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21 January, 2017

Demonetization : RBI Chennai NRI deposit


The last couple of months have been very turbulent for Indians as we try to get a grip on the demonetization wave.  While people residing in India seem to have come to an understanding with the new normal, Indians abroad are still confused and trying to make sense of what this means to them and how do they convert/exchange the devalued SBNs (1000 and 500 Rs Notes) with the new ones.
I can claim that I am one of the few NRIs who have successfully submitted my old currency notes at RBI and while I wait for the money to be deposited to my account, I wanted to share my experiences that may be helpful for others who are looking for pointers /directives online but don’t find any useful information.
I visited RBI Chennai on 18th Jan 2017. I had Rs 18,500 that I carried with me when I landed in India almost a week before. Below, I try to provide as much information as possible. If I commit any mistakes in this post, please help me to correct it by leaving a comment.

I would like to clarify that this is my personal experience and this is not authorized by RBI or the government, nor supported by any opposing legal or illegal agencies/bodies. This article doesn’t guarantee that the same process is followed at each RBI branch or within RBI Chennai  for everybody. The process may change based or person to person, day to day, branch to branch and also based on luck, fortune or misfortune of the individual J

Without further Ado, let’s get started.

While Landing at any Indian Airport.

Please note that you are allowed to carry a maximum of Rs 25,000 per person when you enter India. My port of entry was at Bangalore International Airport. After security clearance and collecting your luggage at the carousel, you hit the Customs desk. Please ask for a form for currency declaration.  This is a one page form collecting details such as Passport Number, Flight Number, Resident Status, currency denominations et all. Once you have filled in the form, hand it over to the customs officer along with the currency and you passport. They make entries, count the currency, take it backdoors to get it signed and sealed by the police officer. And Voila! You are done. The airport formalities are done. Please make sure to collect the currency, the form and the passport.

Key Points to Remember

Now, before I proceed further, let me highlight some key points that you need to be aware of.
1)      You are allowed to carry a maximum of Rs 25,000 per person into India that needs to be declared and validated.
2)      However, there is no limit on the deposit amount, if you can prove to the government that this is your legal money that you had left at home / office / wherever when you were out of India.
3)      You would also need to prove that you were out of India Between Nov 2016 till Date.
4)      Please note that you can exchange currency only during your first visit to India after Nov 2016.
5)      This facility is only for Indian passport holders. If you are a PIO / OCI with non-Indian passport, then you are not eligible to exchange the currency.
6)      Even if you are an Indian Passport holder but if you reside in Pakistan, Nepal or Bangladesh, you are not eligible to exchange the currency.
7)      You need an NRO account to deposit the money into. Carry documentation for the account details.
8)      Most importantly, the cut off time to enter the premises is 2:30 PM. If you are not inside the premises before 2:30 PM then you would be asked to return the next day or whenever convenient.
9)      You don’t need to book an appointment to visit RBI, just make sure that RBI branch is operational on the day you plan to visit.

Documents to Carry
You are expected to carry the originals as well as photo copies of the below listed documents. Please note this is not the final list. You may be asked for more documents. It is better to carry other documents as well. Better Safe than sorry

Original documents
1)      Passport
2)      Pan Card
3)      Aadhar Card
4)      Driver’s license
5)      Bank Account PassBook
6)      Customs certified currency declaration form
7)      Bank Statement from Nov 2016 till Date

You will also need to submit the photocopies to the desk officer. There is a photocopier in RBI office but there is a huge queue. It is better carry the photocopies to speed up the process

Photocopies
1)      Passport – a) Front page b)Back Page c) Pages with the last India exit and India entry stamps
2)      Pan Card Photocopy
3)      Aadhar Card / Driver’s license photocopy
4)      Passbook / statement photocopy clearly stating your name, account number, Branch address, IFSC code.
If you don’t have a PAN Card, an additional form will be provided to you that need to fill and submit with the documentation.

Now to the actual process

1)      You will be queued outside the RBI office. Start early. It pays to be among the first few when everybody at the bank is fresh and not frustrated J
2)      RBI opens at 10 AM. An officer at the gate validates your documents and lets you into the RBI premises and you are seated near the security entrance.
3)      Next you go through the security process. You handover your passport and will be asked for Indian residential address. You will be photographed, a RBI Visitor ID card is provided to you along with a paper slip of appointment confirmation.
4)      Next you will be directed to the floor where it all happens. You again go through the musical chair process until you are called up by the front desk staff, who validate your documents, and then ask you to visit the photocopier.
5)      If you already carry the photocopies then you are given a deposit form to fill, else you will have to queue up at the photocopier and return back to the front desk with your documents. Once they validate that your documents are in order, you are provided the deposit form and a token number to see the desk officer.
6)      This form has all the details such as passport number, bank account details, India and abroad residential details, contact details and currency denomination details. Take your time to fill the form.
7)      After you fill the form, you again are fed into the musical chair process and the token roll call. When your token is called for you carry all your documentation to the desk officer who fills more documents and sends you to a verification officer.
8)      You wait in a queue for verification officer who when free will pick your case, validate your documentation and redirect you to a deposit counter.
9)      Then again, you are back at the familiar queues at the counter and when you reach the counter, you pass your documentation and money to the clerk at the counter who fills more forms, takes your money, validates all the currency details, seals your currency in an envelope and provides you with a tender receipt.
10)   Take this tender receipt back to the verification officer, who will sign and stamp it for you.
11)   If you have missed any documents, you are provided an email address to which you need to send the softcopies quoting your tender receipt number. Please note that the soft copies need to be submitted within a week.
12)   Voila you are done!! You can get out of the RBI and breathe a sigh of relief. Next steps are to wait for three weeks until your money is deposited to your bank account.

As I write this article, I am waiting for the money to be deposited in my account. Until then I cannot confirm if this was a futile waste of time or successful adherence to the process investing our total trust in the appointed government and supporting them in the measures to make India a better country !!