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U.S. Customs Took My Money at the Airport (or border crossing)!

June 12, 2013« back to blog homepage


Is U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“Customs” or “CBP”) allowed to seize my currency/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 currency/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.   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 (this is known as “structuring”).  Customs considers a family as one unit.

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 my currency/money over $10,000 to Customs?

No.

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

As discussed, if Customs stops you and finds the currency/money it will most likely be confiscated (“seized”) from you. If this happens ensure that you get a receipt to account for all the money. Thereafter, one will receive a Notice of Seizure and Information to Claimants Form CAFRA and Election of Proceedings form in the mail within sixty (60) days from the closest CBP Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures Office (FP&F) with your FP&F case number.  It is highly recommended to seek advice from an attorney experienced in these matters in order to fully explain your legal options.  Time is of the essence!

What is the reason for Customs seizing my currency/money under these circumstances?

Customs officers are trained to intercept persons who are transporting currency/money linked to drug trafficking, terrorist activity, or evasions of tax laws.

Resource Information

We handle currency/money seizure cases nationwide at Customs offices including but not limited to: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland/Middleburg Heights, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Long Beach/Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Newark, Nogales, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, and Yuma.

For more information about this blog post, please contact Abady Law Firm, P.C. and speak with our attorney at (800) 549-5099. Also visit www.moneyseizures.com to chat with a currency seizure lawyer — who has insight into the Customs Monetary Instruments Report — about your currency seizure situation and to schedule a consultation.  To chat with us, click the bottom right corner tab of our homepage.


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