Dechen Dolkar 

In a recent announcement, the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) has laid down strict regulations regarding the amount of cash individuals can carry when entering or leaving Bhutan. 

According to the RMA, travellers are allowed to carry a maximum of Nu 25,000 in the form of banknotes or circulation coins, subject to the specific procedures and limits set by the central bank from time to time.

However, in cases where a person needs to carry an amount exceeding Nu 25,000, the RMA will issue a clearance, but it is mandatory for the individual to declare the surplus at the entry or exit point to either the Department of Revenue and Customs (DRC), the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), or the relevant agency.

To facilitate the process of import and export of ngultrum bank notes and circulation coins beyond the prescribed limit, individuals must submit a request form to the department of foreign exchange and reserve management at least five working days before their intended date of travel.

The RMA will then review the request and communicate its decision at least one day before the travel date. 

If a person carries an amount exceeding the prescribed limit without obtaining proper clearance from the RMA and subsequently fails to declare it to the relevant agency, the excess amount will be subject to confiscation by the authorities. 

The confiscated funds will be surrendered to the government under RMA’s supervision.

The RMA underscored that this measure is consistent with the policies set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). In a similar vein, the RBI had previously issued a notification in 2014, restricting the amount of currency notes that Indian residents and foreign visitors can carry while entering or leaving India.

As per the RBI policy, an Indian resident returning from a temporary visit abroad (excluding Nepal and Bhutan) can bring in currency notes of the Government of India and RBI notes up to an amount not exceeding Rs 25,000. For non-resident individuals visiting India via airports, the same limit applies for carrying currency notes.

The rationale behind these regulations, as explained by the RBI, is to accommodate changing economic conditions and to facilitate the travel requirements of both Indian citizens traveling abroad and foreign visitors arriving in India.

In light of these guidelines, travellers to and from Bhutan are urged to adhere to the prescribed limits and the necessary procedures to ensure a smooth and lawful travel experience. 

The RMA remains vigilant in enforcing these restrictions, emphasising the importance of responsible financial practices and compliance with the established norms.