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Can U.S. Customs seize your money at the airport?

Yes, if one failed to properly report all cash and cash equivalents transported into or out of the country. See Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act (31 U.S.C. 5311, et seq.)

When do I have to declare my money to Customs?

Most people are uninformed of the reporting requirement however, “If you transport, attempt to transport, or cause to be transported (including by mail or other means) currency or other monetary instruments in an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000 or its foreign equivalent) at one time from the United States to any foreign country, or into the United States from any foreign country, you must file a report with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.” Currency Reporting As soon as you present yourself to Customs inform them that you are carrying over $10,000.00 in monetary instruments.

Please be aware, if persons/family members traveling together have $10,000 or more, they cannot divide the currency between each other to avoid declaring the currency.

For example, if one person is carrying $5,000 and the other has $6,000, they have a total of $11, 000 in their possession and must report it. If a person or family fails to declare their monetary instruments in amounts of over $10,000, their monetary instrument(s) may be subject to forfeiture and could result to civil and criminal penalties.

What is the definition of “Monetary Instruments?” 

Monetary Instruments— (1) Coin or currency of the United States or of any other country, (2) traveler’s checks in any form, (3) negotiable instruments (including checks, promissory notes, and money orders) in bearer form, endorsed without restriction, made out to a fictitious payee, or otherwise in such form that title thereto passes upon delivery, (4) incomplete instruments (including checks, promissory notes, and money orders) that are signed but on which the name of the payee has been omitted, and (5) securities or stock in bearer form or otherwise in such form that title thereto passes upon delivery. Monetary instruments do not include (i) checks or money orders made payable to the order of a named person which have not been endorsed or which bear restrictive endorsements, (ii) warehouse receipts, or (iii) bills of lading

What is the required form one has to fill out prior to transporting more than $10,000?

FINCEN Form 105

Does it cost anything to declare one’s money over $10,000 to Customs?


What happens if you do not declare your money over $10,000?

If Customs  stops you, the money will most likely be taken (“seized”) from you. If this happens ensure that you get a receipt to account for all the money. Thereafter, one will receive a CAFRA seizure notice in the mail within sixty (60) days.  It is highly recommended to seek advice from an attorney experienced in these matters in order to fully explain your legal options.

What is the reason for the government seizing the money under these circumstances?

The government believes that the money being transported may be involved in drug trafficking, terrorist activity, evasions of tax laws for failing to report it.

You may contact this firm at 212-202-0542 for legal assistance in advocating for the return of your money.  We have helped persons from around the world get their money returned at airports and ports of entry throughout the United States. We also have a website dedicated to money seizures located here.

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