Airline travelers are mainly concerned about the items on their luggage that may be allowed, restricted, or prohibited on flights. Part of the concerns may involve limits on how much cash you can carry. We have researched everything you need to know about the cash limitations on international flights.
Technically, you can legally carry any amount of money over borders without issue. However, federal law requires you to declare amounts exceeding 10,000 USD - these amounts necessitate notifying customs and filling out a report.
Apart from the general cash amount, there are numerous points you must take into consideration. In this article, we will guide you with the limitations concerning air travel and money, international laws, and the safest alternatives when traveling with a large sum of cash.
Traveling with a large sum of money can sometimes be unavoidable, especially when flying to a country that does not support a US debit or credit card. While this is the case, there are specific policies you have to follow.
Please note that cash limitations do not imply that ferrying large sums of money is illegal. However, the requirement is to report the cash to customs.
Per government rules and guidelines, you must declare any quantity exceeding 10,000USD upon departure or arrival in the United States. So, you need to fill up the FinCEN 105 declaration form.
Similarly, if you are traveling with a friend, family, or large group, you must add the amount of cash you all have. If the cumulated amount exceeds $10,000, you must declare it at customs.
The regulations stipulate that you indicate where you got the money and explain why you have such a large amount of cash.
What Is Considered As Cash?
Remember that tangible US money, such as paper currency or coins, is not the only denomination considered by authorities; they also calculate the total amount of other financial instruments, as further discussed in this section.
Foreign money refers to any coins and paper currency belonging to other countries. This amount is also included when calculating the total cash limitation of 10,000USD. That said, always consider the current conversion rates before attempting to travel internationally.
For instance, a British pound is usually worth more than a dollar. Flying internationally with 9,000 British sterling may exceed the maximum amount required by the US government. So, It is necessary to declare the amount before leaving or arriving in the country.
A traveler's check is a type of payment issued by a bank. People use it to purchase goods and services or may exchange it for cash when traveling to foreign countries.
Unfortunately, debit and credit cards have slowly replaced this check. Therefore, although they are still available, it is quite challenging to find one.
A check is a form of authored and signed payment or document issued by a bearer that instructs the bank to pay a specific amount of cash to the receiver. Once acquired, the money is deducted from the bearer's account.
Bonds and Stocks (Securities)
Securities are financial instruments that dictate specific monetary values and are widely used in business. Stocks allow you to have partial ownership or right to an organization and are sold in the stock market, while bonds are fixed-income investments.
Because bearer bonds or stocks count as cash, you should also declare them - you can easily submit the coupons to a bank for payment or redeem the bond when it reaches maturity.
What Happens If You Do Not Declare?
Failure to report or declare cash amounts that exceed the 10,000USD limitation have serious consequences. So, it is safer and ideal not to evade the process.
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has the right to subject you to civil penalties and seize the money.
Put simply, the law enforcers at customs can take the cash and fail to return it. Furthermore, the fine could reach up to 500,000USD, depending on the severity of the case.
Although it is possible to get the money back, the process is lengthy and involves costly court proceedings and legal counsel.
If you are proven to have illegally transported the money or purposely filed an incorrect report, this counts as a criminal offense resulting in jail time of up to 10 years.
International traveling will require you to follow the cash limitation set by the country you visit. Note that the US is not the only nation with protocols regarding this matter.
Please be mindful of the conversion rates since customs will always convert the money to the currency of the country you are traveling to, and the laws will apply to the new computation.
United Kingdom (Great Britain And Northern Ireland)
When traveling from the US to Great Britain (Scotland, England, and Wales), it is mandatory to declare a monetary value of 10,000 sterling pounds or more to customs. Just like in the US, you should cumulate the total cash amount of a traveling group and declare it if it exceeds the required amount.
If you are crossing Northern Ireland, the same cash limit applies. However, you do not need to declare any amount when flying from North Ireland to Great Britain.
Please note that customs may require you to give details and show documents of the owner and the recipient of the cash.
You may also need to provide information on the type of currency, source of the money, and its use if you are transferring money to or from the United Kingdom.
Generally, a cash limit of AUD10,000 applies to Australia. However, note that 'Structuring' is a criminal offense - combined cash that exceeds the required amount has to be declared.
For instance, 2 or 3 people are traveling together and have AUD6,000 each. Structuring happens when they deliberately divide the money to avoid declaration - this is against the law.
Additionally, crossing the border multiple times with amounts less than AUD10,000 also falls under 'Structuring.'
Any traveler entering the border with CAD10,000 must declare it on a verbal report to an officer, a CBSA Declaration Card, Primary Inspection Kiosk, or Automated Border Clearance.
Failure to declare in Canada will result in fines amounting between CAD250 to CAD5,000. Once the matter is settled, you are allowed to get your cash or money back. However, the CBSA has the authority not to return the money if there are any suspicions of criminal activity.
What Is The Best Form Of Money To Travel With?
Considering the possible risks involved when carrying large sums of money, there are safer alternatives for traveling with money. These includes:
Using A Checking Account With Global Services
A checking account is the safest alternative since no actual or physical cash is involved. Its general purpose is convenience and safety.
Open an account with banks that offer worldwide use or services so you can withdraw anytime and anywhere without the need to convert the money at the airport.
Opening A Credit Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees
Even though it is easier to have cash in hand, keeping most of your money at home and transacting using a credit card is still preferable.
Remember to open a bank account that is credited globally and does not have transaction fees.
Sending The Money Abroad
If you have friends or relatives abroad, sending cash using money wire services such as MoneyGram and Xoom is ideal - instead of carrying it as part of your items. International wire bank transfers are also an alternative.
Be mindful when traveling internationally. Always declare any monetary value exceeding the cash limit - remember to consider the conversion rates. We hope this article has been insightful in guiding you with travel-related monetary issues.
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