SBI Foreign Exchange in India: All you need to know

Aman Saxena

State Bank of India has been an evergreen banking institution in India. And while this nationalized bank is central to many Indian households, it hasn’t kept up with the times when it comes to foreign exchange.

Take a look at how exchanging foreign currency works with the State Bank of India, or SBI for short, and if it does meet your needs.

🏦Did you know? State Bank of India is a descendant of the 1806 Bank of Calcutta, which was one of the British Presidency Banks.¹

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Can I exchange foreign currency at SBI?

In short, yes you can exchange foreign currency at SBI.

You can exchange foreign currency in person, online or using a travel card, depending on what you need. Let’s start with in-person exchanges at an SBI branch.

Exchanging Indian Rupees into a foreign currency can be done at some, but not at all SBI branches. And the options are limited.

SBI has specific branches across the country, and primarily in the Tier 1 cities, that are foreign exchange approved so that you can exchange your INR. The primary currencies typically on hand at a SBI branch are:

  • Great British Pounds, or Pound Sterling (£)
  • US Dollars ($)
  • Euro (€)

In most instances you will have to be an SBI account holder to do a foreign currency exchange. If you aren’t an existing customer, you can bring the required documents to open an account with you to the bank.

Or you can look at alternative options for exchanging foreign currencies in India.

If you are already an SBI account holder, and you need to send money from India to abroad, you can do it at an SBI branch with their Remittance from India system.

Remittance from India is an online system that is available at every SBI branch. You can send up to 91 different currencies, including:


But you will be capped at sending the lesser equivalent of Rs. 20 lacs or $25,000 USD.

If you would rather send the money online from India, you can through the SBI Retail Online Banking platform. But you will only be able to send money in these following currencies:


Through the Online SBI system you will be capped at sending the lesser of Rs. 10 lacs or $25,000 USD.²

With either system, it works if you are just sending money abroad and don’t need the money in hand.

⚠️ When you are exchanging currency, make sure you follow the Reserve Bank of India’s policies on holding and moving foreign currencies in India. The RBI caps Indian residents to send no more than $250,000 USD abroad in a financial year. And you can only hold the currency equivalent of $2,000 USD in foreign currencies with you privately.²

How can I exchange foreign currency in SBI?

Here is a step by step guide to exchanging foreign currency at State Bank of India:

You can only exchange foreign currencies with SBI if you are an existing SBI account holder.

  1. You will first need to identify the nearest Forex approved branch.
  2. Check the exchange rate for your needed currency for that day
  3. Make sure you have at least one of the following on you
    • Valid Indian Drivers License
    • Indian Passport
    • Pan Card
    • Aadhaar
    • You may also require to provide verification of upcoming travel plans
  4. Identify how you will make your payment
    • If you need to exchange more than ₹50,000 a cheque may be required.
  5. Approach the bank teller and begin your transaction. Check the fees with the teller before you confirm going ahead with the payment.
⚠️ Per the RBI, any money exchanged into foreign currency should be used within 60 days for foreign travel. If it is not possible for you to use it in time, you should surrender it back to this bank.³

If you wanted to send money abroad with SBI in a foreign currency, you can use their Remit Online SBI⁴.

  1. Sign up for Retail Online Banking with SBI
  2. Ensure your KYC and Pan card details are up to date
  3. Log into Remit SBI Online with your SBI details
  4. Select what region you want to send from and where
  5. Follow the steps on the screen to complete your transaction.

The online system will send money to an account abroad for you, but you will not be able to purchase foreign currency cash domestically using this method.

One more way you can buy and use foriegn currency specifically for travel, or even online shopping, is with the State Bank of India Multi Currency Travel Mastercard. It is a prepaid travel card where you can load your card in:

  • US Dollars
  • British Pounds
  • Euros
  • Singapore Dollars
  • Australian Dollars
  • Canadian Dollars
  • UAE Dirham

You can just fill your card by purchasing the currencies you would like, and then spend using that card as you travel. You can sign up for the SBI Multi Currency Travel Mastercard at an SBI branch.⁵

What is the SBI foreign transaction fee?

For any foreign exchange services rendered by SBI, there will be a transaction fee. This is different from the exchange rate and can be a service fee or a foreign currency conversion fee. Depending on how you go about it, the fees can differ:

SBI Branch ExchangeTransaction FeeVaries depending on currency and amount
Remit SBI Online⁶Foreign Currency Conversion Fee₹250
SBI Multi-Currency Travel Mastercard⁷Reload Fee₹100 to start, ₹50 afterwards

But one constant you can find no matter what way you exchange currency with the bank, is the SBI exchange rate.

SBI foreign exchange rates

SBI sets their own foreign exchange rate for any currency conversions, and it changes daily. To find out their rates, simply Google ‘SBI foreign exchange rates’, and it should lead you to their daily rates page, such as this one.

SBI’s foreign exchange rate is different from the mid-market exchange rate.

🔎Definition: The mid-market exchange rate is the most transparent exchange rate out there. It does not have a mark up and is what the banks use between themselves. You may be familiar with the mid-market exchange rate already, it's the one you see on Google or Reuters.

By putting their own exchange rate weaker than the mid-market exchange rate, SBI is able to sneak in a small fee on every Rupee converted.

Let’s see what that looks like when we are exchanging ₹100,000 for US Dollars at the SBI exchange rate and the mid-market exchange rate. Wise gives you the same mid-market exchange rate on all transactions, check out how much you can save:

SBI Exchange RateMid-Market Exchange RateWise
INR to $1₹73.67₹72.83₹72.83
At ₹1,00,000$1357.40$1373.06$1373.06

Data collected as of 17th February, 2021

Just by using the mid-market exchange rate, you can send over $15 USD more than with State Bank of India, in this particular example.

The true cost of sending USD to INR

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And you will always get the real mid-market exchange rate on every transfer to India. All you have to pay is one low transfer fee on your transaction, and that’s it. Your money will go straight to the local bank account in India.

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  1. SBI History
  2. Remittance from India
  3. RBI Foreign Currency Rules
  4. SBI Remit Online
  5. SBI Travel Card
  6. SBI Remit Online Fee
  7. SBI Travel Card Fee

All sources checked as of 17th February, 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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