Counterfeit cash is always in circulation in India. There are hundreds of millions of dollars of it floating around. To avoid getting stuck with it on your trip you need to know what’s real and what’s not as shopkeepers will always try to pawn off their fake currency to unsuspecting foreigners. Once it’s in your hands, no one will take it off you. All shopkeepers scrutinise cash before accepting it. You’ll see them holding notes up to the light to check authenticity. They’re not being rude, they’re just they’re trying to avoid counterfeit money too.

But never fear, here’s how to easily spot the most circulated counterfeits – the 10 rupee coin and 500 and 2000 rupee notes.

How to spot counterfeit currency in India

₹10 Rupee Coin

UPDATE: It’s been brought to my attention that the Reserve Bank of India has issued a statement saying both ₹10 coins here and in my video are real. HOWEVER, the coin on the right is considered by shopkeepers to be fake in New Delhi and surrounding areas, so it’s best that you avoid it if you don’t want to get stuck with it.

I got stuck with a bunch of these and when I tried to use them absolutely no one would take them. 10 rupee coins are the most common counterfeit floating around, especially in Delhi at the moment. They were made in the nearby state of Haryana.

Spot the difference? On the real coin, there are only 10 flower petals, it has the ₹ symbol, and the 10 crosses both the silver and gold part of the coin. Royal fail by the counterfeiters!

₹500 & ₹2000 Rupee Notes

Front of real 2000 rupee note. Photo © Karl Rock.
Front of real 2000 rupee note. Photo © Karl Rock.

There are 17 security measures on these notes but people only use 1 or 2. Get my India Survival Guide (Quick-Start Safety Guide) for all the details.

Don’t accept ripped notes

The same also applies for ripped notes: no shopkeeper will take a ripped noted from you, but they’ll sure try and give you their ripped notes. Always check every note you receive immediately in front of the person who gave it to you to make sure they’re in good condition with no tears or weird stains all over them. If there’s something wrong with it, hand it back to the cashier and ask for another – they’ll replace it for you.

If you do end up with a ripped note, take it to a bank and they will usually change it for you.

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