NRB calls on outbound visitors to exchange up to $500 in cash
KATHMANDU, Aug 30: Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the central bank, has called on all Nepalis traveling abroad to make use of foreign exchange facility of US$ 2,500 per visit by acquiring up to $500 in cash and the rest in instruments such as traveler´s check and plastic cards.
Although this rule has been in place for many years now, it was not properly enforced till date as most of the banks were replete with greenback and were extending all amount that Nepalis are legally allowed to carry abroad in cash.
This led many to think that they are entitled to get all of $2,500 in cash while going abroad.
But now with the shortage of US dollar bills hitting the domestic market, the central bank is forced to remind everyone of the rule introduced long ago.
“Currently there is shortage of US dollar bills in the country as this is not the tourist season, when foreign travelers bring in paper currency of various countries,” said Lila Prakash Sitaula, executive director of foreign exchange department at the central bank.
But lately even during tourist seasons, the country is not receiving as much foreign bills because of tremendous growth in use of instruments like debit and credit cards by foreign travelers.
“Considering this, we advise people traveling abroad to carry as little cash and make maximum use of instruments such as traveler´s check, and debit and credit cards,” Sitaula said. He also encouraged Nepali outbound visitors to exchange currency of the country they are visiting.
“For instance, Nepalis traveling to Thailand and Malaysia can exchange baht or ringgit instead of US dollar, as this would reduce demand for US dollar bills,” Sitaula said.
The central bank has, however, clarified the shortage of US dollar bills should not mean the country´s foreign exchange reserve is depleting.
As per the latest statistics, the country´s foreign exchange reserve contains $4.08 billion, most of which is parked in banks abroad.
Central bank currently allows people traveling abroad, except India, to exchange up to $2,500, or its equivalent in any other currency, per visit, upon producing passport and confirmed air ticket.
Those visiting SAARC countries, except India, and the Tibetan autonomous region of China via land are entitled to exchange up to $1,000 twice a year. And children, who do not have their own passports, and people leaving the country for employment purpose can exchange up to $500.