Your full guide to Indian airport customs rules

Aman Saxena

If you’re coming into India, one of the first orders of business at the airport is Indian customs. Customs helps monitor items being brought into the country.

To make the process smooth and easy, here is a quick guide to the rules and regulations for Indian customs for international travellers.

📝 Table of contents

What should be declared at customs in India?

All passengers coming into India have to pass a customs check.

The first step is to complete the customs declaration form given out by the airline before disembarking.

Make sure to complete and sign the declaration, and hand it to the immigration officer at the Indian airport.
There are 2 channels for customs clearance- the Red channel and the Green channel. Here is how they differ:

🔴 Red channel

The red channel is for passengers that are carrying prohibited items, or amounts that are above the free allowance, in their baggage.

ℹ️ Free allowance is the amount of certain items allowed without paying duties

❌ The list of prohibited or dutiable items are:

  • Weapons like firearms
  • Over 50 cartridges for firearms
  • Carrying more than 100 cigarettes
  • Carrying more than 25 cigars
  • Tobacco more than 125 grams
  • More than 2 litres of alcohol or wines
  • Any form of gold or silver, other than jewelry or ornaments
  • Flat screen tvs with liquid crystal display, light emitting diode or plasma tvs
  • Narcotics or psychotropic substances
  • Anything above the free allowance amount

🟢 Green channel

The green channel is for passengers that don’t have items that require a duty payment, or prohibited items, in their baggage.

If you are carrying prohibited items but go through the Green channel, you can be prosecuted and penalized, and your items may be confiscated from you.

What can I bring into India?

✅ Here is a quick list of approved items that you can bring into India:

  • Personal items
  • Tourist souvenirs
  • Liquor, wine or beer up to 2 liters total
  • Silver with a weight below 10 kgs
  • Up to 2 pets, like dogs and cats, with all the appropriate tests and vaccinations
  • In addition to personal items, items up to a value of ₹15,000-50,000 depending on your origin
  • Indian residents coming in after more than 1 year abroad can bring ₹1,00,000 worth of jewelry for women, and ₹50,000 worth of jewelry for men
  • Approved plants and seeds
  • Laptop or a computer within the free allowance amount

There may be other items that are allowed but not covered in this section. Additionally keep up to date with the news to understand changes to the rules.

What is the currency limit for Indian customs?

Here is a quick table for common passengers to India and how much can be brought in:

Type of passengerAmount that can be brought in
All passengers including NRIsForeign currency up to $5,000 US Dollars need to be declared, or traveller cheques and the like up to $10,000 US dollars
Indian residents who are returning from travel with Indian rupees₹25,000

While there is no currency limit for foreign currencies, it does need to be declared if it is above the amount $5,000 in notes/$10,000 in value including traveller cheques.

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How is customs duty calculated in India?

There are two types of customs duty that you can pay when bringing items into India.

The first is individual customs duty for the items you bring, and the second is when you bring in items for trade.

As an individual, if you bring in items that are above and beyond the free allowance, you will have to pay custom duties. This is how it is calculated based on the value of the items:

Customs duty charge35%
Social Welfare charge3.5%
Total charged38.5%

For a business who is importing into India, it is a little more complicated. The import duty is based on what you are bringing in and what it is made out of. The amount is calculated based on:

  • Basic Customs Duty (BCD)
  • Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST)
  • Social Welfare Surcharge (SWS)

There are also additional taxes like Countervailing Due (CVD) and Anti-Dumping Duties that may also be added.

💰 Get estimated customs duty costs with our Import Duty calculator

What is the duty free allowance for India?

Here is a quick summary of the duty free allowance for incoming travellers to India:

Type of passengerOriginMaximum Duty Free Allowance
Indian origin and foreigners above the age of 10 yearsAnywhere, except Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar₹50,000
Indian origin and foreigners above the age of 10 yearsNepal, Bhutan and Myanmar₹15,000
Foreign touristsAnywhereGifts & souvenirs up to a value of ₹15,000
Indian passengers who have been living abroad for 1+ yearsAnywhere₹50,000 worth of gold jewelry for men; ₹1,00,000 worth of gold jewelry for women
All passengersAnywhereAlcohol (liquor, wine and beer) up to 2 litres
All passengersAnywhere100 cigarette sticks
All passengersAnywhere25 cigars
All passengersAnywhere125 grams of tobacco
All passengers above the age of 18 yearsAnywhere1 laptop computer

Sources used for this article:

  1. Indian customs guide for travellers

All sources checked as of 16 September, 2021

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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