how to convert 500 and 1000 Rupee notes.”
One of the methods I talked about in the guide was to deposit your old Rupee notes to Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) savings account. It’s also mentioned in the guidelines published by RBI.
There is a problem with this method if you as an NRI DO NOT plan to travel to India in the coming months.
Before we proceed further, let me briefly talk about the alternate options to exchange old Indian Rupee notes as an NRI. I have discussed each of these options in detail in my full NRI guide to exchange old 500 and 1000 Rupee notes.
- You can take the money with you when you travel to India
- If you don’t plan to visit India in the coming months, you can send money to India with your friend/relative/colleague to carry on your behalf to the bank or to hand it over to your family/friend in India.
- If your surplus money is in India, you can authorise another person in India who can convert/exchange money on your behalf.
Okay, let’s jump right in!
As per the list of FAQs published by RBI – if you’re an NRI, you can convert 500 and 1000 Rupee notes by depositing them in an NRO account.
FAQ#23 from RBI website:
Q. I am an NRI and hold NRO account, can the exchange value be deposited in my account?
Yes, you can deposit the Specified banknotes to your NRO account.
Using NRO account to deposit ₹500 and ₹1000 notes abroad
Let me tell you the problem is with you as an NRI depositing money into your NRO account.
If you understand the nature of NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary) Rupee accounts, you can use NRO accounts to deposit your income only in India. This could income that you earn from rent, investments etc.
This means you will need to be in India to deposit your old high denomination notes into your NRO account. So if you have plans to travel to India in the coming months, you are fine.
What if you are outside India?
Well, the RBI FAQs do not mention how you could do it if you are outside India. So there is a lot of confusion around how NRIs can exchange money abroad?
…especially, if you have NO plans to travel to India before 30 Dec 2016 or 31 Mar 2017 (which is the deadline set by RBI / Govt. of India).
Good news for NRIs in the UK
There is ‘some’ good news for NRIs in the UK who have some spare cash in 500 or 1000 Rupee notes. Notice I have carefully used the word ‘some’ 😉
There may be some help coming from Indian government is looking at ways to help NRIs in the UK who possess the old (banned) Rupee-notes.
This would enable you to visit the branch of your Indian bank in the UK and deposit your old 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Whether you can exchange them for valid Indian currency notes or convert them into local currency (GB Pounds) – is not yet clear!
When can NRIs in the UK exchange their banned notes in Indian banks here?
This isn’t clarified yet either.
Quote from Dinesh Patnaik, India’s Acting High commissioner to the UK (source)
“The Indian government is looking at ways to help NRIs who may possess some banned currency notes so that they can deposit them at a branch of an Indian bank overseas.
Our endeavour is to help everybody. We have asked Delhi about it. I have a feeling we will work out something so that people who have carried certain amount of cash in their pocket, should be able to deposit it in any Indian bank abroad”
But still, there is no confirmation on how and when will you actually be able to deposit your Indian currency into Indian banks in the UK.
I tried calling a few Indian banks in the UK and checked their websites. Here is what I could gather.
What do Indian Banks in the UK have to say about this?
State Bank of India (UK) – SBI have put a note on their website confirming they are not accepting Rupee notes. Here is the note:
State Bank of India UK does not deal in Indian Rupee Notes from our UK branches and hence, we will not be in a position to handle the Rupee note exchange process (including withdrawal of old notes). Further details including the process and FAQ are available in RBI website.
ICICI Bank – ICICI Bank branches in the UK are also not accepting Indian Rupee notes and have mentioned it clearly on their website.
ICICI Bank NRI Services have sent out an email to their customers with important notes for NRIs / PIOs. In case you haven’t got access to it, check out the full list on ICICI bank website.
Other Indian banks in the UK – Several other Indian banks based in the UK have put up notices on their bank entrances and websites (similar to the one SBI UK have on their site) that they do not deal in Indian Rupee Notes from UK branches and hence, will not be in a position to handle the Rupee note exchange process, including withdrawal of old notes.
There you have it!
Indians settled abroad who carried a certain amount of cash with them to help them on their next trip to India, fear to lose on the cash they have. NRIs in the UK are urging Indian govt. to come up with a solution to allow note exchange abroad (source).
Although the Indian Indian high commissioner in the UK has said that NRIs/PIOs will get an opportunity to change their old 500/1000 Rupee notes at Indian bank branches in the UK, there is no clarity of ‘how’ and the ‘when’ as they are waiting for the govt. of India to respond.
NRIs in the US, Canada and Australia are also struggling and have got similar responses back on checking with Indian banks in these countries.
I am keeping a tab on recent developments around how NRIs in the UK can deposit ₹500 and ₹1000 notes directly into UK branches of their banks. In the interim, you can use 500/1000 notes exchange guide I wrote and use the alternate ways of sending money to India mentioned on the guide.
Stay tuned and hopefully, we should have some good news soon to lessen NRIs worries.
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