Published: 16 Aug 2017

Everything you need to know while travelling with gold

The gleam of gold transcends all borders, but you still need to be careful when crossing one! Travellers and tourists often have questions when travelling with gold; is it legal to cross international borders with a large amount of gold? Do you need to declare it to the airport officials? The answer to both these questions is ‘Yes!’ You can travel with gold and precious metals. However, if it exceeds a certain threshold, you have to declare it to customs. Here’s what you need to know.

Customs duty on gold when travelling to India

In India, you do not pay customs duty on gold ornaments. But duty applies to gold bars, biscuits, and coins. The duty-free allowance is up to Rs 50,000 for men and Rs 1 lakh for women. Indians who have lived abroad for six months or longer can carry up to 1kg of gold to India. But customs duty will be applicable on this. Travellers currently pay 10% gold duty. This applies to the allowable limit of gold that a passenger can carry.

What if you are carrying more than 1kg of gold? Then you will have to pay a duty of 36.05% on the excess amount. Customs officials will not seize your gold without reason. All you need to do is make the correct and detailed declaration to the customs officials. Then carrying gold in or out of the country will be no problem at all.

Rules when carrying gold out of India

If you buy gold jewellery in India and carry it with you to a foreign country, then you will not have to pay customs duty on it. Of course, the jewellery that is taken out of India must be for personal use and not commercial purposes, as this cannot be carried in your luggage. There is no upper limit on the amount of gold that can be carried out of the country. But if you plan to bring it back to the country later, then you will have to pay customs duty. To avoid this situation, you can get an export certificate from the customs department. This will contain all details of the amount of gold you are carrying out of India. So, when you return to India with the same valuables, you will not be charged any duty. While travelling out of India, it is a wise idea to have the receipt of the gold jewellery bought in India in case customs officials ask.

Different rules are applicable when carrying gold out of India. It depends on the country you’re travelling to. To avoid untoward circumstances, check the rules applicable in that country before travelling. Airline websites or a country’s website will have information on how much gold can be carried into the country, the legal documents required, the customs duty, if applicable and the procedure to declare your valuables.

For instance:

  • When travelling to the USA, there is no duty on gold coins, medals or bullions, but it must be declared to a Customs and Border Protection officer. The coins must not be counterfeit and must be marked by the country of issuance. If the gold coins are monetary instruments and are valued above USD10,000, then the FinCEN 105 form must be filled and handed to a customs officer at the time of entry.
  • When travelling to Australia, if the gold jewellery, coins or bullions are carried for personal purposes, then an import declaration will not be required. If the value of the gold jewellery is below AUD1,000, then a self-assessed clearance declaration is required. If it is valued above AUD1,000 then an import declaration will be required. The purpose of the gold jewellery also plays a role here; different rules are applicable if they are imported for investment purposes.

Customs and procedures

Remember not to place your gold jewellery in a bag that you plan to check in. Keep the jewellery in your carry-on baggage instead. Sometimes, the customs officer might want to check your bags. They are required to do so to prevent illegal activities or misuse. For example, they may want to check if you are carrying gold beyond the declared amount. In this case, ask for a private room, so that other passengers are not alerted to the fact that your bags contain gold.

If you are carrying gold beyond the permissible limit, ensure that you have the required paperwork. This could include an invoice or a receipt. It is also necessary to fill a formal declaration form. Here, you should list every gold item and other valuables that you are carrying. The valuables you are carrying, and the amount declared, must match. Otherwise, the customs officers might question you or doubt your intentions.


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