Sunday, January 22, 2017

NRIs and Demonetization | My Experience with the RBI Process | Updated (June 2017)

UPDATE (June 1st 2017)

The amount that I deposited in the form of old notes has been successfully transferred to my Saving Bank Account (in about 6 months).

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I happened to visit India after the demonetization cut off date and went  through the process of depositing my old currency notes. This is my attempt to narrate my experience. 

After checking the RBI website, I found out that we as NRIs can deposit old currency at RBI offices in Mumbai and other metros. Unfortunately, the website never mentioned which offices of RBI do accept it. We (My wife and I) reached the RBI premises at Bandra Kurla Complex (being the closest) to check for the currency exchange process. However, I was told by the security that "This doesn't happen here and possibly you may want to check at either Belapur or the CST offices". He wasn't really sure.

We decided to avoid any chances and visited the CST office of RBI. 

Wednesday, Time: 11:20 AM | Reached RBI premises

Facing the Gateway of India, the correct building is on the right side. A small queue gathered with photocopies in hand. A board mentioned the mandatory documents required which included photocopies PAN, ID proof, Passport with departure and arrival stamps, Custom declaration. Only one person allowed per family at a time. 

While in the queue, my wife was asked by 2 random ladies if she had the custom declaration form. The ladies wanted to give her, their own old notes to deposit, to which my wife shooed her away. A similar incident happened with a random acquaintance coming over directly to our house and asking us if we were NRIs and could deposit their notes. We refused right away and subtly suggested of a legal action. 

11:35 AM:
Since I was not aware about the photocopies, I went to a nearby store to get everything copied, while my wife and sister-in-law held the line. 

11:45 AM:
Entered RBI through an intricate body check and scanning process. After entering, I noticed multiple queues inside. The security officers were courteous and guided me to a queue of entry pass and form collection. Meanwhile I called up my wife and asked her to leave, since I was told that this would involve about 2-3 hours. 

12:02 AM:
At the end of this queue, each individual was issued a printed entry pass with a picture clicked through a small web cam. The same officers scanned my passport for verification and handed me a form. 

12:07 AM:
The next line is a much longer queue and consisted about 85 - 90 people.  50 of them were seated on chairs. I started filling up the form while I was seated. The form contains basic information about you, name address, passport details and old currency count and value. 

1:15 PM: 
I reached the end of the queue and once again, all my documents were investigated in further detail. I was asked if a custom declaration was available. I was then given the number of 2 different counters and asked to go to them serially.

1:30 PM:
Counter 1 was where the form was verified and signed by am official. I was asked a couple of basic questions.

1:45 PM:
Counter 2 was where my old currency notes were deposited and a receipt was issued stating the amount.

1:50 PM: 
Submitted the gatepass to the security and exited the RBI happily. 

Update: While I went through the process on 11th Jan, I am yet to receive the funds in my bank account (as on 21st Jan). 

Important notes:

  • This exchange process does not return new currency notes, but the money exchanged is directly deposited to your bank account which is KYC compliant. 
  • You need to have your bank details handy including account number, IFSC code, Bank address, account holder name etc. 
  • The form is to be filled by hand -  which means that the account number and other details need to be accurate. If you make a mistake, the money might end up in a wrong account. 
  • The officers make a sincere attempt to ensure that your experience is good. They strictly ensure that a queue is maintained and do not allow people to barge in (yes, people try to jump queues here as well). 
  • For senior citizens, the officers make arrangement for special chairs and hold your position in the queue on request as a courtesy. 
  • If you want to get this done quickly, reach as early as possible. I was told that the counters open at 10:30 AM and operate till 3:00 PM, except Sat/Sun. 
  • You are not allowed to use a phone inside RBI premises.
Disclaimer: The information is based on my personal experience and people may have different experiences. This is my attempt at easing the access to the information in this regard, which is a little scattered.

- Ameya Gokhale

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